February 26, 2013

Top Social Tools for 2013

Technology with social network structureMost of you are used to seeing me write about social tools. But as I tool around the internet, signing up for betas and generally trying every new application and platform (the free ones) that I can, I realize that not everyone does that. Most people have actual, you know, jobs. So I wanted to give you a quick peek into the ones that worked for me and the ones that didn’t.

Keep in mind that I run one small business myself and that business runs various content marketing frameworks, blogs, email campaigns, social media channels and PR plans for other companies. I cap the number of clients I take on at 30.

Other things to note: I am cheap. I want automation and I want it now AKA I am lazy. I am kind of old school (I keep Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter open all day…in a BROWSER tab). I crowdsource as much as possible. Because people pay me, they want reporting, so I want reporting.

I was inspired in part by this post from HR Magazine:

Any initial reticence might have been due to questionable business value, says James Fabricant, founder of the social platform IdeaPlane. “In some cases social media has been viewed as a time draw rather than something that can contribute to the business,” he says. “This is because the focus has been on the social rather than the enterprise.”

Author Scott Beagrie goes on to state that consumer tools and enterprise tools are now being used in tandem to the benefit of many organizations. Therefore, HR needs to learn how to not only use these tools, but make recommendations for within their company walls and even learn how to train their workforce to use them as well. In many cases, HR may even have to write policies about these tools. Yikes, we better get cracking.

Problem: Internal CommunicationMy team is small at Red Branch, but we have clients all over the world with key players inside that need to be part of our planning sessions. I imagine that many of you have similar situations. How to stay in communication without overflowing one another’s inboxes?

Solution: Yammer has been and continues to be my best solution for this. The interface is more familiar than Basecamp and it’s easy enough for small teams to upload simple documents and have quick back-and-forth interchanges on the fly, even in different timezones. There’s a record of everything, but what I’m hoping they’ll add is a feature that allows you to tell when your message has been read or ‘seen’.

Problem: TalkingThis might seem the same as communication but it isn’t. I have clients that have been with me for years and the only way for us to get on the same page about a campaign or story idea is to talk it through on the modern equivalent of a phone. But, I HATE talking on the phone.

Solution: Google Voice. I like Google Voice about a billion times better than Skype. I never have issues with Voice and it stores a recording of the conversation (unless I click ‘go off the record’ which I just learned about) so I can play it back. Plus, no one ever asks to get on video (gross). I still sign into Skype but only because Voice didn’t used to be feasible for international calls. Honorable mention: FreeConferenceCall.com which assigns you a bridge and sends you stats and recordings of the call, plus playback options to send out if needed.

Problem: Project Management- I think I might be an anomaly in this regard but I feel like a “to-do list” person in a Sharepoint world. I just can’t deal with Project Management being its own project.

Solution: That’s why I really like Asana. It’s free, it allows me to put in multiple client workspaces and then put projects underneath that, and sub tasks underneath the projects. I can add notes, assign to internal and external stakeholders and attach Dropbox files. It syncs with my calendars easily and sends me (or whoever the project is assigned to) emails letting me know when due dates are near. Done!

Problem: File SharingWhen you’re sending Word documents, this isn’t a big deal. When you’re sending videos, pictures, presentations, ebook layouts, etc.it makes a bigger difference. Huge attachments can clog up your inbox and, with larger corporations, potentially flag you as spam. Bummer.

Solution: Dropbox. I don’t use anything else. It’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me.

Problem: Showing people things in real-time. It’s one thing to send wireframes and mockups to a client or team member. It’s another to show them your vision.

Solution: Most people like Skype for file sharing on the fly or to quickly share screens. After all, you are already on it. But while I use it, I just don’t think it works often enough to be relevant in my life. However I would choose Skype over GoToMeeting any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Better solution than both? Join.me which allows for pretty seamless sharing.

Problem: Presentation PromotionI don’t know about you but when I do a Powerpoint for a conference or webinar, it takes me a long time and then maybe a few hundred people get to see it. Boo. Hiss. I want more viewers for how long that takes!

Solution: Slideshare. As long as the information in the presentation isn’t proprietary, I throw that stuff up on Slideshare. Perhaps the least discussed of the social networks, Slideshare gets a crazy amount of SEO and page views. One reason is that it takes ALL the text in your PPT and converts it to descriptions so search is amazing.

Problem: Social Media ManagementWhen you are managing 5, 20, 50, 100 social accounts, you need a SYSTEM. My favorite tools so far are Buffer and Hootsuite but Resnarkable’s Lizzie Maldonado breaks down ALL the players in her B2B social series here.

Solution: I have no literal idea. Still doing demos.

Problem: Company PageLet’s face it, every company needs to have a face on the Internet and it’s no longer okay to just have ONE like a website.

Solution: I like Facebook and all but in the professional world, it makes more sense to choose LinkedIn, you can connect to all your employees and, at least for now, they aren’t fooling around with the algorithms every other day. There’s also a cache that comes with being on LinkedIn that Facebook doesn’t have yet.

Problem: Professional group- All professional groups need a place to socialize and make plans. This solution should be simple and fit in with their daily processes so it doesn’t feel like work.

Solution: Facebook Groups. Starting a group must include permission from those you plan on adding and maybe even instructions on how to cut off the incessant emails, but Facebook definitely fits the bill. You can manage events and only invite those who are in the group, send out announcements and get an idea of how many in the group you’ve reached, even send posts just to them. LinkedIn group memberships are capped at 50, so it makes little sense to use one of those for a group that has already bought into what you’re selling.

There are thousands of other social tools that are being used by SMBs and large enterprises alike. This post discusses email campaign tools, here are marketing automators, this ones touches on performance management and there are even social benefits and wellness programs.

What’s your favorite social tool?

Read more in Social Network

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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