Q: I'm starting to use a lot of social media networks in my daily business activities and looking to find tools to help me manage them more efficiently. - Jenna
A: It's quite easy for new users of social media to feel like you're 'drinking from a firehouse' so finding tools that allow you to manage your interactions efficiently is vital to your progress.
One of the most important tools for managing social interactions is a smartphone so you aren't always required to sit in front of your computer to communicate. Smartphones can use mobile apps that make managing social communications much more efficient.
Network specific apps (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) are obvious choices but apps that allow you to connect to multiple networks simultaneously are much more efficient.
Tweetdeck supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace & Google Buzz.
HootSuite allows you to manage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress blogs, MySpace & FourSquare.
They also both allow you to sync your accounts between your mobile devices and your computer so that all activities always appear on both. Tweetdeck requires an actual program to be installed on your computer, while HootSuite uses a web interface making it usable from any Internet connected computer.
HootSuite's also a great tool for scheduling your posts and a central dashboard for analytics of shortened URL's, Faceook Insights and Google website Analytics. You can also generate automated reports that get e-mailed to you based on your preferred intervals.
If you own an iPad, I highly recommend getting the Flipboard app which allows you to take your Facebook and Twitter streams and present them as a newspaper interface instead of a bunch of llinks. It's a very efficient way to browse your social networks while sipping your morning cup of joe.
Summify (http://summify.com ) is a simple way to see what the most common news stories are amongst your networks on a daily basis. It aggregates the top 5 items every day and e-mails you the digest.
If you want to be able to post updates across a large number of networks, Ping.fm (http://ping.fm ) currently supports over 30 networks and photo sharing sites and allows you to update via a mobile device or your computer.
If you are starting to gain traction with your blogging efforts, Postling (http://postling.com ) is a great tool for posting and monitoring responses to your posts across many of the major networks.
If you want to take a team approach for managing a Twitter account or Facebook page, you may want to give CoTweet (http://cotweet.com ) a look.
If you are starting to use Twitter to connect with others and drive traffic to your blog or website, knowing when your followers are most active (and most likely to see and retweet your posts) is helpful.
There are a number of resources that try to look at your follower activity to help you understand the best times you should tweet including Timely (http://timely.is ) , TweetWhen (http://tweetwhen.com ), WhenToTweet (http://whentotweet.com ).
If you spend a lot of time on the Internet browsing and want to integrate your social interactions with your browsing, you may want to checkout Flock (http://www.flock.com ). Instead of flipping between social media apps and your browser, you can bring in your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr or YouTube activities as a sidebar while you are surfing.
This small list is just scratching the surface of what can be done to manage social communications, but this should give you plenty to work with for the time being!