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24 8 Tools I Use Every Day for Social Engagement

I get asked what tools I use for some of my daily social routines on a somewhat frequent basis. The other day I got that question and it dawned on me that many of the tools I’ve written about for the basic stuff have changed or evolved over the past six months.

So, I thought it might be useful to write a post outlining my current tool set for consuming, sharing and interacting online.

Alerts

It seems to me that Google Alerts might be on the scrap heap over Google as it not only suffers from lack of innovation it just seems pretty lame in terms of what it picks up anymore.

I’ve recently gone to a combo of Mention and Talkwalker to get alerts for things like my name, brand, journalists and important phrases. It seems like they tend to pick out different things so the combination is very strong.

Content consumption

By now you’ve likely heard that Google Reader is shutting down. While this caused widespread panic and prompted lots of anxiety about replacement tools, the fact is the technology is pretty simple and this opened the door for some innovation in a long dormant space.

For now, I am sticking with Reeder, a Mac based laptop, iPad, iPhone app that relies on Google Reader but says it will replace the underlying technology. I really like the interface and love that I can interact with a piece of content in the app by sharing, bookmarking or saving in a variety of ways. I use it with Buffer to share lots of content to Twitter and Facebook.

I think it’s worth noting that many people have also started to embrace tools that surface content based solely on category or the recommendation of friends rather than sticking to content produced only in blogs they subscribe to. I’ve started to use a service called Newsle in this fashion.

Social dashboard

I have been an avid Tweetdeck user for years but recently made the switch to HootSuite. For me Tweetdeck was getting a bit tired in terms of innovation. While it took a little bit of time to embrace the somewhat more complex interface of Hootsuite, I’ve grow to like the tabbed profiles approach and the fact that you can get so much more information on individual profiles and tweets. I also like some of the integrations available. For example, with one click I can add people who I interact with on Twitter or that get added to a list, based on search terms in Hootsuite, to my CRM tool.

Social CRM

This last element is a crucial piece of the engagement puzzle. I currently use two CRM tools. I use Nimble for the daily interactions that I have or should have with clients, influencers, authors, partners and prospects for various types of projects. Nimble allows me to create a unified messaging platform that includes email and important social networks. This way I can view a record of what these important groups of people are saying and doing in real-time and what I’ve said to them over the course of many interactions. Access to this level of information helps turns transactions into trackable conversations.

In addition to Nimble I use Infusionsoft to run the many ecommerce functions of my business such as shopping cart, list segmentation, follow-up and email marketing in general.

The key to making this part of the communication cycle work is that most of these tools talk to each other and almost all are available in synced versions on the desktop and on a variety of mobile devices and tablets.

So, that’s it for now, until, well it isn’t. Always love to hear about tools you find useful.

36 How and Why I Use Buffer

One of the services I believe marketers should provide their followers and community members these days is that of filtering and aggregating good, relevant content.

Buffer AppI subscribe to over 100 blogs and I hear over and over again how much some of the folks that choose to follow me on Twitter and Facebook appreciate that I share what I think some of the best reads from each day.

I share other things in those platforms as well, but I generally find 8-10 blog posts daily that I think people will appreciate.

The problem is that when I scan through my RSS Reader, something I do before most of my readers have had breakfast, I don’t want to Tweet all 8-10 at one time because it kind of overwhelms a handful of people and leaves little for those that get on social networks at other times of the day.

To solve this problem I started using a free app called Buffer and not only am I hooked, I’ve seen its use by many other publishers skyrocket of late as well. (The free version only allows you to have 10 updates in the buffer and is limited to one user.)

Why I use it

The Buffer app is a tool that allows me to easily bookmark and schedule Tweets or Facebook updates from any browser or mobile device. This way I can effectively spread my Tweets out over the course of a day, whether I find something in my morning reading or as I surf around throughout the day.

The times that Buffer posts the updates are preset by me so I simply fill up the Buffer and it does the rest. You can hit the post now option to immediately post and you have total control over when it posts. I have a pretty good feel for the best times to post for my readership but you might want to use a tool like SocialBro to gather some research into the best times for you.

Buffer also produces statistics so you can see how many people clicked on links you shared, the estimated reach and the number of Retweets.

There are some other tools that can accomplish much of what Buffer does, for example TweetDeck allows scheduled Tweets, but Buffer just works much better with the way I work and makes it much easier for me to be more active in sharing.

How I use it

While there is an iPhone app for Buffer the way I choose to use it is a little different than some I suspect.

I do most of my feed reading using the Reeder app on my iPhone. (Note this is different than Google Reader) The reason I love this app is that it allows me tap into my Google Reader account and have all my feeds that I organize there. (You can install Buffer as an option in Google Reader too)

The real feature I love though is that it gives me a handful of options for sharing and handling the posts right from the within the app. I can bookmark and tag it to Delicious or Pinboard, add to Facebook or Twitter, paste to Evernote, copy the link or email the title and link.

To use this app with Buffer I use the fact that Buffer gives every account holder a unique email address that will post items to the their Buffer account. So, as I read my posts I simply hit the “mail link” function in Reeder and it sends the title and link to Buffer. Anything that I put in the subject of the email will be posted as the body of the Tweet.

Buffer then puts all my emailed updates in the queue based on the times I’ve picked and viola – nice bit of posting scheduled throughout the day. Buffer also allows me to connect my branded linked shortener that set up with bit.ly so my Buffered links are shown as ducttape.me – a nice bonus in the scheme of things.

Look around and you’ll see a number of blogs adding the Buffer button to their posts to make it even easier for people who use this tool to share.

You should also grab the Buffer extension for your browser of choice or drag the Buffer bookmarket to your toolbar so that you can add items to Buffer as you surf throughout the day. I use the extension for Firefox and it puts a little Buffer icon at the bottom of the page and gives my one click posting to Buffer.

43 How and Why I Still Devour Blogs

2011 marks my eighth year of blogging. In that time I’ve logged over 2500 blog posts, acquired around 143,000 subscribers and had this blog named by the likes of Forbes magazine as their favorite for both marketing and small business.

reading blogs

Image alui0000 via flickr

If this asset has delivered any measure of success I can tell you that the primary reason is that in that same time I’ve also read some or all of approximately 120,000 blog posts written by others.

I’ve stated repeatedly that anyone that wants to start a blog, get better at blogging or make their blog a serious marketing tool for their business must first and foremost get very good at reading blogs.

Why I devour blogs

Learn how to blog – Any writing course you’ll ever take will tell you that great writers read a ton. Reading how others blog, what they blog about and even how they interact with their community is an essential step for anyone that is serious about using this tool. I get countless ideas for ways to say things and cover ideas that might never bubble up without reading other blogs. I get ideas for what software to use, what plugins work well and how to promote and display content in ways that make it more valuable to readers.

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