There are so many places to socialize online and way too little time. How can you make all of this socializing more efficient? That’s what this post is about. First, a discussion of several social media management applications designed for the user who wants access to all platforms in one place. Second, my personal opinion about how to best approach social media in general.
The list of social networking websites has far exceeded usable. Even attempting to stay active on some majors (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn) is a career for some people. There is no shortage of posts about top social media management applications or tools in the media. Nonetheless, here are three worth considering:
1. Raven Tools is really a full suite of Internet marketing tools. It includes social media management for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. You can create and monitor social campaigns, schedule posts and generate reports. At posting, the Raven Pro license (the cheapest one) is $99 per month. Alternatively, you can partner with an agency that uses Raven Tools at a significantly discounted rate. (Feel free to contact me if you’re interested.) If you’re simply looking for a tool to schedule social posts, Raven is probably overkill. But if you want to track a bunch of “stuff” you’re doing online (traffic, links, posts, social and so on), Raven is great.
2. Sprout Social has a very clean user interface and reporting features. Like the other major social media management applications, it allows users to publish and monitor social campaigns across several networks. The Deluxe license ($59 per user per month at posting) allows users to manage up to 20 profiles. So, for basic usage, it’s a little more affordable than Raven. But if you want to manage more than 20 profiles and add Zendesk/UserVoice integrations, you’ll need the Premium license ($99 per user per month).
3. HootSuite is probably your best bet if you’re looking for a free solution to manage a few accounts. It’s very easy to use and has a nifty Chrome extension and a useful mobile app. For managing up to five social profiles, HootSuite is completely free. However, if you need more than that and need more advanced message scheduling, you can upgrade to PRO for only $8.99 per month. At the risk of being presumptuous, for most solo and small firms HootSuite makes the most sense in terms of functionality and cost.
Do I Really Need a Social Media Management Tool?
All of these social media management applications are bright and shiny. And they seemingly “solve” the social media management problem. But do you really need them?
Lawyers tend to be a busy bunch. Most have difficulty seeing the benefits of spending precious time on social networking sites. So, they turn to “solutions” that can handle the social networking for them. Sometimes that means hiring a consultant; other times it means trying to automate social networking with software. They seem to like the idea of “set it and forget it” social networking.
Of course, the problem is that software can’t really network on your behalf. Sure, perhaps you can schedule automated firm news updates, topically relevant awareness campaigns, etc. But what happens when someone responds to these posts? None of these tools is an effective replacement for authentic engagement.
To me, the most compelling reason to consider a social media management tool is probably the reporting. You can see which posts best resonate with the people with whom you are connected. And, depending on the nature of your practice, this might have some value. But for most lawyers who only very occasionally engage online, even the reporting capabilities of these platforms is probably overkill.
Even the lawyers who are “all in” on social media, though, tend to be doing it all wrong. They usually view these platforms as the billboards and Yellow Pages of the new millennium. They figure that they “need to be there” so they schedule the “request a free consultation” tweets to run every 15 minutes throughout the day. Which then leads to their being unfollowed, blocked or poked fun at.
Most will probably be fine using the native sites and apps to participate socially. If you tend to be scientific, you might benefit from some of the reporting that social media management tools offer. But if you’re looking to outsource your online social engagement to software, you’re probably just wasting your money and our time.
If I’m wrong, and you think your social media management tool is the best thing ever, let me know. My only request is that you bring some tangible reasons why.
Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers put their best foot forward online because clients are looking for them there. He is a co-founder of AttorneySync, a digital marketing agency for law firms. You can find more of Gyi’s writings in his “Optimize” column on Attorney at Work, on Lawyerist and on Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog. You can ask him a question (or just say hi) on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.