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How to Use Social Media Dashboards

How to Use Social Media Dashboards

An assortment of useful reports are available through Hootsuite's free version, including Facebook Insights, which shows Likes by demographic, for example; and Twitter Engagement, which shows Twitter mentions and retweets. Some more elaborate reports require a subscription upgrade to $9.99 per month, while others mean purchasing analytics credits.

By Patrick Nelson
11/07/13 5:00 AM PT

Social media are becoming an ever-increasing part of marketing. If you've been finding one-user, consumer-oriented clients for Twitter and Facebook cumbersome for your business, it may well be time to move over to a social media management tool like Hootsuite.

These kinds of tools allow you to manage more than one social network; schedule posts like messages and tweets; track conversations and analytics, such as product mentions and traffic; assign tasks to team members; and so on.

For the purposes of this article, I'm using leader Hootsuite's free version for examples. However, there are other, conceptually similar dashboards worth checking out, including Seesmic, Tweetdeck, MediaFunnel and TodayLaunch.

Prerequisite: You should already own a Twitter and Facebook account before trying these.

Here's how to get up to speed quickly on scheduling messages, connecting existing blogs, monitoring analytics and more.

Step 1: Set up the account.

Open a browser tab and sign up for a Hootsuite account by completing the form on the sign-up page and then verifying the account by checking your email account. Or, you can sign in using a social network account.

Then authorize Hootsuite to use your Twitter and Facebook accounts using the Add Social Network and Add Stream buttons at the top of the browser-like tabbed dashboard that will have appeared.

Step 2: Send a message.

Send a message by entering message text in the Compose Message box at the top of the page. Use the options there to schedule or add a location.

Tip: Hootsuite has an auto-schedule function too, for queuing messages. Use it to maintain a constant message flow.

Step 3: Connect any existing RSS feeds from blogs.

Click on the Settings icon and select RSS/Atom. Then press the plus sign and Add Feed URL, choose Facebook as the network to send to, and how many posts you want to send at any one time.

Your existing blog's new posts will post to your Facebook account automatically.

Step 4: Create a report.

Scroll down to the third item in the left column, labeled Analytics. Then choose Twitter Profile Overview and the report will be created.

Some more elaborate reports require a subscription upgrade to US$9.99 per month, and some a purchase of analytics credits.

Useful reports include Facebook Insights, which shows Likes by demographic, for example; and Twitter Engagement, which shows Twitter mentions and retweets.

Step 5: Add other networks.

Choose the App Directory listing to view apps that you can install. They include other network plug-ins such as Instagram, for example.

The Instagram app lets you view and add comments, among other things.

Step 6: Plan a social strategy.

Define your organization's strategy, which can include objectives like gaining leads or publicity. Then develop content and execute. You may already have blog in production that can be used.

Tip: You should consider that social networks require a certain amount of live involvement and that users are savvy and may disregard obvious marketing messages. It's not like TV or radio.

Step 7: Peruse your contacts.

Select Contacts and then the People I Follow or People Following Me tabs to see data on profiles, including numbers of followers and a Klout score.

Klout is a third-party organization that measures social influence.

Step 8: Set up search streams.

Click on the Add Stream button and then the Search tab. Enter terms relevant to your business. You should attempt to follow people who are using these terms. Then listen and engage by adding opinions and so on.

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Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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