For the business owner trying to do it all, online social networking can be a frustrating experience. Keeping up with fans on multiple networks can suck up your time, you’re often dealing with sites that lack the functionality or level of customization you want, and it can be hard to fully gauge your impact since stats tend to be cursory at best. Once you start looking away from the built-in solutions, though, a bevy of helpful apps emerge. Following are some of our favorites for augmenting your experience using the social Web, from blog comments to Facebook Pages to media sharing and beyond.
Disqus makes your blog comments more social. Bringing in links from Twitter and other sites, as well as allowing video comments and e-mail subscriptions to comments, helps to up your response count and make your discussion area more robust. And with a Disqus account, whenever you comment on a Disqus-enabled blog, you can go back and edit or even delete your comments.
Technically a script, not an app, Facebook Fixer helps you customize your Facebook experience. You’ll have more control over what stories you see in your News Feed and how your page is laid out. It also has handy features like a hover photo preview and Google Calendar integration that make Facebooking faster and easier.
Build stronger relationships with your connections by enhancing your e-mail inbox with information from around the Web. Gist helps you take your business contacts and get up-to-the-minute information on them from social sites, blogs, and news articles that can help you achieve an information edge.
When it comes to managing multiple Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, HootSuite has the tools you need to increase your business’s impact. This slick Web app lets you manage multiple accounts and contributors, schedule updates, and pull RSS feeds into your posts. Its new Facebook integration helps keep track of your pages by letting you see new posts and make comments. It also lets you measure your social reach by providing stats, like how many times your links have been clicked.
Searching through the many apps that may or may not actually work on a Facebook Page can be confusing. With Involver, you get a fully-featured business marketing suite of apps specifically designed for Facebook Pages. Their free and paid apps range from being able to effectively add Twitter, your blog, or YouTube to your Page to allowing custom landing pages, file downloads, and coupons.
Do you share a lot of photos or videos? Use Pixelpipe to simplify the process by uploading once and distributing your media to multiple sites, including Facebook, Flickr, Twitpic, YouTube, Vimeo, popular blogging platforms, and more. You can use the app from your mobile, from desktop apps like iPhoto, Picasa, and Lightroom, or from the Web.
Seesmic’s suite of apps is great for Twitter, but Seesmic Desktop has something even better: It lets you manage Facebook Pages. While Facebook has lagged in Page options like notifications for new wall posts or comments, Seesmic Desktop lets you see what’s new on your fan page and respond to fan messages. You can also post updates to multiple Facebook profiles and fan pages, as well as multiple Twitter accounts.
One of the biggest problems with Twitter is that you get a lot of e-mail notifications that require you to go to the Web site to take action. Topify brings everything to your inbox. It sends you notices about new followers with their full profile information, friends and follower counts, and five recent tweets, and it lets you follow back by just hitting reply. You can also reply to direct messages, block people, and unfollow people right from your inbox.
If you’re big into video, you’ll want to check out TubeMogul. It provides a single place to upload your videos to multiple sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Blip.tv, Viddler, and Vimeo. It also provides metrics on your videos, like the number of views and embeds. For paid users, it offers even more in-depth analytics, larger file uploads, and tracking for unauthorized use of your content.
Despite all the hype around Google Wave, nobody’s quite figured out what to do with it yet — but this app may help. By bringing Google Wave out of your browser and onto your desktop, you can use it more like an e-mail or instant messaging app and stay connected to the Wave all day long.
Bonus Item: ShareThis
Adding a ShareThis button to your blog or site helps others spread the word about your brand — and this app lets you track how your pages are being shared and what’s most popular. ShareThis also helps with your personal social sharing efforts by keeping track of what you’ve shared on other ShareThis-enabled sites, so whether you sent something to Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, or a friend’s e-mail, you have one central location where you can find all those interesting links.