In the ever expanding world of social media, it’s difficult to know which network to give priority to. But with special tools that streamline your favorite sites, you don’t have to choose. The following will help you keep tabs on the online activity affecting your business.
Relatively new on the scene, Ping.fm is quickly gaining followers. The service allows you to update all of your social networks at one time with a micro-blog or status update. Ping.fm can feed to more than 40 networks, including favorites such as Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, which means less typing for you. And with the ability to form groups and set triggers, it’s possible to send updates to select networks. Furthermore, messages and images can be posted via text, instant message, e-mail, and third-party applications; plus Ping promises to start accepting video soon. Still in beta, the service does have a few kinks to work out before it truly becomes the only posting site you access.
FeedBurner, which was acquired by Google last year, lets you browse and subscribe to feeds in addition to posting your own. By subscribing to feeds, you can keep tabs on what’s happening in your industry. Primarily, you’ll use FeedBurner to publish your blog or Web site content on multiple social media networks. People can also subscribe to your feeds. And the service offers FeedBurner Stats free of charge, a nifty analytics tool you can use to track how and when your content is being accessed, which will help you learn more about your audience. Adding to FeedBurner’s coolness factor is its ability to publish podcasts. FriendFeed, a social-based feed service, is also worth checking out.
Hellotxt, billed as a “status manager,” is indispensable when it comes to monitoring online activity. As with Ping.fm, you can update your status across several networks at once. But Hellotxt provides a status update history as well, so you can read earlier entries right below the status update box. On the same page, you can monitor recent friend activity. Although Hellotxt is similar to other services out there, its straightforward, one-page display makes it a major time-saver.
There’s even a one-stop service for instant messaging. Trillian lets you chat with users of AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, IRC, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger, all in a single desktop program. You can import your buddy lists and password information; plus Trillian has all the polish of other chat clients, including audio chat, group chat, file transfer, contact alerts, and emoticons. One downside is that you can’t sign in to Trillian from anywhere; the service only works on the computer it’s installed on. Meebo is similar to Trillian, but it can be used on any computer. It supports Facebook Chat, Google Talk, MySpaceIM, as well as the old instant messaging standbys.
Lastly, you’ll find value in tools that help you to follow the buzz about your business online. You can monitor multiple platforms using Google Reader, which trawls the Internet for new content that matches your search criteria. Subscribe to RSS feeds that include your company name or industry keywords (you can add these to FeedBurner). This allows you to keep abreast of all discussion of your company, good or bad, as well as industry news. Google Reader also has sharing options, so you can pass on items of interest to friends or colleagues; and it can be accessed by cell phone or computer, so you can get updates from practically anywhere. Technorati, which collects and distributes blog content, is another great tracking tool. Set up an RSS feed to alert you whenever your company’s name is mentioned in the blogosphere and find out what has people buzzing.