Top Ten Twitter Tools for Industrial Companies
There are literally hundreds of applications, both web and desktop based, that can help you manage, monitor, maximize, and automate your Twitter AND other social media accounts. These tools can be powerful in terms of finding quality followers, listening to the conversations within your industry, enhancing customer service and support, and most importantly: saving time. So many options: which ones make the most sense for an industrial business?
I like checking out new tools as they come on the scene, so I’ve reviewed a lot of them. This list contains what I consider to be the top ten most valuable Twitter tools for manufacturers and industrial companies who want to experience (or experiment with) social media in the most cost effective and time efficient way. They fall into 3 categories: managing and automating; monitoring and maintenance; and searching.
I’m not including anything in my list that I view as a tool for Twitter “power” users or social media gurus (people who are managing multiple social media accounts for other companies.) Although I’m sure some of them use these tools, there are many others that they use as well. After all, social media is their full time job. This list is for the average industrial business that wants to “do” Twitter, only smarter. Others may disagree with my top ten, but this is a pretty good starting point.
The most common excuse I hear from my clients for not engaging in social media is the time factor. Learn how to harness the power of some of these tools, and social media marketing won’t seem like such a chore; in fact, you may actually have fun with it.
MANAGING AND AUTOMATING:
Following are my favorite Twitter management and automation tools – all offer something a little different and have very different interfaces. Choose the ones that best meet your personal needs and that you like in terms of style, features and functionality. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one app that does EVERYTHING. After trying these and others, I’ve found that I can function quite well with two of them. The key is to use however many you need to make the time you spend on social media as minimal as possible, AND meet your marketing objectives.
This is the SM “automation workhorse.” While other SM management apps provide the ability to automate posts, I don’t think any of them measure up to SocialOomph. The free version is great for the average SM marketer, but there is an upgrade for $29.97 per month that supposedly allows you to automate like no other. I use the free version and find it to be completely satisfactory, but I’m not managing 100 different SM accounts!
Two cool features of SocialOomph are: the ability to type in multiple DM’s (direct messages) that are sent out in rotation any time someone new follows you; and an automatic follow back when someone follows you. It is proper Twitter etiquette to thank someone who follows you, but who has time to constantly be checking? Likewise, it’s proper etiquette to follow someone back who follows you. You may end up deleting them at some point, but you should give them a chance.
Many SM gurus say automated responses are a no-no. I don’t think those social media gurus live in the real world of business! If there’s something I can do to make my SM management less time consuming, I’m on board. Be creative up front with the DM’s you type in for rotation. Try to make them sound more “personal.” DON’T SELF PROMOTE. This is not the time for that. I do think it’s alright if you also have a Facebook page to include something in your DM’s like: “Would also love to connect with you on Facebook!” – And then insert a link to your Facebook page. As far as the “auto follow back” feature goes, there will be many people who follow you that you end up deleting later; but you can spend your time evaluating their tweets when it’s convenient and you have some extra time. I find this feature quite useful because I don’t have to constantly be monitoring new followers so that I can follow them back.
SocialOomph gives you the ability to choose which SM sites you want your automated posts to go to. Type in one post and it goes to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other SM sites you designate. Regardless which automation tool you use, remember you still have to check in at your SM pages once or twice a day. Automation is golden, but we are talking about “social” media. It would be kind of pointless if you never actually socialized, wouldn’t it? You need to respond to direct messages, and it’s good to join in conversations about pertinent topics in your field of expertise. Plus, if someone mentions you on Twitter, it is the courteous thing to thank them for the mention. You’ll only know this if you occasionally check in.
TweetDeck is a personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz and more. It’s very popular for its desktop interface and iPhone and IPad apps.
You have the ability to group the people you follow into different categories, which cleans up your twitter stream. You can also do a Twitter search in TweetDeck and create a tab for that keyword which gives you the ability to constantly monitor the conversation related to the keyword. TweetDeck also has a TweetDeck Directory which is similar to Twellow and other Twitter directories.
The one feature I found missing in TweetDeck (which didn’t make it the right solution for me) is the ability to automate or pre-schedule tweets. This is essential for busy people! However, if someone else is managing the tweeting for your company and you simply want to filter conversations or tweets from certain groups of people, TweetDeck is awesome.
MarketMeSuite is a desktop management tool , and the only one I’ve included in my list that requires a purchase. I bought a year of use ($79.00) and I’m trying to use it whenever I can, for one simple reason: self-branding.
When you post to Twitter, no matter which of the management applications you use, you’re giving away a backlink to another company. What does that mean? You’re helping to increase THEIR page rank – not your company’s . If you use TweetDeck, HootSuite, SocialOomph or any other application, go check your Twitter feed and you’ll see what I mean. Every tweet you post on your page has THEIR name on it, plus a link back to their website. You’re advertising someone else’s brand, not your own.
MarketMeSuite allows you to brand your tweets with your own name – for me, that is “Marketects,” AND it allows you to insert a link back to your own website. In my opinion, this is worth MUCH more than $79 per year (but don’t tell MarketMeSuite I said so.) Every single time I post to Twitter through MarketMeSuite, the Marketects name appears with the post and if anyone reading it is mildly interested in what I have to say, they can instantly click over to my website.
MarketMeSuite doesn’t do everything I would like it to; and the deck style is more like TweetDeck than HootSuite (which is my favorite in terms of look and style.) I actually HATE web pages that are black, with reversed out text. Just my personal preference but I find it’s harder on my eyes. Even so, I’m going to continue using it strictly for the branding feature.
If you’re not ready to pay something to self-brand your SM posts, I think HootSuite is the best, all around SM management app. It has all the features of TweetDeck, most of the important features of SocialOomph, and I find the interface easy on the eyes and easy to navigate. Very few tools this useful are free, these days.
HootSuite has another feature that the casual Twitter user may not care about, but I love it. In the settings, you have the ability to link up to 5 RSS feeds to your HootSuite account, and it tweets them out when you tell it to. I find it annoying when I see 10 tweets in a row come from one tweep. A nice option for the RSS feed integration tool is to only take a maximum of one RSS story every hour (or 2, 3, 6, 12 or 24 hours. This same feature also allows you to promote your blog. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to set up, and then HootSuite automatically promotes your newest blog posts without you having to lift another finger!
MONITORING / MAINTENANCE:
A HubSpot application, TwitterGrader grades your Twitter profile and measures how well you’re using Twitter as a marketing tool. It’s easy: you enter your Twitter user name and up pops a score card with your “grade.” The number is a percentile score based on how effectively you’re following best Twitter-for-business practices, compared to all the other people that have been graded. The “best practice” criteria:
How many followers do you have? Reach is important, and Twitter Grader puts some weight on the number of people following you.
What is the influence of the people following you? Building a network of people who are influential in terms of reach is powerful.
How many people do you follow? If you are following more people than are following you, it reduces your grade a bit. This “poor ratio” often (although, not always) implies that a person is following too many people at once, instead of letting organic relationships naturally develop.
How often do you update and interact with your network? Being an active member of the Twitter community definitely gets you points.
How often does your network engage with you? Twitter Grader thinks very highly of people who are tweeted at, cited in the context of a tweet or retweeted. To have people interact or reference you shows authority.
This nifty app makes it simple to quickly see who you follow that has not followed you back as well as those who are following you, but you do not follow them. You are able to view a full screen of Twitter photos, complete with 3 tabs to sort by “Following, Fans or Friends.” Hovering your mouse over a photo reveals a block with that member’s bio. Clicking allows you to follow, unfollow or block other users directly from the FriendorFollow site. It makes clean-up of your Twitter account easy!
TweetReach gives you detailed reach analysis for any search term on the ripple effect of how the tweets about that term have spread on Twitter – all in one simple report. See how many different users received tweets about your keywords. You can search by your company, your product, your industry, anything. Like many of the SM apps out right now, there’s a free, basic version and a paid for “pro” version.
This is a very cool tool because in addition to showing you the influence of your own Twitter account, it also helps you quickly discover advocates for your marketing message. People (or organizations) that are tweeting about your area of expertise will appear in the report and you can click right from the report to their Twitter page, and follow them.
Twellow claims to be the “Twitter yellow pages” where you have the ability to search broad categories in order to identify people who are in your industry, field, or discipline. Remember that being effective on Twitter is about quality tweets AND quality followers. Twellow helps you in meeting people who are in the same field or industry.
Twellow really lives up to its name with a diverse amount of categories that allows you to extend your network by following people in multiple categories. It has a handy “follow” button so you can directly follow anyone and they will appear in your Twitter account.
The premise is simple: anyone can tweet to @wefollow, hashtags that represent what categories they would like to be listed under. In case you’re a newbie, a hashtag is a keyword in a tweet preceded with “#.” The hashtag filters all tweets with that keyword into a Twitter category.
WeFollow organizes users based on hashtags. Examples of common hashtags include #manufacturing, #industrial, and #refining. WeFollow only allows for three hashtags per Twitter account, assuring the directory does not become overly cluttered.
THE ULTIMATE TWITTER TOOL
Here’s your most powerful Twitter tool. This tool is the easiest to use, requires absolutely no additional software or learning curve, and works entirely differently from any other tool I’ve mentioned.
10. The ultimate, most powerful Twitter tool is YOU.
Provide value. Be responsive. Give more than you get. Be engaging.
This article is an example of what I’m talking about. It will be posted on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I will also break it up into many different “nuggets” of useful tweets and pre-schedule them, interspersed among my “real time” tweets. This will undoubtedly generate more followers for me. Plus, those followers will know they are about to engage with a real, live person that has something useful to share. Hopefully, that means the relationship starts off in a positive way.
We’re talking about being “social,” people! All the tools in the world can’t guarantee success in social media (and I use the word “success” loosely.) Remember that no tool can be as effective or compelling as you, offering what only you can offer.
If you have some Twitter tools that have helped your industrial business, please share them! I’d love to hear about your successes. Leave me a comment below!