Monday, April 23, 2012

Why you should consider desktop social media dashboards


Novice and experienced social media users, alike, may find it difficult to keep track of who retweets their tweets, which customers or followers “like” or place comments on their Facebook Page, or the number of LinkedIn invitations they receive.  This is especially true for business owners who travel often or those who serve customers away from their computer.  This blog posting, and the next few to follow, is not meant to describe the various brands of dashboards inexistence, rather to highlight some of the usefulness that dashboards provide. 

It is possible to check all these accounts on a desktop by accessing each individual website or downloading separate Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc. apps, but users may find that being able to manage multiple accounts by accessing just one program can provide convenience, allow for posting to multiple accounts, and save time by reducing the number of logins necessary to read all postings and updates.

Using dashboards to monitor more than one account

There are several different dashboards that are available, each with different advantages and disadvantages, but one that is mentioned frequently and used to demonstrate features in this posting is HootSuite (see example below).  In the screenshot that I have provided, you will see five tabs – each associated with a different social network (within the red rectangle, from left to right: three twitter accounts, a personal Facebook account, and the Ag. Entrepreneurship Extension Team Facebook Page). 


Adding lists you create and hashtags that you follow

Not only does a dashboard allow me to check these accounts simultaneously, but I can add streams to each account.   For example, while the home feed column (leftmost column in the screenshot below) allows me to read all the tweets posted by those I follow on Twitter, I can also see:
·       tweets that mention my Twitter handle (@kmk17psu) grouped together (second column from the left),
·       tweets I have posted (third column), and
·       a list I created (A list is simply a way of grouping those I follow on twitter by criteria I choose.  For example, topic they tweet about or type of business they operate.  For more Twitter lingo definitions consult: http://goo.gl/sgW1E).  The example list you see below (in the rightmost column) aggregates Tweets posted by select Penn State Extension personnel (@kmk17psu/psu).   










Alternatively, I can add streams that show results for tweets which contain a particular hashtag (for a definition, visit: http://goo.gl/sgW1E). In the screenshot, to the left, you will see a series of tweets each containing a hashtag I follow: #winechat.  

#Winechat is an event hosted on Twitter each Wednesday night.  Wine professionals and those who just like to drink wine discuss a topic and each person who posts a tweet related to the discussion includes #winechat so that the tweets are grouped together and easier to search for on Twitter.

You may find that you do not want as many streams, or that you would like more to be visible.  What is nice about most dashboards is that you do have the ability to customize certain aspects, such as the number of accounts and streams that are visible.  In fact, this might be one of your criteria for selecting a dashboard to use. 

Sure, I can check all these streams by going directly to Twitter.com but I like the ease of clicking on another tab and viewing other accounts, such as the Ag. Entrepreneurship Extension Team Facebook Page (final screenshot).  Like the streams I set up in the Twitter tab, I can have multiple streams on a Facebbook tab (e.g. wall post stream and event stream). 











This information should get you at least thinking about using dashboards.  In my next blog posting I will describe some more dashboard features that you may helpful when posting.  

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