I am a social butterfly. I flit, I fly, I flutter. I also use tools. (Is that the definition of metrosexual?) And if there is one thing that my years as a chef, barista, coffee roaster and beer brewer taught me:
The right tool is essential.
Be it a professional, sharpenable chefs knife, the perfect tamper, or a digital hydrometer the better the tool the better the result. Tools do not make you a pro, but pros are better with better tools.
Having a kick butt 9″ ceramic Wusthof does not make your dish Iron Chef worthy, nor your shallots minced perfectly evenly like little diamonds of deliciousness without the skill and talent to use it well. But it sure helps.
Having a stainless 58.1mm Reg Barber concave Bubinga does not make your espresso extract in perfect glorious technicolor unless you also have the training and skill to get all the variables right and use it correctly.
I am not a photographer. No matter how expensive my camera is I just am not a pro photographer. I tested this hypothesis with my friend Jeff Taylor of PT’s Coffee. He is a former photo journalist and he has not lost his touch. He visited me last year at my brewery in El Salvador and since he was on a coffee sourcing trip he had his amazing camera with the $1,000 lense. (He actually had several amazing lenses.) He was snapping photos of the team at work and they were breathtakingly good. I thought “Let me see that camera, I bet I could take great photos with the right tool.”
I used the same tool, same lighting, same subjects. The Photos were OK. Not bad but not great.
He took the camera and took the exact same picture and it was brilliant. Perfectly framed, expert depth of field and clarity of subject. it was awesome and magazine worthy. It took him about 5 seconds to shoot it.
Same tool, different skill, radically different result. But compare my photos from my crappy little $200 camera to his photos with the $2000 camera and the differences were starkly obvious.
The tool makes the pro more pro.
With that in mind here are my top four tools I use and recommend for social media professionals. These are not all expensive or difficult to use. Although in the world of freemium madness any cost seems exorbitant. Until that tool delivers kick butt value.
So here they are:
- Sprout Social – Social Media management, social listening, scheduled posting, engagement, kick butt reporting and overall management
- Bit.ly – shortlinking and link tracking – its free and basic but its awesomely useful, you can integrate it into Sprout Social and customize it to a unique URL.
- Buffer – auto scheduling app that rocks, awesomely built into everywhere so its easy to curate and schedule sharing
- Atomic Reach – extra level spell-check, grammar check, audience fit and passive voice killing for blog posts.
I use each of these tools for both clients and myself.
Sprout Social starts at $59/month and is well worth it. I prefer it over HootSuite which I have used extensively. The reporting and interface in Sprout is far superior in my opinion. And scheduling posts is far easier in Sprout. it’s main drawbacks is no support for LinkedIn pages (coming soon).
Bit.ly I can easily create unique vanity URLs for a client and it integrates perfectly with Sprout Social so shortening is seamless. It is free for the basic version.
Buffer is great for scheduling posts to social media and especially Twitter. I use the free version most of the time, but their biz version is pretty tight. My use case for Buffer is curating content. As most of us do I tend to read several stories at one sitting. I find many I want to share but don’t want to share them all at once so I use Buffer to auto schedule them at optimum times. I also use it to quickly schedule my own blog posts when I don’t want to go into sprout social.
Atomic Reach is not technically a social media tool but since I write a lot of articles and blog posts and share them on social media it is a great tool and helper. I abhor the passive voice and one of my favorite things about Atomic Reach is that it lasers in on both standard passive voice and the edges of passive voice. It is a wonderful tool for double checking your writing and acts almost like a first pass editor on your copy.
What tools do you use and recommend for improving your social media presence?