By Stuart M. Altschuler, CPF, GCF
After spending the past year speaking to small business people about Internet marketing and social media, the questions they ask become repetitive. Most business owners can handle the how-to, but the most frequent question is: “How do I find time to do all of the things that you suggest, and still run my business?”
That’s a great question with a simple answer: use your computer.
Several programs exist that will help you manage your online activity, programs that allow you to keep on top of everything. Install and use these programs and you’ll find that it is much easier to be involved in online marketing activities.
What are the programs? While some are better than others, most do the job. I have put together a group of tools to stay on top of things. My choices may not be the best programs, but they work well for me. In general, I favor no cost or low-cost alternatives to ones that are more costly, primarily because I do not see enough extra value in the more expensive programs to justify the cost.
The first program is called TweetDeck. It is a free application that aggregates the feeds from many of your different social media streams. With this program you can view your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz, and other accounts—all on the same screen.
TweetDeck also lets you post to each of those platforms. And, it lets you schedule those posts so you can queue up a bunch of messages to go out when you want. Visit www.tweetdeck.com (which works on any platform, i.e., Windows, Mac, Linux, smart phones, etc.), then just add your accounts and you are good to go. The program can be customized to show just what you want to see.
I also use a web app called SocialOomph, which allows me to schedule posts as well. But more importantly, it lets me reply automatically to people who choose to follow my Twitter feeds. And the automatic replies are random. I set it up with five different replies and it sends them out whenever someone new signs up. This is a good way to engage people without the hands-on required.
You have read of my affinity for all things Google in the past. Google has a piece of my social media desk with the Google Alerts system, where you can set up an alert to tell you whenever something appears anywhere online. I have that setup for my name and my topics. It allows me to keep up with what others are saying about me; essential in reputation management. I also use Google Alerts to keep me up to date on my competition. I can see what everyone is up to easily, all from the comfort of my e-mail box.
Most businesses are better at describing their products and services with words and pictures, not just the 140 characters that Twitter allows. There is a service called Screenr that lets you create a video cast of anything that is on your desktop, with narration. In order to narrate you just need a microphone on your computer. I just found this app and within an hour I had a 5-minute promo of my Internet marketing speech on my YouTube channel as well as ready for Facebook and Twitter distribution. Since I also publish a blog, I posted it there as well.
Finally, I have several sources where I look for additional resources. But when I’m doing my research I never miss looking at oneforty.com. In fact, visit http://oneforty.com/PFAConsulting/stuart-s-toolkit, where I have created a toolkit that you can all download right on that site. It has all of the apps that you’ve read about here.
Stuart Altschuler, CPF, GCF, director and lead educator of Prestige Framing Academy, has been in the art-and-framing industry for more than 30 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.