If you are looking for a way to make social media easier and more efficient it’s time to check out a “dashboard”. I often recommend Hootsuite for small businesses and charities. It has a free version for up to five social media accounts (think personal Facebook, business Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn plus one more), and low-cost monthly subscriptions if your needs are more than that.
If you do have a dashboard set up, have you maximized it? Is it useful? Is it helping to cut your time and the clutter you see on your networks? Here are a few things you can do to improve you’re results with your dashboard. Because I use Hootsuite, these examples are drawn from that program but are mostly transferrable to the major dashboard systems that compete (TweetDeck, CoTweet, radian6).
Tabs vs. Columns
In Hootsuite, you have the choice to set up tabs and/or columns. Tabs appear across the top of the screen, similar to having a few windows open in your browser. Columns appear within a tab. If you are only working on your business accounts, you may only need one tab. It can easily accommodate four stream columns. So, if you need to keep track of 16 columns, it might be better to create three or four tabs to group them together.
What to put in those columns
The top things you should see in your dashboard are
- Twitter Following stream
- Twitter Direct Messages
- Twitter Replies
You can rearrange the columns so that the ones you read most frequently are always in view. With six columns in this tab, you will have to scroll to the right or left to see two of them. For example, you might choose to move the “all following” column to the far right and just check it occasionally for new profiles to add to your other lists. Set up like this you can quickly scan the columns to see if there are new replies or messages to address. If there are not, you can focus your time on other activities.
Lists Save Time
My layout makes use of Twitter Lists. You can set these up through Hootsuite or directly through Twitter.com. If you’re just starting out and have only a few profiles to follow, go ahead and add them to lists in Hootsuite. However, if you’ve been tweeting for a long time and you have built a large list of followers, you will likely find it easier to add them to lists directly on Twitter.com.
Adding profiles to lists allows you to scan tweets grouped by topic, location, or even employer, depending on how well you know the profile being followed. I like to follow as many local Tweeps as possible, so I put them all in my “local” list. Since I have made that list public, anyone in Halifax, Nova Scotia who is looking for more local profiles to follow can simply check out my list.
I can add profiles to lists from both Hootsuite and Twitter.com. For me “Main Feed” replaces my “all following” stream and only contains those profiles from which I want to see every post. I follow lots of people that I want to keep in touch with, but I don’t necessarily need to see every single post from them (like the few celebrities that I follow). This gives me a column that I can scan quickly to see what is most relevant locally and to my business without scanning through literally hundreds of “useless” tweets.
Click here for more on optimizing your Hootsuite dashboard. I’ll show you how to set up some searches in another tab/column to help you keep track of more things without leaving Hootsuite.