What are the key social media tools that PR professionals need to go from bumbling amateur to results-driven superstar?
Here are 12 of them:
1. Google Analytics
The standard tool for website statistics, Google Analytics
is free, reliable and (mostly) easy to use. Advanced ecommerce sites
can benefit from heavy-duty paid-for tools, but for PR work, Google
Analytics lets you get all the key information about traffic levels and
content popularity, and how people find your stories.
2. Google Insights for Search
Want to know how people's online search habits are changing and how they
vary around the world? Need to see how people's search patterns
fluctuate during the year? Or just want a fun comparison between the
relative online interest in God and the Devil? Google Insights for Search
is your friend, providing essential data on how search terms compare.
3. Google Keywords Tool
Turn to the Google Keywords Tool
to determine the keywords to optimize your online work and the terms
the public uses when searching for something. It's another free service
from Google. The data is not perfect, but is still a good starting
A simple one-page service, Namechk
lets you check your desired username against over 150 different Web
services and social. It is a great way to see quickly if you can get
your chosen name on the services you want—and a smart way to see what
services a rival brand or product name has taken up.
No, not Klout
Klout may have won most of the attention, particularly in the US, but
British based PeerIndex has some better features for looking at who is
making the best use of their Twitter accounts. PeerIndex's tool that
enables you to analyze all the members of a Twitter list in one fell
swoop is especially nifty.
6. Facebook Insights
Relying on the total number of "likes" for a Facebook page tells you
almost nothing of use. Instead you need to be an administrator of a page
and plunge into the "View insights" option. Herein lies a wealth of
information about who is doing what and when with your page and its
content. The tool is essential for determining what is and is not
7. YouTube Analytics
As with Facebook, YouTube has a rich seam of data available to those who
upload films. That's a strong reason to upload videos yourself rather
than leaving it to third parties. For your own videos, view them on the
stand-alone YouTube page and then click on "Analytics." Among all of the
rich data look out particularly for "Audience retention" which shows
how viewership fluctuates as your video goes on.
8. Google Alerts
Google's free email alerts service
is the bedrock of many a PR team. To get the most of it, take a little while to learn how to construct more advanced searches
that sort the wheat from the chaff in your results.
The only tool in this list that does not have a free version, Radian6
is one of the market-leading online monitoring tools and with good
reason. Its big advantage over rivals is a flexible charging model. You
are not tied into heavy, long-term costs and can instead stop and start
searches with great flexibility at competitive prices.
Free for entry-level use and cheap for more intensive use, HootSuite
enables you to manage multiple social media accounts all from one
secure web page. You can schedule content and even have a team of people
work effectively together to manage one or more accounts.
Despite some reliability hiccups, Buffer app
has become the must-have scheduling tool. Tools such as Hootsuite let
you schedule social network updates but Buffer goes one step
further-slotting future updates to the most effective timeslots so
people read them.
Last, but by no means least, is the most popular website with a Libyan domain name, Bit.ly
(the .ly is for brevity rather than due to any Libyan origin of the
tool). Originally designed with just URL shortening in mind, Bit.ly now
generates useful statistics that show whether people click your link,
their location, and so on.
Of course, no such list, whether it has 12 or 12,000 entries, is definitive. What is your favorite tool?
Dr. Mark Pack is head of digital at MHP Communications, one of the top 10 communications consultancies by revenue in the U.K. A version of this story first appeared on the 12 Most blog.