Best Tools & Workflow for Social Networking

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SocialConnectionsEconomist thumb Best Tools & Workflow for Social Networking How many of these social networks do you belong to?

Bebo, Blogger, Blogs, Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Flickr, FriendFeed, Friendster, Hi5, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Multiply, MySpace, Ning, Plaxo, Plurk, Posterous, Present.ly, StreetMavens, Twitter, Tumblr, TypePad, Utterli, Vox, WordPress, Xanga, Yammer, YouAre, YouTube … and others ?

That’s a nice even 30 social networks and there are plenty more. Yes, I consider blogging to be social networking, don’t argue with me.

Here’s my list of social networks that I’ve personally chosen to participate in:

Digg, Facebook, Flickr, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, WordPress and YouTube.

I chose the ones above because they are all supported by Ping.fm … the #1, super-side-kick, best, free, tool in my workflow arsenal.

By trial and error, I have finally hit upon what I think is a perfect social networking workflow (at least it is for me).

Hopefully you read my article on Why you should Blog and Social Network, since it gives you an idea of why I would even need to create this workflow.

I’m going to assume you’ve read that article and you’re already signed up for a blog and now you’re ready to start socializing.

One of the best tips I can give you when you have multiple social networking profiles is to do yourself a favor and turn cookies on in a couple of different browsers and then access your profiles via individual browsers. This keeps you more organized and allows for easier tracking. For example, I use Firefox for AimItMedia along with it’s own Bit.ly, Facebook, Flickr, Ping, and Twitter profiles. I use Safari for MyCoffeePro along with it’s own Bit.ly, Facebook, Flickr, Ping, and Twitter profiles. Then I just have both browsers open and I can post and track each one separately. The most main profiles I’ve had at once is 3 and that’s really tough to keep on top of.

My list of tools and workflow is below. Just adapt the workflow and substitute the tools to fit your own particular needs.

1. Pen and small moleskin notebook. Keep these handy to jot down ideas and random musings (worth the small cost, portable and no gadget or batteries required). No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I have these items physically with me. If I’m reading a magazine or book, at the movies, out to dinner, or just watching TV … whatever idea that I have that I want to write about or share with others … I make a note. Sometimes this turns into a little brainstorming session and I end up making a lot of little notes … that’s a good thing. Go with the flow and meander with your inspiration.

2. Evernote. Use this free desktop and mobile app to also jot down ideas that come to you. It’s also a perfect tool for web-clipping and copying/pasting links to articles and resources. You can create multiple notebooks* which you can choose to share online. Evernote’s main organization is it’s tagging and search features. This is VERY useful software! Evernote does offer a paid upgrade to premium service without ads and more storage. (Yes I upgraded to premium, it’s value is well beyond it’s cost). It gets better … you can synch all your versions! I have the desktop version, iPod Touch app and Android Phone app. LOVE IT!

*Since I have multiple websites (targeting different niches), I’ve created an Evernote notebook for each one which keeps my notes organized by website.

3. Google & Google Alerts. Next, I research my topics on Google to fully flesh out my ideas. If I have a topic that I know I’ll write about frequently (like business, design, and marketing) then I create a Google Alert (here’s a How To  guide) and have the topics automatically emailed to my Gmail inbox.

4. Bit.ly. After I’ve done my research, I take the links I want to use and I put them through my bit.ly account so I can track click-through statistics. Then I create the headline I want in a “To Ping” note in Evernote and paste in the bit.ly link. I keep a running list of pings I want to send. Bit.ly keeps your statistical data for future analysis, lets you see how many clicks your link got versus bit.ly links aggregated for that topic, and tells you where your clicks came from (referrers).

5. GizaPage. GizaPage is a fabulous online tool that allows you to assign tabs to your various social profiles and have them conveniently organized and accessible in one browser window. It also has great statistical tools that show you which profiles are being viewed by the most visitors … as long as you use the GizaPage provided links to those profiles and not those profiles own direct links. I have tabs for all my social networking files set up in GizaPage so all I have to do is click between them. I mainly use the tab for Ping’s dashboard.

6. Ping.fm. About once an hour, I open up Ping, copy and paste a single “To Ping” into it and ping it to my various social profiles. I also cut the pinged note from the “To Ping” note and move it into my “Pinged” note in Evernote. I used to let Ping shorten my URLs, but they clear your history after 30 days.

**Update! 02-05-10** I now use HootSuite to load up a week’s worth of Pings at once, greatly enhancing my workflow and time savings (See Below @ #10) and after reading this http://aimit.me/dia0083 article, I only post every couple of hours instead of hourly.

7. Windows Live Writer for the actual composition, writing, and publishing of my articles. I was lucky enough to learn of this tool through a fellow blogger … whom I didn’t write down and now can’t remember to credit! {D’oh! Should’ve used my Evernote notebook!!!}. I gather all my research notes, then start writing my article and if I get stuck or want to take a break, I just click the “Save As Draft” button and return to the article when I’m ready. Once my article is complete and Ive put in my appropriate links, then I go ahead and use the “Publish to Blog” button. Windows Live Writer publishes to most blogging networks and allows you to setup multiple accounts to post to multiple blogs. When I want to re-use the same article on another blog, it’s as simple as switching the destination blog in the upper right corner and then posting it.

8. Zemanta plugin for Windows Live Writer. This is basically a media, research and inspiration tool that I find handy. As you’re writing your article in Live Writer, Zemanta sits in a sidebar and will suggest links and media based on what you’re typing. Pretty darn cool! I also have the Zemanta add-on for Firefox for when I’m writing live online in my WordPress blogs. There’s even a Zemanta WordPress plugin if you don’t use Firefox.

9. FireFTP for Firefox. This sweet little plugin for Firefox allows you to add it’s button to the browser’s toolbars. You can set it up to access multiple FTP accounts in various locations (I have hosting at GoDaddy and HostGator so it’s nice to be able to access them both from one button in Firefox). I then upload any necessary files to my blogs (any files Ive attached to my article … like down-loadable pdfs).

10. TweetDeck. Finally, I linked my TweetDeck app and account to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and I keep it open to see what kind of activity I’m getting from my pinged status updates to those profiles. This helps you to know what topics your followers are most interested in.

**Update! 02-05-10**

HootSuite Profiles Best Tools & Workflow for Social Networking

10. HootSuite. HootSuite allows me to schedule my posts so I can setup an entire week of posts in advance. HootSuite also integrates with Ping.fm so all I have to do is schedule my posts to post to Ping.fm which then sends them to my multiple social profiles. HootSuite allows for multiple Twitter accounts so I can use it for tracking my AimItMedia and MyCoffeePro tweets activity. Finally, HootSuite allows you to connect your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and you can set them up with their own tabs and multiple columns so you can view all of the activity for those multiple profiles from within one HootSuite window.

So that’s my tools and workflow for social networking in a nutshell. Here are all the links:

Evernote Google Alerts Bit.ly GizaPage Ping.fm Windows Live Writer Zemanta FireFTP HootSuite

What’s your workflow? Leave comments below icon smile Best Tools & Workflow for Social Networking

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5 comments to Best Tools & Workflow for Social Networking

  • Hi Chase, I found your comment through Fuel My Writing and thought I'd check out your post in depth. You got a great set of workflow and I'm just getting into the gist of it so this helps out a lot. I've been exploring organizational programs in particular especially since I'm starting a 1000 articles challenge. I needed something which would help me track my submissions and whatnot. Perhaps do you know of any?

    This list by the way rocks. I will find some time to use some of them. Thanks!
    My recent post What to Consider When You’re Writing Your Helium Articles

    • Hey Thu, thanks for the great comment. You know, although there aren\’t a lot of comments on this article it is one of my most read and most socially active.

      I\’ve been swamped with new clients and haven\’t had time to keep up with my own blog lately, but a nice update to this article would be really good. I\’ve actually streamlined my process some and become more efficient … BUT HootSuite is changing it\’s offerings and adding subscriptions in the next week and I have to see how that plays out because I\’ve become more reliant on it as a major component in my workflow.

      My other major component … for everything … is Evernote. For my article submissions, I just made a notebook: Articles Submitted. Then I created a note for Ezinearticles.com and a note for Articlesbase.com (the only two I use), next I just copy and pasted the Title of the articles that I submitted into the respective notes … but I\’ve submitted less than a dozen myself so I\’m not sure it would fulfill your needs to do it that way with 1000 articles :-/

      I\’ll keep you in mind though if I think of anything or anyone mentions something that I think might benefit you.

      When I get a free moment, I\’ll definitely scope out your blog and especially read the article you mention :-)

      Cheers,
      Chase.

    • Hi Thu, how are the 1,000 articles coming? Did you find a workflow & system that's convenient for you?
      I've recently changed my workflow again, so it's always an ongoing process for me.

      I'm still an avid HootSuite and Evernote user though, but I'm very intrigued with Springpad if they can just add some functionality that's not currently available (like nestable notebooks and/or tags).

      I'm very curious to know what you've found that works for you?

      Cheers,
      Chase.

  • cco

    Hi,
    … is there still a use for Ping.fm if you use Hootsuite?

    • Thanks for the comment. That's a very good point. I haven't been into the Ping.fm dashboard for a while now and I doubt that I need it anymore with all the advances that have been made for HootSuite.

      I might have to update that post again! :-)

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