A version of this article previously appeared at KISSmetrics.com.
Social media is everywhere. It's in our homes, places of worship, schools and, of course, our businesses. Everywhere you look, people are using social media and are talking about it. And it seems that every week a new type of social site pops up.
And as the number of social networking sites grows, so does the number of services that are created to measure, track and monitor those services. What's a marketing professional to do?
To help you cut through the clutter, here are the 10 must-use social media tools that can not only help you make sense of your social media efforts but make them more effective.
EditFlow is a plugin from open source content management system WordPress that allows you to manage your editorial team seamlessly.
With it, you can get a snapshot of your month-to-month content with the calendar feature. It also offers improved content status beyond WordPress' default draft and pending review. And user groups can help you keep your team of writers organized by department or function.
Who should use it and why: Any business owner who manages a multi-author website should give EditFlow a look. This tool can keep all of the things that are important to a multi-author blog in one spot so management is easy, clean and documented.
This tool allows you to see how far your tweets travel. For example, with TweetReach I can search my blog and come up with these results. It breaks down how many people your messages reach and how many tweets it took to reach them. For instance, TweetReach can tell you how many times your tweets have been shared by retweets, replies and other standard tweets.
Who should use it and why: From a social media manager to a small-business owner, basically anybody who is interested in finding out how effective his or her tweets are based upon the number of people they touch should consider using TweetReach. It can also useful from a metric standpoint in terms of justifying the results of your social media campaigns with senior management or partners.
This Durham, N.C.-based startup is a social media platform that aims to help marketers connect the business dots with the social media dots. ArgyleSocial offers a single dashboard to monitor Facebook and Twitter that allows you to delegate tasks to your team. It also offers easy reporting on the ROI of your social media efforts.
If you'd like to be an affiliate, you can use ArgyleSocial's white label brand and resell the social media platform to your clients. All of your accounts can be wrapped up into one bill and sent to you to distribute or absorb as an included service.
Who should use it and why: From the social media manager to the one-person business that needs to prove to management, clients or themselves that their social media campaign is paying off.
4. HootSuite for iPad
HootSuite users should be happy with this iPad application. It includes a stationary column in the sidebar that keeps track of all streams being tracked.
Among the other things HootSuite says you can do with this iPad app include checking in using a Foursquare account, scheduling messages to send at a later time, examine click-through statistics, add geo-location coordinates to messages and shorten URLs with a built-in Ow.ly tool.
Who should use it and why: HootSuite for iPad is for heavy iPad users who want to manage their social media content and engagement.
You might be thinking you don't need another Tweet metric tool, but TweetLevel, allows you to specifically search for hashtags, which can lead you to insights on who to follow based upon conversation versus person.
Once you've found someone you'd like to follow, you can use TweetLevel to help measure his or her social influence. You can also evaluate the buzz around a certain topic to determine if it's a trend worth paying attention to. Then take a peek at related phrases around your topic to gauge the true scope of the trending idea.
Who should use it and why: Public relations managers and social media marketing professionals who want to analyze a campaign should give TweetLevel a try. This tool can help you identify the Twitter conversation, where it's going wrong and how to correct that mistake.
When it comes to Twitter, numbers might not be as important as the people you follow and who follows you. ReFollow is an application that allows you to lock in those followers that you've connected with and make sure they continue to follow you.
Other features include filtering a search on Twitter to uncover insights, such as what you have in common with certain followers. This can lead you to connecting with someone who maybe you're Twitter conversation has been close to zero, but with a simple direct message to that person you can make a connection and build a business relationship.
Who should use it and why: This can be the perfect tool for the person who wants to grow a list of highly-qualified, like-minded people. Consider using ReFollow if your concern is quality over quantity, which it should be.
You've probably heard of TwitterSearch but, more than likely, you aren't using it correctly.
New media expert Thomas Baekdal offers a number of little-known tips for using TwitterSearch. For instance, to see what people are saying about your competitors, search with to:competitor or from:competitor. Replace "Competitor" with that company's Twitter handle.
To uncover top trending topics search that topic plus –rt filter:links. For example, "digital marketing-rt filter:links". That code will remove all of the retweets from the search.
Who should use it and why: Anyone who wants to use and search Twitter more effectively should brush up on his or her TwitterSearch skills. And knowing what's trending on Twitter can be a useful way to generate ideas for your business blog. When you see trending topics, you can create a blog post with content relevant to that discussion.
One simple way to find and follow people who are influential in your space is to use Traackr. It allows you to identify the "authorities" in your industry who can mean the most to your business or your client's.
What's also useful about Traackr is that you can watch how social media leaders are responding and contributing to content you are sharing. An ad agency, for example, can see who it should target to help social media campaigns get off the ground, build its engagement strategies based upon Traackr's unique intelligence and then see results of those campaigns.
Who should use it and why: Traackr can be a useful tool for either advertising agencies or brands that want to build social media campaigns that improve over time and show how they pay off in the end.
The Topical Influencer platform by SocMetrics is a web-based tool that allows you to identify influencers, understand who these people are, interact with them and then monitor your campaign.
The "Competitive Influence" feature allows you to specify brands and drill down for detailed influencers. What's slick about this tool is that you can narrow your search to a long-tail keyword, seeing who is truly influential.
Who should use it and why: Any marketing professional who wants to build an effective social media campaign based upon influencers in a specific industry should give this a look. SocMetrics can help you harness the power of thought leaders, which in turn can help you build your brand and sell more.
10. Social Scope
For BlackBerry users who've longed for an app that combines Twitter and Facebook on one screen, such as TweetDeck for your desktop, consider trying Social Scope.
And on that same screen you'll see a thumbnail image if someone shares something from TwitPic. It also has a built in retweeting feature, hash tag search and will also let you see the entire URL to know where a truncated URL is pointing.
Who should use it and why: Anyone who owns a BlackBerry and has a Facebook and Twitter account is a prime target for this app. It's probably the closest you can get to a desktop-type app on a BlackBerry.