Social media manager, new media specialist, or maybe social strategist – whatever the perceived title may be, that’s one of the roles I put on my business card. Essentially the goal I have is to assist businesses and individuals to more effectively utilize the Social InterWeb.

In this role I’ve been approached by tons of startups and organizations looking to make managing social/new media profiles easier and more thorough (with analytics and true understanding of KPIs – key performance indicators).

As far as social media dashboards go I tend to bounce back and forth between the default Twitter app, which is now actually TweetDeck, Seesmic and HootSuite. Yes I know there are other tools but the Radian 6, CoTweet and other big money platforms are outside of the scope of my stealth startup’s budget!!

Ever since TweetDeck got fully taken over by Twitter that dashboard has gone downhill in terms of usability and  is more frustrating than anything at this point. I’ll expand on that in a future post.

As far as Seesmic goes; I love everything the company is doing; the LeWeb Conference and all the other aspects that Loic Le Meur is pursuing for his company. The challenge with Seesmic, for me, and a lot of other users is that Seesmic Desktop doesn’t work with OSX Lion due to a crazy Microsoft Silverlight compatibility issue. Man I hope they get that all sorted out sooner than later.

That leads me to HootSuite. Great tool. Great management team. Great energy. I tend to bounce back and forth between having a paid subscription to HootSuite and just using the free version. I’m always looking for and seeing other 3rd party tools that’ll pull in the various analytics and Facebook Insights that HootSuite offers with their Pro membership.

But, at the end of the day, it just makes sound business sense to spend the $6 per month and have all of that analytical aggregation integrated within one tool.

Not too long ago HootSuite announced their App Directory, which I truly believe is in direct response to the great app marketplace that has been part of Seesmic Desktop since day 1.

HootSuite’s App Directory makes the $6 worth the expense. Flickr, Tumblr, and Summify were the first apps that I installed when they rolled out, but now I see that the offering has been extended to include some absolute musts for those utilizing social media, especially Twitter, to make a living.

Constant Contact, Digg, Get Satisfaction, and one of my absolute favorite tools online InboxQ have now been added to HootSuite.

InboxQ is the Quora of Twitter. InboxQ allows you to search and filter through tweets from everyone, based on whatever category or topic you choose. Then you can utilize those filters to respond and answer questions that are asked. Helps you gain followers, credibility and a broader reach since you are seen as a subject matter expert to people you probably wouldn’t have had any previous interaction with.

So I’m back on HootSuite. Still spending my $6 per month. I’m loving the App Directory. Now, my only gripe – I really don’t like how HootSuite goes to sleep after some thirty minutes or so of “inactivity”. I’d be willing to pay $10 per month to kill that feature.

What are your thoughts? Do you use any of these tools? Do you have any other recommendations? One other dashboard that I am evaluating and am participating in a beta for is MarketMeSuite which is a UK-based company getting positioned to take over the social media dashboard world!! I HIGHLY suggest you check their product out as well before finalizing on a tool of choice.

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