Zite social media for iPad
Zite is as a much content-organization app as a social-media tool.

10 Tools to Help Photographers Manage Their Social-Media Presence


DECEMBER 19, 2012

By Larry Dobrow

Hysteria about the ubiquity and importance of social media notwithstanding, it remains as possible to have a successful career in photography without delving into Twitter and Facebook as it was back in, say, 1964. But why put yourself at a competitive disadvantage? For both casual and enthusiastic users of social media, a host of useful tools have sprung up to help you manage your online presence. Here's a look at our ten favorite apps for photographers seeking to get the most out of social media to help grow their business.

TwitLonger

What Is It?

Twitter has the audacity to limit communications to 140 characters, which, when you factor in spacing and pesky punctuation marks, ain't a whole lot. TwitLonger, then, extends a lifeline to users who need a few extra words but don't feel like leaving the Twitter environment or writing a full-on blog post. You write the full message on TwitLonger and it automatically posts it to Twitter. Does it go against the spirit of Twitter? Yeah, sort of. But as TwitLonger cracks on its site, "People that are interested can click on the link and see the full majesty of your wit and wisdom."

Why Use It?
Because sometimes 140 characters isn't enough to get your point across, especially if that point is remotely technical in nature. For photographers in particular, the added word/character count allows the inclusion of a wealth of detail that can't fit into a single ordinary Tweet that accompanies an image: information about equipment used on a particular shoot, for instance, or a long caption about a news image, or the decision to photograph at a particular time of the day or in a particular setting. It's worth noting that most TwitLonger-ers don't go all that far beyond the 140-character limit; rather, they add quick strokes of nuance and color.

Info: www.twitlonger.com

Flavors

What Is It?

The first words that catch one's attention when arriving at the Flavors.me website are "The Digital You." While remaining wary of easy catchphrases is always a safe approach, "The Digital You‚" truly encapsulates what Flavors is about: It's basically a splash page for the user's online persona that can showcase anything the user wants (Facebook and Twitter feeds, Tumblr content, photos from Flickr, Last.fm music‚ you name it). All told, it can accommodate content from 35 services, including several fairly obscure ones that appeal to image-first individuals.

Why Use It?
For photographers in particular, the Flavors.me layout options are happily graphic-rich; the prebuilt layouts require no coding/customization whatsoever. As a result, assembling a Flavors page takes only a few minutes, courtesy of a drag-and-drop interface that even the most tech-challenged user could crack without incident. Beyond the ease of use, however, it can't be overstated how wonderful it is to be able to pick and choose parts of one's carefully curated online identity and display them in a way that's as useful and appropriate for professional-grade photographers as it is for 20-somethings who grew up online.

Info: www.flavors.me

NetNewsWire

What Is It?

RSS feeds are, in many photographers' eyes, the most efficient way to sort through mass quantities of content: Enter a name or publication and, like magic, all relevant information and images flow right into your lap. Once it's all there, of course, it becomes as difficult to manage as overflow from social media or anything else. So for anyone who needs management/editing help for his or her RSS feeds, there's the NetNewsWire app for iPad, iPhone and Mac users. For RSS diehards, getting all feeds in a single place has long been the Holy Grail; NetNewsWire, above all its competitors, provides the ease of use that such tools have rarely offered.

Why Use It?
Because of all the RSS-feed management tools, it has the most--and most easily managed--features. The Spotlight search function allows cross-feed searches; folders and feeds are sortable based on how much you use them (most opened, clicked, flagged, etc.); and any/all script outputs can be displayed. Plus there's a nifty little Dock icon, which both allows for browsing of new headlines and displays the number of new items. No, none of the sentences that preceded this one will make a lot of sense to RSS non-believers, but trust us: It's all good.

Info: www.netnewswireapp.com

Zite

What Is It?

Zite, which takes inspiration for its moniker from "zeitgeist," isn't a social-media tool so much as it is a content-organization app, one that keeps social-media-consumed individuals from missing anything that could get lost in the static of their myriad feeds. Every day, Zite scans millions of Web, newspaper and magazine stories; those that line up with the user's online reading and/or social network behavior are compiled, packaged and delivered in an eminently readable bundle to his or her phone or tablet. Basically, it's a personalized magazine that gets smarter about your interests over time: the more you use it, the better it works.

Why Use It?

Of all the tech-enabled compilers, Zite does the best job of personalizing the individual's flow of content. Yes, it requires the tiniest bit of heavy lifting on the user's part--giving articles a thumbs-up or thumbs-down lets the Zite algorithm know if it's on the right track--but even without this, Zite generally learns on its own. For the visually inclined, it replicates images and videos without any loss of clarity. One drawback: While Zite works beautifully on iPads, iPhones and Android phones, it doesn't offer a desktop version (though the company says one is on the way).

Info: www.zite.com

Who Unfollowed Me

What Is It?

Many users still regard Twitter or other social media through a quid pro quo lens: You follow me and I'll follow you back. It's sort of the unbinding social contract of the Internet era. The problem, alas, is that Twitter can become an unwieldy, time-sucking beast: After you follow everyone who follows you and add celebrities/politicians/other influencers not likely to follow you back, your Twitter list often becomes so polluted that you miss the stuff you were there for in the first place. Enter Who Unfollowed Me, which does everything its name promises (uncover the individuals who unfollowed you) and more (uncover the individuals you follow who aren't following you back).

Why Use It?
Well, nobody likes it when his or her impersonal online affection goes unreciprocated. But on a non-ego-or-emotion-related level, Who Unfollowed Me can help social-media-inundated users trim their ranks of people unlikely or unwilling to interact with them. For photographers who use Twitter primarily for networking purposes, Who Unfollowed Me can reveal the one-time followers who aren't living up to their side of the bargain. To that end, it's the social-media equivalent of a hedge trimmer. There are many similar paring-down tools; Who Unfollowed Me is the best of the lot.

Info: http://who.unfollowed.me/

Klout

What Is It?

When Klout arrived on screens a few years ago, it was dismissed in some parts as an instrument of ego-inflation (or, in many cases, ego-deflation). After auto-analyzing more than 400 social-media variables--it digs far deeper than "number of followers," delving into layers upon layers of shares and retweets--Klout spits out a number between 1 and 100. A Klout score of 1 means you have little social-media influence; a Klout score of 100 means that you're basically Lady Gaga multiplied by Ashton Kutcher multiplied by Oprah. It's not merely an algorithm-bot, however: Klout now allows others to acknowledge your influence by giving you some +K love.

Why Use It?
For those who have a high score, it's wonderful to be independently acknowledged as an influencer within your photography niche or community. After all, being liked and/or highly regarded is better than not being liked and/or highly regarded. But for everyone else, it helps streamline social-media interaction. If you want to be connected to the most widely retweeted or favorited people in a certain geographic region or in a certain photography specialty, you can find out who those people are by examining their Klout standing (assuming they choose to share it). Too, you can inch towards becoming one of those people by interacting with them and hoping they'll anoint you with a retweet or three.

Info: www.klout.com

Google Analytics Social Reports

What Is It?

Influence within social media is fleeting, thanks to the wealth of spambots and scams that can inflate an individual's total number of followers or fans, intentionally or otherwise. Google Analytics, through its Social Reports feature, helps information-poor users cut through the chaff. It provides the proverbial holistic view of social-media content and communities, offering a clearer look at the impact that your social-media efforts have on your business. If you or your followers do it--on a network like Facebook or on a bookmarking tool like Delicious--Google Analytics can measure it, any way you choose.

Why Use It?
The primary utility of Social Reports lies in its flexibility. Photographers curious about which of their social-media activities impact the bottom line can get information on conversion rates and on the value of specific referrals (e.g., Are visitors referred through Facebook or Twitter more likely to deeply engage with you?). Similarly, the Social Plug-Ins Report removes the guesswork from content analysis: It reveals which pieces of your content (photos, articles, whatever) are shared most often via social media and which social-media networks are favored by the sharers.

Info: www.google.com/analytics/features/social.html

Facebook Insights


What Is It?
Many photographers give themselves a hearty pat on the back once they finish setting up their Facebook fan page. And then they wait and wait and wait …until they realize that they don't know exactly what they're waiting for. Those photographers are the ones who can benefit from Facebook Insights, a suite of measurement tools that can help answer questions like, "Who's checking out my page?" and "Do they like what they see?" Two types of insights are offered: User Insights (total number of "likes" or fans, page views, uniques visitors, external referrers) and Interactions Insights (feedback in the form of comments and per-post impressions, daily page activity in the form of mentions, reviews and wall posts).

Why Use It?
Because it's next to impossible to glean any of the above information without some help. But also because several specific measurements are invaluable to any photographer using social media to grow his or her business. To that end, some of these measurements include an un-"likes" and attrition rate (a spike in this metric can let you know when you're doing something wrong), demographics (it can only help to know more about the age, gender, and geographic location of your fans and potential clients) and page views (distinguishing between unique page views and overall page views lets you know how many return visitors you have, and you can adjust your strategies accordingly).

Info: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/insights/

TweetDeck

What Is It?
Eighteen months ago, Twitter came under fire from the, uh, more passionate members of its user base. Among other complaints, they took the company to task for the clumsiness and inflexibility of the main, officially sanctioned Twitter app. Twitter's response? To purchase TweetDeck, the most user-friendly of the independently developed social-media dashboard applications. Its key feature is the ability to sort a flood of Tweets into manageable columns, but it also includes a range of filters (e.g., for those brand-loyal photographers who may not want to see anything including the words “Nikon” or “Canon”), scheduling tools (to have Tweets sent at designated intervals) and notification alerts (for when the most essential individuals in one's feed chime in).

Why Use It?
TweetDeck's main selling point--for hardcore users and Twitter novices alike--is the aforementioned interface, which boasts a handful of customizable columns. Users can populate them with everything from "regular" Twitter and Facebook updates to direct messages sent via Twitter to Facebook comments; if a photographer happens to find another photographer uniquely fascinating, that other individual can be assigned a column of his or her own. The only drawback is that, in its first post-purchase update, TweetDeck cut off support for a few social-media platforms--LinkedIn and Foursquare among them--that some photographers might regard as essential.

Info: www.tweetdeck.com

HootSuite

What Is It?
Reduced to its most basic essence, HootSuite is a tool that helps photographers organize and keep track of their various social networks. As such, it can be configured in a way that photo-rich Tumblr and Flickr feeds each get their own separate space within the HootSuite dashboard. But HootSuite can also accommodate photographers who need more in the way of tools; not merely for social-media coordination, but also for scheduling and geo-targeting. While the Pro version of HootSuite adds a wealth of analytics and measurement tools, the Free version offers more than enough in the way of social-media profile management for most photographers.

Why Use It?
Because others can't be counted on to manage their social-media presence as efficiently as you do. Some of the photography-world folks you follow might use LinkedIn exclusively; others might spread themselves across myriad social networks. HootSuite's dashboard comes equipped with the best organizational tools, allowing the user to customize his or her screen based on social-media platforms. For more sophisticated users and photography businesses/organizations, HootSuite facilitates the coordination of larger scale marketing campaigns across a range of networks; users don't have to make individual tweaks for each distinct network. Add in a host of measurement tools, and HootSuite is as close to a one-size-fits-all management system as anything in the realm of social media.

Info: www.hootsuite.com 

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