What are the best social media management tools?

A few weeks ago I installed Rescue Time in an attempt to monitor my time and manage it more effectively. While it hasn’t helped from a management perspective, it has helped me to recognise the areas in my work day which provide the most distraction. Facebook is my number one time wasting activity,which is hardly surprising, as this is the only social network which I haven’t yet integrated into my Social Media management tools.

Following on from the Social Media Examiner 2012 Report, I’d like to offer up some answers to the most popular questions which the marketers surveyed were hoping to find answers to. This week: What are the best social media management tools? And how can marketers best use them to maximise efficiency?

First up, you have to decide if (and how much) you’re willing to pay for the service. If you want to keep things free, try out TweetDeck from Twitter. This powerful little tool will work in browser, as a Google Chrome App, or on your desktop. It will allow you to manage your Facebook and Twitter profiles and set up custom streams according to your needs.

Pros: The tab layout makes it easier to customise your preferences. Browser based, so you can manage it from anywhere. Hootsuite Pro allows you to add multiple team members. Also includes integrates analytics, so you can keep track of your CTR.

Cons: Not all tools are available on the free account.

And finally, if you want high-powered social media management wizardry, look no further than Spredfast. They’re immensely vague about their pricing, instead preferring to contact you to discuss your business needs before offering a quote. This package is not for the light user; it features campaign tracking and management for big business.

Pros: This tool offers everything, with the support needed to help you get the most from it.

Cons: The cost – social media would have to be a big part of your budget to justify using this tool.

The secret to using any of these platforms for social media management is to learn to change the way you look at your social media streams. You’ll quickly develop a style of scanning for relevant content and reacting to specific events.

What tools do you use to manage your social media profiles? Did I miss any gems?