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May 07, 2009

Social Media Outposts: Maintenance

By Mike Fruchter of MichaelFruchter.com (Twitter/FriendFeed)



This is a continuation of last week's post regarding creating social media outposts. The first part was creating outposts or as I refer to them, tollbooths. The core objective is for organic search engine traffic, and reserving the brand's identity on the given social networks I have chosen. It's no secret anymore that social media optimization works and it works well with regards to search engines. In the previous post, I outlined my reasons for choosing the social media platforms, today I will delve into maintenance, which is basically updating the outposts.

Maintenance starts with automation:

Automation is key to making this work. My outpost task is for commercial use, so it's not a viable option for me to manually update all of these outposts. Some of the outposts will have to be manually updated, but the majority of them will be automated. I will be covering some of the tools and features for automation that I use in this post.

Blogger:

Since I will be using multiple Blogger.com accounts for this task, and updating the majority of these blogs at the same time, the solution is post by email. This works because the blogs I will be updating are going to be receiving the same content. This also works with Wordpress blogs.


I simply create a mail list with all the distribution blogs post to email addresses. Using Outlook or Gmail, I compose the blog content. The subject of your email letters will be the titles of your posts, and the body of the emails will be the posts themselves. To include an image in your post, you can attach an image to your email. You can also use plain text or HTML when composing your posts via email.

Twitter:

To send status updates to Twitter, I will be using TweetDeck. I prefer TweetDeck because of the ability to group my followers, and because nothing comes close to it, at least for a Windows client. TweetDeck also allows you to post status updates to Facebook. There is one drawback though, presently you can not use multiple Twitter accounts on TweetDeck. This is a major hurdle as I will need to be updating multiple Twitter accounts at the same time. Seesmic would be better off for this task because it supports multiple Twitter accounts and grouping. Both of these are desktop AIR apps and are memory hogs, so there are plenty of other solutions for posting to Twitter. Eventually the clients will be taking over these Twitter accounts and will have their own preferences on how to post to Twitter. Most of these clients are not too tech savvy, and in speaking with them, the majority of them are used to using a browser for everything. Using Twitter.com to post will probably be the road they take.



Facebook:

For updating the Facebook fan pages I will be using a few of the built in options as well as using a few applications. For my objectives, I'm only concerned with automation for videos, status updates and notes. There are a ton of Facebook applications you can use for customizing your Facebook fan pages. Read this Mashable post for a good starting point. Spend some time browsing the application directory for a full sampling of all the current Facebook applications.

Status updates:

There are a few Facebook applications that will do this using your Twitter account's RSS feed. One that I have been testing out is RSS Connect. You can also use ping.fm to update your fan pages too. There are a few other tricks to do this, but either one that I mentioned should be suffice.

Notes:

This will be done by using RSS. Simply add your blog's RSS feed, set it and forget it.


Importing video:

Videos for the fan page will be imported in from our YouTube channel. You can either upload them manually to your page or use YouTube Video Box or YouTube Box for automation.


Importing photos:

I do this manually, as I want to be selective on what photos I add to the fan page. I suspect there is probably an application for this. I also allow on the the fan pages for tagging and adding of photos by fans.





Create custom boxes:

With basic HTML knowledge you can use Static FBML to create custom boxes to cater to your fan page needs.


MySpace:

This outpost will be pretty much bare-bones. Its only purpose will be for branding and vanity url purposes. I will customize the layout, upload a few target videos, link back to my central hub, fill in some profile data and that's all. The application gallery is very weak. While there is an option to export blog postings made on Myspace, I did not find an application to import RSS feeds into Myspace. MySpace is the weakest link in my outpost strategy, again only being used as a branded outpost and that's all. Set this one and forget it.

YouTube:

YouTube will be used for the main video hub. All videos are uploaded to YouTube through YouTube.com first, then distributed to all the outposts. There are tools to create videos and upload them to YouTube directly, I prefer using their website to do this. With our YouTube channels, the first thing we did was customize our channels.

  1. Log into your YouTube account. Click the yellow "Edit Channel" button.
  2. Set up your channel information - website URL, profile picture (88x88) and description.
  3. Within Channel Design scroll down to "Advanced Design Customization". Set background, link and border colors.



If you are looking to automate the YouTube upload process, a good site to use for this is TubeMogul.com. TubeMogul will allow you to send videos to YouTube as well as Viddler, Vimeo , and a whole slew of other video sites.




One tool that does it all is ping.fm:

You can use ping.fm to pretty much update all of your social networks. Ping.fm supports over 40 social networking platforms. I have tried it out in the past and it works pretty well. One word of advice is not to cross your streams. The last thing you want to do is have double or triple updates of the same message broadcasted across your social networks.




That's pretty much the tools of the trade that I recommend and or use for updating my outposts. I'm still pretty much old fashioned and prefer manually updating the majority of my content, but when it comes to bulk and that's what this project is, these tools, once set up, save a lot of time and effort. In the end, it's all about working smarter not harder.

The next post, part three, is not necessarily about outposts, but more on brand monitoring and a big part of that is monitoring the social media networks for brand mentions. Stay tuned...

Image by Rejar under Flickr CC

Read more by Mike Fruchter at MichaelFruchter.com.