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Work Less Get More with Social Media Management Tools

Are you tired of posting the same content over and over to social media? Having trouble remembering your many usernames and passwords? Here are some free social media tools that can help you get more with less work.

Seesmic Ping (seesmic.com) is a social account management tool. "Ping" enables you to post to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all in one go. You can schedule a post for later and even enable posting via email. With some limitations, you can share links, photos, and images. Applications are available for Windows Desktop, Android, and iPhone.

Seesmic offers a free and paid version of Ping. The free plan offers up to 10 posts per day and up to three accounts for posting. That is, one account each for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The paid version offers unlimited posts and more features such as support.

What people are saying about Seesmic Ping: "You can schedule tweets ahead of time, and post to multiple platforms." On the downside: "You can only post. There are no options to be able to see the timeline of your posts on the linked accounts."

Pay for service seems to be the trend. Hellotxt used to provide wider social networking opportunities than Ping. You could post your status to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Posterous and WordPress, and more, all in one post including images and videos. Apps were available for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The service closed down completely in August 2012.

HootSuite calls itself the "leading social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks". Like Ping, it has a free and paid version. The free plan allows one individual to have five social profiles, message scheduling, quick social analytics reports, and two RSS/Atom Feeds (which provide the ability to auto-update your social profiles from your blog or news feed.)

An article in PC Magazine said: "Hootsuite's beauty is its streamlined nature; you can view multiple social networking streams on the screen at the same time without opening new pages" and "HootSuite's analytics are what really set it apart from competitors". Another comment is that the upscale analytics come at a steep price.

The paid versions, Pro and Enterprise, provide more in-depth analytic tools such as an enhanced report, Google Analytics, and Facebook Insights all integrated plus unlimited social profiles and RSS Feeds. The Pro version is $9.99 a month for two users. HootSuite Enterprise is available for unlimited users and also provides a higher level of social media analytics. More information at www.hootsuite.com.

Amazingly, Posterous Spaces is 100% free of charge. With Posterous, you create "spaces" for people to follow. You can control who views the spaces. For example, you can have a space for your customers, another for your friends, and yet another for just your family to view. See an example of a Prosperous Space at work: allthatinspires.me.

Posts to your spaces can be as long as you wish including images and videos. You can post by email. The subject line of your email becomes the title of the post. Posterous can also be integrated with your business Twitter profile and Facebook page. There are free mobile apps for IPhone, Android, and any phone with emailing capabilities so you can post on the go. When your space is viewed from a mobile device, it automatically renders for it.

What people are saying: "Here's one of the reasons I like Posterous so much. I've got a unique email address for my site.  All I have to do to post is open a new email and send it to the right address.  Posterous converts the subject line of the email into the title of a new post.  The message body becomes the content for the new post. " On the con side: "There are not so many themes [for the spaces] to choose from. The only good thing about themes is that you have a lot of customizing options after choosing one – you can change the colours, pictures etc."

Begin with the end in mind. Before spending large amounts of time and money on social media tools, you have to determine what your needs are. If you post to a wide variety of social media, you probably need a management tool so you can do all your posts at once. If you post on the go, consider a tool that has mobile apps suitable for your device. Most of the free management tools are suitable for one or two users only. If you have a team of users or need social media analytics, you may need to consider the paid versions.