With a seemingly endless list of social media tools out there today, you might need help sorting out the best from the rest. Here are my picks:
1. Mention: Google Alerts for the social web. Mention is one of the best tools to monitor your brand's presence across the web. It includes mentions of your brand or keywords you want to monitor on social networks, forums, blogs and more. Mention also includes social features that allow you to respond to mentions of your brand and to share industry news that you find.
2. Buffer: Social media publishing plus powerful analytics. Buffer is a powerful social media tool (here are some tips for getting more out of your tweets) that sends your updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and App.net. It also has built-in analytics to help you understand why certain posts are working well, and the best times to publish updates based on your audience. Plus you can collaborate with your team to keep your accounts topped up with fresh content.
For an easy to use tool to manage your company's social media presence, check out the newly launched Buffer for Business.
3. Feedly: Content discovery. Finding great content to share with your audience is easy with Feedly. Not only can you subscribe to RSS feeds to keep on top of industry blogs or news sites, you can also use Feedly to discover new content related to your topics of interest.
4. Twitter Counter: Track Twitter progress. It can be easy to lose track of how your Twitter account is growing; that's where Twitter Counter comes in. It's a free service that tracks changes in your follower count and predicts future growth over time.
Twitter Counter can be useful in understanding how quickly your number of followers is growing, and using that information to make decisions about the content you share (like re-sharing older content that new followers would have missed.)
5. Zapier: Link favorite social services. Zapier is a connector for all of the services you use independently, connecting those services to make your workday simpler and easier. For example, if your team uses HipChat to keep in touch you can use Zapier to set up automatic notifications inside HipChat rooms for Tweets, MailChimp campaigns, or new RSS items.
And you can connect productivity apps like Trello, Asana and Evernote to social networks like Twitter or even business products like Dropbox and Github.
6. Bottlenose: Intelligence for social networks. Bottlenose now features a real time search engine that queries all public information from social networks and groups and displays it in algorithmic order of importance. The result? An awesome stream of content ranked by most to least important. Try, for example, "startup insights." I feel sure you'll find a number of great resources.
And of course you can easily share the top results. (If you come across a bunch of cool resources, add them to your Buffer so you don't forget, and don't overwhelm your followers. If you're interested, here's a guide to integrating Bottlenose and Buffer.)
7. Followerwonk: Follower analysis for Twitter. Although you can use a tool like Twitter Counter to watch the growth of your number of Twitter followers, you may need to analyze your followers more carefully. Followerwonk breaks down your followers into demographics so you can understand them better. The best part about Followerwonk could be its analysis of what time your followers are online, helping you to know what times you should tweet to reach more people.
You can also find out when the people you follow tend to be online--just in case you're trying to start more discussions with those Twitter users.
8. Quintly: Social analytics for brands. Quintly is a powerful tool for in-depth social media analytics, helping you track your business's social media performance on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. Quintly also has benchmarking features that help you understand how your performance compares to competitors and industry averages.
Plus the quintly dashboard is easy to customize so you can focus on the stats that matter most to your business.
Those are eight of my favorite social media tools; what about yours?