Guest post by Pat Briscoe, from Blue Tongue Communications.
A titanic battle is underway to win the hearts and minds of content sharers on the burgeoning social media frontier.
The contest for a slice of this huge audience has led to the creation of a new breed of management tools that will appeal to millions of professionals and hobbyists who want to save time and get better results for their efforts.
At stake is pole position in an emerging multi-billion-dollar market and a potential goldmine for the player that builds the biggest user base.
Time Saving Features
Some of the software now available is able to find articles on any subject and post them to multiple social channels on full auto pilot. The best on offer can automatically add the right hashtag and shorten the web address to save the poster time and space, while making sure it is seen by the right people.
Other impressive features include the ability to configure curated streams from trusted sources, general keyphrase searches and filters to exclude unwanted material from specific domains or containing certain words. Users can also weave their favourite blogs into the content they share and schedule windows for when it is sent, ensuring their followers are not overwhelmed by receiving too many posts at once.
According to Blogpulse, more than a staggering 150 million blogs are registered with Tumblr, WordPress, LiveJournal, Weebly and Blogster. This does not include the millions of “new media” websites or the many other contenders scrambling to get a foothold in the social media space. Latest industry figures show active user numbers on Facebook are now more than a billion, closely followed by 700 million for China’s Tencent network, 540 million on Google+, 465 million on Whatsapp, 355 million on WeChat, 280 million on Skype, 200 million on Twitter and 160 million on LinkedIn (source Wikipedia). The numbers are growing every day and there appears to be no limit to the potential size of the market.
As the content binge continues to gain traction with businesses looking to beef up their sales, the new tools are guaranteed to pique the interest of professionals at the pointy end of marketing and public relations. And they will tempt many small business owners who have yet to include a social media strategy in their marketing plans because they fear it will chew up too much time for too little impact if they get it wrong.
ZootRock is emerging from the pack as a clear leader in encouraging this new audience to participate.
Founder and CEO Audrey Melnik said: ”ZootRock is poised to help those individuals and companies that are new to social media and recognize they want a presence but lack the resources and skills to be effective on social media. We provide a framework so that they can maintain an active presence, and increase engagement and followers, all with very little effort.
“When a user signs up, they can choose to subscribe from a variety of curated streams of content on various topics. They can also enter a keyphrase specific to their niche and we will provide trending and relevant articles and blog posts that are related to that keyphrase. We also offer images and quotes that can be very popular on social media.
“We present the content for the users to review, edit and post to their social media channels. We support Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Scoop.it and RSS. Alternatively, they can set it on auto-pilot and we will post new content straight to their channels every day.”
ZootRock is feature rich, highly configurable and flexible, and is a great time saver. The auto-pilot feature works well on the Twitter and Facebook platforms for users looking to share content fast with no editing.
ZootRock is now part of the lucrative US 500 Startups program that offers entrepreneurs major cash incentives, mentoring and strategies for fast customer acquisition. Expect major refinements to its features and interface in the near future.
Buffer, launched in 2012, was an earlier entrant to this fledgling market and has put together an interesting mix of features that curate content, as well as blog feeds, and enable users to invite others to contribute to their information sharing. A useful reporting tool offers basic analytics that track posts, interactions and followers on each channel. Updates on comments, re-shares and likes are also available, meaning it will score well for businesses seeking feedback on the reach of their content marketing campaigns. Buffer has well integrated Smartphone and iPhone apps. It also has a neat feature similar to the Evernote clipper, which enables a right click option to share any website you have opened in your browser.
With more than a million users, according to founder Leo Widrich, it has stolen a march on the competition in terms of market penetration but is not as feature-rich or configurable as ZootRock, despite a smoother, more refined user interface that should be expected after more than two years of development. If you want a simple and effective content management and scheduling tool, then Buffer is an appealing package.
“In short, Buffer helps you to post smarter to social media and never overwhelm your friends and followers on Twitter or Facebook (and now also LinkedIn and Google+). So you put everything you find interesting, blog posts, any piece of content into your queue, which is your buffer, and from there we post it to Twitter and Facebook, well spaced out over the day at a better time so more people can see it and read it,” Widrich told blogger John Doherty in 2013 as Buffer’s user numbers began to explode.
Kicked Into Touch
Klout are creators of the curious – and controversial – “Klout score”, which is a number between one and 100 that supposedly represents social media “influence”. This is no more than a gimmicky hook to engage users in attempts to improve their ranking by increasing their social media output via the Klout interface.
Klout has also introduced “Perks”, a system of rewards given to content creators which may appeal to the masses but is more likely to “irk” the true influencers in the content marketplace. The Klout business model has courted widespread criticism by ranking several little known bloggers as having a higher influence than US President Barack Obama. While it still offers users the capacity to curate their social media content, the Klout package is not the best option for serious authors or sharers.
Another serious curating tool with a well established user base is Feedly, which enables content sharing and scheduling from your favourite news sites, feeds, blogs and YouTube. Total Feedly user numbers may be as high as 15 million (unconfirmed). This audience grew rapidly as millions of passionate Google Reader users switched to Feedly after it closed in 2013.
For a comprehensive list of other useful management and curated content tools visit the Curata blog.
My advice is to test drive as many as you can and determine for yourself which works best for your needs. I can highly recommend them all for saving many hours in researching and posting content, as well as bringing many more potential new followers, connections, likes and re-shares to your social media sphere. The winner for me is ZootRock but stay tuned for many exciting developments as this social nook continues to mature.