40+ Social Tools for Personal Branding Success

The most popular question I've gotten over the last 12 months is around what tools do I use to build my personal brand.  And more importantly, how do I leverage these tools as part of my overall social strategy.  Some have asked me if the reason I haven’t blogged about all the tools I’ve used is because I don’t want to give out my personal branding secrets. Secrets that have allowed me to transform my personal and career life.  That is just plain crazy. Not only do I talk about every tool I use and have used on a regular basis. But tools enable me to amplify and scale my personal brand.

There is no one-size-fits-all secret tool combination for personal branding success.  The main reason I haven’t blogged about all my tools is because I use A LOT of tools. And, I don’t believe any tool is the one perfect tool that does everything. On that same note, I don’t believe every person should use the exact same tools in the exact same way.  Not to mention that tools and social media platforms are changing so rapidly it’s hard to stay up to date with all the features and functions.

With all that being said I decided to breakdown the tools I use into different sections and provide you a quick overview of each tool that I use. Please note: just because I use it doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for you. Rather I hope that you take away from this post knowledge of the variety of tools you can leverage and some great tool recommendations I suggest you check out and test for yourself.

Many of the tools I use are focused on Twitter. The reason for that is because I leverage the native clients for most of the other networks. Although I’m a big fan of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ I think of those networks as ones that I engage and have conversations with the people I already know. Twitter is the network where I find and engage with people who I have a shared passion with and common purpose that I haven’t met yet.

Note: Before you worry about tools for your personal brand I recommend you first find your story and identify your voice. Here is an article outlining the first steps: Personal Branding 101: What’s your story?

Your Digital Home

A landing page and home for all your social and digital assets.  This will be the address you will link to across all of your social media Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 3.06.10 PMprofiles and in the bio of blogs.  When you are just starting out a website can be overwhelming for many and require too much work. The most important takeaway is having a home that is regularly updated and contains all of your social links.

  • I used About.Me for a long while as it’s easy to configure and update and has a great mobile app and easy to link social accounts! (still use it but not as my official home and links.
  • Creating your own website takes time and effort and thats just setting it up, then you have to worry about updating it, driving traffic, managing the comments and dead links.  I usually recommend:
    • Wordpress - Most popular website creation tool that takes a little work to understand and manage but is the foundation for most of the great websites you visit daily.  (I host and manage 5+ wordpress sites)
    • Squarespace - A user-friendly website hosting and creation tool meant to simplify the web design process while still giving you the ability to customize how you want it.  (I’m using this currently for my digital home isocialfanz.com)
    • Rainmaker Newer platform that allows you to easily create a website while also giving you the tools to manage marketing and sales on that site as well.
    • Sumo Me - New tool I found a couple months ago that is a free website plugin that allows you to add social share buttons, forms for mailchimp, site heat maps and more to your website. Super easy to use and very clean and friendly on mobile!

Content Consumption, Curation and Creation

Reading, curating, and creating your own content are all important elements of your personal brand. They are the most powerful way to tell your story and share your passions.  For many blogging can be overwhelming (Me included) so I found curating content (Taking others great content and adding your own insight and then sharing it) to be a very successful way to add value while not taking up too much time. And, it’s not as intimidating as writing your own blog post.  With that being said, creating original content is important but it doesn’t have to be written blogs if you aren’t comfortable writing.  As I explained in the slideshare (Storytelling using Social Media! 9 way to Tell YOUR Story) if you are better at design you can create a slideshare, if you’re better on video you can create a video blog but the key is creating fresh unique content that allows you to tell your story.

Reading or consuming content is also important as every blog post you share, every piece of content you like or comment on is part of your digital story.  The key is finding great content from authors, bloggers, and brands you believe in and want to align yourself with.

  • Content ConsumptionScreen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.28.05 AM
    • Pocket - Read Later app that allows you to bookmark and catalog all content you read no matter the device and have it one place to search, read offline or reference at a later point
    • Flipboard - (Old Zite)Content Magazine that allows you to organize your content, collaborate with others on finding content all displayed on very clean mobile apps.  I go through my flipboard before bed each night consuming and finding content to share and flip for the next day. My Flipboard Home
    • Feedly - Great RSS feed organizer allows you to organize by categories and topics and seamlessly works with all social sharing apps and sites.
    • Daily by Buffer - My favorite content app on my iphone as it updates daily with 10-15 quality posts that are hand picked by the buffer team and can be easily added to your buffer by swiping left or right similar to tinder.  The nice part is you can read the article in the app before deciding if you want to share it to buffer.
    • Bundle Post - Allows you pull RSS feeds, curate and share that content across multiple feeds and accounts.
    • Swayy - Content organized and prioritized based on your social accounts with easy share options and refreshes daily.
    • Klout - Known mostly for their controversial influencer score they recently added a content element that allows you to consume and share content that is tailored for your audience. I often find blogs and content here that I haven’t found in any of the other tools to share!
    • Pulse - Linkedin’s content tool is a great resource for blogs and linkedin publisher content that is being shared and updated regularly.
  • Content Curation:
    • Scoop.It - Curated home for your content that allows you create, share and comment on content that is categorized and amplified by the community.  With suggested posts and RSS feed management dynamically built in, scoop.it is great for finding content, curating it and sharing it on one platform.
    • Meddle.it - Curated home for your content and others content focused on on adding your own insights as individuals or set it up for a team to increase content sharing and collaborating to establish your team as a thought leaders.
  • Content you Create:
    • Medium - Free blogging community that allows for you to create custom content easily including embedding videos and social links and inline comments. (Personal favorite of mine as it helped me gain confidence and love blogging again.
    • Linkedin Publisher - Blogging platform within Linkedin that allows you to share your content with your linkedin community.
    • Guest Blog - Lots of sites like Social Media Today, B2Community and others allow you to submit guest blogs to their sites.  (MillennialCEO.com that my team runs is currently looking for guest blogges and contributors)
  • Content Design:
    • Canva Amazingly easy to use design to that I made my homepage in my browser as I use it daily to create blog graphics, quote graphics, social graphics and more.  They also have an iPad app and a new dashboard to share your designs with others, view mine here.
    • Wordswag Great App for quick graphic creation on your iPhone as it has templates and text you can use with your photos or the ones they provide. My favorite tool when live tweeting at an event and during a twitter chat.

Social Scheduling

Now that you have a digital home and are consuming, curating, and creating content you will want to Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 3.26.26 PMshare that content with your audience.  Social scheduling and automation tools are essential for not only scaling but also sharing your content at optimal times so that you can provide the most value to your community.  Scheduling and automation doesn’t mean you don’t have to engage or read the content you’re sharing, when done right it will afford you more time to engage and have conversations with your community around your content.

  • Buffer - Scheduling tool that I leverage for all of my social media accounts that is user friendly, provides basic analytics and allows you to customize and tweak how often you post content to each social network. (This is my favorite tool and the one I credit for much of my social growth in 2014)

Social Engagement & Management

Curating Content and Scheduling Content are important but if you’re not engaging and having conversations you're missing the most important element of social media… the “Social” part.  Engagement is something that takes a time investment and finding the right tool for you really depends on the platforms and when you prefer to engage.  For platforms like Instagram, Linkedin, Google+ and Facebook I use the native apps on my iPhone & iPad to engage. I customize the notifications so that I’m interrupted only by those important engagement opportunities, while those lesser important ones only show up when I log into the app.Twitter is my favorite platform and the reason I love it is often times the reason most people are overwhelmed by it.  Twitter is a firehose of information that can become noisy and overwhelming.  The key is managing that noise. Creating conversations with those that mention you and finding engaged audiences to collaborate with.  I’m a big believer in the value of Twitter chats, as they are a great way of finding people to engage with, learn from, and help build your community.  You can read more about twitter chats value here on a blog I wrote called: Twitter Chats, Brands Secret to Twitter Relationships!. I also recommend you use Twitter lists to organize and sort your followers into categories by topics or industries.

  • Twitter Engagement:
    • TweetDeck - Available as a browser plugin or app for Mac (No mobile) it allows you separate your twitter feed into columns that are populated by twitter lists, hashtags or any search criteria.
      • I do all of my engagement from this tool when I’m at my desk!
    • TweetBot - Mobile App that has many of the features of TweetDeck allowing you to breakdown your twitter feed and view only lists or hashtags.
  • Twitter Management:
    • Hootsuite - By far the most popular twitter management platform as it allows you to manage, engage, schedule and report on all your twitter data.  This tool is great for managing a personal brand as well as a company or enterprise.
      • I utilize hootsuite for managing and monitoring client accounts as well as managing and listening to popular hashtags and twitter accounts I want to engage with.
    • SproutSocial - Tailored more for a social business or agency sprout has a very clean easy to use interface that provides great task management tools and inbox organization to manage and report on every social action.  I’ve never met anyone that uses this tool that isn’t 100% happy with what it provides.
    • Meshfire - Is a newer tool but a tool that I believe is changing the twitter and social management landscape.  This tool Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 10.44.35 PMuses artificial intelligence along with a taskboard dashboard allowing you to really organize and assign task to all conversations so you can engage and grow your relationships in an organized manner
  • Twitter Chats:
    • TweetDeck: Tool I use the most as I can setup a column for the hashtag, the host and notifications where I’m mentioned. Great for hosting chats but still requires you put in the hashtag manually.
    • TweetChat: Easy to use client built for twitter chats that automatically puts the hashtag in your post and allows you to pause the hashtag feed.
    • Nurph: Easy to use client built for twitter chats that automatically puts the hashtag in your post and has some nice features and functions for those hosting a chat on their platform.
    • Hootsuite: Like TweetDeck you can organize the chat into separate columns in one tab allowing you to follow the hashtag, host and notifications. I like hootsuite more so than Tweetdeck as you can save those tabs and use the same tab every week for every twitter chat.
    • CrowdChat: Is customized social chat platform that allows you to organize a twitter chat in a forum like discussion making the questions and answers easy to follow and also can be used as a transcript and home for others to view your chat after the event.  For this client the host and all participants must be using it to take full advantage of its features.

Social Listening

In my opinion, the most important element of social is social listening. Not only for brands who want to know who is talking about them but also for personal brand management so you can engage and have conversations with those who share your content or talk about you without actually mentioning you.  Social listening has been growing for brands and enterprises but still has a long way to go when it comes to personal brands.  So although the best tools like Brandwatch, Radian6 are designed for the enterprise, there are lots of free options and those at a low price point that you can leverage.IMG_3790

  • Mention The Best real-time monitoring across social media channels at a price that makes sense for personal brand management. I search for my name, names misspelled, nicknames and also for competitive data and personal hashtags like #iSocialTalks and #ShowUCare.
  • Brand 24 User friendly interface for real-time monitoring of social media channels allowing you to break down and splice the data you report and view by social network, campaign or customized project.
  • Hootsuite As you can see Hootsuite is mentioned in many categories as the tools is powerful and can be used for many different aspects of your personal brand.  For social listening you can save columns and searches to report on and engage from as tabs in the hootsuite dashboard.

Social Data & Account Management

Social Data is everywhere and because it’s everywhere it’s often lumped into the conversation as a Big Data problem!  The thing about social data is if you can leverage the data to better understand your community, the trends and the conversations you not only will be ahead of the game but you will easily be able to stand out from the noise and provide more value and better insights for your community.  Twitter recently opened up their analytics for all users to leverage with some basic data I found this tool very useful in understanding what works and doesn’t work on twitter.

  • Buzzsumo - Currently my favorite tool as it allows you to listen across the web to manage when you are mentioned along with the social share your content gets and a built in influencer search function that allows you to match content or keywords to influencers so you can understand what content they are sharing and what content their community is sharing.
  • SpiderQube: I use this tool often for managing and monitoring of hashtags and content being shared on twitter, as it allows you to organize and ranks who is sharing what content and when. This tool also allows you to take those lists of people and export them to a twitter list which I love!
  • Nimble Social CRM tool with browser plug-in that allows you to manage and track your social contacts and conversations.  Great for understanding and know who, when and where you engaged with all your social contacts!
  • SumAll - Great data tool for tracking trends and analytics across all of your social networks. This report is the first thing I look at daily to understand what worked and what didn't’ the day before.
  • Circlescope - Without question the best tool for managing your G+ Circles so you can find new people to engage with as well better understand your circle and
  • ManageFlitter: Great tool for understanding who is following you, who you follow, who you should be following and maybe who is inactive so you can unfollow them.  Great tool for finding people to follow in specific industries or around specific topics.
  • TweetBinder: Search for terms, hashtags or phrases and you can run reports and analytics on those topics in twitter.
  • Hashtagify.me: View and connect common hashtags with hastags that are commonly associated together.
  • RiteTag: Manages and ranks the hashtags you are using and provides hashtag suggestions to get maximum reach on your posts.

Other Tools..

If you are still reading this post then that means I didn’t overwhelm you with the massive amount of tools that I leverage on a daily basis.  To get all these apps to work and to manage my workflow, tasks and collaboration I also have a toolbox full of productivity apps that I use daily.  Rather than describing each of those and overwhelming you more I will just share a couple of my favorites here and save the rest for a future blog post.

    • IFTTT - Might be the greatest tool within this entire blog but it only works if you are using the other tools correctly so before diving into this amazing tool focus on leveraging the other ones and this tool will then take it to the next level by combining tools and data to increase productivity!
    • Evernote, Google Docs, Quip, Slack, Trello, Asana Any.do, Skype, HipChat, Google Hangout Chat, Cyber Dust, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube, Pintrest, Brewster, Nimble, CrowdRiff, Discoverly and more

Hopefully I didn't overwhelm you with tools but if you take two things away from this blog post its that tools for personal branding will help you amplify and grow your personal brand and that there is no easy button or one tool fits all so find tools in each of these categories that fit into your workflow and they'll soon become your favorite tool.

I plan on doing some #iSocialTalks videos on my favorite set of these tools and I would love to know what tools you use that fit into these categories.  Like I said at the start of this post, these are the tools that I utilize daily but by no means do I know everything about every tool.  I hope you found this helpful and as always follow me on twitter at @iSocialFanz as I love getting my geek on and talking tools!

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