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Social gems: Alternate tools with compelling twists

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It's often hard to keep track of all the new social tools coming down the pike. And let's face it, we sometimes get comfortable with a few trusty solutions and can overlook nifty new ones we might consider as alternatives. Here are some interesting approaches to social marketing metrics and management that bring their own twists to the game.

• FanGager. Last year I wrote about FanGager, a suite of tools that can add to a company's Facebook or Twitter page such things as customer rewards programs (airline miles, credit card rewards points, etc.), discounts, games and polls, while measuring engagement with specific activities.

Now, with such clients as American Express Co., Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Corp., FanGager has added more than 100 new interactive engagement activities for brands to capitalize on Facebook's recent redesigns. FanGager's app suite of engagement activities now appear directly on a brand's News Feed and Timeline, encouraging fans to engage organically and share in real time rather than going to a separate tab section. There are also such new features as Trivia Video (answer questions, win points) and Profile Pic, where fans create the image of the brand's next profile picture.

• Ping.fm. Managing just one social channel is challenging enough, but what company is limiting itself to just one these days? The vast time-suck of jumping from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter to you-name-it, all with multiple messages to author and track, doesn't leave time for much else. Enter Ping.fm, which allows companies to network their various social channels via Ping's cloud-based service. Once all your accounts have been linked via Ping, the same messages can be posted to all of them. Of course, you may not want to do that, so Ping permits the creation of sub-groups, so particular posts can go just to, for example, Twitter connections. All in all, Ping seems best suited for blanket brand messages and wide distribution.

• SocialVolt Studio. Companies want to control external social conversations to drive customer perception, but they also may want to keep a tight rein on the social activities of employees, so as not to run afoul of sensitive corporate protocols. SocialVolt Studio has a number of tools that make sure posts adhere to company policy. This may sound draconian, but especially in certain niches (financial, government, healthcare, legal) unmonitored social postings can get a company in hot water.

This new “enterprise” version of SocialVolt provides for the sharing of social messages via multiple social platforms, while adding in an enforceable author-review process to ensure message quality. How? One feature allows a company to automatically block certain terminology, words or phrases unless they're reviewed. SocialVolt also allows for rights access for staff who engage in social media on a company's behalf.

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