Free must-have apps for social media managers

These five apps make managing your social communities on the go easier and more effective. Also, find out which smartphone Nicole Nash thinks is made for social media managers.

As a social media manager, you don't need to be plugged in 24/7, but you do need to monitor the company's online communities more hours than most. Some situations call for a fast response time, and you're not going to get that on a weekend if you have to log in at a computer terminal to check on things. This is why a smartphone or a tablet is a necessary tool for your job.

While many kinds of posts are more easily created from a traditional computer setup, some smartphone apps offer features not found elsewhere. Before I cover which apps to download, I will suggest the smartphone I think is best for social media directors and community managers: Samsung's Galaxy Note II. This recommendation is unsolicited. I have this phone, and I LOVE it. There are apps I had on my old Android phone that I didn't have to download when I upgraded to the Note II, because it comes preloaded with software designed for social media managers. The S-Pen functionality is amazing; I love the multi-window; and the battery lasts forever and charges quickly. Yes, it is large, and yes, people tell me how big my phone is on a daily basis -- they don't do this job, so they don't understand. This phone isn't particularly hip and trendy, but it makes my job as a social media manager easier.

Now that I've told my take on what equipment to buy, here's a short list of some of the most useful apps a social media director or community manager can load that phone up with:

1. Evernote: Put this app on all your devices and curate content from anywhere. You'll thank yourself for it the next time you can't think of anything to post on a slow news day.

2. Facebook Pages Manager: This app will alert you to Facebook page activity that needs a timely response (like fan comments), and the functionality is more robust for page management than the regular Facebook app. You should have both apps on your mobile devices -- the regular Facebook app for personal use and the Facebook Pages Manager for business use. 

3. Twitter official app: It's actually easier to use Twitter from this app than from a computer. The best thing about this app is the Quote function. Bonus: A recent update makes it easy to switch between Twitter accounts, which is great for managing multiple business accounts or a business account and a personal account.

4. Instagram: You never know when a great photo op might happen, and images are the best social media content. Plus, Instagram is a social network in its own right, so that's one more place to be.

5. Google Analytics: This app allows you to watch your company's website traffic in real-time, so you see what posts are working and when. You need Google Analytics permissions set by your website manager in order to use it.

A good rule of thumb is to have the mobile apps for all social networks that your business is on installed on your mobile devices; this allows you to get activity alerts without having to log in to all the networks throughout the day. Different networks are busy at different times of day, and being ready to engage community members when they want to be engaged is important.

Divining deeper into good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices will also help your message be more effective. Next month, we'll take a closer look at SEO tools and how to use them.

Also read: Five tools to help simplify social networking management

By Nicole Nash

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...