Pros and Cons of Social Media Dashboards Threadsy, HootSuite, & MediaFunnel

Written by Robin WildingApril 7, 2011

Using a dashboard in your social media strategy is like bringing a Lamborghini to a street race—possibly overkill but guaranteed to put you ahead of the pack.

Unifying your social media strategy with a media dashboard is not only a good idea but it will also shave valuable man hours off of your efforts. A social dashboard will help you to create a winning strategy and stick to it, as it sets up daily steps for you to follow—ensuring you do not miss any critical aspects of social marketing.

Most dashboards include services for Facebook, YouTube, blogs, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, and more. You can also use your dashboard to track social mentions and create posts and updates across multiple social platforms. Your social dashboard can also be a vital tool to help you with analysis of your social media strategy via: gross page view counts, connections, friends, activity, audience engagement rates, brand mentions, referrals, track your top contributors, conversions, and posting rates.

There are throngs of social dashboards that have come out of the woodwork, each with different features and focuses:

Threadsy
Threadsy was one of the first unification tools to market for social media marketers and still remains one of the most popular. The intuitive dashboard is easy enough to use for even beginner marketers, making it a popular choice. It is also free of charge, making it very popular with small businesses and non-profits. It lacks collaborative tools or teams so it is ideal for social media lone rangers.

This tool can pull together top social media site accounts, blogs, and emails and categorized the feeds into ‘inbound’ and ‘unbound’ feeds—‘inbound’ meaning messages directed directly to you from Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, etc while ‘unbound’ is general feeds from the sites.

Pros

  • You can add multiple email accounts in addition to multiple accounts from Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.
  • You can easily check and send messages via any account.
  • One-button retweet and reposting ability.
  • Changeable views of the system via pre-set settings.
  • Messages deleted via Threadsy are deleted in the source account.
  • Ability to use archiving.

Cons

  • Lacking in enterprise grade tools like contact management and CRM.
  • Lacks the ability to manage contacts from your inbox, only by opening up related content regarding the contact.

Hootsuite
Another old-timer that has been around since the beginning is Hootsuite. This oddly named dashboard packs a punch in both its free and paid subscription versions. Hootsuite’s free version allows you to update across multiple platforms (up to 5 networks) and two RSS feeds via your computer, iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry. The suite allows for teams to work collaboratively and stores stats for up to 30 days. The free version is supported by ads but the ads are not too distracting—unless you are a cocker spaniel and are easily distracted by shiny things. The ad-free paid version, which costs $5.99 per month (additional costs for additional users), includes all of the above plus unlimited stat history, unlimited account connections, Google Analytics integration, and Facebook Insights integration.

Pros

  • The paid version is extremely affordable and contains valuable analytical tools.
  • Easy-to-use dashboard.
  • Ability to bookmark via the Hootlet Bookmarklet tool.
  • Ability to schedule posts and tweets.
  • Useful 30-day history.
  • Ability to add multiple users (paid version only)

Cons

  • Lacks the ability to save tab configurations when you are connect via your mobile or tablet.
  • Lacks a full capability RSS reader.
  • Free version tools are limiting.

MediaFunnel
MediaFunnel is a new player to the game, but is gaining ground quickly. Formerly called TweetFunnel, MediaFunnel focuses on collaboration and unique technology features like their tweet-to-lead feature, salesforce.com integration and ‘guest tweet’ abilities. MediaFunnel’s ability to manage workflows has launched this dashboard to semi-stardom, as has its editorial review process.

Pros

  • Collaborative tools are perfect for marketing teams as you can designate administrator, publishers, and contributors.
  • Editorial review process helps companies control brand imaging and compliance.
  • Scheduled postings and tweets.
  • Search and pre-set alerts for social mentions and brand monitoring.
  • Analytical tools.
  • SMS message integration.
  • Tweet-to-lead and Salesforce.com integration which funnels social marketing activity into sales leads.
  • ‘Guest Tweet’ ability helps engage users outside of the company to get involved in the company’s Twitter stream.
  • Free and paid accounts—and the paid version is incredibly affordable at only a few dollars a month.

Cons

  • Still in its infancy and is undergoing changes and improvements.

Conclusion
If you have the budget available and are making a serious commitment to social media then purchasing a paid subscription to MediaFunnel or Hootsuite will increase your effectiveness. If your social media efforts are limited and solely administered by a single person then a free tool like Threadsy might just be your ticket. Either way, adding a dashboard will cut your time in half and encourage you to more fully administer and analyze your social media marketing strategy.

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