Managing your social media presence online can be a time consuming and laborious task depending on how many platforms you work with. Depending on the size of the company social media can be a full time task but thankfully there are some great tools out there that can ease the burden and, occasionally, pain of keeping your social media stream completely up to date. There is the big debate about automation of Twitter feeds etc, but a happy medium can be reached to keep everyone happy. Here are my must have social tools.

#1 – HootSuite

I have had a bit of a love hate relationship with HootSuite over the past two years or so but have returned time ands time again because I consider it the most complete tool for pushing out my social media messages. Not only does it handle Twitter but can push out feeds to Facebook, Foursquare, Ping, LinkedIn, WordPress, Myspace and something called Mixi which I assume has nothing to do with a disease in rabbits.

From its very comprehensive interface you can choose which streams to feed, choose different avatars for your platforms, attach images or files and schedule your messages. The core interface is very customisable allowing you to prioritise what information you have in front of you.

If you are a company or agency HootSuite allows you to track ROI through its stats facility, something that is worth investing in the premium version if you have to prepare comprehensive reports for your board or clients. You can even keep track of your social activity on the move as HootSuite is available for iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Blackberries and Keitai.

There are other tools out there such as Tweetdeck that can do something of the stuff that HootSuite manages but nothing I can find has such as complete and rounded package for serious social media people. If only it would incorporate Google+.

#2 – SocialBro

Here is a truly useful Twitter social media tool that hasn’t been around for that long but which is one of my must use tools if only for one of the many features it includes – best time to tweet, Before SocialBro came along I was micturating in the breeze without much thought for the timing of what I was live tweeting and scheduling tweets through HootSuite.

What SocialBro does is to go through all your followers and analyses when they are most often online and creates a map of the best times to tweet and hit the people who are following me. Sheer genius, not least because a lot of my followers are in time zones outside of my own and to live tweet would be impossible.

The full list of services offered by SocialBro are too many to talk about here but they include insights into the most common language of your followers, whether they use the default or personalised avatars, if they have web site URLs attached to their profiles,. where they live, thjeir influence, when they last tweeted … the list just goes on and on. Where SocialBro scores big time is in the way that it interacts with my next must have tool …

#3 – Buffer

One of the things that really hacks me off about Twitter in particular is when someone suddenly sends burst of maybe 10-15 tweets or more all in one go. This smacks of spamming and is totally unnecessary. If you use a tool like HootSuite you can easily schedule them to pan out over a more reader friendly timeline or you can use Buffer.

Buffer s not an automatic tweeting machine because you choose what information you want to push out and over what time period. Because a lot of my followers are in America it makes sense for me to get my tweets out at a time they are up and about so Buffer can be programmed or scheduled to push out a specific number of tweets between certain times.

What makes it even better is that you can program the timings from within SocialBro. When SocialBro works out the best time to tweet it also enables you to click on a button which then changes the times within Buffer that tweets are published. Buffer allows you to schedule up to 10 tweets free of charge. If you need more than that the premium rate is very reasonable.