And with such a proliferation of tools to help you manage your activities, you run the risk of spending all your time managing the tools that help you manage your online activity, distancing yourself again from the dialogue you are building with customers.
There are multiple niche tools that could help you do this or that, and if you have a specific need there will almost certainly be a tool for it (or a great idea for you to generate one?!), but it will always be a personal time trade off as to which tools are worth investing time in and how much closer to your goals they can help bring you.
Start by trying out some of the more generic tools, and see how much simpler they can make your day. Here are three of my favourites:
1. Google alerts
One of the main challenges is to avoid information overload while keeping a good overview of what you want to track online, so anything that allows you to streamline incoming data is critical. Google alerts is simple to set up, will look at all public data on the web, and will send you emails containing returns on your search data at a frequency specified by you. Lets you keep a good overview of your web, especially when you can be specific about what you are tracking.
Tweetdeck offers a simple view on one screen of your network activity, at the moment including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare and others. Whether it will continue to add new networks, given it was bought this year by Twitter, remains to be seen, but for now it gives a great column by column overview of your network activity, and you can comment on posts directly without having to visit the network itself. Tweetdeck also allows you to save searches if you want to track mentions of your keywords in real time.
While lots of people give the impression they spend all their time on Twitter (and the more determindedly inefficient of us may well do), there are better ways to remain in your contacts timelines and so increase the weight of your presence online. One of these is buffer, which has different options from free to subscription that allows you to schedule your tweets to appear at particular times of day – times when your audience may be most active but you are unable to tweet directly. This can be very liberating if you need to get your message out but are unable to do this personally every time.
Mastering a few versatile tools well should give you more productive time to work on your business, and will mean that you can make more of your online activity in less time, giving you the overview of your niche that you need to develop and succeed.
What are your favourite tools and why do they work well for you? Leave a comment below with your choices.