The Future of Social Media Maintenance?

If you’re like me, you probably look forward to school calendar season as much as you look forward to your next dentist appointment.

I can remember nearly losing my sanity during a few school calendar seasons, sorting through hundreds of pieces of paper (including handwritten notes) containing competing events and dates.

And now, many of us have social media responsibilities added to our long list of tasks. What’s a school communicator to do?

There might be help on the way. In my web travels, I stumbled across some pretty interesting web-based problem-solvers. I am in no way endorsing these products; I’m just noting a possible trend here.

Tandem for Schools, for example, is a web-based calendar service now available to schools. Using Tandem, school administrators can contribute to and update a central calendar, thereby sidestepping competing events, eliminating all that paper, and permitting the person who compiles your print calendar to retain his or her grip on reality. And perhaps, if your district is ready for this, Tandem might eventually make the print calendar obsolete.

Tandem connects school districts with parents in multiple ways, centered around a sophisticated-looking system. The web-based calendar, set up by a school district (or by individual schools, PTAs, education foundations, sports booster organizations, etc.), can sync with users’ Outlook, iCal, Google Calendar, Windows Live and other calendar systems.

The service also provides iPhone and smartphone integration so that Tandem can send emails and text message alerts to parents. Messages can be filtered by parents along the lines of their interests — for example, some parents might only want alerts about sports events; others might want to know about everything on the calendar.

Tandem also integrates with the district website by allowing you to re-direct the calendar button or the link you use to your district or school Tandem URL, and users will land right on the calendar. The calendar also can be customized to your school or district colors and logo.  And it includes directions to every event you post on the district calendar, with the help of Google Maps. You can also post individual events from the Tandem calendar directly onto Twitter and Facebook, and the calendar can be embedded onto your district’s Facebook page.

The best way to understand how Tandem works is to watch the company video.

Although Tandem hasn’t published any rates that I can find, you can see what the company offers in two different pricing levels — basic (free version) and enterprise — here. You can also sign up for a demo or watch a Tandem webinar before deciding your next course of action.

Squareberry promotes itself as an automated social media tool that helps social media managers with scheduling news and posts, tracking feedback and impressions, and centralizing and automating your social media work, saving time and angst. The Squareberry tool integrates your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, and your LinkedIn page, and it lets you post to all at the same time. For those of you without a Facebook fan page, Squareberry will build one for you.

Squareberry also allows you to use a full web-based calendar as your central events tool, and will post those events on all your social media sites. Postings can be scheduled way in advance, and that will undoubtedly save you oodles of time. In addition, the tool includes in-depth integration with mobile devices.

The free version of Squareberry (for schools and non-profits) is somewhat limited and doesn’t include the Facebook fan page creation. You’re limited to 100 events per month and three social media accounts. The pro version, at $29 per month, offers unlimited events, unlimited web calendars, and five social media accounts.

To better understand how Squareberry works, take a look at their video overview.

If any of our readers have tried out these tools, please feel free to share your experience with the rest of us in the comments section of this blog.

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