The Best Tools to Help Marketing Departments Manage Multiple Online Personas

Modern marketing departments have to manage several moving parts.  A large part this management is the ability to have team members responsible for an activity within the department switch fluidly from one persona to the next depending on the task.  Let’s say a social media manager needs to share an article or PR piece from several accounts within the same company, he/she should be able to do so quickly without the need to log in/out which would increase the possibility of making a mistake.

At a certain point it simply becomes too confusing to keep a mental log or spreadsheet of so many different brands, identities and the applicable login information.  The good news is that there are plenty of tools available to help.  Among them, Roboforms, Hootsuite, and Gmail’s account-linking or delegation feature.  You can use this article as a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Linked Accounts in Gmail

Marketers need to constantly switch between different roles depending on what’s most appropriate for their clients’ business goals.  You wouldn’t want to junk up a client’s main email inbox by using that email to correspond with vendors or sign up for directories.  This translates into using multiple email accounts, which in many cases means multiple Gmail accounts.  Constantly logging in and out of numerous accounts is a hassle at best and can lead to debilitating mistakes at worst, so how can you make the process smoother and speedier?

By linking the Gmail accounts you manage using a feature called mail delegation.  This tool is especially useful for marketing companies with multiple employees, because it allows users to delegate email access to other administrators (i.e. other employees within the company).

Here’s how to get started delegating Gmail accounts:

Step 1: Go into Gmail and click on the gear symbol ( gmail gear ) in the upper right corner of your Gmail page.

Step 2: Click on “Settings.”

Step 3: Click on the “Accounts” setting.

Step 4: You’ll see the phrase “Grant access to your account.”  Navigate here, and then click on the link titled “Add Another Account.”

Step 5: Type in the email address of the user you’d like to grant account access to, then click “Next step.”  (Note: this will only work with other Gmail addresses. If the email address you’re interested in is outside of Gmail, the person can quickly create a Gmail account for free.)

Step 6: You should get a confirmation message at this point.

Step 7: If all the information looks correct, click on “Send email to grant access.”

Step 8: Gmail will send the delegate an overview email.  Of course, it’s still a good idea to quickly confirm with the person yourself to ensure they understand their new abilities and responsibilities.

Finally, it’s important to point out a few caveats and limitations of account linking:

  • You will not be able to delegate your chat capabilities, or the ability to alter account settings or passwords.  Delegation covers email messaging functions only: reading, responding, and deleting.
  • If multiple users are frequenting an account from different locations, Gmail might become suspicious of hacking attempts and temporarily lock the account.
  • Different size limits may apply.  For example, you can typically specify (or “designate”) a maximum of 10 users.  If you’re using Google Apps for Business, Education, or Government, the threshold increases to 25 users.
  • If the need arises, you can easily remove delegates by following Steps 1-4, and then clicking on “Delete.”

Just how helpful is the delegate function?  As one Business Insider review says, “Once you’re up and running, you’ll never want to go back.”

RoboForm Identity Manager

RoboForm is mainly thought of as a password management system.  While keeping a concise log of multiple passwords is certainly helpful, this isn’t RoboForm’s only purpose; you can also use RoboForm to help manage your web identities.

First, you’ll need to choose which version of RoboForm is most appropriate for your needs.  One option is standard, which can only be installed on one system.  Unless you’re a sole proprietorship and work alone, you’ll probably need RoboForm installed across a couple of machines, which is a yearly subscription covering multiple installations.  RoboForm Everywhere utilizes cloud storage, which means you can quickly access your data from any physical location.  (If you travel or give presentations frequently, you may also want to consider RoboForm2Go, which is the portable USB drive version.)

Once you’ve made your selection, it’s time to actually get started:

Step 1: Go to www.roboform.com.

Step 2: Click on the green “Download RoboForm now” button.  RoboForm works with Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer, and is compatible for use with all of the following platforms:

  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Windows Phone
  • Windows Metro

Step 3: You can now use RoboForm to manage your identities, quickly populate web forms, sync your data, and access multiple sites at the same time.  Just as you would create a grid of your passwords, you can also create a grid of your identities and their associated contact information.

Hootsuite

Last but not least, consider rounding out your persona management toolkit with Hootsuite.  Hootsuite touts itself as a “social media management dashboard,” which makes this tool particularly relevant for marketers who have been tasked with reputation management.  If you’re responsible for a client’s Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+ page, or other social media accounts, Hootsuite might be perfect for you.

You can use it to schedule posts in advance (which means you can queue content to go live during peak traffic hours), target content for different clients toward their respective demographics (which is ideal for marketers whose clients work in different industries), and share a dashboard between different users, similar to delegating with Gmail.  When you delegate with Hootsuite, you can grant users varying degrees of access, assign tasks to employees, and label team leaders so that unapproved info or content doesn’t accidentally slip onto live sites.

As a professional marketer, you’ll probably want to go straight to Hootsuite’s two “Business Plan” options: the “Pro” version, and the “Enterprise” version.  The “Pro” version is better suited for small agencies, while the “Enterprise” version is designed for larger corporations with numerous employees.  (There’s also a free plan, but it’s missing some features you may want, such as custom URLs and message archiving.)

Step 1: Go to https://hootsuite.com/signup?planId=1 and create a Hootsuite account.

Step 2: You’ll be prompted to “Connect Social Networks.”  Click on the “Add Social Network” button and pick the network you’re using.

Step 3: You can add tabs and streams.  Tabs work as organizational labels, with streams filed under tabs.  A dashboard can hold up to 20 tabs, and one tab can hold up to 10 streams.  That gives you a maximum potential of 200 streams, which can be deleted later.

Step 4: You can compose and send messages by clicking a social network, writing your message, and clicking send.  Hootsuite has features to add images and manage drafts like a normal email account.

Step 5: You can install any relevant apps (some of which are free, and some of which are premium) by clicking the puzzle piece icon and following the prompts.

Step 6: Strongly consider downloading Hootsuite mobile.  Mobile users represent an increasingly large chunk of site traffic.  (In fact, statistics from BrightEdge Mobile Share report that mobile accounted for a full 30% of traffic in 2013 – an increase of 125% from 2012.) By disregarding mobile, you’re cutting out a large portion of your client’s potential customers.

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