Wherever social media goes, hundreds of apps will follow.
There’s a major trend in the tech world to build partnering apps for outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each platform has dozens of outsider tools that revolve around optimizing your experience. They tell you who to follow, schedule your posts and generally organize your day-to-day social activity.
But you might be wondering: Do we really need all of these burgeoning apps? With hundreds of options to choose from, it can sometimes feel like social media overkill.
To help you decide, we’ve gathered up some of the most popular tools out there and the ways you can use them.
1. Set it and forget it
Sometimes it’s confusing to figure out what you want to tweet, share as a Facebook status, post as a LinkedIn update or write up as a Tumblr text post. App developers saw this opening and went in for the kill.
Buffer is one of those “set it and forget it” apps. The popular free tool, which hit 1 million users last September, connects to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts, gathering all of your social media in one place. From there, you can prep a link, text post, picture or video and schedule it to post whenever you want.
Tweetcaster, a Twitter-specific app, has similar functions. According to its site, the free tool has 10 million users, and it offers zesty extras, such as filters that categorize your timeline, a search bar and a way to hide unwanted tweets.
For the mega-user, there’s EveryPost. You can already tell what this app is about, can’t you? If you want to blast something to every single one of your social media accounts, this is your power tool. It fires off your post to each of your social networks, for a one-and-done update.
2. Discover who’s watching you
A growing web presence sometimes translates to a growing obsession with web dominance. Once you set up a Facebook account, you immediately want more friends. Once you sign up for Twitter, you want more followers. Once you get LinkedIn, you want more connections.
Plenty of apps have sprouted up to fill that obsession and curiosity. Who are you following? Who’s following you? And more importantly, who’s unfollowing you?
Fllwrs tracks your Twitter history to see who just followed or unfollowed you. It also posts these updates as a tweet, signaling how desirable or undesirable your account is.
Then there’s JustUnfollow, which encourages users to cleanse their Instagram and Twitter accounts by tracking their following.
The app also eyes users you follow but haven’t reciprocated the favor, so you feel a little bit of justice in pressing the “unfollow” button. To achieve maximum equilibrium, JustUnfollow also shows you which of the users you follow are inactive or hardly post anything.
Cloak helps you unfollow people in real life — well, almost. Through Foursquare and Instagram, it shows you where people are checking in. If there are people you want to avoid, you can “flag” them on the app, which will alert you when someone you don’t want to see is checked in nearby. It’s the ultimate antisocial tool for those who are always connected.
3. Organization when it gets to be too overwhelming
Constantly being on the social grid is like having a second job. There are tweets to check, statuses to like and blog posts to favorite. It can be frustrating for those who hate to miss a thing (see: “FOMO“). That’s why there are aggregate social media sites to manage everything for you.
HootSuite is a management tool that connects and organizes your major accounts down to the last tweet, status or check-in.
“Today, we are seeing social networks become more fragmented,” Greg Gunn, HootSuite’s VP of Alliances, Business Development & Platform, tells Mashable. “With separate apps being utilized for specific communications objectives, savvy marketers understand the importance of a distributed social strategy that takes advantage of each network and their individual strengths.”
The dashboard comes as a free mobile app, so you have it on the go, and it currently boasts 8 million users.
IFTTT is another tool that aims to manage all of your media action. It stands for “If This, Then That” — the idea is that you “put the Internet to work for you.” For example, if you upload a photo or video to Instagram, IFTTT can automatically save it to your Dropbox account.
These requests, called “recipes,” are entirely created by you, selecting how you keep up with your many accounts.
Do we really need these apps?
So, does having a bunch of extra apps on top of our social media apps help our overall social experience, or hurt it? It all really boils down to your interest level.
If you like to stay tapped in, these apps will help you stay ultra-connected. If the thought of constantly trying to juggle numerous social media accounts sounds exhausting, then the apps-on-apps renaissance probably isn’t for you.