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Thanks to Claire Sale of NetSquared’s challenge to come up with my favorite and most useful tool for social media for 2010! My short answer? I would have to say Hootsuite.

A longer answer:

Why Hootsuite? And what is Hootsuite?

Hootsuite is something that will save you hours of time in a week, and weeks of time in a month, and years of time in a life.

Hoot, as in Hoot like an owl, which is the logo and mascot of Hootsuite. The owl is animated, sits in the top left corner, and when you click on it, it hops and a menu drops down. It’s SO ADORABLE!

On the utilitarian side, you can connect up to five social media networks up to Hootsuite for free and post across all of them simultaneously or separately, and schedule your tweets as far in the future as you want.

So, for example, if you’re going to be away from the internet for 2 months, but still want people to know about your swank services, you can schedule your tweets on Twitter, or on Linkedin or Facebook or other social networks.

Hootsuite

As you can see from the screenshot, you can also see all of your Direct Messages, Sent Tweets, Pending Tweets, Mentions, and your Stream in Hootsuite.

Oh, furthermore, if you use the URL shorteners embedded in Hootsuite, the http://ow.ly shortener and the http://ht.ly shortener, you can get stats on how many people click on your links.

Not just how many clicks, but also where in the world they are.

And they just added a feature where you can track which influencers mention you.

I like my URL shorteners to be a bit, well, shorter, so I use http://9.tc.
Highly recommend it! You get at least 2 more characters to tweet with!

Finally, you can also cross-post to LinkedIn and see your Linkedin Stream as well. It’s so handy!

What are YOUR favorite social media tools that you found this year?