Today’s guest post is written by Lisa Gerber.

You may have heard a thing or two lately about CEOs and their communications challenges (cough, Netflix).

Well, MarketMeSuite CEO Tammy Kahn Fennell had the pleasure of sending a slightly different email to their paying customers recently; customers would no longer have to pay for their product.

That’s right! MarketMeSuite (MMS), a premium social media dashboard, is now free.

In a competitive domain, being free is certainly a nice differentiator. The question is, do you get more than you pay for? Let’s hope so.

I spent some time getting to know some of the features and experimenting with it for Spin Sucks Pro as a tool to help build community. I thought I’d share some initial findings, but it will take more time to get an even better idea of its full capabilities.

If you have been using it even longer, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, it allows you to manage all of your social media accounts from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can send, schedule, and monitor your messages. You can monitor your lists, and the conversation.

It then takes it a step further by making it easier for you to proactively target your audience, follow them, and engage with them.

If we break it down in terms of building community, it would look something like this:

  1. Listen. Find your audience by performing and saving keyword searches to understand what is being said about you and your competition. Use the location-targeting feature to find people in your market. Identify influencers, follow them, and create a separate list. (This is all done in a variety of steps. I would love to see this streamlined in future MMS versions. Hint hint.)
    • Want to know what is being said about you or your competitor? Type in your keywords and your geographic location (if you want) and immediately start monitoring the conversation.
  2. Engage. At first, when I saw the reply campaign tab, I got all tweaky inside. I thought this was going to be an automated function, but it’s not. What it is, is an easy way to quickly engage (authentically) with a lot of users that fit the criteria you enter. You can save frequent tweets and recall them. You can create custom tweets on the fly, and save to your templates.
    • If you are in tech support, you can use pre-written tweets to answer commonly asked questions. If you need to point customers to links, you can have these pre-saved and easily accessible.
    • If you are a restaurant in Chicago, you can use lunch and the location criteria and help anyone out looking for a place to eat in your area.
      Word of caution: While it is a very cool tool, there is the danger of it being used in the wrong way. This doesn’t give free reign to be spammy.
  3. Measure. You can measure and track your efforts with their suite of analytics. What I found would work for our needs, but Tammy tells me that’s where the money will happen. They intend to release a suite of premium analytics “like no other” which will appeal to those with more complex needs.

I am really only scratching the surface here. Other bells and whistles I found appealing include branded tweets and signatures, which create more links back to your site. The ability to color code tweets helps collaboration, and you can manage your RSS feeds as well.

From my perspective, what really differentiates MarketMeSuite, is their community. You may have seen Tammy here on Spin Sucks guest blogging for us. She and her team are smart, and they are involved. They listen to their users and are working to upgrade the product; “their baby.”

It’s not only about the product but the support you get with it. It’s also why we love Livefyre…and Nordstrom!

Version 4 is scheduled to be released in early 2012. Tammy won’t tell me a lot other than “it will be a different approach to dashboards” and will include a “social inbox.” Oh, and it will be web-based. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eye on MMS.

If you want to check it out, you can download it here. Have you tried it? What is your experience? What are you using to build and manage your community?

Please join us for our next webinar: Media Relations Measurement,
with Johna Burke of BurrellesLuce moderated by Gini Dietrich.
Thursday October 27 at 11:00 a.m. CT.
This webinar is $50 and you can register here.