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Dashboards: Do They Really Help?

Dashboards are mashups of information pulled from multiple sources. They can save you time and simplify your marketing efforts. But they come with a cost.

Dashboards: Pros

As you may have noticed, we have a new name. While we are still the BrandBuilder Company we are now doing business as Brand Builder Websites. With this new name we have new photos, a new domain for our website, and a better company description. This meant that we needed to update our profiles on social media networks and in local directories.

Updating your profile on social media networks is quick and very simple. Having a dashboard to update this information would not make sense. The value in a dashboard connected to your social media networks is to easily communicate with people. Not to change a tagline.

Dashboards would save you from uploading the same information to hundreds of sites.

Dashboards would save you from uploading the same information to hundreds of sites.

Updating yourself in local directories is very different. Local directories are very important for local SEO. There are big names like Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Yelp, and Foursquare, but the number of local directories is vast. If you want to improve your local SEO results you must claim your listing across these services. You must keep this information consistent. Claiming your listings is time-consuming. It often involves verification through mail or the telephone.

Updating your listing across them is easy. It does not need much technical knowledge. But again, it’s time-consuming. If you are going to make a serious effort to improve your local SEO efforts I would recommend looking for a company that provides you access to a dashboard. There are free services like GetListed that will check things for you. There are no free services that offer a dashboard to edit your information. Companies charge hundreds per month for these dashboards.

Dashboards: Cons

Dashboards do not have all the features available in the main product. Sometimes this is a design choice figuring that dashboard users would not be interested in a product. Sometimes there are technical reasons that are simply not possible to the developers of the dashboard.

Many dashboards view and post content to Facebook. I have never found a dashboard that lets you post a link in a comment in Facebook and get to see a preview of the link and choose the photo like you can when posting to Facebook directly. The best you can do with these dashboards is post a URL somewhere in your comment. I have personally found that unacceptable for marketing purposes. I have always logged in to Facebook to post links. I truly wish a dashboard existed that made this simpler because I hate accessing Facebook via the web or the mobile apps on Android or iOS. They’re too slow, clunky, and bog down whatever computer or device I am using.

Cross platform dashboards are on the decline. In 2011 I wrote about TweetDeck. It was a great social media dashboard that let you view create columns from Twitter lists or from multiple accounts. It also allowed you to connect a single Facebook account where you could manage your Pages. I enjoyed the dashboard. Sadly, earlier this week TweetDeck dropped support for Facebook. They also closed down their mobile apps for Android and iOS. Twitter owns TweetDeck so it makes sense that they are focusing exclusively on Twitter. But it made the product less useful overall.

I’ve now turned to Plume as my alternative app on Android as it is nearly feature complete with TweetDeck. It is arguably better in some regards. It has far better support for tablets than TweetDeck. The biggest drawback is that you cannot post as one of your Facebook pages.

Sadly I have not found a good replacement for TweetDeck on Windows 7. Right now I am using the Facebook-less version of TweetDeck and Facebook Messenger for Firefox. The most promising service was Seesmic. Unfortunately HootSuite purchased them in March. I never found HootSuite’s interface appealing. That is why I did not switch to them.

As you can see I have lost time searching for replacement tools for this dashboard I enjoyed. It saved me many hours in the past and helped keep me informed. I am now being less productive having to find a new tool. If I relied upon the original services I would not have this problem.

What are your thought on dashboards? Have you found them a blessing or a burden? Please share your story.

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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.

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