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A good social media team needs to operate like a well-oiled machine, all parts working together in harmony. Attaining that level of performance requires having other well-oiled machines supporting the team as well.

Picking the correct tools is a must for any department, but surges in innovation over recent years have led to a crowded field of options. Let’s say you’re already using Sprout Social for social scheduling, monitoring, and collaboration.

What other types of services and programs are a must for social media teams? And which are the best ones available? Here are four essential tools that will help your social team work together like a Swiss watch.

1. Project Management

This type of tool is all about organization. Assigning tasks, centralizing discussions, storing information, these are the bread and butter of a project management system. For a social media team, a project management system can be useful for strategy and planning purposes. Keeping records — from the brainstorming stages to the final execution of a campaign — means that you can learn from what worked and what didn’t.

One of the industry leaders for project management tools is Basecamp. The service can organize projects into folders, so when the social world collides with marketing or sales, the entire company can stay in the loop. Another leading choice is Trello. This system allows for easy collaboration between different teams or groups. Whether it’s making lists or keeping the many moving parts of a campaign in place, Trello’s simple card-based system can be used by as big or as small a team as your company has.

2. Calendar

calendar
No matter what department you work in, a shared calendar tool is a must. With so much overlap between social and other business departments, it’s important to have both a close-up and bird’s-eye view of what your coworkers are doing.

Your choice of tool should be motivated by who is using the calendar — and how. Is it something you want to connect to other calendars within the company? Do you want anyone to be able to add and edit events, or do you want tight permissions?

Some project management tools, such as Basecamp, include calendar features, so the other main factor is what tool will mesh with the rest of your systems. If you’re already using Basecamp, then you’re all set. You can allow anyone to view the calendar — but not everyone needs to receive edit access. Google’s Calendar is one of the most common of the free choices, and if your company is using Gmail, then it’s a natural match.

3. Chat or Messaging

Typing

The nature of social media means that the work might not all happen in the same office. With a community manager who might be based in his or her home office and a team of people at your headquarters, it’s crucial to have reliable communication between employees. Even if all the important parties are in the same location, chat programs can be a better option than wandering over to a colleague’s desk to get a response.

Google Talk and Hangouts can make messaging simple for existing clients. Some programs, such as Yammer, are specifically targeted for business applications. Consider how heavy-duty a system you need, based on the size of your team and your budget, when deciding which you want to use.

4. File Sharing

sharing computer

Multimedia is a natural partner for social media. Posts across networks might include photos, videos, or documents, and the people on your social media team need a reliable program for sharing those files. Even when the material isn’t meant for public eyes, there are plenty of times when coworkers will need to exchange files. It might be between the social team and a graphic designer finalizing drafts, for example.

Google users again have a built-in option with Drive. Several other options are available for outside services. Common choices include Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box. Make sure you pick a program that offers enough storage for your team’s needs. In addition, be thorough in vetting the security measures if you’ll be sharing sensitive information.

[Image credits: Creative Sustainability, Joe Lanman, Sebastien Wiertz, James Duncan Davidson]