Thousands of social media accounts have been left abandoned on the side of the Internet highway. A few simple tools can prevent yours from joining them. (<a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2272">creativedoxfoto</a>)

Setting up social media accounts for your business is the easy part. Continuing to use and take advantage of these accounts on a regular basis is like running a marathon that never stops. Many social media accounts sit like untended gardens. Thousands of them have been left abandoned on the side of the Internet highway. This is absolutely normal and the high attrition rate will ultimately work in your favor if you stick with social media for your own business. Here are a few tricks and tips that make it much easier to keep going.

Adopt a turtle vs. hare mentality

Having the right mindset and expectations is critical in order for this new Internet medium to increase business. Using social media is not like buying Adwords. Very rarely does it translate into overnight increases in traffic, sales or business. Its primary value is in widening  your field of influence. Eventually, social media does pay off, but it will take time. It’s normal to wait six months before seeing any increase in business.

Use tools to facilitate easy account management

Once your accounts are established, there is the option of logging into each one separately and updating them manually or using a variety of tools to make the process easier. Here is a quick look at the most popular social media management tools available today.

Twellow: Twellow thinks of itself as the Yellow Pages for Twitter. Acquiring Twitter followers is one of the most difficult aspects of social media. Twellow simplifies this process and brings greater exposure to your account. Think of Twellow as an extra Twitter employee. Twellow is especially valuable for agents because the Twellow account includes a 2000 vs. a 140-character bio for the Internet search engines. This provides a much better place to sell yourself and your unique products. Twellow also includes a location-specific element that lets you connect to people within your immediate community. This is very valuable for salespeople, who often rely on trust facilitated by direct, person-to-person contacts.

Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a tool that facilitates the management of multiple social media accounts through one dashboard interface. Hootsuite makes it possible to publish and track content in Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress blogs and more using just one account. Hootsuite also includes basic education and strategies for learning about online branding. In a very concrete way, Hootsuite helps users become more efficient by allowing them to schedule automatic updates to all social media accounts at once. This prevents you from bombarding followers with content when you have time to create it.

One thing to be aware of with Hootsuite is that Facebook and Foursquare seem to be grouping updates from services like this in one place, leading to a decline in responsiveness from followers. This is a controversial issue and one to explore before you decide whether or not to use this tool.

Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck is similar to Hootsuite for the management of both Twitter and Facebook. There are a few things that have made it the preferred tool of choice lately. Unlike Hootsuite, Tweetdeck includes instant real-time updates. This is due in part to the way Tweetdeck is installed on your computer. Both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck look like applications, but Tweetdeck is a full application (created by Twitter) while Hootsuite is not. Moreover, Tweetdeck allows one user to have unlimited profiles. This is especially important if your company is hiring one assistant to handle all social media accounts for several agents.

Pinterest: Pinterest is the hottest new social media platform. While it is a networking site in its own right, it also offers tools for sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter. It is easy to set up and includes a button on your browser that allows you to share anything you see on the Internet painlessly with people on Pininterst, Twitter and Facebook.

Pinterest is excellent for sharing information with clients in a very relaxed manner. Pinterest is also fabulous for people that are not computer savvy. It’s easy to navigate, use and keep track of friends and trends. Mostly a design and hobby site, the insurance section on Pinterest is still in the early stages, but agents (especially women) have seen success connecting with clients through this medium.

No matter how you decide to manage your social media accounts, it is a good idea to focus on one or two accounts to start. Always focus on what your clients want to know and think of ways to help and connect with them. And always keep the “social” in the “media!”