Hootsuite is a very popular social media management tool that provides pretty much all the features you’d need to manage the major social networks.
The Free Version Of Hootsuite
The free version will be sufficient to handle most people’s personal social media presence. The free version lets you:
- Manage up to three social profiles,
- Gives you basic analytics reports,
- Basic scheduling capabilities,
- Two campaign templates (for sweepstakes or contests)
- Allows basic app integration, and
- Allows use of two RSS feeds.
The Pro Version Of Hootsuite
The Pro version of Hootsuite starts at $8.99 a month (this is the version I have and will be demonstrating) and is intended for small businesses and social media professionals and consultants. If you’re serious about maintaining your personal brand and have more than three social network profiles to manage, you’ll want to seriously consider this option. The Pro version let’s you:
- Manage up to 50 social profiles (you can add up to 100 with add-on modules),
- Enhanced analytics reports,
- Advanced scheduling,
- Collaboration between one other team member,
- Up to eight campaign templates,
- Basic app integration,
- Unlimited RSS feeds,
- Additional security measures, and
- Optional Vanity/Custom URLs.
The Enterprise Version Of Hootsuite
The Enterprise version of Hootsuite is intended for large organizations, has unlimited features, and you’ll need to contact them for pricing.
How To Use Hootsuite Pro
Hootsuite is a social media management tool, so its primary features are scheduling status updates and monitoring your social streams. I use Hootsuite to update my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts primarily. Hootsuite supports Profiles, Pages and Groups for both Facebook and LinkedIn but only supports Pages for Google+. You can also manage WordPress.com sites (I don’t because all my sites are self-hosted) and your Instagram account.
[Tweet “COOL TOOL: Hootsuite #SocialMediaMarketing”]
I use Hootsuite primarily for scheduling status updates throughout the day. Since people tend to dip in and dip out of their social streams throughout the day, I update my accounts every half hour so that I have a better chance of being present when people check their streams. So, every morning I devote time to schedule updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
I will also use Hootsuite to monitor my streams and interact with people. Most of this is interaction is done on Twitter. Hootsuite supports Twitter Lists, so you can import your lists and view them as distinct streams. I’ve created a list for members of the media, for bloggers, for marketing peers, and for people who Like or Retweet my content. I will use these lists to mine for content to retweet to my followers.
Hootsuite Pro Features
The ability to schedule status updates is at the core of any social media management tool, and Hootsuite does a great job of it.
The Hootsuite Status Update Editor
In this screenshot, you can see all the features of Hootsuite’s status update editor.
On the left, you can choose which Profiles, Pages or Groups for which you want to create a status update. You type in your status update in the editing window.
You paste the URL you’d like to share in the Add a link… window and click the gear icon to reveal your URL parameter options.
This is a great option if you want to track the source of the traffic to your website or blog though services like Google Analytics, which I use. I have set up custom URL parameters for each of my own blogs as well as one for this site, which is shown below. By attaching custom parameters to URLs, you can easily segment the traffic driven by your social sharing to your site within Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
As you can see in this example, I’ve set the source as eStrategy so that when I look at the analytics for the traffic to this site, I can see just the traffic that resulted from sharing content on my personal eStrategy social channels.
After your parameters are set, you apply them to your URL and then click the Shrink button to shorten your URL for sharing. Hootsuite uses ow.ly by default for URL shortening.
The status update editor also gives you the ability to attach an image to your status update, geo-tag it with your location, target tweets by country, share with anyone on LinkedIn or just your connections, and, of course, schedule your tweet.
You’ll also notice the character counter indicators at the bottom of the screen for Facebook and LinkedIn. Had I selected a Twitter account with which to share this update, you would also see a counter for that site showing how many characters are left to work with.
In this screenshot, you can see that after shortening the URL, Hootsuite has automatically pulls the title, description and image(s) associated with that page to include in the update for Facebook, LinkedIn and to a limited extent, Google+ but maddeningly, it does not do that for Twitter. Grrrr.
You can update your status immediately…
Hootsuite Scheduling Features
…or schedule it for a later time and date…
…or save it as a draft to be used over and over again. This is particularly useful for Call To Action type posts, such as solicitations to subscribe to your newsletter. I will also use the draft function to save a template message for links to categories of blog content.
There is a dedicated Drafts tab in the Publisher section where you’ll find all your saved content.
From there, click on the pencil Edit icon to bring up the message, select which social channels you want to update, adjust your message if you like, and be sure to check the Retain copy of draft message box at the bottom so you’ve got it for later use.
You can find all your scheduled updates within the Scheduled tab of the Publisher section. This is how they look by default.
But you can also view them by the day….
…by the week…
…or by the month. As you can see, this is not very useful if you only schedule posts one day out, as I do. But if you are collaborating with another person and you schedule further in the future, it can be quite handy.
You can also see your previous posts in the Past Scheduled tab of the Publisher section. The items in red are those that failed to publish for one reason or another.
Hootsuite Social Monitoring
The streams section is where you do your social monitoring in Hootsuite.
You can create custom tabs to suite your monitoring needs. As you can see from this screenshot, I have tabs for individual accounts within which I typically will include the Home stream for an unfiltered view, a Mentions stream to keep track of any conversations directed at me, an Engagement stream (in this case, Retweets) to keep tabs on any interactions with my updates, and keyword search or hashtag streams, as well as custom lists.
As you can see below, I’ve got a Minnesota Media stream set up based on a Twitter List I created. I will scan this list for opportunities to engage in conversations or for content my audiences may find of interest that I can retweet. You can retweet immediately or schedule your retweets, which is nice for spacing out your content.
Those are the primary features of Hootsuite. There is a lot more to it but these are the features you’ll likely be using on a daily basis, especially if you need a social media management tool for your personal brand.
Hootsuite’s analytics reports are underwhelming, to say the least. And they kinda nickel and dime you on the reports, as well.
This screenshot, for example, shows a profile overview for my personal Twitter account for the month of December, yet the Follower Growth data they license from TwitterCounter is incomplete. Needless to say, I do not rely on Hootsuite for analytics reports.
All in all, Hootsuite is great for what it does. There are more powerful tools out there, for which you’ll pay more, but for the small business on a budget and for individuals managing their own online presence, the features you get for the price can’t be beat.
Hootsuite Mobile App
Hootsuite also has an accompanying mobile app through which you can do much of what you can do through the web interface. Upon opening the app, it defaults to the Streams page, where you can scroll through the Stream options for your various accounts.
Tap on a specific Stream to view it. Here’s what my Minnesota Media Twitter list stream looks like:
And here’s what the status update editor looks like on mobile.
Hootsuite Overview Video
Hotsuite’s promotional video.
Hootsuite Game Of Social Thrones Video
And here’s Hootsuite’s very clever Game of Social Thrones video ad that riffs off the introduction to HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones.
Official Game Of Thrones Introduction
And for comparison, for those of you few who have not yet seen Game of Thrones, here’s the official intro segment for HBO’s show.
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