Hootsuite 101: My Take on the Social Media Management Tool
Juggling multiple social media accounts? Want to schedule posts in advance? Hootsuite can help.
I started using Hootsuite last month to manage a client’s social media marketing campaign. Before choosing the program, I researched alternatives such as CoTweet and TweetDeck.
While I don’t have side-by-side comparison to share, HootSuite’s customizable dashboard and pricing structure ultimately won me over.
HootSuite also came highly recommended. I spoke with social media expert Amy Porterfield at Content Marketing World, and she assured me I was making the right choice. After that, I had nothing left to do but dive in.
The Hootsuite platform is web-based, which means you can access your account anywhere there’s a wi-fi connection. (You can also download a mobile Hootsuite app.)
Accounts are free for use with up to five social media profiles and two RSS feeds. A pro account, which includes unlimited social media profiles and enhanced analytics, will run you $9.99 per month. Enterprise accounts are also available.
Using the Platform
Using Hootsuite for the first time is a little like using Adobe Photoshop. The streamlined interface contains powerful features, but it takes time to learn what the buttons do, and what options are located under each one. (I still have to stop and think where the “scheduled posts” option lives: under the little paper airplane icon, titled “Publisher.”)
The Home button (titled “Streams”) shows you a customizable dashboard of tweets, mentions, direct messages, lists and even search results. You can choose which columns show, and how many appear on the screen at each time. This can be especially convenient if you rarely get direct messages but use the keyword search often, or vice versa.
If you’re used to making status updates directly from Facebook or Twitter, you’ll have little problem posting directly from Hootsuite. The top of the platform contains a drop-down box for composing messages. From there, you can attach images, schedule the post for a specific time, add a location and even change privacy options.
If you want to schedule a bunch of posts at a time, you can use the bulk message uploader to import an Excel file. (To access instructions for formatting this file, click the “Scheduling” option under “Compose Post,” and then click “Bulk Message Uploader.” This feature is only available for pro members.)
The “Oops” Factor
While composing and scheduling posts couldn’t be easier, this could invite problems – especially for users of multiple social media accounts. One wrong click can broadcast a message you weren’t finished formatting, or worse – post a personal tweet on a client’s account. There’s no “Are You Sure?” button to save the day, and when you’re scheduling posts an entire month at a time, the potential to click the wrong button soars.
(Remember when Chrysler accidentally tweeted the f-bomb?)
Hootsuite has security measures to protect against this, but only for enterprise-level customers. So until they make secure profiles available to all users, I simply have to double- and triple-check all settings before I hit publish.
Education Ain’t Free
Which brings me to my second beef with Hootsuite: if you want to access video tutorials about the platform’s features, you’ll have to shell out an additional $20 to 30 a month for a membership to Hootsuite University.
Call me cheap, but if I’m already paying for the service, shouldn’t I get the instruction manual for free?
Fortunately, you can find plenty of Hootsuite tutorials with a quick Google search. So unless you want to become Hootsuite-certified, you should be fine without it.
Do you use Hootsuite, or another social media tool? Let me know in the comments section.
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