Hootsuite: A Brief Overview of an Amazing Social Media Tool

August 19, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                        return to JayVee Media Link LLC

“What exactly is Hootsuite?”  That is a question I have been fielding lately, particularly from new coaching clients.  Here is an introductory look at the social media tool.

Hootsuite owlHootsuite is a tool that simplifies a user’s social media experience by allowing virtually all duties across a multitude of platforms to be enacted within one easy to use dashboard. When a person signs up for the service he/she configures that dashboard by securely adding user names and passwords for any or all of the following platforms he/she uses: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, FourSquare, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.  A WordPress blog site can also be added.  After configuration, one user name and password allows the client access to all his/her social media accounts, eliminating the need for continuously signing in and out of them individually.

Hootsuite dashboard screen shot

Hootsuite allows users to monitor activity on their social media platforms, and to post to them. Posts may be shared immediately, or they can be scheduled for release at a future time and/or date.  They can be easily edited and even deleted from the scheduled streams.

Another great feature of Hootsuite is its built in URL shortening service.  When sharing links to Twitter we can’t afford to have our 140 character maximum be taken up by long URLs. Furthermore, they are unsightly even on platforms that allow unlimited characters for posting.  We need only paste our long form links into Hootsuite’s status box, click “Shrink,” and a much more manageable version is generated and inserted into our posts.  As an added bonus, Hootsuite tracks the short links it creates. This puts the analytics for what we share right at our fingertips.

Hootsuite link shortener feature screen shot

Two features that help keep Hootsuite close by for easy use are its mobile app for our smart phones, and its Hootlet plug-in for our desktop/laptop browsers.  Both are straightforward, fully functional and very easy to use.

Hootsuite mobile app and Hootlet browser plug in screen shots

Hootsuite offers three levels of service.  Its basic level is free for use by one client, who can add up to five social media accounts.  Its Pro level allows the integration of up to 50 social media platforms, and one “team member” to assist in management duties.  The entry Pro level costs $8.99/month, but add-ons are available if a user needs to handle more for expansion of his/her social media business presence.  The final level is Enterprise, which is for big businesses with large staffs and much to oversee.

As users grow their social media presences they may find useful the more advanced features Hootsuite offers.  They may, for example, wish to configure platform streams to allow for monitoring of specific groups or keywords, including mentions of their companies.  Undoubtedly they will also want to take advantage of the tool’s integrated analytics for research and reporting.

Have you tried Hootsuite yet?  What is your impression?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Facebook Home: Where Your Heart Is?

April 22, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook’s Home app suite began its official rollout last week, finally putting to rest the escalating rumors that an actual Facebook phone was being introduced. Home is currently available for certain Android phones; the app for tablets will be rolled out soon.  Talks are underway to deliver it to iOS users as well.  So what’s it all about?

Facebook Home app suite screen shotFacebook software developers created a system that essentially turns an Android user’s cell phone into a Facebook phone. The Home app suite overlays Google’s open source operating system (OS), thereby creating a Facebook-centric user experience for the phone’s owner. Facebook friends’ pictures and activity notifications take the place of the Android device’s default home screen. A movable feature called Chat Heads enables messaging with one or more friends to proceed easily from the home screen even while other activities are undertaken. And of course, Home allows a pass through to access the phone’s other apps and features. So in essence, the Facebook gurus created a Facebook phone without creating the actual physical object.  And they promise monthly updates to the app suite to fine tune its operation. Happily, if a user is dissatisfied with the Facebook Home experience he/she can disable it or even delete it altogether.

To get a better understanding of how Facebook Home operates, you may wish to view this video demonstration, shared courtesy of Matt Kapko of ClickZ. 

Facebook Home Chat Heads screen shotWhere is the appeal in the Facebook Home app suite?  Business benefits and possible adaptations for pages are yet to be seen.  The developers are currently focusing on interactions on the personal front.  On a personal level, initial reviews – and common sense – suggest that it is best received by Facebook “addicts.”  It is a dream come true for those who spend the bulk of their time online interacting on the platform.  A majority of the rest of the online population, however, aren’t too thrilled with Home. Many don’t like giving Facebook – or any other individual platform, for that matter – what appears to be total control over their phones.   A number of reviewers have also expressed concerns about possible privacy issues. Facebook does claim there will be no additional mining of private information via their Home app suite. But considering all the new permission requests it makes one has to truly wonder.

How do YOU feel about the Facebook Home app?  Will you use it if it is available for your phone?  Are there features that especially appeal to you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Lookout – Why You Need It Now!

April 15, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Lookout logoEvery so often I like to spotlight a social media platform, tool, or mobile app that offers excellent value for our online existences.  This week the topic for discussion is Lookout.

Lookout is an app that offers the most comprehensive protection for our mobile phones and tablets I have seen so far.  Considering how these devices are our lifelines to our businesses (not to mention families/friends), the importance of the service it provides cannot be understated.

Lookout all is okay notification on mobile deviceLookout is part antivirus protection and part security guard against loss/theft.  For a long time, mobile phones were immune from malware threats.  This is no longer the case, particularly for Android devices.  Today’s high powered mobile “gadgets” are more like little computers than just phones, and the software that runs them is vulnerable to malicious attacks.  When installed, Lookout scans all downloaded apps to ensure they are virus free.  It does so again each time those apps are updated in order to make sure they remain so.  As an extra measure of protection, the app also backs up our contacts and keeps them securely on its website.

While antivirus protection is absolutely essential, the Lookout feature that blows me away deals with loss or theft of our mobile devices.  This app offers two remedies: it sends a “scream” signal to our phones – even if they are in vibrate or silent mode.  This addresses the possibility that our devices may have been inadvertently dropped or misplaced near our current locations.  The signal sounds like a loud siren, and it goes for one full minute unless silenced by unlocking and accessing our home screens.  The scream feature can be relaunched repeatedly.  The other remedy uses our phones’ GPS capabilities to pinpoint their locations with impressive precision.  All it takes is a quick log in to Lookout’s website via another mobile device (a tablet or a companion’s phone) or a computer.

Lookout device located notifications

All the Lookout features discussed up to now are available in the free version of the app.  There is a yearly paid subscription ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) that brings even more enticing features:

1. With the free version, the app backs up and stores our contacts. The paid version expands this feature to include our photos and call histories.

2. The free version allows us to restore our backed up information to our phones if it is necessary once we retrieve them.  The paid version allows us to transfer our backed up info to a new device should our phones be gone for good.

3. In addition to the scream feature, Lookout saves our phones’ last known locations before their batteries die.  And the app snaps a picture of anyone who tries unsuccessfully three times to unlock our phones.  With the paid version, we become able to remotely lock and even wipe the entire memories (including the SD cards) of our devices.

4. Lookout’s premium version also provides preemptive services such as notifying us if a site we wish to visit contains malware.  In addition, it warns us about apps we have downloaded that access our locations and personal information.

Whether it is the free or the paid version, Lookout is a must-have app to keep our mobile devices safe and secure.  Nothing beats the reassurance of seeing that “all is ok” message on our devices, and receiving the email that arrives as frequently as we desire telling us all is well.  OR, should the unthinkable occur, seeing an email telling us our devices have been located.  Which of the above listed features is most important to YOU?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Then go download Lookout!

Lookout email status briefing