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!

Social Media Automation: Boon or Bust?

May 6, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

robot for automationTo automate or not to automate? That is a very popular question these days.  And it’s one that appears to inspire passionate debate!

The way people use social media automation ultimately determines whether the practice is a good or a bad one.  We DO need to remember that for social interaction to be successful we must be present for it!  Automation needs to be recognized for what it is – a set of tools, rather than an end in itself.

Automate to Share

One useful type of automation consists of tools that help us to quickly curate great quality content by other leaders and peers in our fields.  Sharing value is one of the most important ingredients of successful social media marketing.  The activity engenders trust and loyalty among our followers, who appreciate the no strings attached information we share with them.  As an added bonus, the content we regularly share helps us to stay visible among our fans and followers throughout each day.

The downside to content curation is the inordinate amount of time we would need to spend researching and evaluating posts we deem important enough to share if we had to undertake this necessary activity manually.  Such a time investment would render impossible the equally important activity of real time responding and conversing with our fans/followers.  Tools like Bundlepost offer wonderful methods of accomplishing curation while still maintaining ample opportunity for the real time interactions on which successful social media marketing turns.  In this light, social media automation is definitely a good thing.

Schedule for Smarter Real-Time Presence

Another facet of social media automation that hits the proverbial hot button is the actual advance scheduling of the posts we wish to share.  Opponents of the practice often paint proponents as lazy and apathetic about the germination and nurturing of those all important social media relationships.  In actuality, proper use of advance scheduling tools offers benefits that would be very difficult to attain if every post we shared was in real time.  For example, we may wish to target specific time sensitive posts to a certain segment of our prospects/clients who are located in different time zones.  It makes much better sense to schedule copies of our posts to arrive within the necessary time frames, targeted to our fans/followers in each applicable time zone than it does to manually resend our messages at the necessary times for each time zone we need to target.

As noted earlier, advance scheduling of value posts keeps our companies present and visible among our social media platforms for our clients and prospects to see.  Ideally, these should serve as “anchor” posts which we use to stimulate enthusiasm and spark good conversation among our fans/followers.  In other words, advance scheduling does NOT mean we may walk away from our accounts.  Proper use of this feature allows us to spend even more time present and engaging with our audiences, ultimately guiding them down our sales funnels.  Truly, the only fail with this system is for those with an automation “set it and forget it” mentality.

Which social media automation tools have you tried?  Which ones do you prefer for your business?  Please share your social media automation tool logosexperiences in the comments section below!

Bottlenose ROCKS!

October 22, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

Have you tried Bottlenose?  I first came across the application as I was perusing topics to help inspire content creation.  When I read about it, I was impressed enough to try it.  Now it’s an important component in my social media toolbox.

The people behind Bottlenose refer to it as “the Google of social media.”  But it is actually so much more!  To begin with, the app incorporates its own “Now” search engine.  This feature scans across the spectrum of social media platforms in search of the top stories related to whatever topic we seek.
Bottlenose search results page  It instantly returns the results, listed in order of importance as determined by its algorithm.  Search results are fast, well targeted and very relevant to the term entered.

In addition to its great social media search engine, Bottlenose now integrates with Buffer.  Signing up for a free account allows access to this affiliation, which in turn brings us a number of other helpful features.   With the two Bottlenose share post feature  sampleapplications linked, Bottlenose can integrate with many of our social media profiles.  This makes it easy to “buffer” posts to whichever profile we desire, right from within the Bottlenose interface.  We can also check our pending and/or sent posts without having to go to Buffer.  The app tells us when our posts have been shared, and we can delete scheduled ones from within Bottlenose, too.  We can even interact with our connected profiles as though we are using any other social media dashboard.  The app can also integrate with Google reader, allowing us to buffer posts from that platform’s RSS feed.

Bottlenose offers so many useful features.  I like the array of choices available to account holders upon signing in to the app.  The main dashboard page displays trending topics AND people, top links, and recent comments.  From there, we can share, effect a search, or drill down to specifics of our profiles by merely clicking the corresponding links listed down the left side column.  Again, we can interact with our profiles and even schedule posts via buffer without leaving the Bottlenose dashboard.

Bottlenose dashboard with profiles highlighted

Lots of apps with helpful uses are being introduced at breakneck speed these days.  But few that I’ve seen are as versatile or hold as much promise as Bottlenose.  Give it a try, and be sure to share your impressions!

Are you already using Bottlenose?   If so, what are your thoughts about it?  Let us know in the comments section below!

Bottlenose logo

Automation: A Dirty Word?

May 14, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                               return to JayVee Media Link LLC

social media automation tools pictureToo many people feel that automation is a dirty word in the social media field.  Yet if we are honest with ourselves, we also know it is a necessary evil.  My feeling is that automation provides much needed assistance for our responsibilities, as long as it is used wisely. You will hear that refrain throughout this post!

There are so many good automation tools out there today.  Some cost money to use; others are free.   Both can be equally valuable.  In most cases, the only trick to picking the right one for you is to consider the one that accomplishes exactly what you wish it to do, in a layout you find most appealing.  Once again, though, how you use automation makes the difference between it being good or bad for business.

Auto posting

There is a very contentious ongoing debate about whether or not auto posting is a good idea.  I see valid points on both sides – as long as the feature isn’t abused.  Our followers and potential clients aren’t fools; they can easily detect the absence of a human voice behind a generic auto posted message.  And it is a big turn off.  Why should anyone stick around when we can’t be “bothered” with them enough to post for ourselves?  However, if used judiciously, there are times when auto posting can work.  If, for example, we wish to thank our new Twitter followers via direct message, and we become so swamped that doing so prevents us from doing our more pressing tasks, I believe it’s okay to send an automated message.  But that message should be crafted in as personable and congenial a manner as possible.  For myself, as of now I choose not to use this automated tool.  Because I subscribe to the “quality over quantity of followers” school of thought, my methods do not tend to generate hundreds of them a day.  Hence, I can take a moment to personally thank each new one.  And believe me, MANY of them let me know that personal touch is much appreciated.

Twitter tools for auto follow/unfollow

There are many tools for the purpose of automatically following or unfollowing people on Twitter.  In theory, they are a Godsend because of the time they save us.  Manually searching for and combing through hundreds of profiles to find a good potential fit for ourselves or our clients can take days on its own.  All of our other duties would of necessity fall by the wayside.  But using these tools to Twitter automation toolsindiscriminately add hundreds of followers based on the mere mention of your search keyword in their “about me” blurb or worse, somewhere among their tweets, is not a good way to find quality.  The tool that I use searches based on my specified keywords, and returns the results to me.  I then go through each profile found and vet for compatibility myself.  Yes, it does take time.  But I want to make sure the resulting connections are potentially fruitful.  And the process is a lot quicker than it would be if I had to first manually search for the profiles before vetting them.  Tweet Spinner, the program I use, cuts my time spent on this duty by better than half.

Social media dashboards

Hootsuite owl

The only downside that I see to using social media dashboards like Hootsuite, Seesmic or Tweetdeck is that postings via them are not always given a ranking equal to those put directly on the profile pages.  While I can’t say for sure, I have heard that algorithms are changing to reevaluate these postings for a more favorable ranking.  That is good news,Tweetdeck bird logo since these dashboards are lifesavers.  Someone unfamiliar with their use would be astounded by the time savings we enjoy just by not having to individually log in and out of each profile account that we own or manage.  And the vast majority of our duties for these profiles can be accomplished via these social media dashboards.

Content curation

Another important duty that social media managers undertake is sharing valuable information.  In addition to the posts that we create, a well rounded selection of passages composed by other industry experts is a must for circulating.  Scouring the internet to find, evaluate and curate posts for distribution can be a full time job in itself.  To cut down on that time commitment, I use a content curation program that brings relevant posts directly to me.  I still need to evaluate them and set them up for posting, a task that routinely takes me a good number of hours.  But at least I am not losing days chasing those passages down all across the internet. For that reason I am very grateful to Robert Caruso and his automated Bundlepost program.
Bundlepost logo

As I have stated throughout this post, it’s not so much automation in the social media field that is bad; it is how we use the wealth of automated tools available to us that determines the positives or negatives of the issue.

How do you feel about automation in our field?  What tools do YOU use in your business?  Please share your thoughts by posting them in the comments section below.

See also:  Social Media Automation: Right or Wrong?  Yes!  by Social Media Today’s Allen Mireles