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!

Your Content is Top Flight; How to Get it Seen

June 17, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

first prize winning blogAs we know, content is the primary driver of activity and engagement in the social media realm.  We are aware that in order to inform, entertain and excite our target audiences, our original content must be

–created and shared consistently;
–well researched;
–high value in its ability to solve a problem or address a need;
–delivered in a personable, entertaining manner.

We even comprehend the importance of spelling, grammar, sentence structure and thought flow.  With all these bases covered, why are we STILL not seeing the traffic and response our posts should be receiving?

While what’s inside is what counts, without attractive “packaging” and unique presentation there is a good chance our content may be swallowed up in the sea of millions of other blog posts released every minute of every day, by every writer on the internet.  It is critical that we think outside the box in all possible ways to draw attention to OUR content.  Here are two strategies to help achieve that goal:

Looking Good!

font styles in book

I have a confession to make: I am a recovering Comic Sans junkie.  I wanted a different look when I started JayVee Media Link’s blog site.  The most common font I saw on others’ sites was Times New Roman; the second was Arial.  Both are attractive; but I didn’t want my site to look like all the rest.  Comic Sans appealed to me, and I didn’t see it anywhere else (my daughter told me there was a good reason no one used it, but hey, why listen to reason?).  I decided to go with Comic Sans, laughing off my daughter’s humiliation.  Just over a year later I came across a terrific post: Best Fonts for the Web, by Kathy Marks. Nowhere on that list was Comic Sans!  That, coupled with other scathing comments I saw convinced me to FINALLY ditch that font in favor of Verdana (to the thrill and delight of my daughter!).  But seriously, it is a great idea to research a different look for our blog pages.  Pick a font that works well, and that preferably isn’t too widely used.  It’s a great way to stand out while nicely complementing the eye catching optimized pictures we add to our posts.

The WOW Factor

With outstanding blog posts ready to be shared, how do we convince our target audiences to click our links?

1. We can use the power of our pictures.  Rather than uploading our blog posts’ links directly to our social media sites, upload their best pictures. When we do, they open in an eye catchingly big way.  Before posting add short teasers and the links to their corresponding blog posts in the accompanying text.  We can also pin those attention-grabbing pictures on our Pinterest boards or share them via Instagram, again with links back to their corresponding blog posts.

2. Google “social media sites.” Entry after entry comes up, offering information about countless platforms that exist.  Some may cater to specific interests or fields; others may be broad like the big guys, but more modest in membership numbers.  Chances are BECAUSE they are smaller platforms there may be less competition among blog posts.  That means ours have a better chance of being seen and shared.  It is worth doing some research into whether any of these social media platforms that are considered “second string” to the most popular sites might return better results than those biggest ones, and hence should be included in our sharing activities.

Vine and Dubbler logos3. With the introduction and rapid rise of innovative social sharing sites such as Vine, which allows us to create 6 second looping videos, and Dubb, in which we can create audio recordings of up to one minute, we have an opportunity to put a truly novel twist on our blog sharing activities!  Why not create enticing audio or visual teasers, and link our resulting presentations to our blog posts when sharing?

For a more expansive look at these options plus more, Kimberly Reynolds’ post “5 Creative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog Posts” is an invaluable resource!

These days there is a tremendous amount of competition across the worldwide web.  We need to rise above it all if we are to get our content noticed, appreciated and shared.  How do YOU accomplish this daunting feat?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Instagram: An Awesome Social Media Tool

November 19, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

JayVee Media Link picture uploaded via Instagram appInstagram may have started out as a fun and easy way to share photos from our smart phones.  But it has rapidly become an indispensible tool for social media marketers.  There is no easier way to upload pictures to our companies’ social profiles or to capture imaginative photos for posting to our blogs.

Instagram’s main appeal for marketers is its ability to expedite the building and engaging of our brands’ followers via the visual medium.  Our smart phone cameras, which give all but the most professional grade photographic equipment a run for their money these days, are always available for capturing appropriate photos to suit our marketing needs.  With a click of the “share” button, the mobile app eliminates the intermediate steps of downloading our pictures from a traditional digital camera’s memory sticks to our computers, and then uploading them to our desired sites. The process is quick and easy. The app also has some neat filter options for photo enhancements. And now our pictures are viewable on a web based profile, too!

Thanks to Instagram we can seamlessly post and share pictures of:

–our products or services in action;

–satisfied clients using our products/services;

–events or objects that are associated with our businesses;

–events or subjects that humanize our brands.

Enterprising marketers can even run photo contests for their fans/followers by having them upload hashtagged pictures via the Instagram app!

Instagram Photo Grid and Textgram sample picture  collage with text**BONUS INFO**  Instagram has a couple of “cousin apps” that add versatility to its functionality.  One is called Photo Grid.  As the name suggests, it enables the creation of collages, which can then be shared via Instagram.  The other is Textgram.  This app allows text to be added to our pictures.  Working with these three apps expands the horizon of possibilities for the pictures we upload to our business sites.

We go nowhere without our mobile phones these days.  That means we have cameras with us everywhere we go.  Whether spontaneously clicking on an impromptu scene that gives our clients and followers a glimpse into the human side of our brands or staging a shot to enhance our blog posts, our Instagram enhanced smart phones are at the ready for our easy use.

How do YOU use Instagram to benefit YOUR business?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

On Facebook and Instagram

April 16, 2012
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                                      return to JayVee Media Link

 Last week’s acquisition of Instagram by Facebook for a cool one billion dollar price tag gave new meaning to the term launching to the stratosphere.  Not too shabby a fetch price for a barely year old app with only a moderate degree of success.   What on earth would precipitate a sale of such magnitude??

Facebook and Instagram logoThe impression I get from listening to the musings of various social media heavyweights is that there is a twofold reason for Facebook’s megabucks purchase of Instagram.  The first is the quickening evolution of social media to the mobile platform.  These days any social media site is at a severe disadvantage if it can’t be operated smoothly from a mobile device.  While up to now Facebook has been the top contender among photo sharing sites, that feature hasn’t performed well for it on mobile platforms.  For this reason, the union between Facebook and Instagram is a match made in heaven for Mark Zuckerberg.

A probable second reason for this acquisition is that Zuckerberg may well have looked into his rear view mirror to see Pinterest steadily gaining on Facebook.  Pinterest, of course, is the platform that is based on compilations of all important visual content; the one which in seemingly no time at all has leapt into third place among the most popular social media platforms.  And it’s the medium that just happened to be feverishly working toward delivering a mobile app to make it usable on the go.  Pinterest is still working out the bugs, while Instagram was built for mobile.  The picture is becoming clearer by the minute, if you will excuse the pun.

Many current users of Instagram are understandably upset by the Facebook acquisition.  They are suspicious of Facebook’s intentions, as well as its possible ulterior motives considering the purchase may have allowed Facebook access to their photos and personal account information.  A number of them are jumping ship from Instagram.  But it is possible that the fallout may not be all bad.  Facebook promises to leave Instagram as a separate entity.  And think of the advancements Instagram can effect with a billion dollar infusion.  Ultimately, time will tell whether the acquisition was good for the two platforms, as well as for the people who use them.

What is your opinion about this megabucks acquisition?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Facebook and Instagram logo with Mark Zuckerberg's face in camera lens