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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Social Media Marketing? Go Where Your Clients Are!

February 25, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

profile stick figures networking on laptopsFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus.  And SO MANY others.  In the social media marketing realm there is a place and a purpose for each platform.  Of course, it would be counterproductive to try keeping up with ALL of them.  Each one requires a proper time investment.  But a strong marketing strategy will employ several, integrating them into a good, productive campaign.

After carefully selecting the best social media platforms to suit our business needs, it is not uncommon for us to gravitate toward the one or two whose style(s) we favor. That may well lead to us spending a greater share of our time on the one(s) we prefer.  But in order to court success for our clients – as well as for ourselves – we need to step outside of our own preferences and ask: Which platform are the majority of our clients and prospects using?  We owe it to them as well as to ourselves to become comfortable and fluent on the one THEY favor, and to invest a larger share of our time and energy posting and engaging with them THERE.

b to c stick figures shaking hands from laptopsAre our businesses primarily B2B?  Chances are the profile that holds the most potential for us is LinkedIn.  B2C? Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may likely fit the bill.  Do our businesses lend themselves to visual displays and promotions?  Pinterest and/or You Tube may be the best places to court and interact with current/potential clients.  These are merely generalizations, of course.  The best platforms for us need to be determined through careful analysis of our specific businesses.

To recap:  Planning a successful strategy means determining which of the social media platforms will work best to service the general needs of our growing businesses.  Smart planning will result in setting up and using the few most likely to deliver the best results for our important business metrics.  After that, the largest segment of our time needs to be spent engaging on the one or two platforms that are most heavily populated by the people who are more likely to want or need the product/service we provide.  It is our duty to become familiar and comfortable with those channels in particular, so we may nurture the most potentially fruitful connections and hence obtain the best return from our invested time.

Which platform do you feel is most heavily populated by the best prospects for your business?  How will you use that social media channel to engage with them?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

customer stick figure asking question

Do You Speak Twitter or Facebook?

February 4, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Social media is an important channel for marketing goods and services, more now than ever before.  But using the “tools” of this channel for business requires knowledge and understanding of each platform and how to best employ it.  Too many would-be online marketers do not grasp the “pull” nature of social media marketing.  Equally importantly, they fail to comprehend the nuances of each platform they wish to use.

Twitter surfing on computer mouseOne concept I’d like to address in this post is the fact that each social media platform has its own “voice.”  Each one serves a different overall purpose, and hence each is different in the way users engage.  Let’s look at the two most popular channels:  Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a great platform for making connections.  Communication is vital, but it is necessarily concise since tweets are encapsulated by that 140 character limit.  Because everything is so “quick hit,” the action moves very swiftly on Twitter.  There are forums where good discussions take place, such as hashtagged conversations.  But these conversations move very quickly because of the brevity of the verbal exchanges.

Facebook figure with megaphoneFacebook, on the other hand, is really good for solidifying connections and building relationships.  It is the tool by which we engage more in depth with our fans and our peers; we service our clients, ask and answer more detailed questions, and really allow our brands’ human side to show.  Because of this activity, Facebook posts tend to be longer and more descriptive.  The pace seems almost leisurely by comparison.

Other social media platforms have their own personalities and functions too.  LinkedIn maintains a more professional demeanor.  Though not entirely, it is primarily a business to business platform. The interaction there is more formal than we see on Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is somewhere in the middle:  less formal than LinkedIn, but not as casual as Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is also good for B2B, though it’s not as dedicated to that arena as LinkedIn.

When marketers juggle multiple social media platforms, cross posting is considered a great time saver.  There are some limited situations where the practice may work, but it should never be abused.  Twitter folk often dislike seeing posts from Facebook.  The whole style of posting to Facebook doesn’t fit in a Twitter environment.  Conversely, Facebook users don’t take to tweets showing up on timelines – ESPECIALLY when they contain hashtags!  Posts on most other platforms aren’t compatible with the style of verbal exchange on LinkedIn.  Ultimately, it is important to realize that cross posting may save some time on the front end, but it may cost us fans and followers in the long run.  The best approach is to become familiar with each platform’s unique voice, and learn to use each appropriately when sharing our value.

Which social media platform “lingo” do YOU speak best?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!three platforms with megaphones

Social Media Platform Ads: Research and Use Them with Care

December 17, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

LinkedIn ads pageSocial media marketers are happily making use of the various paid ad formats offered by each of the major social platforms.  Any opportunity to increase the reach of our advertising messages is a boon to our efforts.  However, we must remember that these formats aren’t interchangeable, and they won’t necessarily work in all situations.  As with our organic efforts, the key is to research:

1. our target prospects;

2. which platform(s) might best appeal to them;

3. their possible reactions to the various ad formats;

3. the situations under which each format may or may not work optimally.

Online investigation via social media profiles and targeting tools yields more information about the personalities and preferences of our prospects than we ever were privy to before.  (Of course, we need to use the wealth of personal information we find there judiciously and respectfully.)  As we see behavioral and preference patterns emerge we will be better able to formulate more effective advertising spots.  We should also get a better feel for which specific type of paid ad will work best for these targeted prospects.

Facebook sponsored  story sampleIronically, the ads that potentially reach the largest audiences are also the ones many social platform users dislike: those that are placed directly into their newsfeeds/streams.  A company named Mediabrix recently did some interesting research.  Among other things, its findings indicate that we need to be especially careful when crafting these ads. They may invoke ire when they masquerade as friends’ stories, because our unsuspecting prospects feel duped into reading them.  Mediabrix found that 72% of Facebook users and 62% of Twitter users formed negative opinions of brands that intruded on their news feeds in this manner.  The lesson:  this type of ad should not mimic content from our prospects’ friends.  These folks also don’t appreciate having their newsfeeds/streams spammed; this is another thing about which to be mindful.

Twitter promoted tweet sampleAds are a helpful way to get the word out about our products and services.  But while researching and planning our strategies it is critical that we stay focused on the most desired effects of properly executed social media marketing.  The real benefits come from engaging, building trust and confidence, and immersing our prospects in the experience of our brands.  All the advertising in the world won’t lead to success on social media platforms unless we invest the proper time and energy into maintaining meaningful presences on those sites.

Which ad offerings have you used for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc?  Are you happy with the results you have achieved?  Please share your findings in the comments section below!

See also:

“Are Social Media Marketers Running Ahead of Consumers?” by Marketing Pilgrim’s Frank Reed

LinkedIn Ads information

“A Simple Breakdown of All Your Facebook Advertising Options” by HubSpot’s Amanda Sibley

“How to Use Paid Advertising on Twitter to Promote Your Business” by Examiner.com’s Christina Thompson

Auto Launch Ads: Well Received, or a Turn-Off?

November 5, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

“Should companies pursue video ads that auto launch when a website loads?”  That is the question I recently posted in a LinkedIn group.  I asked because I have noticed recently a new trend that appears to be proliferating across a large number of websites.  I visit a site and begin to read what interests me when a marketing pitch suddenly launches.  Frustrated by the intrusion, I stop what I am doing and scroll down the length of the page to find and silence the offending ad.  I don’t even know what is being pitched.  All I know is the message intruded on my time and patience for having to seek it out.

auto launch video that re initiates on site page

Believe it or not, there are audio/visual strategies employed today that are even worse!  Sometimes we need to hunt for multiple ads that are scattered across a page, placed in hard to notice spots.  These offenders may auto launch consecutively; often, they launch simultaneously.  When they do that each message talks over the other, with the result being nothing but unintelligible noise.  Then there are the video ads that DON’T stop playing when we locate and pause them.  Or they pause for a short period of time, then relaunch so we have to scroll back and shut them up AGAIN.  Finally, some sites auto launch audio feeds that are altogether impossible to locate.  Hence, we are held hostage to the marketer’s messages.

auto launch video hidden way down a site page

Aside from obvious annoyance, my feeling regarding these tactics is, how bad must the product/service be if a merchant has to resort to such underhanded tactics to force me to listen to his/her message?  I fully support and endorse the use of audio and video advertising channels, as they are among our most effective marketing tools.  But they need to be used considerately.  Intelligent placement and smartly crafted calls to action can entice a page visitor to launch an ad message.  There is a much better chance that, if so enticed, the visitor will be more interested in hearing about the product/service.  Where is the sense, then, in risking annoying and even alienating a prospective customer by forcing a message on him/her?

I must admit I expected to be chastised by any of my fellow social media marketers who would comment on my frustrated rant.  Surprisingly, just the opposite unfolded.  Every single comment echoed my chagrin regarding this strategy.  While everyone felt intruded upon, some responders bemoaned additional issues, such as slow internet speeds being locked up while these ads load, or having them blare out while in a quiet office setting. Overall, a very few who weighed in thought the practice might be a necessary evil these days. But the vast majority agreed with my view: a message that resonates should not need to hold site visitors hostage in order to be heard. Placing a video ad considerately and using a creative call to action to entice visitors to click the play button are much better strategies than forcing an unsolicited message on those visitors via an auto launch feature.

What is YOUR feeling regarding using or hosting audio and/or video ads that auto launch?  Do you think the practice may appeal to site visitors?  Do you mind them when you are visiting websites?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

auto launch video on LinkedIn discussion page

Unlocking LinkedIn’s Treasures

August 6, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

linkedin logoLinkedIn was the hot topic for one of my recent coaching sessions.  For all the people on that site, it is surprising that a considerably small percentage understand how to make optimal use of its rich offerings.

While many of the “rules” for proper use of the platform coincide with those of other social media sites, LinkedIn is a little more regimented in the way it presents its opportunities.  Considering that it is oriented more toward business to business interaction, the manner of contact and communication on the platform is understandably more formal.  People generally maintain profiles for job search or for business networking; hence, “best foot forward” etiquette applies. There is less latitude for informality.  Finesse is also a word that comes to mind when I think and talk about interaction on LinkedIn.

Let’s look at some of the basic procedures we can follow to increase our chances of successful interaction on LinkedIn:

–“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”  Remember that sage old adage?  Our first impression on ANY social media site comes from our profiles.  It is essential to fill them out as completely as possible.  We need to be as descriptive as we can, in as succinct a manner as we can achieve. Not an easy feat!   We also need to keep an eye toward employing strong niche related keywords and phrases as we craft our passages.   Equally important is the inclusion of a profile picture, preferably of us instead of logos or products.  It really helps to facilitate communication when a person can see a picture of whom he/she is addressing!

–Make connections with people already known to us on LinkedIn.  If we know them well enough, we shouldn’t be shy about asking for recommendations.  The sight of positive reviews on our profiles builds our reputations as well as our brands.  BUT, remember that giving is even more important than receiving.  We must be willing to write recommendations for others too – even before we are asked to do so.

–Search for and join niche related groups.  We must prepare to be active participants in them, too.  That entails keeping our eyes on the discussion topics, and adding our input wherever we see an opportunity.  If possible, we should also initiate topics ourselves.  This consistent activity builds visibility on LinkedIn and elevates status in our fields.  In turn, it will also translate to more connections that hold good business potential for us.

–Another good feature for building our visibility, credibility, and ultimately connections is the “answers” section of LinkedIn.  We should remember to visit it often, perusing it for posted questions that hold an opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise with our answers.  Of course, we can always post our own queries there if we need assistance!

–The more we interact via the above mentioned LinkedIn features, the more potential we will have for making good connections.  This is something for which we need to strive. And we must remember to nurture those new associations.  Direct selling, especially right away, is a sure way to find ourselves ostracized.  Even on a profile like LinkedIn, which is primarily for business interaction, relationships must be grown and trust must be built before selling can take place.  Ideally, once a comfort level is achieved with connections on site, an invitation can be offered to discuss business more in depth off the site; e.g., via email, chat, video conferencing, or even in person.  That is the arena in which concentration can be turned to how we and our LinkedIn acquaintances may be able to benefit each other with our businesses.

What other tips can you offer to help us achieve business success via our LinkedIn profiles?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

LinkedIn logo with a handshake above it

When Google Talks…

…everyone listens.  Seriously!  In terms of search rankings, as well as all the other wonderful free tools that are available to us just for having an account, when the Google honchos make a move, we all sit up and take notice.  So it’s no surprise that the recent full scale roll out of Google’s new kid on the block, social platform Google+, has captured everyone’s attention.

Many people are still debating the utility and viability of the Google+ platform.  I will be the first to admit that I still have much to learn about it.  But aside from the obvious search rankings benefits that MUST come when one joins a social platform developed by the premier search engine in the world, Google+ does appear to offer some features that are beneficial enough to earn a spot in the “Here to Stay” category for social media enthusiasts.  Many of these features compare with those on Facebook; indeed, some are considered more favorable.  Here are a few of the “pluses” I’ve experienced with Google+:

  • The interaction is easy, as it is on Facebook.  But the type of people I see and the manner in which they converse remind me more of those who populate LinkedIn.  I would say conversing and networking on Google+ is like a cross between those two platforms. That’s a good compromise for me; when my time is short, I often find myself neglecting one or the other of those sites. Google+ seems to offer the best of both.
  • The concept of circles mirrors Facebook’s “group” idea for friends. But whereas not everyone on Facebook uses groups, you must use circles to add friends on Google+. That is a good thing, because it allows you the option to be very specific regarding with whom you want to share certain posts. As an avid user of Facebook’s group feature, I like that circles are naturally integrated into the Google+ process.
  • Probably one of the most useful features offered by Google+ is “Hangout.”  Hangout is a quick, simple way to start or to join a video chat with others in your circles.  Think of easy, free webinars for clients!  The ability to conduct product demonstrations, live Q&A sessions, or even just interact to show a brand’s human side is an invaluable asset to a business.  As of now, I know of no comparable feature on Facebook.

These are my takes on some of the major capabilities and features of Google+ that I have used or witnessed so far.  While I don’t see the new social site as ultimately vanquishing any of its counterparts, I do see it as a platform with the potential of becoming a major player in the social media world. And of course, its natural standing as “favorite child” in the eyes of the world’s premier search engine doesn’t hurt its prospective longevity, either!

Have you established your Google+ profile yet? Did you set up a business page as well? What are your feelings about the platform? I’d love for you to share your input and insights with us!

–Jeanine Vecchiarelli

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