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!

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!

Surviving an Extended Power Outage

November 12, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                      return to JayVee Media Link LLC

candle flashlights and radio for blackoutPower outages.  They’re no joke for anyone who has to live through them.  Those of us who make our livings on our computers and smart phones suffer a double whammy when everything goes dark.  What steps can we take to maximize the power that we have when the possibility of recharging becomes remote?

First the obvious:

–Those of us who conduct our businesses on computers and cell phones should always have backup batteries for our devices.  Those backups should be fully charged.  If bad conditions are preceded by advance notice the batteries in our devices should also be fully charged – even if it means keeping our charged devices plugged in while conducting our business.

–We should also own a personal wifi device, be it our smart phones (though that activity will drain our batteries), j-devices or mifis.  If our internet service is interrupted there may be opportunity to access the internet via open channels in places like coffee shops.  But open channels leave us vulnerable to malware and hackers.  That’s not a good chance to take with systems upon which we depend for our livelihoods.

–If we are able to drive, we should use car chargers to top off our devices while we are on the move.

–It is wise to carry our chargers with us everywhere we go.  In our travels, we need to keep our eyes open for charging opportunities.  Anywhere live outlets are available, and where it’s not expressly forbidden, is an opportunity to charge our devices.  In addition, products do exist that don’t rely on electrical outlets to accomplish their purpose.  There are battery powered chargers, solar powered ones which are fine as long as there is sunshine, and chargers that depend upon motion, whose functionality is a bit more questionable.  The bottom line is all possible avenues should be explored, ahead of time whenever necessary.

There are additional steps we can take to keep our smart phones from running down too quickly:

  1. Lower the brightness of the display, and set it to “sleep” after a shorter period of time.
  2. Set phone to “airplane mode.”  Take it out of that status only when needed to make a call or send a text message.
  3. Disable the phone’s “email synch” feature.  This process uses a lot of energy.
  4. Turn off Bluetooth and GPS services.
  5. Disable 4G.  It’s wonderful for fast surfing, but it’s a real energy hog.
  6. When possible, send text messages instead of making/taking calls.
  7. Shut the phone when in an area with poor reception.  Searching to connect to a network is a real battery killer.
  8. Don’t stream audio or video.
  9. Disable push notifications from social networks.
  10. Close unnecessary apps that are running in the background.
  11. When possible, limit use of our phones.

Hurricane Sandy brought us renewed notice of the importance of preserving our ability to communicate, and in certain cases to conduct our businesses.  Let’s remember the ways in which we can maximize the life of our digital equipment, so they may serve us better and longer during times of energy drought.

What other ways can we preserve precious energy for our digital devices?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

phone battery and chargers