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!

Google+: 6 Reasons To Be There Now!

June 3, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Google Plus has been the topic of much debate – and more than a little derision – until recently.  It was labeled a Facebook knock-off with the unfair advantage of having Google as its parent.  A large number of social media aficionados turned their noses up at the platform, predicting that it would never amount to anything significant.  It’s not often so many knowledgeable people would be wrong, but these days it looks as though that is exactly the case.  Boasting over 343 million users, the once maligned social media platform has grown to become the second largest on the internet. As it has evolved, a number of features have won the minds and hearts of many former naysayers:

1. Ranking

Google Plus profile page links boxYES, Google indexes its G+ platform’s posts for search ranking!  Instead of deriding that fact, more and more people are coming to embrace it.  Why not use the advantage it offers, considering how competitive the rankings game is?  Users maximize benefits through judicious use of niche keywords in their posts, and by including links to their websites, blog pages and other social media sites in the link section of their profile descriptions.

2. Post diversity

Google Plus hashtagged and tagged postGoogle Plus is likely the only major social media platform that supports every kind of post with no limitations.  Text, pictures, videos, even full blog posts are supported. As a nice bonus, we have the ability to format our posted text with bold, italic and strikethrough features.  Plus, downloadable files like pdfs and word documents can be shared directly on the platform. Posts on G+ are also very easy to target using hashtags and tagging.  For convenience, tagged people in our posts may respond via email.

3. Hangouts

No other social media platform offers a feature like Hangouts.  These on-air video chats allow wide ranging discussion among up to nine participants, complete with capabilities for slideshow presentations, screen sharing, and other collaborative activities via access to Google Drive.  They can be recorded for later posting, too.  The business possibilities offered by Hangouts are virtually limitless!

4. Communities

Google Plus’ Communities are fairly new, having been introduced last December.  Like groups or forums on other platforms, they allow easy connection and information sharing among people who have a common interest, business, etc.  We can join existing communities or create new ones.  Such involvement allows us direct lines of information about our particular interests, as well as an opportunity to share what we know with others who may not otherwise see our posts.

5. Business pages

Google Plus JayVee Media Link business page

Google Plus is one of the most business friendly of the popular social media platforms.  In addition to post diversity and huge cover pictures, we have the flexibility of opening up to 50 different business pages per gmail address.  This is great if we wish to feature different products or services, or even just to showcase different facets of our companies.

6. New design

Google Plus’ new interface is much more user friendly than it has ever been before.  Features are more easily accessible, post streams are cleaner (users can choose single or double column streams), and the revamped size for our cover pictures – 2120 pixels, or 16” by 9”- allows more room for unlimited visual representation than is offered on any other platform.

For all the above listed features, Google Plus is the social media place to be today.  Not having a presence on the platform is a serious liability considering all the vital tools and features available to those who establish a presence there.

Which is your favorite Google Plus feature?  One listed here, or another?  Please share 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

Email Marketing Still an Important Social Media Tool

August 13, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                           return to JayVee Media Link LLC

email @ symbol with envelopeAs the impact of social media on marketing campaigns becomes increasingly evident, many business owners are concentrating more heavily on the various big social media platforms to deliver their results.  Although that is a healthy, natural progression, we need to remember the forerunner of all these channels and continue to harness its ongoing power as well:  email marketing.

Arguably no other platform is more personal than email marketing.  Our messages are delivered directly into our current/potential clients’ inboxes.  But of course, that doesn’t guarantee they will be read!  While email affords us a direct delivery to our target audience, if we wish to see success there are some rules and a system of etiquette that must be followed:

  1. We must ALWAYS obtain permission before adding addresses to our email marketing lists.  Just as a majority of people strongly dislike being cold called on their phones or at their doors, most do not welcome unsolicited marketing emails.  Receiving them could fast track our companies’ messages onto their spam lists.  And if they complain to our email service providers, we could find ourselves heavily censured.
  2. As our email marketing lists grow, it is wise to make use of the segmenting tool offered by most service providers these days for messages that may optimally appeal to only some of our companies’ followers. That’s a good practice to ensure that our whole list doesn’t get bombarded with messages that may not be specifically appropriate for every individual member.
  3. The best presentation for our email messages is one which is branded in design and color to match our websites and our other social media platforms.  Continuity in appearance fosters trust and confidence in our companies by virtue of that attention to detail.
  4. We need to pay special mind to our writing styles.  Use of all capital lettering, too many exclamation points, and certain buzz words such as DEAL, SPECIAL, and OPPORTUNITY may discourage reading further than the first line of our opening paragraphs; if that writing style is in our subject lines our messages may be automatically relegated to the spam file before our targeted readers even lay eyes on them.
  5. Our email messages should not overstep the bounds of propriety by attempting to portray ourselves as our target recipients’ best pals; nor should they be preachy and one-sided.  We need to craft our communications in an interesting, engaging fashion, optimally displaying professionalism in a way that exhibits our companies’ human side.  Also, we should encourage interaction wherever possible.  As with our companies’ blog posts, our email messages need to educate and inform most of the time, and not be off-putting by constantly hard selling.
  6. We should always include in our email messages links to our websites and our other social media platforms.  Doing so encourages engagement on a broader scale, since readers are given the option to interact in ways other than by just hitting the reply button.  Posting our other links makes the process easy for our readers…and the easier we make things for them the more positive their responses are likely to be.
  7. Another must is to include buttons which enable the sharing of our messages by our readers with their contacts via their email accounts and/or social media sites.  Remember that old Herbal Essence shampoo commercial?  Let’s make it super easy for our readers to tell some friends, who in turn may tell some friends, and so on, and so on!
  8. While maintaining that balance between getting our marketing messages out and not crossing the line to do so, it is worthwhile to note that our target readers like things that save them money.  If we are able to offer coupon codes, special deals, or even small freebies that have value to them, chances are our messages will be well received overall.  Just remember:
  9. DO NOT SPAM!!!  We want to stay in touch without being overbearing; we need to convey our messages without going over the top in our deliveries; we must always offer our target readers the option to “opt out,” or to stop receiving, future messages from us.

It is important for us to remember the vital role email marketing can play in our social media strategies.  Let’s remember to include it as a key ingredient, treating it with the respect it deserves so that it will deliver the results we desire!

What other tips/etiquette pointers can you offer for our email marketing campaigns?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

email @ sign on letter in envelope

Social Media Marketing Not Good for Ages 25+?

July 30, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

baby using a computerA social media firestorm was set off last week, when Cathryn Sloane of the University of Iowa posted in NextGen Journal her declaration that only people under the age of 25 were properly qualified to work in the field.  The premise upon which she based her claim was that, because her generation was the “right” age when platforms such as Facebook and Twitter began, and hence she and her peers grew up with them, their knowledge of the social media sites’ operations made them more qualified than any other generation to use them for social media marketing.

Reaction to Ms. Sloane’s assertion has been swift and unrelenting.  Much of it hasn’t been very nice.  I think we need to cut her some slack for her inexperience in all life areas OUTSIDE of social media, and acknowledge that she does make some good points.

It is hugely beneficial when marketers have an intimate knowledge of the tools at their disposal as they ply their trade.  When it comes to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, etc., the undisputed champions are indeed those members of Ms. Sloane’s generation.  They have an inherent knowledge of virtually every aspect of the sites’ functionality, and they are quick to grasp and make optimal use of the changes that are continuously rolling out.  However, understanding a tool’s functionality doesn’t necessarily impart knowledge of how to best apply it as a situation demands.  As one commenter wisely stated, “I am a great driver; I know how to use my car better than most people do.  Does that mean I am qualified to run the car company?”

I also agree that the people who comprise Ms. Sloane’s generation have unparalleled experience with using social media to be social…a fundamental concept of social media marketing that often eludes more seasoned marketers.  But what these young computer whizzes may lack is training in marketing techniques and applications, including elements such as timing, wording, and response etiquette, as well as the keen insights that only come from years of experience.

With all factors taken into account, I believe the best answer is a social media company that balances BOTH demographics, making optimal use of the best that each has to offer.

adult showing baby how to use computer

What is your response to Ms. Sloane’s assertion?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Social Media Tools: These are a Few of my Favorite Things!

July 23, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Through the content curation and research that I undertake, I frequently come across some really neat tools.  Some have potentially immeasurable benefits for our social media businesses; some are just plain fun!  I like to share some of my favorites every so often.  Here are a few, in no specific order:

Online-Convert application home page screen shot

Online-Convert:  This is an easy to use free online tool for converting any audio, video, document, image, ebook or archive format.  My business necessitates frequent use of the service this site offers.  I really love it, and I’m sure you will too!

Screenleap home page screen shot

Screenleap:  Screenleap is a free app that allows us to share our computer screens with anyone we want.  It is a relatively new service, with more functionality promised for future upgrades.  Via a simple emailed code, or a few other easy options, our screens can be shared with other computers, tablets, and even smart phones.  Although currently there is no interactive functionality, I have found that mirroring my screen to share with select others on occasion has been very helpful when discussing things like ongoing projects.

GoBigg home page screen shot

GoBiggOur business cards and messages can easily become cluttered by individually listing the links to all the social media platforms on which we maintain a presence.  GoBigg offers a wonderful solution to this quandary.  It is a free social media portal where users who sign up for a page can list all their links and contact information in one spot.  Hence, the only URL users need to pass along is the one to their individual home pages on GoBigg.  If interested people visit those pages they are presented with clickable links to every one of the users’ social media platforms, as well as their favorite bookmarks, photos, videos, people and places.  GoBigg is a really convenient application!  I find that it gets a lot of positive feedback from the contacts to whom I distribute my URL.

What are some of YOUR favorite social media tools?  Please share your input in the comments section below!