Let’s talk about twitter. Contrary to popular belief (and what social media gurus are no doubt telling you) there is no ‘easy way’ to gain marketing traction, least of all with Twitter. Twitter is an impressive tool for marketing, that isn’t up for debate, but it isn’t a matter of creating an account and talking about yourself every hour of every day. Social media is a time consuming and difficult practice, but thankfully there are tools to make it far easier to be efficient.
One of these tools is Hootsuite. I was introduced to this program while I was first starting to get used to twitter and I was a fairly immediate convert. Hootsuite is an online web application that acts as dashboard that allows you to view information more efficiently, schedule tweets, and manage multiple accounts. That last one is pretty key but I’m going to delve into those three major points one at a time.
1. Viewing information
Twitter has exploded over the past years but a lot of that is in spite of a pretty shoddy interface. I’m not trying to rag on my favourite social network but ultimately this is not an intuitive UI. Instead we have to jump around to various screens just to get a really good view of what is going on (our timeline, mentions, DMs, lists, searches, etc.)
Hootsuite deals with this problem swiftly by letting you customize what your homepage will look like. Their system is in two parts: tabs and streams. Streams are your actual data feeds such as the timeline of a twitter account, tweets sent from that account, searches you want to look at, or tweets from a specific list. The combinations are pretty endless. A tab is the screen that contains these various streams and you can easily shift from one tab to the other. If you’re managing multiple twitter accounts, you can contain all of your timelines on one tab, all your mentions on another, and a list of relevant searches on a third.
Ultimately Hootsuite leaves this up to you, they allow you to customize the flow of information to your own preferences. This kind of customization is key to saving yourself countless hours per week in managing your social media.
2. Scheduling Tweets
The other problem with twitter as a marketing tool is that you need to be careful about when and how much you share. One of my biggest pet peeves when viewing my timeline is getting a flood of 10+ tweets from the same account. It can be frustrating to sift through that information and it clogs up the timeline. This of course leaves you with a problem. How do you find the time to spread your insight throughout the day?
Hootsuite solves this problem by allowing you to schedule your tweets for posting in the future. You can plan out your week’s worth of posting on a Sunday night and then use twitter as a tool for responding to customers or replying to interesting comments/tweets.
Another great feature that Hootsuite makes use of is their ability to schedule tweets in bulk. Rather than schedule a tweet one at a time, you can prepare it all in a spreadsheet and upload that to Hootsuite. This is a feature limited only to Hootsuite Pro Accounts, but it can be a real timesaver if you want to plan far in advance.
3. Manage Multiple Accounts
There can be a few reasons for having multiple twitter accounts. You can be managing social media for multiple businesses as we do at BR Consulting, your company can have reigonal based accounts for various cities, or you could be a part of a business that requires accounts for multiple product lines. Whatever the reason, signing in and out of twitter can be a time consuming process.
Hootsuite allows you to manage these various accounts through the dashboard. You can post a tweet to multiple accounts at once, view multiple timelines at the same time, and manage these social media efforts all through one account. Having been in a situation where I had 12+ accounts to manage for one company, this feature can be a huge timesaver.
Beyond the features of the dashboard, Hootsuite has another important component: the analytics component. There are far stronger analytical tools to use in conjunction with twitter accounts, but for some quick snapshots, Hootsuite does a good job. The application allows you to observe follower growth over time, keyword growth over time, and mentions from influencers. The analytics features are also only available with the pro version.
It is worth pointing out that Hootsuite is actually a fairly useful tool for Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, and MySpace as well but if I try and go too detailed right now this is going to turn into a very long rant. For now we’ll stay focused on the Twitter aspect.
In summary, Hootsuite is a fantastic tool for managing social media accounts, whether you’re dealing with one or twenty profiles. A free-to-use version is available that contains a lot of major features. A major limitation of the free service is that you can only manage five accounts, so for larger account needs the pro version is a huge asset. You can sign up for a free account with Hootsuite at the link below, or and you need the extra features you can try out a 30 day free trial of the pro version.
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(Images Courtesy of Hootsuite)