As all social media marketers know, the value of Twitter goes well beyond tweets about dinner and selfies with your cat - and Hootsuite is a great tool to uncover the potential opportunities therein.
Here's how to use Hootsuite for more intelligent Twitter management.
Hootsuite is available free of charge to anyone who wants it. A great way to get started is to sign up with your own personal Twitter account and have a play around, before adding your business or client's accounts later.
To sign up, go to www.hootsuite.com. Once signed up, you'll be presented with a blank Hootsuite account like this:
The very first thing to do here is to click on the 'Home' icon as shown above. This will create a 'Home Stream' in your Twitter account and this is where you see every tweet that comes through from the accounts you follow.
You can also set up more 'streams' from the suggested list shown in the image above. Each stream appears as a new column within your Hootsuite dashboard. I've got streams set up for @ Mentions, DM Inbox, New Followers and Scheduled.
Those are your basic streams. It's now really easy for you to see basic occurances on Twitter in one easy dashboard.
Now it's time to get a bit more intelligent with Hootsuite...
Whilst @ Mentions are great for alerting you to people talking about you using your handle, it doesn't account for people who do not use your handle. Perhaps they don't know your handle, or they could be talking about you without necessarily intending to talk to you.
Of course, you want to know about these mentions of your brand on Twitter, and Hootsuite lets you do this really easily.
To set up a brand mention stream, click 'add stream' and then choose 'search':
Here, you can input a search term. You can use advanced queries within that, so for Hallam Internet my search query looks like this:
"Hallam Internet" OR "Hallam Communications" OR "Susan Hallam"
As you can see, I'm using 'OR' to specify that this search should include any of the three terms. Note that I've used our current brand name, our brand name from way back when we started the company in 1999 and also the name of our managing director Susan, who is very well-regarded in our industry and beyond, so I like to keep an eye out for people mentioning her too.
Set this up for your own company and remember to include previous brand names and names of appropriate people from your business. You can also search for mis-spellings if your brand name is difficult to spell.
This stream will now show you every mention of your brand on Twitter. You can use this stream to monitor brand sentiment and to engage with those people who are speaking about you already.
Beyond searches for your brand name or important people, you can create any custom search you'd like to use Twitter more intelligently.
For example, you might want to search for people talking about your products or services. This will enable you to:
Identify potential customers
If you see someone asking about 'holiday cottages in the New Forest' on Twitter and you happen to be a company like New Forest Living that sells holiday cottages in the New Forest, you'll want to reply to that person to let them know about what you can offer. Simple!
Monitor your competitors
You may think you know who your competitors are - but do you? By monitoring people talking about your products or services, you have the opportunity to see known or new competitors who are talking about those things too.
Assess the popularity of a product/service
This search will give you some very useful steer on the popularity of a product or service. You will see people discussing your products or services and how outside factors are affecting that, allowing you to better understand trends and what products/services to focus on in your marketing.
You can use Hootsuite to schedule tweets, making it easier to post tweets regularly without having to be sat on Twitter all day long.
This is a feature which has the potential to be hugely powerful. I like to combine it with Followerwonk analyses, which show you what time of day your Twitter followers are active and as such enables you to schedule tweets to go out at the most effective times. Here's a shot of our Followerwonk data for those that haven't used the platform before:
From the graph above, I can see that Hallam Internet's users are active throughout the day, with peaks at 9:00, 11:00, 15:00 and 17:00, so I can schedule tweets for those times in particular.
I can also see that our followers remain active well into the evening, so even after I've left work for the day, I can have tweets scheduled to go out at those times.
Hootsuite itself offers an 'autoschedule' service which does this analysis automatically for you, sending out tweets at the times they have been best received before.
Do beware the dangers of scheduling tweets. Whilst the ability to let tweets run without your input can really save time, the essence of Twitter and its value lies in the fact that it is a conversation. This means you still need to check in regularly to ensure you respond to people's questions and that you engage with people on Twitter, perhaps retweeting or replying to their tweets.
There have been some examples of brands getting this really wrong. Remember Tesco's mis-timed 'Hit the Hay' tweet, scheduled to go out and happening to go live just after the horse meat scandal hit the headlines? They certainly remember it - it was a PR nightmare.
As any social media marketer worth their salt knows, none of this is worth anything if it's not helping you to achieve your/your client's business goals.
Hootsuite is a handy tool for Twitter analysis as well as Twitter management. There are lots of reports available in the reporting tab which will show you things like popular tweets and follower growth.
The 'Twitter Profile Overview' is a great report to start with.
You'll see here that you can also pay for more reports; this is part of the paid Hootsuite service, which you may consider investing in if you are managing multiple accounts or want to access these extra features.
The Hootsuite paid version provides a number of extra services that you might like to invest in, including, as mentioned above, the ability to access more reports.
The paid version of Hootsuite also enables you to give multiple users access to the same social network through Hootsuite.
Hootsuite is a really useful tool for social media marketers who want to manage Twitter more intelligently. Take a look today and let us know what you think and your tips and tricks in the comments below.