SMToolbox: Getting the Most Out of HootSuite - An Expert's View
If you are in social media, you will be aware of HootSuite. It is arguably the most widely used social media management tool globally, with over 8 million users. This week in the SMToolbox, I was privileged to interview Hootsuite guru Mike Allton to get his take on HootSuite and why it is so popular. Along the way he shared his top tips and his favorite HootSuite apps.
HootSuite: The Elevator Pitch
In HootSuite’s own words, the tool “helps teams execute social media strategies across multiple social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages from one secure web-based social relationship platform.” There is a free version of the software, a Pro version and an increasingly popular Enterprise version.
The numbers behind HootSuite are impressive. In addition to 8 million users, there are over 1,000 enterprise customers, and there is a growing app directory with over 1 million app installs. The company is still growing at over 150 percent year-on-year, has just been ranked top for customer service and it has a new partnership with Brandwatch. We reviewed Brandwatch’s sophisticated social analytics software last week here on SMToolbox.
Interview with HootSuite Guru Mike Allton
Mike Allton, The Social Media Hat, is an acknowledged expert on HootSuite; even the company admits that, other than HootSuite developers, there is no one who knows the tool better. Mike has always been generous in sharing his knowledge and in the interview below he shares his views on:
- why HootSuite is different from other social media management tools
- how to use HootSuite for curating and sharing content
- five top tips to get the most out of HootSuite
- his favorite new HootSuite features and apps
You are well known as a HootSuite guru and a Certified HootSuite Solution Pro; can you elaborate on what that means?
Being a Certified HootSuite Professional and Solution Partner means a number of things. First and foremost, it means that I've taken the time and money to invest in a HootSuite Pro account myself. That means that I'm an actual HootSuite user and have personally experienced the value the tool brings to me and my business. Solution Partners aren't permitted to just sign up for a free account and start sharing affiliate links. And second, it means that I've taken the time to go through HootSuite's online training materials and tests and become certified in the tool's use. Not every Solution Partner (affiliate) chooses to take this step, but I thought it was important for me to make sure that I knew as much as possible about the tool if I was going to recommend it.
And in so doing, I found that there were a great many advanced aspects and concepts regarding HootSuite that I didn't know and weren't published elsewhere, so that's why I started my HootSuite Series. It's a series currently consisting of 13 blog posts and articles that dive into a lot of the more advanced features like using HootSuite for Google+, or setting up link parameters for A/B testing. These are articles are so detailed, HootSuite.com published most of them.
In what ways is HootSuite different from other social media management tools and why would you recommend it?
What makes HootSuite so valuable and compelling is also what makes it so advanced and complicated - the dashboard. It's dense. And it's not pretty. Users can easily be overwhelmed with tabs and streams and data and not understand how to set it up or how to get the most value from the tool. There are many social media management tools available that can share updates to multiple social networks, and I've reviewed a lot of them. But very, very few tools have the depth and scope that HootSuite does for monitoring and listening, on top of great status update and content distribution options.
For instance, with HootSuite, an organization can share updates and schedule posts to their branded Twitter, Facebook Page, LinkedIn Company Page and Google+ Page. But they can also monitor all of their accounts and listen for brand mentions and conversations. A brand that is active on Google+ and connecting with influencers can set up a stream specific to a Google+ Circle so that they can listen to what key Google+ users are posting and saying.
HootSuite is most frequently referred to as a tool for managing and monitoring social media accounts. Can you use the tool for other tasks such as curating and sharing content?
When it comes to curating and sharing, HootSuite is one of my favorite tools. I have a tab set up for RSS and have installed the free HootSuite Syndicator app (one of the 80+ add-ons you can install within your HootSuite dashboard). With the syndicator, you can subscribe to RSS feeds and bring all kinds of new and rich content into one or more streams. You view these streams of content just like tweets or status updates in your dashboard, and select which articles you might be interested in sharing.
Typically once a day, I'll pop in and see what the latest articles are from my favorite industry publishers and queue up several to be shared. I can share posts immediately or schedule them out, and choose one or more social profiles each time, so each share can be customized however much I want.
What would be your top 5 tips for people to get the most out of HootSuite?
My top five tips for using HootSuite are:
- Use the HootSuite Syndicator to plug in your favorite RSS feeds for content sharing and curating.
- Install the Hootlet browser extension so that you can easily share any articles or website you're on.
- Take the time to learn and understand the Tab and Stream structure so that you know how to save streams, like searches.
- Create template messages for status updates or comment responses you need to send frequently.
- Take advantage of HootSuite's ability to share full images and formatted posts to Google+.
New features are being added to HootSuite regularly; what new features do you particularly like?
My favorite recent update to HootSuite is actually the mobile app for iOS. It's gorgeous and easy to use and it has actually replaced the mobile Twitter app for me. It's not a perfect app, but when it comes to Twitter, it's actually made my time with Twitter more enjoyable and more efficient.
The HootSuite App Directory is a collection of extensions and applications that users can add to their dashboard. Let us into a secret: what apps do you use?
As I mentioned, I use the HootSuite Syndicator app. I'm also exploring the ViralTag app for Pinterest, and looking forward to diving into the new app HootSuite has acquired and integrated for analytics.
Want to learn more about getting the most out of HootSuite?
Check out Mike’s series of articles and guides starting here: http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/article/how-set-hootsuite-social-media-success
Column logo by Marie Otsuka
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