To Hootsuite or not to Hootsuite? I'd like to say this is something I consider before knuckling down on every social media project I undertake, but that just wouldn't be true.
After trying several different scheduling platforms, it was Hootsuite that got me hooked. Hootsuite is a wonderful tool, which enables you to schedule social media posts in advance. It saves you time, allows you to visualize and plan for upcoming events, and offers a whole range of in-house management tools. I love it - so why is it that I feel slightly disloyal to my own ethos every time I log into my Hootsuite account?
Hootsuite is my Friend
Hootsuite is my friend. Not only do I find their online marketing tools great for managing several projects at once but they also allow for seamless collaboration. However, I have a problem.
Authenticity is the holy grail of social media marketing. In order for us to really communicate and form a bond with our audience we have to be real, transparent and honest. We need to stop hiding behind shiny logos and typefaces and show off our of human side, our softer side. Being authentic means being in the moment, spontaneous and involved. It means being responsive to the outside world, being less structured and contrived.
My problem is that Hootsuite is a robot, and authentic isn't the first word that springs to mind. A good social media strategy requires a level of 'being human', being relatable and three dimensional. A good strategy will cast a light on the emotions and values behind a brand and on the personality of a workforce. So, is it any wonder that a part of me winces every time I instruct Hootsuite, a robot, to send a tweet?
I guess the question is, can we truly achieve authenticity when using a robot to communicate to our audience, to people, to humans?
The Benefits of Hootsuite
Scheduling tools provide reliability, there's no doubt about it. Schedule a tweet for the weekend, that tweet will go out at the weekend. Schedule a tweet while you're sunning yourself in Italy, that tweet will go out while you are sunning yourself in Italy.
Finding time for social media posting can be hard, especially for smaller businesses who may not have a dedicated team. Remembering to post can be even harder - you might have all the ideas under the sun for #NationalBurgerDay but if you're not around to execute it, that's an opportunity missed.
Hootsuite is a way of making sure planned and important content gets shared. Ultimately, scheduled content is better than no content (aside from in times of crisis when scheduled content may mean a message that has become inappropriate is posted - which is why you always need to keep a close eye on what you've scheduled.)
Hootsuite also acts as a digital planner, it helps with visualizing your content calendar, shortens links, makes cross-channel promotion easy, figures out the best time to post and even offers in-house analytics. Other features also enable you to create streams to track things, such as competitor mentions, while also enabling you to monitor your social media accounts as a whole. Hootsuite is great for giving you an overall view of what is going on, and it helps you to cut through the noise. This alone is enough to warrant the use of Hootsuite, even if we do find ourselves struggling with internal mental conflict.
The Perfect Social Media Balance
So, how do we ensure a balance? I think it's important to see platforms like Hootsuite as more than just a scheduling tool. Understanding the benefits of social media monitoring is an important aspect of ensuring a strong strategy but getting the balance is vital.
To get it right, never rely too much on one thing. Using Hootsuite to monitor the 'outside world', so to speak, and schedule evergreen content is one half of the balance. The other half is ensuring you leave some room for spontaneous activity.
It might seem easier and probably quicker to commit solely to one management channel, and I'm sure we've all been guilty of this (me included), but giving yourself the time and flexibility to make 40% of your social activity free flowing and agile will see your online communications translate as authentic.
Getting caught in the spirit of the moment will lead to fun and transparent communication. You will start to notice opportunities around you, whether it be a funny photo opportunity in the office or a truly thought provoking article you've come across on your lunch break. Taking a step back from a tightly co-ordinated plan can help you break through the crowds and really stand out as a genuine, deeper brand with human emotions and thought processes; as a brand that has more depth than just its tagline.
So, the answer to my initial question is, to Hootsuite - in moderation. Push yourself to be more aware, give yourself a generous amount of room to post in real time and never rely too heavily on either scheduled or real time posting. A healthy dose of both is the recipe for success.