Managing one social network is pretty simple. Once you start becoming active on two or three with any kind of decent strategy, management becomes cumbersome. There is no shortage of social media management tools1 these days, but I wanted to talk about HootSuite2 for a few reasons. It is easy to use, reliable and the basic version (which has a lot of functionality) is free.
Basically, this is a web-based software platform that allows you to sync up multiple social networks so that you can manage them from a single central location. A basic account is free, and it allows you to hook up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus business page, Foursquare accounts and WordPress blogs.
From HootSuite’s interface, you can see activity on all of your networks from one screen. You can respond to interactions on different accounts, create new posts and refresh your feeds. You can also schedule your posts on different networks, plus you do not have to be logged in at the time you set the post to go live.
As mentioned before, if you only have one or two accounts, you probably do not need to be using HootSuite. If you find yourself spending a lot of time going to different social sites and configuring posts or checking on activity, then it may be worth checking out. This is particularly helpful for firms targeting multiple practice areas because you may have different social accounts for each focus. Here are some of the pluses as I see them:
• Get more accomplished in less time
• Build custom reports (more on this in a moment)
• Assign messages to other users
• Get tips from HootSuite University3 (HootSuite’s knowledge database)
• Use all the same features on your networks (mentions, hashtags, links, images and more)
(I personally use the premium version of Hootsuite to help manage all of my client’s social networks from one dashboard.)
Aside from management of your social accounts, you can generate reports on your activity using HootSuite. Using the “Reports” panel, you can see engagement stats for the profiles you have connected to HootSuite. You can click one button to make a branded report, which can be exported via PDF or CSV. These stats can be found on your social media channels as well but Hootsuite has them all in one location and reporting is much easier to generate for things like identifying social signals as it relates to search4 and levels of engagement across accounts.
You can also obtain click stats on links that were generated through HootSuite’s interface and import your Google Analytics account information. You can even build custom reports with only the information you want. The default profile overview is free, but other custom reports require a monthly membership. Below is an example of the auto-generated Facebook report that pulls information from Facebook Insights.
The real value of the tool comes into play when you can do multiple jobs from within the same interface. For instance you can save a lot of time and generate consistent looking reports by generating them from within Hootsuite. Alternatively you would have to visit twitter.analytics.com, Facebook Insights and your own Analytics account to get all of the same information.
HootSuite is not the only social media management tool available. You can find others that include syndication features and reporting. If all you want to do is schedule some posts and manage a few mainstream networks from one place, it’s a great option. Another good use of it is to get a feel for using a software platform of its kind before you invest in something.
Do you use any tools to manage your social media accounts? Which ones have worked for you? Which ones have not?