Hootsuite: Love It or Hate It

With the myriad of social media options out there, the thought has probably crossed each of our minds before at least once: “If only there was a way to condense all these into one place” or “I wish I could connect all these things and organize them on one page.” There are a couple of social media organizational dashboards out there, but this time we’re going to enter the wonderful world of Hootsuite.

Hootsuite: you either love it, or hate it. If you google it, you’ll find adamant camps of haters or admirers, the haters really hate, the admirers will hear of no other platform. Let’s take a look at what Hootsuite has to offer you, and you may decide for yourself.

Currently, Hootsuite’s free version offers you a web-based tabulated dashboard that can keep track of up to five different social media programs (you have to pay a pretty penny to go pro if you want Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, or more than five different sites in there). Hootsuite allows you multiple streams of information per site tab, so when you click on, say, your Facebook tab, you can create a stream for your current posts, a stream for comments you receive, scheduled posts, personal messages and more. All of this appears on one page, right before your eyes, no clicking back and forth to different, open tabs. They just recently added Google+ into the list of social sites they offer you, so right now you can put your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress and Mixi accounts on the dashboard. It is fairly simple to create your account, and then click on the tab settings to add your social networks.

Entering your usernames, passwords, and giving Hootsuite authorization to access all these accounts takes a few minutes, and pretty soon you have a dashboard of tabs.  

If you are boring, and want to say the same thing at the same time on all your sites, you may choose which social media sites to post to (at the top of the dashboard there is an easily seen dialog box in which to do this), then there is a dialog box to type your post for the day. Choose all your sites at one time, type one post for all, add a link if you wish and viola, you post and it’s on all the networks you chose. You spent only a few seconds but reached all of your fans across your entire social media spectrum.

What if you’re not boring, and want to say different stuff at different times? With Hootsuite, you can definitely get more creative. You’re still saving time by operating on all the social media sites from one dashboard, eliminating the need to open up a bunch of tabs or manage usernames and passwords (basically, saving the minutes and then seconds that we have come to value in our fast-paced tech world), and you can see what is happening in one glance with comments, re-tweets, sharing, etc. all from this page. You can schedule posts for later days and times, reply to comments and interact with your followers; it’s an OC organizers delight! Want to carry a theme for a week but only have time today to plan it? Get together all your material and schedule a whole week of themed posts and links in an easy-to-view column of information, pick the time of day you want each one to post, set it and forget it! This is great for people with structured, planned Google+ or Facebook pages, but who want to keep, say, Twitter real, live and in the moment.

So far it sounds great, but for some of us who get lost in a world of a million and one options, where if one miniscule box is unchecked or checked it could mean professional embarrassment (double posts anyone?), or you are the kind of person who must see the actual Facebook page and familiar Google+ page to figure out what you are going to say for the day, then you (like me) need a bit of time to play with Hootsuite in order to learn how to use it effectively. If you have a question, Hootsuite’s Twitter feed is full of quickly answered queries on “how does one do x?” and the answers are prompt, polite and helpful. They also have a series of video tutorials called “Hoot Tips” available to help you (#HootTip), and if that’s not enough, for $21 a month, you can enroll in Hootsuite University, and even earn a social media certification! In addition to this, another company called Grovo is offering sixty-second video tutorials for your quick questions related to Hootsuite (and other platforms).

From what I can gather, the people that hate Hootsuite are people that want a quick, easy, one-stop-shop where they can glance at the screen and know exactly what it is they want done and how to do it. This is definitely not Hootsuite. But, if you have some time to invest in learning how to use this comprehensive social media tool, it can do great things for you. Their blog, HootSource, is worth giving a read, anyhow.

Let’s recap: Hootsuite offers you the ability to manage multiple social networks, schedule messages and tweets, track mentions, and analyze social media traffic. They will train you for free to use their tools, and they have excellent help available. Now go play with it!

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