Hootsuite 101 for Small Biz: What it is and How to use it
August 22, 2017
What is Hootsuite?
Hootsuite is a social media management tool. It is used to serve as a hub for multiple social media platforms, where users can control content, view feeds, and more. In addition to manipulating multiple social media platforms at the same time, Hootsuite can generate statistical reports that display various data pertaining to the performance of the social media platforms in use.
Why should I use Hootsuite?
One of the most useful qualities of Hootsuite is the ability to schedule content in advance from one location. If a user has their content prepped for a month of posts, they can enter each post on each form of social media (including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) in 15-30 minutes. This is great for small business owners who get stressed about taking time away from working at their business to use social media. This also is a great way to make sure that content is equally spread out. Once the user identifies a target frequency for posting on each platform, they know exactly how many posts they need to come up with for the month to hit that goal. For example, if the target frequency is once a day for Facebook/Instagram, and twice a day for Twitter, then the user needs to come up with 30 posts a month for Facebook/Instagram and 60 for Twitter (assuming an example month length of 30 days, numbers will vary depending on exact number of days per month).
Hootsuite’s dashboard system comes in handy when it comes to monitoring all of your social media platforms at once. By setting up dashboards to show user engagement and comments, you can always see when a user has a question or concern for you. Did somebody Tweet at you with a burning question? With the proper dashboard setup, you will see it. Did somebody comment on a post on Facebook with a concern? It will be easily visible with Hootsuite. Not only can you see these posts, but you can respond via Hootsuite as well. Instead of going to each individual social media platform and looking at your profile to see if anybody is engaging with you, the user can be immediately updated just by scrolling through their Hootsuite feeds. This makes it much simpler to engage with the user’s audience.
One positive aspect of Hootsuite is that has multiple pricing points, including a free version. This allows different users to pay as much as is appropriate for their social media needs. Is the user an individual or small business who is just looking to manage their personal social media accounts? The free version will handle that. Is the user an organization that is looking to gain analytical insights into several different forms of social media? A paid plan may be more beneficial. Overall, it is useful for users to know that at the very least, Hootsuite offers a free trial of one of the paid plans so that they can try out some of the features that are only available to the paid versions of Hootsuite.
Hootsuite offers analytical information in the form of reports to users. The amount of reports that are available to users is dependent upon their Hootsuite plan. Users of the free version will have access to a small number of basic reports, such as Twitter and Facebook overview reports. Pro users will have a certain amount of points associated with their account to distribute to reports that are not available to free users, and Enterprise users have access to all reports. The paid reports are more detailed and specific than the free reports, but even the free reports still offer the ability to monitor results over time (audience engagement, follower numbers, etc.)
Small businesses should use Hootsuite because:
If used properly, most social media platforms can all be monitored from the same source.
Content scheduling can allow easier control of content.
Reports give analytical insight into social media performance
If used properly, Hootsuite can reduce the amount of time spent on quality social media upkeep.
What do I need to understand in order to use Twitter in a business capacity?
Hootsuite can seem a bit intimidating at first. One of its main flaws is that its interface can be a bit confusing at first. Breaking down the vocabulary associated with Hootsuite is a great way to start understanding the service. Here is a copy of Hootsuite’s glossary that has been edited down to some of the most essential terms that users will encounter in using Hootsuite. To view the full version, click here.
Analytics: Hootsuite Analytics is a tool for measuring, analyzing and reporting social media data. Besides measuring web traffic, analytics can be used as a tool for business and market research. The Analytics section of the dashboard is where analytics reports can be created. The new Analytics Overview and Boards give you a real-time view of your social media data.
Analytics Points: Points are used in old Analytics to create reports. Each module within Hootsuite Analytics has a point value. Points can be reused by deleting a report or removing a module from a report.
App Directory: The App Directory is the section of the dashboard where apps can be added or removed, and where app settings can be adjusted (when applicable).
Apps: Apps are third-party application or extension products designed for use with the dashboard. Apps are added as streams or plugins.
Assignments: Assignments are a team collaboration feature. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Page messages can be assigned for action amongst teams and team members, allowing comprehensive and efficient replying across your organization’s social networks. The Assignments section of the dashboard is where assignments are managed. This includes assigning, reassigning, responding, resolving and viewing assignments.
Autoschedule: AutoSchedule automatically schedules content. Draft and queue messages in advance, and then let AutoSchedule publish them based on optimal engagement time periods, already scheduled content and customized settings.
Bulk Upload Tool: The bulk upload tool uploads and schedules multiple messages at one time. While there is no cap on individually scheduled messages, up to 350 messages can be uploaded in bulk at one time. Only available in the paid plans.
Campaigns: Campaigns are a Hootsuite feature used to build and launch interactive social contests. This includes photo or video contests, sweepstakes or full-screen social feeds. Campaigns can help grow email databases, acquire leads and gain demographic insights.
Contacts: Contacts are followers or following on Twitter or Google+. Having someone as a contact ensures that their social media content is visible in streams. The Contacts section of the dashboard is where contacts are managed.
Hootfeed: HootFeed formats a Twitter feed so it can be displayed (full-screen). Designed for use at live events, HootFeed populates Tweets in real-time.
Hootlet: Hootlet is a free Chrome extension that enables content sharing from a browser. Designed to mimic the look and feel of the compose message box, Hootlet preloads the title and URL of the web page to share.
Keyword Tracking: Keyword tracking refines Twitter queries, improving search stream results. Track up to three keyword or phrases in a single Twitter stream.
Launch Menu: This is Hootsuite’s main menu, found along the left side of the dashboard. It lists each main dashboard section, along with the Sign Out button.
Organization: An organization is the top-level of a business account. Teams, team members and social networks can be added to organizations to organize them in a way that reflects real-world company structure for optimal collaboration. Varying permission levels can be assigned within an organization.
ly: Ow.ly is a URL shortener. To save characters in messages, links can be shortened into manageable ow.ly links from the compose message box. Ow.ly links are trackable, so they can be used with Analytics to gain insights into social media reach.
Plugin: A plugin is a small piece of software that can be used to add new features to existing applications. Many apps in the App Directory are added to the dashboard as plugins.
Private Social Networks: Private Social Networks is an area within the User Profile section of the dashboard. It lists social networks that have been added for personal use. Only the account holder can access this section.
Publisher: The Publisher section of the dashboard is where content (scheduled messages, suggested content, messages awaiting approval) and content sources (RSS feeds, bulk message upload, content library) are managed.
Settings: The Settings section of the dashboard is where account settings (profile info, authentication, security, billing), dashboard preferences, archived messages, RSS/Atom feeds, vanity URLs, dashboard notifications and AutoSchedule settings are managed.
Streams: Streams are columns in the dashboard that display content from social networks. Each social network offers unique stream functionality. The Streams section of the dashboard is the main engagement interface, where tabs and streams can be added to organize incoming content, and where users can view profiles, reply to messages, use third-party app functions (where applicable), and much more.
Tab: A tab, like one on a filing folder, is used to separate and organize the streams in the dashboard. Tabs can be reordered, renamed and deleted.
Teams: Teams, along with team members and social networks, are structural blocks within organizations. These blocks can reflect real-world team or department structure within the dashboard.
Tools: The Tools section of the dashboard provides quick access to Hootsuite Academy, information about the Partner programs, mobile apps and Hootsuite extensions and downloads.
Before using Hootsuite, you need to have a social media strategy. Hootsuite gives you all of the tools that you need to successfully execute a strong social media strategy, but if you don’t have one, the platform won’t be of much use. Get to know your audience, and understand what content appeals to them.
Now that there is a core understanding of service itself, let’s take a look at a list of actionable material in order to make Hootsuite work for you.
Register your company’s social media profiles with Hootsuite
Hootsuite is most beneficial when multiple forms of social media are connected, not just one.
Schedule your content in advance
This prevents the last-minute scramble for content. Decide how far out you want to set content (every week, every month, etc.), and keep to that regular schedule.
If you have a Hootsuite Pro membership or higher, you can use the Bulk Scheduler tool. This allows you to use Excel to upload up to 350 posts at the same time using a very specific format that Hootsuite lays out.
Make use of the Analytic Reports
The free reports give basic information regarding the growth of a social media profile over time, as well as some basic engagement statistics.
The reports that can be accessed with paid profiles offer more in-depth data that could yield beneficial results to those who are looking to understand their social media performance in detail.
Use streams to monitor each social media feed/see audience engagement
By setting up streams, the user can see incoming Twitter mentions, Facebook comments, direct messages, etc.
Using a combination of streams and the posting service on Hootsuite, a company could run successful Facebook and Twitter accounts without leaving the Hootsuite service. Instagram requires mobile confirmation within the app to post, but posts can still be scheduled.
External Hootsuite Resources
Here is a list of resources that are compiled from other websites. This guide has covered a lot of information, but there is still a lot more detail in Hootsuite that can be explored. We also offer a more in-depth, step-by-step guide to performing certain functions in Hootsuite here.
This is a larger guide that covers a wide amount of information. Again, a little out of date, but most of the information is accurate. Features screenshots and visual how-to’s.
Looking for some recommendations on how to implement Hootsuite into your social media strategy? If you’re a Bankable client, our Technical Assistance team would be happy to work with you on just that. Check out our Technical Assistance program offerings here .