In yesterday's roundup of the "Essential" toolkit for small business social media, we made reference to the importance of engagement consoles, and nailed our colours firmly to the mast, in recommending Hootsuite as the tool of choice. Other options are available, such as Seesmic and Tweetdeck, so what is it about Hootsuite that gets ours, and many others, vote? Here are 6 reasons why we think you'd be ever-so-slightly mad to go anywhere else for your social engagement needs...
1. Drowns out the Noise!
Through effective use of social streams, users are able to cut the majority of BLAH BLAH BLAH that permeates social networks today, and instead focus down on what really matters. There are 2 principal ways of doing this; keyword searches, and lists. When it comes to Twitter, best practice is to segment those you follow, according to their relative importance and relevance to your business. Once done, Hootsuite allows you to segment the incoming updates by list. Great! No more "Here's what I had for breakfast!".
2. Scheduling and Auto-Scheduling
Not exactly the preserve of Hootsuite, but useful nonetheless. Schedule your updates to go out at specific times, allowing you to plan ahead (This is not an excuse to stop LISTENING and responding). With the relatively recent addition of auto-scheduling, you can also employ Buffer-style sending, at times when you're likely to incite the greatest response. This is based on historical data, and is proven to improve the levels of engagement your posts will garner.
3. The App Directory
Not happy with the list of social profiles supported by Hootsuite? Don't be fooled! Check out the App Directory for a great many more ways to integrate your favourite engagement console with all sorts of other services, from YouTube and Instagram, to Mailchimp and Constant Contact. This can dramatically cut down on the amount of browsing you have to do, in order to stay in touch with your trusted connections.
4. Shortening and Tracking
Again, this won't set the world on fire, but it's worth repeating. The Ow.ly URL shortening service allows you to shorten URL's from within Hootsuite, and subsequently see how many clicks your post caused. Coupled with the next reason (No. 5), this is incredibly powerful, in helping drive more of a response from your audience. See our full roundup of the Best URL Shorteners on our recent post.
5. Analytics Integration & Reporting
In addition to Ow.ly, Hootsuite also integrates with your Facebook Insights and Google Analytics accounts, to add even more insights about who's doing what with your content, and what the ultimate outcome is. Knowing what visitors are doing when they get to your site, from your social updates, is the only way to really know whether you're generating any kind of return. Be in the know, and respond to what works, and what doesn't!
There'a lot to Hootsuite - an intelligent tool, that can cover many of the social marketing angles that any small business would love to exploit. And therein lies a problem. When a tool comes along, it's all too easy to use a small subset of the features, and miss out on a wealth of functionality and benefit. Hootsuite lends a helping hand with it's University - offering training and even certification (for those who seek such status). There are cheat sheets, video tutorials and more, helping you to really make the most of the technology.
Are you using Hootsuite in your business? What are the features you're using most often, and are you planning on doing more or less with your social engagement console this year?