Social Media is an important part of any business’s digital marketing strategy. Through the various social media platforms you can:
- Expand your audience and find new customers
- Drive traffic to your website
- Share new content quickly
- Create meaningful relationships with and gain insights from your customers
- Receive valuable feedback
However, managing several social media accounts at once can often put a strain on resources. Thankfully, there are social media management tools out there to make it easier. The most widely used of these is Hootsuite, with over 10 million users around the world. We love Hootsuite. A free-to-use tool (with the option to pay for enhanced packages), Hootsuite makes social media management easier, more efficient, and potentially more effective. Here’s how to set up and start using Hootsuite.
1) Get Your Free Hootsuite Account
Go to www.hootsuite.com and click ‘Sign Up’ to claim your free Hootsuite account. Once you’ve entered your email address, and created a username and password, your new account will look something like this:
Notice the impressive time-saving statistics on the right of the page!
Hootsuite is now giving you the option of linking your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts to the dashboard.
Hootsuite recently announced integration with Instagram too, meaning you can manage even more social media accounts from one dashboard. To add Instagram to your Hootsuite account once it’s set up and you are logged in, click here and follow the ‘Get Started’ link, then select ‘Modify Account’.
Back on the Hootsuite set up page, click on the icon of the social media account you would like to add, and a window like this will appear:
To add the account, enter your login details for that network and click ‘Authorise app’. You will then be redirected back to Hootsuite, where you will see that your account has been added:
Once you’ve connected all of the social media accounts you want, click ‘Continue’. Don’t worry, you can add more later if you need to.
2) Adding Your Streams
Now you need to populate your dashboard. One of the minor downsides of Hootsuite, from a user perspective, is that at first glance the dashboard can look slightly overwhelming, as so much information is in one place. But that is also one of the biggest plus points of the tool, and once you get used to the look of the dashboard, you’ll find it’s not as complex as it initially seemed.
To break it down: each social media account has its own tab, and you can choose to view a number of streams for each tab. For example, with a Twitter account you can add a ‘Home’ stream which will display your normal Twitter feed, a ‘Mentions’ stream which only displays tweets that you have been tagged in, or a ‘My Tweets’ stream which only shows the tweets you have sent out, as well as a few other options.
Here’s how it will look on your screen:
As you add streams, your tab will fill up with a column for each of the streams you have selected. You can always go back and add or remove streams. Once you’ve added the streams for one social network, start a new tab and do the same for the rest of the accounts you will be using Hootsuite to manage.
I recommend setting up a ‘brand mentions’ stream for Twitter. This differs from Twitter mentions, which simply show when people have tagged you in a tweet, or replied to you. The purpose of a ‘brand mention’ stream is to see every time your brand or company name is mentioned on Twitter, whether someone uses your Twitter handle or not. This can be a good way of connecting with people who are talking about your brand, as well as managing your online reputation.
To do this, click ‘Add Stream’ in the top left of your dashboard and select ‘Search’ in this box:
Add the search query you want to monitor (for example, your company name) using boolean search. For example, Hallam Internet’s is:
“Hallam Internet OR HallamInternet OR Susan Hallam OR Hallam Communications”.
Notice here that we’ve used OR in capital letters to separate the variations on our brand name. If you have a brand name that’s typically difficult to spell, you may add common misspellings to your search query.
Searching for mentions of your brand is a great starting point. From then on, there’s a whole world of searching opportunities and you can create a custom search for just about anything. For example, consider setting up a search for the specific products or services you offer.
3) Scheduling Posts
One of Hootsuite’s most useful functions is the ability to schedule posts to go out on all of the social networks you have connected with. This is where Hootsuite can really save you time. You could, for example, spend a couple of hours at the start of each week scheduling all of your social media updates to go out that week. However, it’s important that you do not simply schedule tweets and then leave your accounts un-monitored. The power of social media is that it allows us to engage with our potential customers, so make sure you regularly check in on your account.
You can also use the scheduling tool to experiment with posting at different times of the day and seeing how each post performs. This will, over time, help you to identify the busiest and best times to post.
To schedule a post, use the boxes at the very top of the dashboard:
The left-hand box is a drop-down menu, from which you select the social media account you want to schedule a post for.
Note: Although it may be tempting to try and save time, we would always advise against scheduling the same post to go out on multiple platforms. Each social network should serve its own, distinct purpose, and your updates should reflect this.
The right-hand box is where you compose your post. You have the option to include a link, which Hootsuite will ‘Shrink’ for you, as well as attach an image or file. Once your post is composed, click on the calendar icon to schedule it:
To review your scheduled posts or edit them, click on the ‘Publisher’ arrow icon on the tool-bar on the left on the screen:
4) Monitor, Analyse, Refine
Hootsuite also provides its own Analytics reports. To access these, click on the ‘Analytics’ graph icon on the tool-bar on the left of the screen:
There are only three report templates available to you as a free user:
- Twitter Profile Overview
- Facebook Page Overview
- Ow.ly Click Summary
The other reports require points to create, which you need to purchase. These free report templates will provide you with basic information on your accounts, such as follower growth, most popular links, daily likes, and page engagement. However, I would recommend using these free reports along with the analytics provided within each of the social networks to obtain a detailed picture of your social media performance.
Once you’ve gathered the data, look at the posts which received the most engagement and use these to inform your strategy moving forward.
5) Things to Consider
- There are many other things Hootsuite can do, such as posting social media paid adverts, managing Twitter and Google+ lists and importing apps
- Hootsuite also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, so you can post without even opening Hootsuite
- There is a mobile app for iOS and Android, so you can manage your social media on-the-go
This post aims to cover the basics of setting up and using Hootsuite to manage multiple social media accounts from one place. Once you get used to the way the dashboard works, which can take some time, there are many other functions to explore. If you are simply looking for an effective and efficient way of managing your company’s social media, however, I would certainly suggest trying Hootsuite out.