Social Media
Roxana Humelnicu

Marketing Executive working on content, social media and events

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that helps brands keep on top of their social media activity across networks. Read on to find out how to set it up and use it successfully.

Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management tools with over 15 million users. This isn’t surprising, given that its user-friendly dashboard can bring together information from 35 social media channels in real time. Anybody can sign up to use it, here’s how:

How to Get Started with Hootsuite

To create a free Hootsuite account, go to https://hootsuite.com/create-free-account and enter the required information. Next, add the details of your social media profiles that you want to monitor. For every profile that you add, Hootsuite will ask for authorisation to access the account.

Settings

Before you jump into the dashboard, you should spend some time setting up your account. To do this, select ‘settings’ from the toolbar on the left, then add as many details as you like in the pop-up window. You can change settings such as your profile information, authentication methods, language, alerts and notifications.

Hootsuite settings

The Hootsuite Dashboard

The streams dashboard is where you will spend most of your time in Hootsuite and is where you’ll do your monitoring. It features three separate areas: the compose box, the tabs and the streams.

How to Schedule posts

The compose box is where you can create and publish or schedule your messages. On the left you can select the social network you want to post the message on. You can pin your most used social accounts to save time.

Hootsuite compose box

On the right, you can type in the text for your message. You have the option to tag other accounts by using “@” and selecting from the drop-down menu. Hootsuite allows you to tag accounts across different networks.

To share a link, paste it in the link shortener and click on ‘shrink’ to save on character count. Click on the paperclip icon to add attachments such as images.

Now that your message is ready, you can send it out or schedule it for later. If you’re not sure when to schedule it for, you can let the Hootsuite algorithm do it for you by selecting ‘AutoSchedule’.

Hootsuite schedule post

Choose the date and the time for your post to go live

The ‘Publisher’ tab provides a bird’s eye view of your scheduled messages. This is where you can make changes to your posts before they go live.

Hootsuite publisher

From a marketing perspective, I wouldn’t recommend posting the same messages across all of your profiles. Social networks differ in terms of their purpose and their users’ demographics and behaviour. It’s important to adapt your message to each network, so that you create a positive brand image and relationship with your audience. It’s also critical to post when your followers are most active. You can use tools such as Followerwonk for Twitter to determine the best time to post.

How to Monitor Social Media Activity with Tabs and Streams

The biggest chunk of your dashboard consists of tabs and streams. These allow you to monitor your social media profiles and interact with your followers. The difference between tabs and streams is that the former represents profiles, while streams show different aspects of one profile. For example, your Facebook profile is a tab and its streams can be the timeline, posts scheduled and messages.

To add a tab, you have two options. One way is to go to the top of your toolbar and click on your name and then ‘share a social network’. The second way is by clicking on the ‘add social network’ in your streams dashboard.

Hootsuite add new tab

Streams are displayed as columns. To add a new stream, click on the “+Add stream” button in the top left of your screen. You’ll see a pop-up window where you can choose a social network, a profile and a type of stream. Add streams by clicking on the “+” icons. Hootsuite allows 10 streams per tab.

Hootsuite add streams

And it keeps getting better! Hootsuite also allows you to import your Twitter lists and engage with their members. To do this, add a new stream, select Twitter, followed by lists, then profile. Choose from existing lists, or create a new one in Hootsuite.

How to Engage with Your Audience using Hootsuite

You can react to your audience’s actions on your social profile from within your Hootsuite dashboard. You can retweet, quote and favourite on Twitter and like, share and reply on Facebook.

Conversation threads, especially on Facebook, can become lengthy very quickly (your post may even become viral!). When this is the case, I would suggest creating a separate stream just for that one conversation.

Hootsuite conversation stream

Not all comments will be positive and it’s best to resolve any differences in opinion privately by hiding the negative comment (do not delete it). To do this, select ‘hide’ from the drop-down menu. The only users able to see the comment will be yourself, the person who made the comment and his/her friends. This type of message moderation will help you maintain a good brand reputation.

Hootsuite hiding a comment

Measure and analyse

Hootsuite provides its own analytics reports. You can access them from your toolbar on the left by selecting ‘analytics’. As a free user you can create four reports:

  • Twitter Profile Overview
  • Facebook Page Overview
  • Ow.ly Click Summary
  • URL Click Stats – Ow.ly

You can adapt the reports to your particular marketing objectives by selecting ‘build custom report’. Then either use one of the templates, or build one from scratch.

The stats within the free reports refer to basic metrics such as follower growth, most popular links, likes and page engagement. I would recommend using these 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.

Other Cool Things Hootsuite Can Do

Search stream

Monitor when somebody mentions a certain phrase on a specific network. For example collect all the tweets talking about “birthday cake”, all you need to do is to create a new stream and select ‘search’. To get results for an exact phrase, place it within quotation marks. I would suggest creating separate streams for campaign hashtags, so you can monitor them closely and report on each of them. I would also create a separate stream for your brand name because the ‘mention’ stream only picks up messages you’ve been tagged in.

To make things even more efficient and easier, you can limit your search to a specific geographical area (yours or your target market’s). To do this, click on the arrow icon on the right of the search query box. The level of search phrase customisation is high. To find out all the ways you can personalise your search, click on ‘show examples’.

Hootsuite search stream

Hootlet

Hootlet is a browser extension you can install in order to compose and schedule messages without leaving the webpage you are on. To install it, go to ‘tool’ in your toolbar and click on ‘install extension.’

To share an interesting fact you’ve just found, highlight the text, right-click on it and select ‘share via Hootlet’.

Other superpowers Hootlet has:
– Finding tweets related to your Google search (stay on top of relevant conversations and gain followers)

Hootlet search

– Discovering tweets near a location selected in Google Maps (great for social listening if you have a local business)

Hootlet local tweets

Hootsuite mobile

Hootsuite also comes as an app, available on both iOS and Android devices. It gives you access on the go to streams, publisher, compose box, search and settings. Any streams added in mobile will sync with your desktop dashboard.

Hootsuite App Directory

Increase Hootsuite’s usability by connecting apps to your account. This will allow you to do a lot more in your dashboard such as schedule bulk videos for YouTube, or post on additional social media networks, such as VK, popular in Russia, or Sina Weibo, used in China.

Hootsuite Campaigns

This handy feature allows you to effectively engage with your audience and get more leads. Two types of social media campaigns are available for free accounts: sweepstakes and sign up. They’re both easy to use and provide quick ways to build email lists by collecting contact details.

Hootsuite campaigns

I would advise you to only ask for information you really need as users can be reluctant to give their details away. Moreover, make it clear to them how their details will be used. You can read more about Hootsuite campaigns here.

Some Final Advice

Hootsuite can save you a lot of time by allowing you to schedule messages ahead of time. However, it is not wise to spend only a couple of hours on it every week and then ignore it for the rest of the time. Make sure you check your dashboard regularly because, after all, we’re talking about social media – users expect immediate response.

The best way to learn how to use a new tool is to actual start using it yourself. So,give it a try and let us know how it goes. If you need help with your social media, don’t hesitate to contact us.

4 responses to “How to Use Hootsuite”

  1. Dave Endsor says:

    Insightful article Sarah, thanks for the info.

    TweetDeck has a notifications column which effectively groups all new followers, favourites, RTs and mentions together. I find this particularly useful, rather than splitting them up. Does HootSuite offer something similar?

  2. Many thanks Dave!
    That does sound useful. Hootsuite doesn’t have this feature, each has to be added as a separate stream, but it’s quite easy to scroll across them.
    Please feel free to ask any further questions, and thanks for your comment.

  3. Adam says:

    This was helpful – I hadn’t been to Hootsuite in a couple of years, and now am in a job where it is very handy. But the GUI has changed. Your site was recommended by Google, and, unlike other recommended sites from Google that i’ve clicked on before, yours was useful!!! I was able to understand streams, and your tip about not using the same post for multiple platforms made me rethink this often-used purpose for Hootsuite.
    Great clarity in your writing and good screenshots.

  4. Sarah Tween says:

    Hi Adam, thank you for your comment, I’m glad you found the post helpful! Hootsuite is a really useful tool for many businesses, but I think it can be a bit difficult to use at first which is why I decided to write this guide. Just let me know if you have any Hootsuite questions.

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