Hootsuite Review: Time-Saving Social Media Tools for Bloggers
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By now we all understand the power of social media for making connections. But how exactly do you take advantage to build a following for your blog?
Those who have tried will give you the simple answer: through a lot of hard work. To get maximum exposure, you need to be running several profiles on several different platforms simultaneously, posting content regularly and taking the time to interact with followers and contacts. Then if you really want to start making social media work for you, you get into the realm of thinking about types of content, analyzing what generates the most interest, and how to best convert that into traffic for your site.
This is what professional digital marketers do for a living. But they don’t just rely on putting in hours and hours of work on different social sites, They have tools to help them, tools like Hootsuite.
Hootsuite offers a range of social media marketing and management tools aimed at professionals. As well as labor-saving options such as making posts to several social media accounts at once, Hootsuite majors in real-time monitoring and analytics for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more social platforms. It helps you:
- Discover the best content for your site
- Decide what to re-post, and,
- Connect to key influencers in your sphere.
Unlike other professional social media marketing suites, Hootsuite does not exclude lone ranger webmasters or solo bloggers through its pricing. It offers an affordable package aimed at small businesses and start-ups which provides your average blogger with all the social media tools they are likely to need. A limited range of tools can even be used for free.
You can start using Hootsuite for free, connecting up to three profiles with one user account. The only free tool you get is post scheduling, but if all you are looking for is a way to save time posting to different social media, it is a solid cost-free option.
The cheapest paid plan also limits you to one user account, but allows you to link up to 10 social media profiles and places no limit on how many posts you can schedule in advance. This plans also lets you link as many RSS feeds as you like for sourcing content, includes real-time analytics for your profiles and gives you access to a social sweepstakes game creator.
After this more affordable plan, prices start to rise steeply. The main distinctions with the higher tier plans are that they are intended for marketing teams, so they include multiple user accounts and tools to assign tasks to different people. The number of profiles you can link under the same account increases, and you can customize analytics reports to suit your own needs.
The highest off-the-shelf subscription tier gives you access to more than 250 third party app plug-ins to connect straight to your Hootsuite account. Some of these are additional tools for social media, but others are productivity and collaboration platforms, so you can do a broader range of tasks all in one place.
Above the pre-set plans, Hootsuite also offers fully customized bespoke plans aimed at the enterprise market.
All Hootsuite paid plans can be billed monthly or annually, with a discount for paying for a full year’s subscription upfront. Online payment is taken by bank card or PayPal. Subscriptions will auto-renew at the end of each subscription period unless notice is served of cancellation. All fees are non-refundable: if you pay for a year upfront, you are tied in for a year and will not get your money back should you cancel the service.
Hootsuite offers a free 30-day trial on all subscription plans, but bear in mind you have to give payment details to access this and it will roll onto a paid service unless you cancel.
Core Hootsuite features
Hootsuite allows you to connect and manage accounts from 35 different social media platforms, including the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn. Here are the main features available on the lowest price plan most suitable to bloggers.
Maintaining a visible profile on social media often means posting content regularly, which can be a burden when you also have a blog to manage. Scheduling means you can queue up posts in advance to save having to be online so much. The Hootsuite scheduling tools include a calendar so you can quickly review what you have lined up to post and when. You can create and edit scheduled posts from the Hootsuite mobile app, allowing you to change your plans on the move.
Analytics and monitoring
In marketing speak, social media is all about the conversation: what the hot topics are, who is saying what, and who the most influential voices are. To help you get involved, Hootsuite offers customized search by keywords and location so you can find the relevant conversations for your blog across all your social media accounts. It also allows you to log and organize content you find by topic, so you can quickly come back to it to see updates.
Effective social media marketing requires you to know how your own channels are performing. Hootsuite provides a live analytics dashboard displaying live data on your followers, activity and how often your content is being liked, shared or used to click through to your own site.
Hootsuite also helps you find relevant posts to turn into content of your own. Re-posts are one of the easiest ways to create content on social media. Using keyword searches, Hootsuite will make suggestions of popular content to post to your own feed.
There is also a Chrome browser plug-in, Hootlet, which allows you to add content you find online directly to your posting schedule. It links directly to your calendar and can be used on mobile as well as desktop.
Social media sweepstakes
Running a competition is a great way to get followers engaging with you on your social media. Hootsuite helps you by offering tools to build 16 different types of contests, including photo and video competitions, caption contests and quizzes.
On the lowest priced plan, the only contest type you can use is sweepstakes. A sweepstake is very simple – in exchange of their contact details, e.g. email address, you enter followers into a prize draw. This is a great way to start building your own mailing list for further marketing activity, especially if you have a prize people get excited about. Hootsuite lets you run the same sweepstake simultaneously on different social media, collecting all contact information in a single database.
Hootsuite provides a useful middle ground between the purely professional social media application suites available and the low cost aggregators which allow you to post to multiple platforms at once and little else. Although it is mainly targeted at agencies and marketing professionals, the inclusion of an affordable lower tier means bloggers and start-up entrepreneurs can get access to some of the same pro tools without breaking the bank.
Hootsuite connects to far more social platforms than many of its rivals, so if you are using something apart from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the other usual suspects, it is a strong option.