With all the social networks sprouting out from nowhere and taking the world by storm, businesses and organizations need a trusted service (1) to manage their social media campaigns, (2) to pinpoint and grow specific audiences, and (3) to disseminate custom messages.
A well-known social media management system, HootSuite helps carry out a collaborative campaign across major social networks from a web-based dashboard.
The company says it effectively launches the campaigns of businesses and organizations on social media, streamlining team progress by scheduling and through targeted tools and reaching audiences worldwide by geo-targeting.
HootSuite allows its users to invite multiple collaborators to handle social profiles, and provides personalized reports with its tools for social analytics.
What probably sets this social media management system apart from most of its kind is its deep integrations with the four major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. It also has an app directory for users to add more social networks and marketing tools.
But enough with the not-so-brief introduction and allow me to dig deeper – and to be as detailed as possible without crossing the lines of jargon.
Social Network Management
HootSuite’s dashboard is one of the best – if not the best – dashboards you will find on a social media management system. It keeps you productive by supervising all social media accounts within the website and from one simple graphical user interface.
HootSuite’s integration with Facebook allows you to post status updates, upload photos, monitor news feeds, and more on the world’s largest social network (now with more than one billion active users). And teams can manage complex Facebook marketing campaigns, including Events, Groups, Pages, Profiles, and Search.
HootSuite’s integration with Twitter allows you (1) to send regular or scheduled Tweets, (2) to listen in on keyword, list, and search tracking streams, and (3) to monitor sent tweets, Favorites, Mentions, Direct Messages, and more in dedicated streams.
Through its LinkedIn integration, HootSuite allows you to interact with customers, send news, expand recruitment campaigns, and monitor conversations in your industry.
You can post directly to your Company Pages, Groups, and Profiles, and even create job search streams.
Both Twitter and LinkedIn claim to have more than 200 million users.
Integration with Google+ Pages allows businesses and organizations to take advantage of HootSuite’s account management and targeted messaging to Circles.
You can share or comment on posts, search for updates, monitor a user’s recent activity, and see +1’s and comments on Google’s social network.
Google says that Google+ has 500 million registered members as of December last year, including 235 million monthly active users.
Do not brush off HootSuite’s Foursquare management, because it mixes geolocation, gaming, and social marketing.
With its gamification features, Foursquare allows you to check in or become “mayor” at locations, and share valuable tips to friends through HootSuite.
Foursquare has 20 million registered users as of April last year.
Through HootSuite’s MySpace management, you can connect with common fans of music, films, and video games by synchronizing your social messaging with one-time social network leader Myspace (previously known as MySpace, with a capital “S”).
You can also send, schedule, and see updates from the social network in HootSuite’s dashboard.
MySpace has 25 million registered users as of June last year.
HootSuite’s management for WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging system, allows you to post regular or scheduled content to multiple accounts on the platform.
The integration allows you to republish important posts and to create a stream for blogs you follow.
Not to be trampled by its English language counterparts, Japanese social network mixi is also integrated into HootSuite’s dashboard.
Mixi currently has more than 30 million users.
The social networks you can add into your HootSuite dashboard does not stop there.
App Directory allows you to add more social networks and marketing tools, such as Constant Contact, InboxQ, MailChimp, SocialFlow, and more.
Custom Social Analytics Tools
A service is not a social media management system without its analytics tools, and HootSuite covers almost all the social graphs, charts, and tables that your business or organization needs.
What’s with the emphasis on “almost”? Read on.
Any decent social media management system cannot thrive without an analytics tool dedicated to Facebook.
HootSuite has Facebook Insights, allowing you to monitor and gauge comments, fans, likes, and pages from the dashboard.
You can drill down fan data based on demographic, location, language, and source.
HootSuite also optimizes messaging with various insights on each post, including engaged users, reach, “talking about this,” and virality. And its comparisons allow you to see trends.
Through HootSuite’s Google Analytics tool and URL parameters, you can track revenue and online conversions to your social outreach.
You can drill down into a website’s traffic data, source, and region, and see sparklines (very small line charts) for bounce rates, page views, and more.
Twitter Profile Stats
If you monitor Twitter most of the time, HootSuite tracks your number of followers, mentions, following, lists, and more.
It allows you to monitor through keyword comparisons over time and sentiments on the microblogging site.
Ow.ly Click Stats
Arguably the most criticized feature of HootSuite is its choice of only one URL shortener: ow.ly.
The social media management system only offers aggregated click stats for URLs shortened by ow.ly, and not from any other shortened URL providers, such as bit.ly and TinyURL.
“Ow.ly click stats” allows HootSuite to drill down by date and region, track popular links and referrers, and analyze link summaries.
Google+ Pages Analytics
This analytics tool is exclusive to HootSuite Enterprise and offers teams five analytic modules for direct measurement of results, including +1 shares, daily growth, number of new users on circles, and posts per day.
Another analytics module that is only available to HootSuite Enterprise.
Through Organization Analytics, you can make reports based on the organization’s metrics, such as assigned, resolved, and sent posts.
The owl-logoed company keeps its members informed through analytics Reports, combining social media analytics integrations to produce full reports that are shareable to other HootSuite users.
You can keep reports updated through daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly schedules so the team knows where the company is in the campaign’s workflow.
HootSuite allows you to talk to teammates about social initiatives so they can point out successes and opportunities.
Other Reports features include a choice between Quick and Custom Analytics and among more than 40 analytics modules, downloadable PDF reports, custom tiles and headers, drag-and-drop for layouts, and templates.
Businesses with small to large teams can take advantage of HootSuite Teams for its organizational structure, easily scaling the company or organization and enabling teams to engage while keeping control.
Social media management is cumbersome because of its scope, but HootSuite allows you to map it to your teams in the real world.
HootSuite Teams is built for all kinds of organizations – from multinational companies and multiple client agencies to small businesses with external collaborators.
If you only have one Organization, you can have multiple Teams with a large number of Team Members and Social Networks for management.
This means individual permissions for Team Members, allowing multiple social media contributors to manage accounts and profiles for all customer-focused teams, including Human Resources, Marketing, Public Relations, Sales, and Support.
The low-level permissions give you an easier time to manage team members at various levels: Organization, individual Teams, social networks, and profiles.
HootSuite’s Message Assignments provides administrators the option to see all assignments in an Organization or Team.
With the help of Conversations, your team’s or organization’s members can talk to each other from within the HootSuite dashboard.
The key features of this service include team chats or company-wide discussions and conversations about content pushed from social networks to HootSuite. Anyone can even broadcast to each member’s social network.
HootSuite Conversations brings team members’ messages together on your inbox and saves time-consuming email threads.
You can still communicate with the team even when looking at other desktop workspaces because of the popped out conversation window.
Another nifty feature to love about HootSuite Conversations is that you can import Gmail contacts, and it recognizes colleagues that are also online.
You can freely add anyone to a conversation to discuss and receive approved social messages.
With all social profiles on a single dashboard, HootSuite allows you to monitor mentions, schedule campaign messages, and answer audiences in real-time.
HootSuite has publishing features for broadcasting campaign messaging, including bulk CSV uploader (Pro & Enterprise versions), geo-targeting for Facebook posts (Enterprise), message drafts, message scheduling, and RSS feeds.
Modern listening and monitoring techniques from HootSuite enables you to do and save advanced searches, filter content, and create and manage Twitter followers and lists.
In addition, the company’s built-in ow.ly URL shortener – the most criticized HootSuite feature because you cannot add other URL shorteners – allows shortened links, file sharing, and monitoring click-through rates and traffic to find the most effective messages on your target audience. (I do have to reiterate the issue about its URL shortener.)
Putting forward the shortest section of the review as succinctly as possible, you can carry HootSuite’s web-based dashboard on iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, and BlackBerry devices. (Yes, the deliberately verbose introductory clause has 12 words and defeats the meaning of “succinctly.”)
A direct comparison among HootSuite mobile app versions on different platforms is beyond me because I do not own all these devices. (I only have an Android smartphone.)
So I provided the download links for you to choose the right one for your operating system, but I leave the mobile app’s review at your discretion.
Above anything else, find a social media management system that ensures data security and protects valuable social resources.
HootSuite assures its users “the greatest possible return and brand consistency” on your social network campaigns and expansion.
The service has security options for both Platform and Teams to give you full control on publishing your social content
As a user, you need a social network management system’s dashboard to be a secure gateway to your social media accounts.
HootSuite’s dashboard allows you to log-in to multiple accounts even on the go, making sure you can access valuable data on any device without downloading and saving it.
With HTTPS security, HootSuite protects your login information when using public wireless connections.
HootSuite Pro provides different permission levels to suit your needs, granting team members enough access to post to your social networks on your behalf.
HootSuite Enterprise has secure profiles as an extra layer to prevent accidental posts to the wrong social account, and the highest control level Limited Permissions for read-only access.
If you are looking for social media certification, HootSuite has one.
With HootSuite Univeristy, you can stay updated in the fast evolving social media landscape.
The company offers a lecture series with 20- to 30-minute webinars that feature the best practices in the industry.
For more information, visit this link.
Companies and organizations using HootSuite
Hard Rock Café
Many industry experts and large companies consider HootSuite as the best social media management system around. And so should you.
Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore says HootSuite is a key tool to manage social networks by allowing teams to track conversations and to measure campaign results effectively.
Based on The Next Web’s experience, the popular HootSuite is the best option available for managing all your social media accounts in one single dashboard.
It’s hard to refute their claims. These people and companies really know what they are talking about since they have been in the business for some time now.
Just A Head Start
1. If you do not want to spend money right away, you can use HootSuite Pro at no cost on a 30-day trial. Simply sign-up and give it a whirl. HootSuite will inform you once it expires so you can decide whether to continue using HootSuite Pro at a price or go Free.
2. HootSuite allows you to adjust your plan’s options anytime to suit your needs.
3. You can use the help desk archive and forums at help.hootsuite.com. But Pro and Enterprise accounts with improved support have quicker responses on trouble tickets.
4. Supported platforms include Web (IE 7 or 8, Firefox 3, Safari 4, Chrome 4 and higher), mobile (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Keitai), and desktop.
5. HootSuite’s online payment methods include American Express, MasterCard, PayPal, and Visa.
HootSuite has one of the best – if not the best – social media management system in the business.
If the limited use of one URL shortener does not bother you, HootSuite’s native URL shortener ow.ly will be enough to suit your needs.
Other than that, HootSuite pretty much covers everything that I need as a professional social media user. But there’s still room for improvement and new features.
What do you think? Feel free to drop your comments below.
All images and screenshots used in this review were grabbed from HootSuite.