If you ever feel overwhelmed by the demands of keeping up with social media for marketing purposes, you might be interested in learning how to use HootSuite to schedule your posts and updates. Basically, HootSuite is what is known as a social media management system. It brings all of your social media accounts together into a single, easy-to-use dashboard interface, and it allows you to streamline the process of managing social media considerably.
Although HootSuite boasts a wide range of capabilities, I have found that its most powerful feature is its ability to allow you to schedule dozens of social media posts and status updates in a single sitting. If you often find yourself exhausted by the process of logging in to various social media accounts several times a day to post simple updates, this formidable platform could change the way you work. The platform certainly has its share of quirks, but learning how to use HootSuite will shave hours off of your weekly workload, and it will put you back in control of your social media obligations.
A Brief History of HootSuite
Like many great inventions, HootSuite was developed out of a need for something that did not yet exist. In 2008, a software engineer named Ryan Holmes started searching for a tool that he could use to manage the ever-growing list of social media networks being used by his company. Once Holmes realized that no such tool existed, he and a few of his colleagues began to develop the platform that would eventually become HootSuite.
Today, HootSuite employs approximately 200 individuals, and it boasts more than 4.5 million users worldwide. The platform is available in numerous languages including English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and German, and the company is planning on adding 50 additional languages. It is used by countless individuals around the globe, but it is also utilized by a wide range of notable companies and organizations including Zappos, Facebook, the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and even the Obama administration.
All of the Social Media Platforms You Will Ever Use
Although HootSuite was initially developed as a Twitter-management dashboard tool, it currently supports a long list of the most popular social media platforms. These include Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and Mixi. By using the HootSuite App Directory, users can add support for a number of additional social media platforms including Tumblr, Flickr and YouTube.
Using HootSuite to Post Updates
I am responsible for posting literally hundreds of social media updates every month from several different accounts for multiple companies. Would this be possible without HootSuite? I suppose it would be, but I wouldn’t want that job, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wants to retain his or her sanity. Thanks to HootSuite, I can take one day each week to craft updates and posts, then place them exactly where they need to go on the calendar.
HootSuite provides several different views to make the process of posting social media updates easier. Typically, I use the “Month” viewing pane, which allows me to see a general overview of the updates that are scheduled over the course of each month. This view is useful for getting a sense of the overall scheduling scheme, and it allows me to schedule updates more uniformly over time.
The “Week” viewing pane allows you to see what any given week looks like in terms of the posts that you have scheduled. This view is useful for finding empty spots in the calendar that could be filled with new updates. It is also helpful if you want a fairly broad view of the timeline that also includes an hourly breakdown of your updates and posts.
Finally, the “Day” viewing pane gives you the opportunity to place your posts exactly where you need them to go. This view allows you to select posting times broken down into quarter-hour segments, and it is what I use when I want to focus on a particular day. It is especially useful for days that are jam-packed with updates because it allows you to schedule them in a precise manner that prevents you and your followers from becoming overwhelmed.
Following is a breakdown of how I use HootSuite to post updates. Since the platform can be used in many ways, you may want to utilize a different process, but this method works for me:
- First, I compose my social media updates in a word processing program. This allows me to leave my brain in the creative mode for a while so I can create dozens of posts in one sitting. I use my word processor’s character count function to ensure that I’m not using too many characters for sensitive accounts like Twitter. Although Twitter allows 140 characters, I try to keep my Twitter updates below 120 so a link can be added to the post without causing my message to be cut off. HootSuite also keeps track of your character count, and I use the function as a fail-safe when it’s time to add my posts.
- Once I’ve composed a batch of updates, I look at the “Month” view in HootSuite to determine the dates that are most appropriate for posting.
- Using the “Day” view in HootSuite, I select the exact times for the posts to be scheduled.
- To actually schedule a post, I select the field for a precise time. Then, a box appears in which I paste the update that I’ve copied from my word processor.
- Once the content has been pasted in the box, I select the appropriate social media platform(s) from a drop-down box.
- I paste a pertinent link in the space provided. HootSuite shrinks the link with the click of a button.
- Finally, I click the “Schedule” button, which adds the update to the calendar.
- If I’ve made a mistake, I can simply select the offending update from the calendar and make the necessary changes.
- Since I schedule so many updates over the course of each month, I usually take some time each week to review the upcoming posts to ensure that they have been scheduled properly.
The Benefits of Using HootSuite
As you can see, my method requires many steps, but it is still far superior to the manual method that would be necessary without a tool like HootSuite. I’ve found that learning how to use HootSuite is an ongoing process, and it’s likely that I’ll streamline my process even more as I become increasingly familiar with the platform. For example, HootSuite features a “Bulk Schedule Updates” tool, which allows you to upload a CSV file containing several updates to be scheduled at various times. I haven’t used this particular tool yet because of the learning curve involved, but I plan on testing it and integrating it within the next few months as my HootSuite familiarity level increases.
Ultimately, HootSuite has saved me a great deal of time, plus it has made the process of managing social media posts much less overwhelming. To put it into perspective, HootSuite has allowed me to see the process of scheduling social media posts in the same way that Neo is able to see the Matrix – data is broken down into manageable chunks that I can manipulate easier than I ever thought would be possible.
Negative Aspects of Using HootSuite
HootSuite is a great platform for managing social media, but it is not perfect. Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep track of postings on the calendar because each one is represented in a similar manner and by the same color. In other words, it can be hard to tell Company A’s Facebook post from Company B’s Twitter update unless you click on each individual post. Therefore, you have to remain extremely vigilant when it comes to ensuring that you’ve scheduled your posts properly. The last thing you want is to post an update for one company when it was meant to promote another.
Another issue I’ve run into involves the preview feature. In Facebook and Google+, updates will include images and text associated with the links you have provided. Since you can use HootSuite to schedule posts well in advance of links going “live,” no previews are generated. This can make your updates look less than professional. I have yet to find a workaround for this issue, but I’m eager to hear how you have dealt with it.
Using HootSuite can Simplify Your Work and Your Life
Social media has transformed the world in many ways, and it has emerged as a powerful force for marketing. If you want to stay on top of the social media game, you have to make sure that you are posting relevant updates on a regular basis, which can be difficult if you don’t have the appropriate tools. Thankfully, platforms like HootSuite have made the process much easier and considerably less time-consuming. HootSuite is not a flawless platform, but its features have made my work more manageable and my life less stressful. Learning how to use HootSuite to schedule your social media updates is one of the smartest things you can do if you are serious about Internet marketing.
What are your experiences with using HootSuite to post social media updates? Have you found any useful tips and tricks that you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments section, or drop us a line.