Roni Krakover

Archive - June 2014

Getting Started with HootSuite

getting started with hootsuite

If you live in the world of social media, you have probably heard about the HootSuite software before. If you haven’t, it’s about time! HootSuite is the most extensive social media management platform; it does social media marketing, social media monitoring, social CRM and social media analytics. Even though the social media management industry is growing fast and there are some good alternatives to HootSuite, such as TweetDeck, Seesmic, SocialOomph, and CoTweet,HootSuite remains the leading service at the moment.

Who should use HootSuite?

Basically everybody that is trying to stay on top of their game professionally, or is running a few different social media accounts and feeling overwhelmed with social media on a personal level. It is widely used by social media agencies and is most efficient for brands and organizations, but if you feel that you would like to increase your reach and influence on a personal level as well, HootSuite could be right for you.

For example, if you have more than one twitter account, you know that you can’t be connected to both in the same browser at the same time. You have to log out to switch users. When using Hootsuite, your dashboard can simultaneously display and post to all your twitter accounts.

What does HootSuite allow you to do?

  • Manage all your online social media accounts in one place
  • Analytics – get statistics about the reach and engagement created by your content
  • Stay on top of news in your field
  • Keep up with your competitors
  • Provide proactive customer service
  • And more …

HootSuite has many functionalities, and it takes time + trial and error to see which of these functionalities are the most conducive to your business. There is no “one size fits all” formula, and I advise you to try as many ideas as you can from my posts, in order to see which ones work for you.

For example, when I started working with HootSuite, I had streams (columns of content; we’ll talk about them soon) that showed my own tweets, but with time I realized that they were not very useful to me – I don’t really need to see my previous tweets on a daily basis, they only interest me for the purpose of statistics.

Some Logistics when using HootSuite:

  • I find it works best with the Google Chrome browser. When I tried using HootSuite with both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, the main functionalities worked, but some of the apps did not load well; this is true as of December 2013; I hope and believe that soon HootSuite will be 100% compatible with other browsers as well.
  • You can log in to HootSuite using Twitter or Facebook. You should not hesitate too much in doing so, in this case, since you’re going to give HootSuite access to twitter, Facebook, and additional networks anyway, in order to be able to run all of your social networks from the HootSuitedashboards.
  • However, when working with HootSuite, you will probably want to install some independent applications from the apps directory. Many of them will require that you open an account and will suggest that you log in using your Twitter or Facebook account. I recommend that you check what permissions they require; these are third-party companies and sometimes they will want access to things that you don’t necessarily want to allow.

Choosing a plan on HootSuite

You can always start with a free account and play with it a little to see if it fits your needs; if you have a few social media accounts, however, that you are running and want to explore some of the more advanced features of HootSuite, I recommend taking the 30-day free trial of the Pro account. Put a reminder in your calendar a few days before the free trial expires to log into HootSuite and decide whether you want to continue with the Pro account (at this moment, December 2013, it is about $10 monthly) or go back to the free account. If you don’t do this, HootSuite will start charging you monthly as soon as your free trial is over.

Below you can see the different plans:

 

hootsuite-plans

Once you have opened your account, you can read about adding social media profiles to your dashboard and managing them effectively.

Adding Tabs, Social Networks, and Streams on Hootsuite

adding tabs and social networks on hootsuite

 So, after you have opened an account with HootSuite, it’s time to get to work and start importing your social media content to this powerful software.

You can watch the video tutorial or scroll down for detailed text and screen shots.

Your social data in HootSuite is organized in tabs and streams. Hootsuite tabs are similar to browser tabs and contain up to 10 streams (columns that contain all the content you’re interested in seeing from your social networks; see below).

Adding tabs

So, the first step is opening a new tab. Simply click on the + sign near the home sign in the HootSuite interface. If this is the first time you’re using HootSuite, you will also see the “create your first tab” button in the middle of the page.

 

adding tabs hootsuite

Adding social networks

Now you can start populating your tabs by adding social networks. Think of social networks as the profiles that you have. For example, if you have a Facebook account with a personal profile + a fan page, they would be considered two social networks. If you have two twitter accounts, they will be considered two social networks. The free version of HootSuite only allows you to manage five social networks, so if you have a personal profile + a fan page on Facebook + 2 twitter accounts + a Google+ page and a LinkedIn profile, you are looking at six networks – if you want to manage all of them using HootSuite you will have to use a Pro account. If that is the case, I advise you to click on this link to get 30 days free trial of HootSuite Pro, so you can explore the full benefits of the software and decide whether or not you want to stay with the paid version longer.

add social networks on hootsuite

To add a social network, simply click on the “add social network button” in your dashboard. A dialogue box will open up, offering you a choice between seven different social network platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, foursquare, mixi, and WordPress (note that this is WordPress.com and not WordPress.org. I will later explain how to integrate HootSuite with WordPress.org).

Whenever you click on one of these social networks, HootSuite will ask you to connect with the network. Input your username and password so HootSuite can pull the relevant content from the social network and display it for you on the dashboard.

When you choose to add a Twitter profile, note that underneath the button saying “connect with twitter” there is a checkbox that offers you to “follow HootSuite on Twitter for updates and announcements”. If you leave it checked, in most cases HootSuite will follow you back.

 

add social networks on hootsuite

Adding streams

When you’re done adding social networks, it’s time to add streams. Streams are columns of content that you can customize to show you what you want. When you click on ‘add stream’ you will find a choice of the different networks HootSuite integrates with. However, you will only be able to add streams for the social networks which you have already connected with HootSuite.

add streams on hootsuite

Classic examples for twitter streams are:

  • Home feed
  • Mentions
  • Direct messages (inbox or outbox)
  • Sent tweets
  • Favorite tweets
  • My tweets, retweeted
  • Scheduled tweets (more about this in future posts)
  • Tweets from new followers

Classic examples for Facebook streams are:

  • Wall posts
  • Events
  • Scheduled messages
  • Private messages

Classic examples for Google+ streams are:

  • Home stream
  • Sent messages
  • Circle stream
  • Scheduled messages

When you click on each of the networks in the ‘add stream’ dialogue box, you will see that each one of the networks has little tabs with additional options (other than the classic stream’s). Twitter, for example, also has search, keyword, and lists. Facebook and Google + have search in addition to the classic streams.

search and keyword streams on hootsuite

Those additional streams give you great options to monitor your business environment and competition; we will get into those advanced streams more in future posts.

How To Assess Your Online Presence

tel aviv nordau

Many of us try to be visible on the web, for our own reasons – a job search, client reach, fame… Individuals and companies spend a lot of time and resources while attempting to craft the best online presence strategy. Yet, before creating a strategy aimed at improving your online presence, it is important to assess what you currently have – and note the good, the bad, the existent, and the nonexistent – so you can focus your efforts where they will make the largest difference.

At first glance this concept might sound trivial, but when you start going over the list below, you are sure to find questions you did not think to ask before.

You can download a printable version of the list, to have beside you while you’re working in front of the screen, assessing your online presence.

By the way, this approach could easily be used in order to assess someone else’s online presence – a job candidate, for example – just replace the word “you” whenever you see it with “the person.”

Ready? Let’s go:

Assessing Your Online Presence – The List

If you’re doing the assessment about yourself, make sure you log out of all your social networks, to see what you “look like” to a stranger. You may also want to delete your cookies and cache so you start your online search “fresh.”

Google your full name.

  • Is the first page of results relevant (about you)? If your name is “generic,” try to add things such as the city you live in, your profession, etc.
  • Do all the results on the SERP (search engine results page) seem, at first glance, to support an overall value about you? What is the main theme reflected in the SERP? What words repeat other than your name?
  • Without clicking on the links, try to write a small paragraph about the person (you) just by looking at the search results. This is an important thinking exercise – what individuals see in a search results page goes into their subconscious before they click on any of the links.
  • Do images of you appear in the search results? What can you say about these images? Are they consistent with each other and with the image you want to present, or confusing? Are they showing a specific value? A corporate executive, for example, could benefit from having all of his or her pictures with a suit, while a fitness instructor will benefit from images showing them in a workout outfits, etc.
  • If you want to, you can follow the same steps with other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing.

Do you have a blog/website? If yes,

  • In what position does your website fall in the SERP? Is it in the first top three? First page?
  • Does the design appear to be professional?
  • Objectively assess the content. What is the website about? Is there one theme or a few? Does it fit with the overall impression you got from looking at the SERP?
  • Is the writing professional/casual/poor?
  • Does the site give the visitor a “sloppy” feeling, containing broken links and 404 errors?
  • How easy is it to contact you? In which ways can visitors connect with you? (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc…)
  • If it’s a blog, do you allow comments? How do you treat comments? Do your posts generate a lively debate?
  • When was the site last updated? How often does it seem to update?
  • Does the site seem to have a large following/high page rank?

Social networks:

  • What are your privacy settings? Can the public see what you want them to see, but not what you don’t?
  • What is the ratio of personal to professional content?
  • Try to take a third person perspective:
    • What is the overall feeling that you get when you look at this person’s profile?
    • Does the profile paint a cohesive picture?
    • Does the profile make you feel like you want to meet/hire this person?
    • Does the person have a lot of (valuable) contacts?
  • Is there anything about your profile that is distracting/inappropriate?
  • On Facebook, play with the “view as” option on your profile to see how it looks to specific people or the public.
    • Pay special attention to items such as your “groups.” Groups can be a great tool to show your interests; however, friends will often add you to random groups without your permission. (I was amazed to see how many random groups I was part of when I ran this analysis! I was part of, for example, “yard sale this Saturday- everything under $20,” for a yard sale that took place over two years ago.)

Consistency

  • Do you get the same feeling about your image across all different social media profiles? This is especially important if you’re trying to present a very professional face online.
  • Do you use the same avatar across all networks? If yes, does the specific avatar match your overall goals? If not, are specific avatars matching what you try to present across different social networks?

Articles about you

  • Are the things written about you representing you in a positive light?
  • Does any of the information in the first few SERP pages show incidents you would rather keep private, such as arrests, lawsuits, layoffs, etc.?

Look at vertical search engines such as www.idolbin.com , www.zoominfo.com, www.yatedo.com/ ,https://pipl.com/ , http://www.newsle.com , etc. Is the information about you up to date?

I hope you find this list helpful. Here it is in printer-friendly PDF format.

After going over this list and taking your notes, you are now ready to proceed in creating your online presence strategy.

Have additional ideas to add to the list above? What do you think is important in assessing your online presence?

Advanced Search Tactics on Hootsuite

advanced-search-hootsuite

I wrote this article following a more basic article about HootSuite keyword and search streams, to suggest some advanced search tactics after you’ve mastered the basic ones.

Use Negative Search Terms

Using negative search terms allows you to see search results for certain expression while omitting search results that contain your “negative” expression. When used correctly, this feature can help you narrow your search results effectively.

Let’s say for example that you want to see competitors for your snow removal business. You want to see only results that deal with the actual service and don’t want to see results regarding snow removal equipment. Thus, your negative expression is “equipment.”

In the search dialog box you will insert the minus sign ( – ) before a word you want to exclude from your search results. The search query for the example given above will look like this: snow removal -equipment.

Read more about generating keyword ideas including negative keywords.

Searches for the Past

Sometimes you want to define a specific time for search results in the past – very useful if you want to check reaction to a past event or campaign. For example, let’s say you opened a new restaurant and now want to examine the community’s engagement around the time of the official opening. This can easily be done by adding time to the search. Right after the search term, inserts one of the following options, while replacing the yyyy-mm-dd with the relevant dates:

    1. since: yyyy-mm-dd
    2. until: yyyy-mm-dd

Search for Questions

Enter a question mark (?) to conduct a search for questions. This type of search will help you find customers that are asking questions that you can answer. For example, if you are a running coach in Los Angeles, it would be priceless for you to get notified every time someone posts on Twitter something along the lines of: “any recommendations for a good running coach in Los Angeles?” To see this question in your search stream you simply have to type in the search dialog box “running coach ?” And set the location to the Los Angeles area.

In a less explicit case, you can get notified when someone is asking “how long will it take me to train for a 10K run?” (given that you set the search query for something like “run ?” Or “10K ?”). Then you can step in to offer your expertise and start developing a relationship with the asker

Location-based Search, A.K.A. Geo Search:

Click on the little Geo icon to make your search local. This is a great tool if you are in a local business or offer your services locally. You can perform a Geo search for any location in the world; thus, for example if you own a business in New Jersey and are thinking of opening a branch in Cincinnati, you can narrow your search results to social conversations only in the Cincinnati area in order to assess the market there. Click here to learn more about how to use location-based search.