How to Not Suck at Hootsuite

How to Not Suck at Hootsuite

If you think that social media managers just get paid to sit around refreshing Twitter all day, let me take this opportunity to correct you.

We also refresh:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • And sometimes even Google+!

The task of managing social media for a brand is becoming increasingly complex. Those with this role are responsible for creating content, engaging in conversations and monitoring ROI for a huge variety of platforms -- each with their own intricacies.

Enter social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Tweetdeck that allow brands to create, schedule, and manage social content with more ease and efficiency. All three are valuable tools (check out a comparison here), but today we are going to focus on Hootsuite.

But buyer beware -- productivity tools like Hootsuite can’t magically solve all your social media headaches. Tools alone don't have an inherently positive impact on productivity, it's all in how you use them.

With that in mind, here are six rookie Hootsuite mistakes to avoid.

Sucky Practice #1: Set It and Forget It

Of all the mistakes to make with Hootsuite, setting and forgetting might be the worst. It can come back to bite you real hard and real fast.

Whether it’s breaking industry news or a tragic event like a high-profile death or natural disaster, nothing looks tackier in a Twitter feed than a brand tweeting about their 50%-off sale in between messages of condolence.

At best you look out of touch, and at worst you look insensitive. Neither are great options. Unfortunately, I can’t offer you a quick fix for this one -- as the social media manager, you need to be vigilant and act quickly in these types of situations. The key is to be generally aware of what you have coming down the pipeline (what content is due to be posted and when it is set to go live). Then, as soon as you notice the situation, your first reaction should be to log in to Hootsuite and make any necessary adjustments and engage with the community.

Sucky Practice #2: Diluting Your Voice

One of the main selling points of Hootsuite is its collaboration features. The service allows you to give (and customize) access to your company's social media accounts to multiple teams and individuals.

Having more than one or two staff manning your social accounts is beneficial for the most part -- more content being generated, faster response times to community inquiries, etc. -- but when you have multiple individuals publishing social content, there is a real risk of having your voice diluted.

While some degree of personalization is a great thing (for example, customer service accounts where agents tweet using their initials), voice consistency on social is essential to your overall brand integrity. The best way to address this problem is with proper training. Before anyone gets keys to the social media kingdom, they should be given information on key messages, voice and tone, do's and don'ts, and examples of high-performing content. And if you have an enterprise account, you can phase them in by setting their permissions to "require approval while they get their bearings.

Sucky Practice #3: Posting the Same Content Across Platforms

When you go to post content through the Hootsuite dashboard, you will see nifty little buttons that allow you to post to multiple social networks at once. While it may seem like a simple time-saver, it isn't always the best way to go.

As this helpful article from our friends at Buffer points out, in order to optimize your posts for each platform, you will need to pay attention to minute details like character count and image size.

So, before you auto-post to every social network under the sun, as yourself: "is this the best possible content for [insert network] I can create?"

Sucky Practice #4: Talking So Much You Forget to Listen

Yes, Hootsuite is a great tool for pushing your message out to the masses, but it is also great for keeping tabs on what your customers are saying about you and your competitors.

For example, in the dashboard, you can set up tabs and streams to monitor keywords and hashtags related to your industry, business, or community. You can even monitor social activity near your business with Hootlet's 'tweets near here' feature. Or, as social strategist Lisa Kalner Williams suggests, it can be something as simple as keeping tabs on new followers so that you can greet them or add them to a list.

Sucky Practice #5: Dropping the Workflow Ball

Tools like Hootsuite don't have an inherently positive impact on productivity, it's all in how you use them. In fact, if you don't put any thought into how you will incorporate this new tool into your existing workflow, it could end up hindering your productivity.

Hootsuite is only as powerful as the processes you back it up with. The first thing to do when you sign up for an account is to set up a workflow and communicate that workflow to everyone who will be using the tool. These processes should cover everything from ideation and crafting of messages to approval, posting and analytics monitoring. If everyone on your team is simply posting at their leisure, you risk duplicate posts, inappropriate/unapproved content, too many posts in a day, etc.

Whether you formalize this workflow through Hootsuite's team permission settings or simply have a meeting, it's imperative that you take the time to set the rules first. Once everyone knows what they are doing and how they are supposed to do it, Hootsuite can become the time-saving tool that you want it to be.

Sucky Practice #6: Sticking to the Basics

This last sucky practice has less to do with what you're doing, and more to do with what you're not.

From app integrations to browser extensions, Hootsuite is full of useful features, and you would be wise to make use them. If you are spending your hard-earned money on an account and all you're using it for is composing and scheduling tweets, then you might as well stick with Twitter’s native app.

To get you started, here are four features that will super-charge your Hootsuite-ing:

  • Hootlet: In their own words, this browser extension "lets you take the power of Hootsuite wherever you go on the web." Hootlet allows you to quickly and easily share great content as you find it, without leaving the site you're on.

  • Syndicator: If you've ever had a hard time finding good content to share, Syndicator is the tool you've been waiting for. Connected to the Hootlet extension, Syndicator allows you to syndicate content from your favourite RSS feeds and see them right in your Hootsuite dashboard. From there, you can share it out to your networks!

  • Analytics: It's one thing to publish content and another to publish content that performs. Hootsuite's built-in analytics allows you to measure the success of your social efforts. Just getting started? Check out this guide.

  • Bulk Scheduling: This might just be the holy grail of social media efficiency. Using a simple .csv file, bulk scheduling allows you to upload months and months worth of content at once.

Stepping Up Your Social Game

While many of the best brands' social accounts have a casual and off-the-cuff feel, there is an incredible amount of organization that goes on behind the scenes, and social dashboards like Hootsuite are often essential to their operation.

So whether you choose to use Hootsuite, Buffer or just a tricked-out Google spreadsheet to get organized, having a central tool to manage your growing social efforts is valuable. Just remember, it can only work as hard as you do.

Are you an avid Hootsuite user? Leave your best tip or hack in the comments below!

Photo Credit: @Doug88888

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