From TweetDeck to TwitterFeed, and Ping.fm, there are a variety of tools available to help manage your social sites. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out the Pro HootSuite account and thought I would share my findings in case you’re in the market for a new management tool.
What’s really convenient about HootSuite is that you can pull most of your social sites into one interface, so you spend less time logging in and out of the different sites. From the dashboard, you can create a tab for each of the accounts you want to include, with choices of: Twitter, Facebook, Facebook page, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pingfm, WordPress, and Foursquare. As you can see in the screen-shot below, my chosen tabs for the trial were my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
One nice thing about HootSuite is that you can post a message to multiple accounts. If I wanted to say the same thing on Facebook as I do on Twitter, I can check both boxes and the tweet/status change will post simultaneously. I haven’t used this feature because our audiences are different and therefore we generally have different things to say, but I’m sure some would find it useful.
You can also schedule posts ahead of time. So, if I want to wish my friends a Merry Christmas this coming Saturday, but will be stuck at Grandma’s sans internet, I could schedule the status to auto-update. A more practical use of this might be if you need to release information at a specific time, but know you’ll be held up in a meeting, etc.
The program also does some basic tracking. For Facebook, the stats are pulled from Insights and from Twitter (as long as you use their ow.ly URLs), you can see general click stats, referral and regional stats, and Twitter ‘influencers’ that have mentioned your handle.
To give my two cents on the program, I thought I would break it down into perks and pitfalls for both Twitter and Facebook management.
Perks for Facebook
- One nice thing about the program is that it will show you in your page feed when someone has tagged you, which doesn’t show up from my Facebook interface. I can then go to that person’s page and comment on their post or status.
- When you post a URL, HootSuite does allow you to edit the title, description, and thumbnail image just like Facebook, which is very handy.
Pitfalls for Facebook
- There seems to be a bit of a time delay with the ‘like’ feature. It’s not as instant as it is within the Facebook interface.
- The Facebook Insights on HootSuite are very close to the Insights within Facebook, but do not include quite as much information. Basic stats are there, like daily post feedback, daily page activity, total likes, and demographics of visitors, but to really break down the information (like visits by city), I still had to log in to Facebook.
- The delineated tabs make navigation between each social account easy and well organized. Within each tab, you can also separate the information into streams. With Twitter you can add separate feeds for Home, Mentions, Direct Messages, Sent Tweets, and a variety of others.
- The tracking for Twitter is pretty nice. For anyone who uses bit.ly, the stats are very similar. You can see click stats for a set time period, referral and regional stats, Twitter ‘influencers’ that have mentioned you and how many times they have mentioned you.
- HootSuite also gives stats on individual tweets or what they call messages. Within this section you can search past tweets, which makes it really nice if you need to go back and look at stats for something in the past (as shown in screen-shot to the right).
Pitfalls for Twitter
- While the tracking is pretty nice there are a few flaws. Under most popular messages, you can see who else shared the link within your tweets, however it seemed some users were left off of the list. It does not appear to be all-encompassing.
If you manage more than just Twitter and Facebook accounts then this product is probably even more useful. And for $5.99 a month, the price is really not bad. There are several other features that I have yet to explore including Firefox add-ons and an iPhone app, so I’m sure there are more perks (and possible pitfalls) to add to the list. Overall, I found the tool particularly useful for Twitter and ‘not bad’ to use for Facebook. Has anyone found a different tool that you absolutely love?