Hootsuite Pro got a shout out in Social Media Scheduling 101: The Basics but I wanted to take some time to show how I use it in more detail. In fact, I had a special request from a few gal pals, Brittany from NerdyGirl Writers and Herchel from Gym, Craft, Laundry as to the method behind my madness. How I use Hootsuite Pro may differ from many other users and I do not claim to be an expert by any means, but this is what works best for me and how I utilize the tool to streamline my workflow and save time.
Let’s start from the beginning. Here is what my dashboard looks like (tiny pic, but I want you to see the 13+ tabs along the top):
The main reason why I love using Hootsuite is that I can go into one program and work all of my social media accounts. No signing in or out constantly, no million tabs open. One stop shop. For efficiency, speed and cross-posting, this is ideal and an absolute necessity given how many creative and professional projects I manage.
Here’s the rundown of what accounts I work on Hootsuite:
Katy Blevins Facebook (Personal)
Emily Speaks Twitter (Anti-Bullying)
If you’ve been keeping count, that’s 20 accounts that I manage on one internet tab. In fact, linking all of those accounts up just reminded me how long it took me to work in them before I got Hootsuite Pro. Holy cow, managing those individually would be a nightmare! Was a nightmare!
Let’s do a quick rundown of what I can do in each platform via Hootsuite Pro:
Facebook: In my Facebook groups, I can monitor the discussions occurring between members, like comments and posts, share new topics and schedule posts to publish when I’m away. For example, we do Small Business Mondays each week, so I can pick my discussion topic and schedule it to post if I happen to have a meeting that morning. For my business pages, I can schedule new blog posts to go up, holiday announcements or other client information.
Twitter: This is the platform that gets the most love from me on Hootsuite Pro. I have a couple of options for sharing information across my many profiles. I can schedule or post on the fly to up to 5 accounts at once, or I can post on one account and jump to the other accounts to retweet. I also love using the Auto Scheduler feature that schedules posts based on rules I set up determining frequency and timing. So I can tweet on one account and then auto schedule a retweet on another account that will pop up later in the day (vs. retweeting instantaneously). You can also attach image files to tweets and shorten longer URLs to more manageable links to maximize your 140 characters. (NOTE – You can also schedule to platforms other than Twitter these ways.)
The biggest bang for the buck with Hootsuite Pro is definitely the Bulk Scheduler. A lot of the features I’ve mentioned thus far are available in the free version, but the Bulk Scheduler is worth its weight in gold. With the simple upload of a .csv file, you can schedule 350 tweets at a time! What would normally take literally hours and hours can be accomplished in less than 2 minutes. Wham bam, thank you ma’am! The longest part of the process is setting up the .csv file. NOTE: Twitter will not let you upload 350 of the same tweet. No duplicates are allowed, so you have to make each tweet unique. The easiest way “around” this for content you want to share regularly and repetitively, is to copy the tweet but then use different hash tags or combinations of hash tags to make each entry slightly different, or to slightly change the wording every so often.
LinkedIn: Schedule updates to my personal page.
Google Plus: Schedule updates to the business pages and interact with those people in my circles. I can add comments and see who has +1’ed a post, but I can’t +1, so that’s a minor set back. I also can’t wait until you can link up your personal page (where I’m more active) to schedule and engage.
Instagram: This platform is an add on application. That means I can like, comment and share anything from my feed, but I can’t schedule posts. While I’d love to be able to schedule, that really goes against the point of Instagram, which is why the API isn’t quite there yet and they try to avoid scheduling tools. But by far, this is one of my most useful tabs, because I really slack on this platform when I’m on my phone. I’ll post a lot, but I struggle to go through my feed and actively engage. It’s so much more of a breeze for me on Hootsuite Pro.
StumbleUpon: This platform is an add on application as well. I can click on links to open up StumbleUpon and stumble from there or I can share to other platforms from Hootsuite. Truth, this feed is there just to remind me to be active once in a blue moon. Otherwise, I almost entirely forget this platform even exists.
I should probably talk a bit about streams too while I’m here. Hootsuite Pro (and free) allows you to select streams to populate feeds for each of your platforms. For instance, I like to see what I have scheduled (so I can see where I have gaps in activity), who has mentioned me (so I can thank them and retweet) and who my “tribe” is (so I can actively engage daily with the people most important to me). I usually keep my home feed nearby as well so that I can initiate new relationships and curate interesting content for my followers. It’s as simple as clicking Add Stream and selecting from the available options. You can drag the columns back and forth too, so that your most important ones are farthest left and the first that you see.
A few other features that can be a lot of fun and extremely useful when gauging the growth of your reach are the Contacts options and the Analytics/Reporting. On the Contacts tab you can get a quick view of all of your followers, along with some basic qualifying statistics for their reach and level of engagement. You can make on-the-spot decisions to follow or unfollow people based on what you see, moving quickly to update your profiles and narrow down your engagement to those relationships that are truly mutually beneficial. On the Analytics tab, you can use the standard reports or create your own to give you a run down of your overall progress and average growth. This information can be invaluable to us as small business owners, because what we “think” might be occurring may differ greatly from what actually “is” occurring. You’re able to highlight trouble areas, see trends and focus your energies in the appropriate places.
The one area of Hootsuite Pro that I know I can get a lot more out of and need to spend more time exploring is the Teams feature. I’m able to add on my business partner to my Pro account and develop different projects across the platforms that we share professionally. We can communicate, plan strategy and manage the accounts together in one spot. You can add additional members for a slight fee as well. I’m just barely digging into this, so I’ll be sure to share more when I really get it rocking and rolling.
The great thing about Hootsuite Pro is that you can try it for free. I’m sure it feels overwhelming to like at a few pictures in a blog post and translate that to your own social media strategy. Give it a whirl! It you like it, FABULOUS! If not, there’s something else out there for you. If you’re really stuck and need some one-on-one, don’t be afraid to sign up for a free consultation with us at The Hampton Roads Creative and we can chat more about how we can take your social media to the next level.
How to Add Custom Facebook Tabs to your Business Page
Custom Facebook tabs are a great way to spiff up your business page with touches all your own. In a visual flow format that’s mostly controlled by the social media platform itself, making the most of these tiny advantages and calls-to-action can be pivotal to expanding your reach. Take steps to prompt your audience to actively engage and direct visitors on your business page to your areas of greatest interest (i.e. subscribing or following you on social media). Custom Facebook tabs give you the opportunity to plant a tiny seed of interest by highlighting applications that otherwise tend to be ignored.
Implementing custom Facebook tabs starts with activating the appropriate applications on your business page. Connect your Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram feeds directly to your business page (Did you know you can set up your Instagram to post directly to your Facebook business page?). Explore your email subscriber tool for Facebook integration. If you’re using LeadPages via WordPress, activate the auto-Facebook tab (amazing!).
Your next step is to order your Facebook tabs so that your top 3 (the ones you plan to create custom Facebook tabs for) are at the top of the list. You can do so easily by navigating to your business page, clicking “More” on your top tab bar, and then selecting “Manage Tabs.” From there you can drag up or down to order your list and even delete tabs that serve no use for your page.
Now we are ready to create your custom Facebook tabs. This feature is kind of hidden…which is why most people don’t customize their tabs! The phrase we hear most often when introducing this to our clients is “Wow! I never even knew that existed!” Click on your page Settings and then navigate to Apps, which should show a complete list of the programs you just integrated with your page. Click “Edit Settings” on one of your apps and there it is! You can accomplish two special customizations here. You can change the tab name (i.e. from LeadPages to Free Motivational Planner) and upload a custom tab image. Yay!
The appropriate size for custom Facebook tab images is 111 pixels wide by 74 pixels high.
And there you go. You now have custom Facebook tabs that can drive traffic to subscriber portals, other social media profiles and more. Make sure your custom Facebook tabs are in line with your brand style and message. Maybe try a few different styles to see if any convert more than others. Take the opportunity to make the page your own and entice your audience to take the next step by clicking through.
How to Make Custom Pinterest Board Covers and Upload Pins
There are so many little ways you can personalize your online profiles and increase engagement with your market simply by improving your visual presentation. This week, we’re introducing a few ways to sharpen your Pinterest profile. The most visual of all the social media platforms out there, and second only to Google for searching for just about anything…Pinterest is an application that no small business owner can ignore. The case for Pinterest and how to maximize market engagement could be a whole blog in and of itself. We’ll have more tips and tricks to share later, but for now, let’s start small. Today, let’s talk about how to make custom Pinterest board covers and how to manually upload and edits pins (without hitting the “Pin It” button).
Custom Pinterest board covers create a strong visual consistency in your profile that can help visitors understand your brand, intent and authority in your area of the business (or blogging) world. To create them, you’ll need to understand how to manually upload and edit pins, so we’ll start there.
Log into your Pinterest account and open one of your boards. See that nice little “Add a Pin” button? Click it!
Once you click that button, you’ll have two options. Add from Web or from your Device. When you click from Web, it’s going to remind you that you should just use a “pin it” button (and they’re right). For this lesson, let’s click from your Device. It will prompt you to upload a photo and you’ll browse your device (in this case, my computer hard drive) and choose the image to upload. It will automatically trigger the pin box and you’ll be able to choose your board and add a pin description. Voila!
You’re probably going…something is missing! Where does the newly created pin take you? And you’re right. We’ve got one more step. Once the pin has been created and uploaded. Click to edit the pin and then add the URL that you want your audience to click through to in the Source box. Now…ta da!!! Voila!! You’re done!
The process for adding custom Pinterest board covers is 90% what you just learned and 10% PicMonkey fun. Click “Custom” to get started.
The magic dimension size for custom Pinterest board cover is 217 pixels x 147 pixels.
Once you have your board covers created, you’ll upload each of them via the process above. You don’t have to add a source URL to click through if you’re just going for Pinterest pretty, BUT…our recommendation is to take the opportunity to link through to your website wherever you can! So, if you have a landing page on your website that relates to the items on your board, link your custom board cover through to that page! You never know who might click! To assign the new custom boards as the cover images in your profile, click “Edit” and then “Change Cover” and you’ll be able to scroll through to the new cover image. Click “Save Changes” and you’re done!
Are Your Product Photos Hurting Your Business?
Why are Quality Product Photos Important to my Business?
There are a lot of factors that impact your sales success (or failure). Just like the right strategy and mix of medias can propel sales forward, most marketing mistakes are closely intertwined and can often work against each other to create a rapidly downward spiral. Often, new business owners overlook the power of their product photos when considering market strategy.
Today’s world is visually driven by the real-time access that social media provides. The good news is that great images get a lot more love these days. The bad news is that it’s made us a bit complacent when it comes to quality. Not everyone is a pro, and seeing blurry or poorly exposed photos in our news feeds has become a regular occurrence. The result has been small business owners that underestimate the importance of consistent, high quality product photos. Many make do with poor images straight from their camera phones (you can get good images on your phone!) and few take advantage of the massive range of editing software available.
Overlooking the power of your shop’s visual draw is a huge mistake. In a visually motivated society, a certain level of complacency has desensitized our eyes and we often find ourselves aimlessly scrolling through images until something truly powerful catches our attention. The“Well, that’s good enough, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” response to mediocre images most likely means that your product photos are getting lost in a churning sea of visual garbage that your market blindly scrolls past instead of clicking through to purchase.
We live in a world of options. Gone are the local general stores as the only source of food and supplies. These days you can quite literally order something from any corner of the globe with a few clicks or swipes on a computer or phone. The availability of endless options is overwhelming for consumers. Most will gravitate towards the easy button, which typically factors in two key markers. 1. Ease of Website Navigation (More on that later!) and 2. Stellar Product Photos. You have one chance to grab their attention, and even less than that to keep it. All of the factors need to play to your success, not your demise. And that means your product photos should be impeccably styled, consistently clear and properly presented to your marketplace.
How Do You Improve Product Photos?
1. Simple Presentation: Make sure your images highlight your wares. Remove distractions and design a simple layout that makes your product the star! Use simple backdrops and keep product photos tight and clean, avoiding background furniture, people or other elements that do not directly correlate to your market or highlight your product. If your images show your product in use by clients, make sure your background is staged, clean and devoid of the busy of life (i.e. piles of bills, food out, laundry, fridge covered in magnets). You want your buyers looking at one thing. Your product. Don’t tempt them to look away.
2. Consistent Styling: Your product photos should present as a body of work. This means that each product should be photographed similarly. If your product photos are laid out in an Etsy shop, and their design and presentation differ considerably, your buyer will spend more time (even subconsciously) contemplating the differences. The end result may be poor decision-making or confusion, because the styling has become a stumbling block instead of a showcase. Use the same set up for each product, edit them consistently and make sure the images compliment each other instead of competing with each other. The last thing you want to do with your business is to create an environment where you are competing against yourself!
3. In-Focus: Blurry photos belong in one place. The trash. That may sound harsh, but you’ll be much happier when you throw away poor product photos and take the extra time to create stellar product photos. Out-of-focus images send a few messages to potential buyers. You don’t take your business seriously, you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t care enough about me to present your product in a way that I can clearly see…just to name a few. None of those thoughts are encouraging click-throughs. Show value to your audience by taking care to make their visit to your shop as enjoyable as possible, which means they can look at your images with ease, clearly understanding your talent and services, and properly interpreting whether it meets their need.
4. Properly Exposed: Admittedly, there is a bit of a learning curve here, but this is important! If your product photos are overexposed (too bright) or underexposed (too dark), then your prospective buyer can’t see all of the details. They have to work harder to visualize your product in their hands. Like we mentioned before, don’t make them work hard to consider purchasing your services. Whether you invest in professional help or explore today’s popular editing software, make sure your final product photos are well-balanced and properly exposed.