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:
Kathryn Blevins LinkedIn
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.
Social Media Scheduling 101: The Basics
Why is social media scheduling important?
Today’s culture, both personally and professionally, is driven by real time transparency. There are any of a million ways that we can interact with the world and share our life journeys, which has been the doorway to maintaining friendships, keeping family from afar close and celebrating life with like-minded individuals. But on the other hand, every time that phone blips that a new message has popped up, we’re driven by madness to look. It’s exhausting!!!! And ultimately incredibly time consuming. As a small business owner, the drive to build a following can be intoxicating and the pressure to be available to your clients 24/7 is crippling. How do you actually “do” your business if you’re always distracted by social media? Social media scheduling is the very best way to continue to curate and share content with your audience, while allowing yourself to focus on higher priorities in your personal and professional life.
If I schedule social media am I lying to my followers by “pretending” to be online when I’m not?
Any way that you can automate your workflow to save time and develop a routine, you are being true to yourself, your clients and most importantly, your family. The key is to appear to be accessible during high traffic times, but not actually be sitting there glued to your phone or computer hanging on every word uttered to the social media gods. Social media scheduling allows us to cater to multiple audiences at their individual peek times, gives us the opportunity to stay active and engaged while on the go and makes sure we have time to focus on what really counts.
Where do I start?
I have two go-to programs that can work for even the most basic new learners (and have lots of advanced features for those in the know). And bonus…they’re FREE! What we’re moving towards is organized strategy. Social media scheduling allows you to develop a marketing strategy for your business and then execute it. You simple couldn’t do that properly on the fly and would get lost in the weeds. These next two tools can help put you on the path to a social media presence that translates to growth and long-term sustainability.
If you’re just digging into the social media behemoth, let’s put a simple tool to work for you while you get your bearings. Similar to how Instagram can cross post to Twitter and Facebook, Friends + Me can take your Google Plus posts and push them to several other platforms. I personally post to Google + and it carries over to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One action = 4 social media networks.
I’ll admit, this tool can be visually tricky and take a little getting used to if you’re heavy handed with links and tags. Once you get comfortable with how your posts will appear in the different feeds, you’ll tailor your original content to work across the board. It’s a fantastic way to save time by not having to manually cross-pollinate your content to each and every platform individually. It’s a great way for new learners to “phone it in” while you up your social media knowledge and a stellar way for a seasoned social media vet to knock out a task list for simple content shares.
Hootsuite is the other tool I rely heavily on. In short, it’s a one-stop shop for me to manage all of my profiles on the various platforms that I use. In its most basic form, I schedule all Twitter activity (content sharing) in here or via their Hootlet (content curating). I can tell you it’s really the Hootlet that is life changing. This little plugin is ridiculously awesome. It allows me to wrap up items of interest in a nice little box with a beautiful little bow instantly and schedule directly from my point of interest. I can open it up from any source and schedule a tweet/share from any of my accounts instantaneously without having to copy/paste links or images into Hootsuite itself. That save of a few clicks is amazing!!!
– Google Plus (2 business profiles)
So. How does this ultimately save time? Have I just traded time spent manually posting for time spent scheduling automation? The key here is to carve out time and stick to it. Don’t be scheduling all day! It defeats the purpose. Here are some quick rules to keep in mind:
- Set a specific day each week (or even an hour each morning/night if that’s better for you) that is devoted to scheduling the next weeks’/days’ tweets/posts/etc. Make that a calendar time in your routine. Stick to it! I do all of my scheduling first thing in the morning. That way my social media profiles are working in the background while I am completing my normal business day and any activity can just be responsive.
- Commit to a time each evening that the phone/computer gets put away. For example, clients at The Studio now know that our business booking hours are Monday – Friday from 8AM – 5PM. If they email us during that time, they expect a response. But if they email outside of that time, they know they’ll hear from us during the next business day. We’ve educated them and we’re training ourselves. Now, when that email dings with a new inquiry, I don’t look at it if it’s after hours. They know, and I know it will be there tomorrow.
- Give yourself a break! Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok to take a break from time to time on social media. It’s ok to not post every meal, every night out, every stylish outfit. Let go of the pressure to perform. Focus on enjoying the interactions with people and sharing your heart. You’ll find it not only comes more naturally, but more purposefully. Be IN your life.
Pin this to your Small Business Tips & Tricks Board or your Blogging Resources Board! Don’t have one? Follow me!
Did you like this post? Check out How to Create Hyper-Linked Email Signatures in Gmail!
IBA Blog Conference – October 12-17, 2015
Mark your calendars!!! I have some very exciting news to share!!! The International Bloggers Association is hosting their very first IBA blog conference! The IBA Network-a-thon will be hosted online October 12th – 15th. Yup, that’s right! A virtual conference! You don’t have to worry about travel expenses, child care, vacation time or anything! Just you, me, the IBA, our computers and some amazingly awesome Google Plus Hangouts.
Want to hear the very best news? The IBA blog conference is SUPER affordable. Only $10 for your ticket! Even more exciting? Use the code KATY to receive a special Chaos & Kiddos discount! You’ll get $5 off. 50% off! At that price, there’s no reason to miss out on what will be a fun week of networking, learning and blog sharing. The IBA blog conference will be a great opportunity to discover your tribe of blog supporters, learn new tips and tricks, and dig into blogging professionally. Don’t miss out! $5 is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee! Woot! Click on the big IBA right below or click on “Buy this on Selz” to grab your 50% off discount ticket now! Don’t forget to use the code KATY! See you in October!
Twitter Tools to Increase Your Sanity
When it comes to Twitter, automation equals sanity. Simple as that!
We all know that every business must have a solid social media presence. However, scheduling, monitoring and reporting on your feeds eats up crucial time that can be can better used running your business. Have no fear, there are an endless number of Twitter tools available to help you manage your profiles; saving you precious time and money by working behind the scenes while you stay front and center in your marketplace.
Here are the strategic areas you want to concentrate on when engaging the Twittersphere:
Keep those tweets coming without having to sit at your computer day and night. Tools such as HootSuite and Buffer are extremely popular. With multi-feed capacity, flexible layouts and a host of powerful features, these two behemoths will revolutionize how you approach social media across every platform, not just Twitter.
Keep it organized!
If you have multiple accounts, Twitter tools can help organize and implement your strategy.TweetDeck handles this perfectly. Get more involved with Sprout Social that includes CRM features, or SocialOomph to automate and keep corporate accounts clean and tidy. Nobody wants to click back and forth between a million tabs, or spend way too much time signing in and out of several profiles. Organize yourself with a “one-stop shop” approach!
Show off with pictures!
Grab them with graphics to go with your hot content. No time to source images or develop images of your own offline? Check out MavSocial to link to stock images and manage your digital assets as you compose your tweets.
What did they say?
In order to build engagement, you have to know what others are saying about you. Mentioncan monitor your Twitter mentions and even links through to other tools like Buffer. Twitter tools that are integration-friendly are always a win-win. Trends24 tracks the ever important hashtag and hot topics. Never miss an opportunity to keep an open dialogue with your customer base moving forward.
Remember that campaign from 2013? You need to be able to go back and search on what worked and what didn’t. Topsy lets you search all the way back to 2006 while TweetChat helps you keep up with your favorite hashtags and chat with others. Avoid making the same mistakes twice and repurpose successful campaigns for future growth.
Ready, Set, Grow!
Each time someone shares your content, your reach grows. Make it as easy for them as possible with links using Click to Tweet. Everybody loves the easy button!
Being able to determine what works and what isn’t provides critical insight that translates to real growth and sustainability. SumAll and Twitonomy help break it down into specific actionable data that you can use to improve your reach in future campaigns.
There are plenty of options out there to help you manage Twitter and other social media platforms. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that works for you and letting them work for you. Which Twitter tools have been pivotal to maintaining your sanity and growing your business?