Friday, 17 May 2013

My experiences with Hootsuite by David Lowbridge

So like any published author my main problem is getting my name out there. To combat that the internet has given us dozens of social media platforms in which we can use to engage our audience and find new readers. The only problem is time. If you are like me you have a Facebook account (with two main pages), twitter, linkedin, blog, Google+ and a couple of others. If I had a major update that is a lot to manage. There is also the point that throughout those mediums I have collected a number of contacts who I regularly like to keep in contact. But logging in and out of all those providers is time consuming.

Part of the problem is the user friendliness of some of those programs. For example in twitter on the main page I can see a small box where I can input a tweet and a queue of tweets others and I have sent out recently. But if I want to know who has retweeted my own messages or sent me a message then I have to look at another page.

The average user has about 208 following them and follows about 102; however about 74% of all twitter users have 50 or less. The average user tweets about 2 messages per day. These stats don’t look too bad. However if you look at my following list, a vast majority of them have over that 50 following number and can be well into the hundreds and sometimes thousands. They are also active people who can send ten or more tweets in a day. We are looking at thousands of tweets entering my stream every single day.

Even posting my messages is a little hard. I like to put out a lot of helpful and informative articles for other readers and writers. However with no facility to spread them out across the day I have had to go on and do what I call a twitter blast. That is where I go online and write six to ten tweets and blast them in a space of thirty minutes. For a starters it is not a good policy, it makes it look like you are bot to someone who doesn’t know you and secondly with so many people posting; your messages only have a short time to be noticed. If I looked for tweets with the #amreading hashtag; there have been 38 tweets in the past hour (and it is 6 am in the morning at time of writing), if that is the average, that’s 912 tweets per day. My twitter blasts won’t reach many people in that crowd.

Sometimes I want some messages to go across multiple platforms. Twitter allows you to post your tweets automatically on Facebook, but the problem is it is an all or nothing deal. I cannot select certain messages to go to my Facebook wall, which is very frustrating

Then if we move to Facebook. I have two pages, one for my writing and one for my reviewing (which is no longer a solo run entity); plus there is my general profile page. If I want to update all three I have to do it separately, which takes a long time even if I am copying and pasting.
All of this over the past month or so has created a big black hole in my time that I can do what matters most for writers: write.

I needed something that allowed me to couple of things.

1.       Manage multiple accounts from one location
2.       Select which messages are post to each platform
3.       Spread out my messages so that I can get maximum exposure.

Luckily there is a number of solutions and Hootsuite is one of them.

Hootsuite is like having a marketing manager to help you out. It compiles all the information into one manageable (and customizable) page for each social platform, making it easy to see what has been said, what you have said, who has mentioned you and more importantly what you are going to say.
The greatest asset that Hootsuite has is scheduling messages, there is even a facility where it will post the message dependent on when Hootsuite thinks it will get the most exposure. For every message you send out you get to select which platforms the message gets sent to, with every message able to be sent to multiple platforms in one go, saving time on that pesky copy and pasting.

Hootsuite is not perfect. Facebook pages count as a single platform and when you only have five with the free account, then half of my platforms are taken up by just Facebook. Add my twitter account and I have lost 4/5 of my platforms. When you may only want to add in one or two more platforms, $9.99 a month is just too expensive. Also in twitter ‘streams’ I cannot see those who have simply added my message to their favourites list nor can I see when I have a new follower. However I do get to see my Klout score which is fairly useful.

But even with those minor negatives, Hootsuite is such a useful tool for authors and will continue to use it.

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