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How to Use Hootsuite Effectively to Boost Your Social Following

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Phot credit: Thomas Hawk
Phot credit: Thomas Hawk
It seems like every day, there are more social media tools out there designed to make your work in managing your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, et al, a bit easier.

I’ve tried many of these tools, but the one I keep coming back to is Hootsuite. It’s got a lot of features that take the headache out of social media for me. If you haven’t given Hootsuite a try, I suggest you check it out.

Social Media Management Platforms

In the beginning of time (at least social media time), one had to log into every network to post something or view what her friends were posting. It was time-consuming. Many people pared down the number of social tools they used simply because they didn’t have time to manage all those platforms.

Small businesses were quick to toss social media out the window. After all, who had all day to share content and see what others were saying? Needless to say, it was a lot to juggle.

Then software developers wised up: what if they could invent a platform where users could manage multiple social media profiles from one place? Where they could even schedule posts to go live later so they wouldn’t have to manage it all day long?

I think the first platform that had these functions that I used was TweetDeck, which was purchased by Twitter in 2011. There are dozens of other similar tools. But today I’m going to share some tips and techniques to use Hootsuite to effectively gain more followers and increase your social media results. Ready to rock?

What Hootsuite is Good For

It can be overwhelming if you start using Hootsuite and don’t know where to focus your attentions, so let’s look at my favorite features.
hootsuite-post-2

Ability to Manage Multiple Social Profiles

When I say “multiple,” I mean two things:

    – More than one profile under the same site (so 3 Twitter profiles)
    – More than one social network (so Twitter, G+, and Facebook)

For more businesses, the former isn’t necessary, unless perhaps you have a personal Twitter account and one for your business. But the second is gold. It keeps you from having to visit each social site to post updates. Everything you need to see is right there, in Hootsuite.

Scheduling Capabilities

I love this one. Rather than logging in every time you want to post something on a social site, you can schedule it in advance. If you’re busy like me, this is a lifesaver, as you can spend 15 minutes at a time scheduling updates for a few days — or even weeks — and then get back to running your business.

There’s even a feature called Auto Schedule, which permits Hootsuite to send out your update at a time that it has deemed the one most likely to get more shares and views.

Streams

You can create columns, or streams, with any one of the following:

    – Mentions sent to your social profile
    – Your direct messages
    – Hashtags
    – Keywords
    – Updates from a particular follower or group of followers

This is where the good stuff is, and we’ll dive into it in the next section.

Analytics

The content you share on social media is only as good as the number of people who click or share it. That’s why I dig Hootsuite’s analytics tool. There are more than a dozen report templates you can customize, like Twitter Engagement, Ow.ly Clicks (that’s their URL shortener), Facebook Insights, and more.

If you happen to be a social media consultant or work with multiple clients, you can create these pretty little reports for your clients and show them that their investment is paying off.

The report below tells me which of my links other people are clicking on or retweeting/resharing. This helps me customize what I write about on my blog, as well as the kinds of content I share on social.
Hootsuite owly analytics 3

Team Members

If you’re not the only person using your company’s social media accounts, Hootsuite makes it easy to let multiple people access the same accounts. If you use social for customer service, you can use the Assignments feature to ensure that someone responds to any ping your company receives regarding a question or complaint. Cool.

Looking for More Followers?

The point of this post was to show you strategies to increase the number of followers as well as build better relationships and yes, increase sales. So here goes.

Photo credit: Joalaz
Photo credit: Joalaz

1. Follow People Who are Talking About the Right Things

It’s sometimes a challenge to know who to follow simply based on what their social bio says. After all, if you sell accounting software, you’re probably not going to find many profiles using the word “accounting software” in the bio. And if you do, those are likely your competitors.

It’s what they’re talking about that leads you to the right people to follow. If you’re looking for small business owners (your target), you can set up a stream for anyone mentioning one (or all) of the following:

Then, any time someone uses a keyword or hashtag that you’ve set up your search for, it will appear in that Hootsuite stream. You can follow these folks, share their content, or respond directly to them.

2. Follow Those that Mention You

I write a lot of blog content, so I’m constantly getting mentioned on social media. What I do with that is respond to each mention of my writing with a quick thanks, and then I follow anyone who fits my intended audience.

There’s no reason to follow everyone that follows you. Years ago, that was everyone’s strategy, but then we started seeing spammy folks just trying to get more traffic. I don’t need to follow @SuperStarModel, thank you very much!

Instead, focus on only following people who you think will provide value. Maybe they’re already fans of your blog content. Or maybe they mentioned your brand as one they love. Support your evangelists by following back and interacting.

3. Cut Through the Noise

What I don’t like about using the Twitter website for interacting is that the nearly 7,000 people I follow tend to create a lot of noise, and I find it hard to focus on anything. I’m following a lot of marketing, business, and software folks because that’s where my business intentions lie, but I’ve also followed other people, like local companies I’m interested in, and people who don’t always add a lot of value to my stream.

I use Hootsuite to pinpoint the people I really want to pay attention to. Years ago, Chris Brogan wrote a post about Dunbar’s Number, which says (or at least, this is what I extrapolated from the post) that you can’t pay attention to more than about 150 people. If you’re following 7,000, you can’t give them all your attention. So you can use Hootsuite to set up a stream that only shows the updates from those key people. You could create many. You could create separate streams for:

    – Existing clients
    – Past clients
    – Leads
    -Employees

This makes it easy to cut through the chaos and respond to what’s really interesting.

4. Respond to Everyone

There’s nothing more offensive than when you Tweet someone and never get a reply back. Okay, well there are more offensive things, but if you value your online reputation, you’ll make it a priority to respond.

Given that you’re now scheduling your posts in advance, you won’t be on Hootsuite all day long to respond. But aim to check in just once a day to see if anyone’s sent you a mention or direct message. It just takes a second.

Consistency is Key

Hootsuite can help you grow your online presence, but only if you put the effort in. Set up your calendar for regularly scheduling updates and responding so you get into a rhythm. After all, your Twitter update is just a splash in the bucket, so it’s gone as soon as it’s posted. You’ve got to maintain consistency in frequently posting to social sites so that your updates get seen by more people.

The more targeted people you follow and are followed by, the better relationships you can build with them. And that will, if done correctly, lead to more sales.

Author

Guest Blogger Susan Payton
Guest Blogger Susan Payton
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites. You can connect with her on Twitter or through .

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  • Great tips Susan thank you! I used to use Hootsuite (never really got on with Tweetdeck) and then drifted away to manually updating each platform. I know at one stage it was said that Facebook would penalise posts from Hootsuite (in terms of reducing their Edgerank) and other 3rd party posting platforms. Do you know if that is still the case? If not, I may well be inspired to revisit using Hootsuite again! Thanks

  • Tanya–
    I’ve never heard that! Not sure how/why they’d penalize for it. And to what end? Your post would still show up on Facebook (it’s not like Google being able to penalize your placement in search results).