Is HootSuite the way to go
Hootsuite social media planning - a real owl magic!
Last update April 14, 2021
The Hootsuite is the planning tool I've used by far the longest and most persistently. Right from the start it had many functions, and the number continues to grow.
I don't want you to be overwhelmed by the variety of functions. That is why in this article I will only deal with what I consider to be the most important for solo preneurs, which can also be used with the free version.
Attention: This blog article is no longer up-to-date with regard to the prices given! In April 2021, Hootsuite announced a drastic price increase for existing customers as well. Numerous users are now turning their backs on the popular planning tool - some after 10 years of loyalty. More on this in this post.
This is the fourth part of my series, in which, in my opinion, I introduce you to the most important and best planning tools for social media. Don't worry, you shouldn't learn and use all of them. But I think it's important that you know about their possibilities, their strengths and weaknesses as well as the possible costs that you will have to face if you don't want to control every single post by hand.
Contributions to have already appeared
It will follow shortlyCoSchedule. At the end of the series there is another one Comparison of all presented tools. Of course, these are not all tools that are currently on the market, but in my opinion the ones that you should know to decide whether and which of them you want to use.
Tip to start with
At the very beginning I would like to give you an important tip: Hootsuite distinguishes between the free version and a 14-day free trial of one of the paid versions. Since you will be offered to start a test of one of the paid versions immediately after registering for the free version, you should think twice about it.
If you don't even know about all the possibilities of the free version alone, you are guaranteed to be overwhelmed with one of the paid versions in the test right from the start. And then you give away the chance to really be able to decide on the basis of reliable experience whether you even need one of the paid offers.
So my advice:
Turn down the offer (for now).
Get to know Hootsuite really well, in all of its free features. And if you then have the feeling that you are missing something, only then do you use the 14-day test phase.
Brief description of the Hootsuite
Since I only use the free version of Hootsuite, my brief description is limited to this. In the past, I have used Hootsuite for a while in the paid professional plan, but then found that I achieve the same results in combination with other tools. Because it is also important for me as a marketing coach to know a wide range of tools so that I can recommend the right tool for them to my members in the Marketing Magic mastermind circle, my Skype coaching clients and many other consultations it would be uneconomical for me to use all tools in the paid version.
Connect social media profiles to the Hootsuite
You can connect up to three social media profiles to the Hootsuite. This can be, for example, your Twitter account, your Facebook profile and your Facebook page. Or, as I did for Marketing Magic, your Facebook page and two Facebook groups that you manage. That's pretty little - so choose wisely!
If you have registered with Hootsuite with Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, the respective network is already connected automatically. I therefore recommend (and not just for this reason) to log in with your email address and a password.
If you then want to add a social network, this is very easy with the button above your dashboard.
Division into tabs and streams
The Hootsuite is organized on two levels (next to the menu on the far left). You can create tabs and then streams (i.e. timelines, basically columns with certain content) within the tab. Three screenshots in the small slideshow make this clearer (please click on the picture):
I have chosen the same structure within the tabs:
On the far left is the stream (the “pinboard entries”, as Hootsuite calls it in German). Then the activities (then I also see the comments that have been made). And finally the dispatch plan for planned posts (which is currently empty in all three screenshots because I now plan with the Post Planner).
You can get to the planning by clicking on the small calendar symbol at the top of the input field. You then select one or more profiles for which you want to create the post and can then choose between “AutoPlaning”, then Hootsuite will do the job for you and post at the “best” time - or you can use the settings below. What particularly bothered me here is the start of the week on Sunday (I'll never get used to it) and the relatively rigid planning option in five-minute steps. The linked multiple uploader, which you can see in the screenshot, is of course not available in the free version. If you want to plan over a change of month, you have to switch through again and again with the small arrow keys.
In the “Publisher” section (with the little paper plane symbol) you can then view your posts in the dispatch schedule. In the free version you only have the list view. If you want to have calendar views (day, week, month), you need the paid version.
You can use the tabs and streams to build a really clear cockpit. If you use the professional version, you can control 10 networks with the Hootsuite - it's a pretty fast and cool thing to look through all networks in no time and can save you a lot of time. Because the direct interaction in the networks directly from Hootsuite is the great strength of this tool. If you only want to use it to plan posts, in my opinion there are now better and more flexible ones that are also easier and more convenient to use. However, if you want to control your social media activities according to the motto of a supermarket chain (“go there - all in!”), The Hootsuite is a clear recommendation.
Statistics and reports
The Hootsuite enables in-depth reports and statistics via the in-house link shortening service ow.ly. If you click on the icon with the three small columns on the left, you will get to this module. Hootsuite provides some templates for the reports, but you can also create custom reports.
The Twitter profile overview, the overview of the Facebook page, the Ow.ly click summary and the URL Click Stats are available free of charge. For all others, points are required, which you get in the paid versions and which you can also buy.
In the screenshot you can see the example of the report for the Marketing Magic Facebook page from November 2016.
Campaigns in Hootsuite
A relatively new module in Hootsuite are the campaigns (which you can see from the fact that this module is not yet available in German). Campaigns can also be used as a user of the free version. The types available are “lotteries” (sweepstakes), galleries and competitions. What is it all about?
Basically, Hootsuite provides landing pages for web and mobile views and even an app for a Facebook tab. There are currently eight different modules available.
The setup is very easy, to edit the individual areas you click on the small pencil symbol and you can then make your entries. The only drawback, as far as I can see it so far: No individual elements and links can be added. Our imprint and data protection obligations cannot be met in the form of separate links - I bet that will again provide material for warnings.
Incidentally, you are not limited to three profiles in the Hootsuite if you add the apps. In addition to the paid apps, there are also free apps. You can find this by clicking on the small puzzle symbol on the left in the menu bar.
With the free apps you can, for example, Tumblr, MailChimp, WordPress.org, Flickr, Blogger, Tailwind, StumbleUpon, Vimeo, FourSquare, SurveyMonkey, Flipboard, XING, Talkwalker Alerts, SoundCloud, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, Box and Dropbox and Slack to to name just a few of the better-known ones. The integrations are different - you just have to see what you like.
I recently heard from a social media manager colleague that his own and his company's Twitter account had been hijacked because there appears to be a loophole in Twitter's authentication system. That is why the topic stands Security for social media tools again at the top of my list. All the nicer that Hootsuite offers 2-step authentication with the Google Authenticator. I think it's exemplary that this security method is not only reserved for paying customers.
The setup is very easy, as you can see when you click on the picture and watch the short slideshow:
What are the advantages of the Hootsuite?
One of the advantages of the Hootsuite is the ability to control almost all social networks from a single app - if you pay. The clarity and structure, the flexibility of the display (column width, view compact, normal or large) and an extensive statistics and reporting module are really great. If you are willing to invest at least 10 euros per month (with annual payment, otherwise almost 15 euros), the Hootsuite really offers you a lot. But even in the free version you can do a lot with it. In addition, the old owl lady now speaks German in almost all modules, which should be very pleasant for many.
There is also extensive online training material from Hootsuite, so you can get a lot of free help on both the Hootsuite app and social media marketing. However, these training courses are in English.
In addition, Hootsuite shines with a mobile app for Android and iOS and a Hootlet called extension for the Chrome browser, with which you can easily pass on finds while surfing to the Hootsuite and thus to the networks and profiles you have connected there.
What speaks against the Hootsuite?
But there are also a few points that I don't like very much: The restriction to three profiles in the free version is pretty tight, because they used to be more generous. In the Hootsuite, too, it is not directly marked what counts as paid functions, so that you should be prepared for a number of frustrating false clicks, especially at the beginning.
Hootsuite is quite complex with a lot of setting options that sometimes you can't find right away. The learning curve can be relatively high, especially for beginners in social media marketing.
The creation of the reports is not necessarily intuitive and - when I used the Hootsuite for a fee - I unfortunately gave away a number of points until I understood what I can set and how.
What are the costs?
If you limit yourself to three profiles, you can use the Hootsuite free of charge. From € 9.99 per month (net, with annual payment) you can control 10 social media profiles, get more statistics and can insert unlimited RSS feeds as content sources. The ability to work in a team and up to 20 social media profiles are then available from € 34.99 net per month.
Summary and conclusion
The old owl Hootsuite can still be compared to newer planning tools. The unlimited use for individuals is nice, even if the possibilities are of course very limited. Because of the largely German-language and easy-to-learn user interface, I recommend that you definitely take a look at the Hootsuite. But don't forget my tip from above! 🙂
Did you already know the Hootsuite? Do your experiences coincide with mine, or do you have something else to report? Or is the Hootsuite completely new to you? Will you want to try it out after my post here? As you can see, I am quite curious and I would be happy if you leave me a comment!
About the author Birgit Schultz
I'm Birgit Schultz from Marketing-Zauber and I support solo preneurs (individual entrepreneurs) with their online and social media marketing. My focus is on the strategic and efficient use of social media and content marketing to increase awareness, reach and reputation. Because only those who know you can buy from you!
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