Seeing that many musicians and music marketing industry people use Twitter to discuss and promote music, I thought it might be useful to provide an overview of one of the most commonly used tools for managing social media accounts with an eye to what features musicians might find most useful.
Hootsuite is one of several free social media dashboard applications, like Buffer or Tweetdeck, that can help you manage Twitter and other social media channels, all in one place. Hootsuite interfaces with most social media platforms, like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress, Tumblr, Instagram and many more - although not Pinterest, as of this writing.
I find Hootsuite to be most helpful for me in managing Twitter, and less so for managing my Facebook or LinkedIn posts. For those bands with a public Facebook fan page to track and analyze, it would probably be much more useful. I also haven’t hooked my Instagram or website Google Analytics up to Hootsuite yet, but I’m planning to. It’ll be nice to see them all in one place.
1. Keeping track of all your different social media channels can be challenging. One of the most helpful things you can do with Hootsuite is to set up several “streams” of social media information that can be monitored simultaneously. I like to be able to see all my sent tweets, scheduled tweets, Twitter mentions of my own handle, plus all my Facebook page comments – all on one single screen.
2. Also, once you start following lots of other people, the “firehose” Twitter stream can become daunting. Hootsuite streams help you easily keep track of specific Twitter handle lists (which can also be set up within Twitter itself), for subgroups of people that you follow. You create these Twitter lists, which can be either public or private. You can even monitor other people’s public lists. I also love how Hoostuite lets me add someone to a list by simply dragging their avatar over to that list stream and dropping it on the top bar of the column.
3. You can use Hootsuite to schedule all your tweets at once for a day, a week, or even a month (although I wouldn’t recommend more than a day or two, as conditions on the ground can change rapidly in social media). You can also use it for broadcasting the same message to multiple social media channels at the same time, although there are some good reasons not to overdo this. This can be very helpful if you are launching a product and have announcements, special offers on your website, or links to a download that you want to send out all at the same time.
4. The basic version of Hootsuite is free, which is a big benefit for anyone on a budget. On the other hand, there are several nice features of the Pro version ($5.99 a month) such as custom analytics reports, which are awesome for figuring out the effectiveness of your Twitter efforts. For example, if you tweet out links (like to your blog posts or Soundcloud songs, like I do), if you shorten the links in Hootsuite to make them ow.ly links, they can be tracked by Hootsuite. You can then print out a report to see how many clicks you got and more (again, Pro version only).
5. I probably wouldn’t use HootSuite if it didn’t have such an intuitive mobile interface, which lets me schedule and tweet from anywhere. (My family might argue this “anywhere” thing is bad. But that’s a whole other issue.) I sometimes use it to follow a hashtag Twitter chat, either an interest group like #ggchat (GoGirls Music), or perhaps a live event. When I’m livetweeting myself, however (not just watching, but participating), I find TweetChat to be easier than Hootsuite.
6. Hootsuite has very professional customer service and online training. I took the first set of HootSuite University classes. I thought they were a nice balance of meaty and not too daunting, and they have an extensive list of FAQs and articles. When things do go awry technically with HootSuite, I have found their Helpdesk to be quite responsive to tweets. Hootsuite has been really stable lately, but a big update last year caused some bad glitches in mobile scheduling. That was when I discovered how much I depended on both of those features.
7. Researching influencers, other musicians, and your target market is easy. I can easily click on another twitter user’s handle, see their profile, follower numbers, check their timeline (tweet stream), add them to a list, and check out their Klout score. I also like that Twitter user handles auto-complete so I can easily add them to a post for attribution or cc. I don’t use it very often, but you can use Twitter to do research on any term simply by searching on that term (with or without the hashtag), and you can use logic like OR, AND and NOT to combine terms. You can use this to search on band names, types of music, and keywords that can help you define your target customer. I wrote more about that in another blog post called “Identifying Your Super Fan.” You can also geo-target your search streams (Pro feature) by clicking on the cross-hair icon the search term box. although you must use the right format for your geographic coordinates. You can geo-target your posts (Enterprise feature only), but that’s getting more sophisticated.
For me, HootSuite is an invaluable Twitter tool. I’d love to hear what works for you and what you find lacking in the tool, whether you are a new user or a sophisticated social media maven. Share your HootSuite stories links, tips, tricks, kudos, and frustrations here.
Note: For more information on Buffer, see this blog post by my friend Chris “Seth” Jackson, at HowToRunABand, Twitter for Musicians, Day 13: Extreme Power Tools to Become a Twitter Ninja. For a Hootsuite vs. Tweetdeck throwdown, see this article by Make It In Music, Top Twitter Tips For Musicians.