Its various features mean, for me and for a lot of my clients, it’s an easier, more efficient and more effective way to manage your Twitter campaigns – and it’s free!
Here’s my guide to using Hootsuite for more intelligent Twitter management:
1) Claim your free Hootsuite account
Go to www.hootsuite.com to claim your free Hootsuite account. You’ll need to login using your Twitter login details. Your new account will look something like this:
Here, click on the icon that says ‘home’. This will create your first stream for you, which is essentially a column filled with a certain type of tweet. In the ‘home’ stream, you’ll see all the tweets from people you follow – it’s the same as viewing Twitter natively.
2) Create a Brand Mention Stream
The next stream to create is a brand mention stream. You want to know every time someone mentions your brand, whether that’s using your Twitter handle (e.g. @lauralhampton) or not.
To do this, click ‘add stream’ (which is now at the top of the ‘home’ stream you just created) and choose ‘search’ (the icon of the magnifying glass).
Here, specify the search term(s) you want to monitor. I love to skydive and do so at a place called Skydive Langar; if they were setting up a search, I’d advise they search for:
“skydivelangar” OR “skydive langar” OR “skydivelanger” OR “skydive langer” OR “bpslangar” OR “british parachute schools”
Note here the use of advanced search operators – the use of quotation marks indicates I want to see these words in this format and this order, and the use of OR in capitals says I want to see any of these mentions. I’ve also added common misspellings of ‘Langar’ and also their old brand name ‘British Parachute Schools”. You too can include variations of your brand name in your search.
Their brand stream might look like this:
By monitoring your brand mentions, you can spot the people who are talking about you and respond to their where appropriate, or simply listen to what they say. Is it positive? Great! Keep doing that! If it’s negative, how can you address the problem?
By responding to people who are talking about your brand, you expand your reach and can build brand awareness beyond your existing database.
3) Set up a custom search
A custom search is very similar to the brand mentions stream in that you select to add a new stream, then choose ‘search’ as your stream type.
Here, you can search for anything you like, and use advanced search operators as above. I recommend setting up a searches for:
Using the example above again, Skydive Langar might set up searches for skydiving, skydiving centre, skydive, skydive course, AFF, tandem skydiving, charity skydiving and so on. It’s up to you whether you lump similar terms together into one stream using the OR operator, or have separate streams for each (though you are limited to 10 in total, so best to lump them together where you can).
When you see people talking about your product/services, you have an opportunity to reach someone who is interested in what you do but not necessarily aware of you yet. See what they’re saying; if it’s a question about the product/service, respond. Are they expressing an opinion about it (“I love skydiving!”), contribute to the conversation. They might even be asking where they can buy your product/service, which is a great time for you to let them know where you are.
Another great way of building brand awareness is to look for people talking about your geographic location. For Skydive Langar, they might look for people mentioning Langar, Bingham or Nottingham. This will enable them to see what people are saying about the local area, and again to contribute to these conversations to become an active part of the local community.
A great example of this in use came from a coffee brand who saw someone tweeting that they were in a certain town and could really use a coffee. The coffee chain tweeted back, offering that person a free coffee from them. It was a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty, plus that person then took to Twitter to share the story, giving them even more coverage.
Another example came from Morten’s Steakhouse in America. An influential business person returning back from an overseas trip tweeted that he couldn’t wait to get back to New York for a proper steak; the company sent one of their waiters to meet him at the airport with a steak dinner. Again, built great brand loyalty and press coverage too.
Think about other searches you might set up in your business. Perhaps you have a prominent person within your business who might be mentioned regularly so you could search for their name.
By setting up custom searches, you can identify:
- Potential customers
- Trends in product/service interest – e.g. for seasonal products or growing interest in a product/service
4) Use scheduled tweets… with caution
Scheduling is a fantastic tool to help you manage your social media presence. Done well, it enables you to appear active throughout the times that your audience is active too.
However, use caution. If all you do is schedule tweets, you lose the element of interactivity that social media is so useful for. You need to be there to respond to people as much as you need to be reading, retweeting and responding to other people’s tweets.
I use the auto-schedule function for my tweets. This works by, over time, monitoring the times of day and days of the week that your followers are most active, and then sending tweets at those times. It’s a really simple yet effective way of being there when your audience is – but again, it’s important not to just leave scheduled tweets running.
One famous example of a scheduling fail is that of Tesco, who a few years ago experienced their now infamous horse-meat scandal. On the day the news broke, the Twitter account for Tesco tweeted the following. As you can see, not great for their image:
5) Monitor, analyse, refine
As with all digital marketing, social media is most effective when it is monitored, analysed and refined over time.
Hootsuite helps you to do this by giving you access to a range of reports – even more reports if you use the paid version. These will give you insights such as the most popular tweets that week, times of day when your audience was most active, follower growth, common topics and so on.
To reach the reports, simply click on the menu to the left of your streams and select ‘Analytics’:
There are various reports available to you as a free user. The Twitter Profile Overview report provides some useful data, including follower growth and most popular links. You should see steady follower growth over time, which indicates good levels of engagement (whilst a quick growth may indicate spam accounts or paid-for followers – not good).
Use most popular links to gain valuable insight into the content that works – and that doesn’t. Look at the links here – what type of content has been most popular? Is it news? Product updates? Whitepapers? Use this information to plan what content you’ll create and share in future. Also look at the tweets themselves – the structure, the tone. What works? How can you learn from it?
Take a look at the other standard reports from Hootsuite too – there’s lots of great information available.
Hootsuite Paid Version
Everything I’ve outlined here is available with the free version of Hootsuite. You can also manage multiple social media within Hootsuite – try ‘Add Account’ to explore managing Facebook through Hootsuite and managing LinkedIn through Hootsuite…
You’ll notice that Hootsuite also offers a paid version, with more reports and functionality. Typically, the free version will give most businesses what they need.
You may choose to pay for Hootsuite if:
- You want to access more reports
- You want your account to be managed by more than one person