Handling several online accounts across multiple platforms will take a toll on anyone, especially when the choice is limited to guessing forgotten passwords and to opening multiple tabs on the Web browser. And social media accounts are not exempted.
Though there are many free and paid online account management applications on the market, social media managers – and even buffs – are better off with a tried and true solution.
HootSuite potentially is the best management tool built for social media accounts to streamline social sharing. It allows a user to control accounts from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, and Mixi in one dashboard, and even schedule posts for later publishing.
To save you from all the headache of switching among multiple tabs, you may find it worthwhile to create an account on HootSuite.
The Basic Layout
When you make it through the signup phase and log in to your account, Hootsuite offers a guided overview on the essentials of streamlining content and social network connections.
The homepage has a green menu that shows the social networks connected to your HootSuite account. From the menu, you have the option to choose streams you want to keep track of, such as scheduled tweets and Facebook News Feed, contingent on the choices available for that network.
Though HootSuite is best used for Twitter accounts, you are allowed to add other social accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn, including Pages and Groups in which you are an administrator or a member. Alas, HootSuite cannot merge Google+ user profiles, but it can manage pages.
For a free HootSuite account, each tab is limited to three streams. But when you open multiple tabs, a known glitch allows you to break the rule. Nevertheless, closing, refreshing, and reopening streams is a breeze, and a Twitter account is not limited to one tab. For example, you can group timeline, scheduled tweets, and sent tweets in one tab, and then open another tab for DMs and mentions.
You can find the latest events on Twitter space through the top-right Quick Search option. A smart search box for the sought entry will pop atop the page, remain in the workspace, and even show trends worldwide.
Moving On To Social Sharing
HootSuite’s simple but streamlined layout is spread throughout the workspace, including the compose box. Atop the page, you can compose new messages for distribution to any of your social networking accounts, or to multiple networks at the same time. You only have to click the icon of the accounts you want to post to.
The selling point of HootSuite is its scheduling feature, empowering you to organize future posts and keep your fans and followers continually engaged with a few clicks. This social media management tool is available below the text field of the compose box. You may pick any time, date, or both, and simply click Schedule once you are done.
Another nifty tool is HootSuite’s own URL link shortener found within the compose box. After you copy and paste the hyperlink inside the box, click Shrink and the social media manager will automatically append it to the text.
Free HootSuite accounts have links shortened using ow.ly while Pro and Enterprise users can have custom links similar to Apple’s tw.appstore.com Twitter account.
The URL link shortener can track performance metrics of each shortened link. You can see the data through Analytics at the left sidebar. You can make a custom report for a certain social account and keep track of aggregate data, clicks, and engagement. Though free users are limited to two reports, the overview already shows high quality data – clicks, growth, keywords, and so on – to identify the working and nonworking components.
From Desktop to Mobile Devices
Like most major software providers, HootSuite has released its own mobile app for Android and iOS devices. And it does not alienate you from the desktop environment, keeping things simple but organized by side-swiping through streams, tabs, and categories.
HootSuite’s mobile app is best used for keeping track and monitoring your social networking accounts when using a smartphone or tablet. With nearly all the tools and features from the desktop version, the mobile app makes social media management and scheduling as easy as a few taps on the screen.
Taking Care of Privacy and Security
Most government regulators and consumer privacy watchdogs have growing concerns on how social networks handle private user data. Thus, social media security is crucial for Free, Pro, and Enterprise HootSuite accounts.
If privacy and security are left unattended, social media information may be used against you. Thankfully, more and more social networks continue to bolster their privacy policies and security verification systems such as two-step authentication. And HootSuite wants to help.
HootSuite’s social media management program empowers you to login via Facebook, Google, Open ID, Yahoo, and Mixi to enforce strict security measures on your social networking account, rendering inaccessibility to anyone who may have your password.
For a more secure HootSuite account, find the left sidebar and go to Settings>Account>Authentication, and then you may choose which security measure to use.
Direct to Indirect Support
HootSuite provides direct support only for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, Foursquare, and Mixi. But it has an Apps tool wherein you can add Gmail, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, and many other online accounts in your streams. Though HootSuite supports free apps such as Reddit and Evernote, some apps such as Gmail come at a price.
You cannot create a message or post through the compose box for these additional apps. And HootSuite does not support opening new streams with feeds for these connected apps. Even so, it helps you streamline your online accounts within the workspace and merge separate online accounts on a single viewing platform.
HootSuite provides support for Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. It means you can post messages without opening your HootSuite account. By installing an extension called Hootlet, you can post directly from a tweet or webpage. You can use the plugin or right-click to open a message window, and then post or schedule the content you want to share.
Is HootSuite right for you?
Community managers, social networking buffs, casual Twitter users – all these social media enthusiasts can benefit from the convenience of using HootSuite and its many features.
HootSuite arguably is the best social media management program available on the market today. But other options do exist across the vast Internet. In the end, finding the right tool that works for you is a matter of preference.