Over the past few years, social media channels have become synonymous with online brand recognition. Social media today is used for more than sharing photos of last night’s dinner. It has become an indispensable tool used for communicating with customers, partners, consumers, and clients; it provides customer services, empowers relationships, and is critical to growing and nurturing a community around your brand.
Unfortunately, small businesses don’t always have the capital for extensive marketing and advertising campaigns, so effective social media practices become even more essential. However, sifting through all of the chatter online can be difficult, as can be identifying the relevant conversations, channels, and content to engage with and share.
One way of navigating around the noise online is to use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to help establish your online presence, foster meaningful relationships with customers, and schedule the posting of consistent and engaging content.
What is HootSuite and How Do Small Businesses Leverage It?
HootSuite is a social media management tool that helps individuals, small businesses, corporations, and large-scale organizations, manage their social media activity on one centralized platform. The platform provides businesses with a dashboard that aggregates all of their social media platforms into one easy to access area.
So, for businesses that have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Google Plus profile, Linkedin Page, Instagram account, YouTube channel, and Pinterest boards, these can all be managed in one area. This cuts down on the time that would otherwise be required to visit and monitor each individual profile multiple times every day.
Hootsuite affords you the ability to respond, see, share, and integrate extensions for all of these profiles in one place. In addition to this, Hootsuite automatically tracks the success of targeted social media campaigns (or lack thereof), provides analytics, and allows you to update multiple social media accounts simultaneously to better engage your audience.
Setting Up the Hootsuite Dashboard
Although upon first login, the dashboard looks slightly complicated, setting up an account is intuitive and user-friendly. The first thing you need to do is select which social networks you want to be connected to your dashboard and enter the corresponding login credentials. With Hootsuite’s free account, you can only connect three social media profiles to manage.
Once the tabs for your connected accounts are up and running, you can customize how you want these tabs to work, so, for instance, you could choose for your streams to either manually refresh or auto-refresh every two, five, ten, and thirty minutes.
Composing a message is as simple as hovering your mouse over the social media profile of your choice and hitting “Compose a message.” A box will popup where you will be able to compose your post and then choose whether to post immediately or schedule it for a later date and time. Your posts can also be saved as drafts to be refined later, and another option available is adding attachments such as photos or graphics.
How Does Hootsuite Benefit Small Businesses?
Arguably one of the most beneficial features of the platform is that it has the ability to schedule posts for all your social media channels at once. This means that manual posting to all of your business profiles is no longer needed, which saves an incredible amount of time.
It also means that content gets evenly distributed across media profiles, ensuring that there is consistency in the content being shared. The platform will also notify you if there are any issues with the scheduled posts, such as a failure to post, which is helpful for saving downtime on shared content.
Establishing a prolific online presence as a business is not just about scheduling original posts though. It’s also about providing engaging content that your audience gravitates to. This means that when you log in to HootSuite, you can set up your social media “streams” to showcase relevant content.
This type of content curation allows small businesses to share engaging content that is specifically relevant to their market. Responding to media influencers, sharing other industry content, and cultivating a holistic presence is what will build a community around your brand.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Hootsuite also offers free analytics tools to monitor the performance of your social media campaigns. This is incredibly powerful as it can showcase what methods have been effective and what information has had no impact on engagement. This gives small businesses insight into what their target audience is engaging with and whether their campaigns need to be tweaked. What makes this even better is that all analytics can be exported via PDF, CSV, or Excel Spreadsheet.
For small businesses which are new to social media and just starting out, the free tier is a great place to start as it allows you to use all the core features of HootSuite. However, if your business has more than three social media profiles and you require custom reports or sophisticated metrics, then one of the paid options is the better way to go.
HootSuite is a powerful tool for businesses wanting to streamline social media management from the get-go. This 13-minute video tutorial will help you get started out on the right foot using this popular social media management platform.