HootSuite: Another Tool for Virtual Assistants


HootSuite

I came across this post recently by Robert Farrington on his blog “Beat the 9 to 5” about HootSuite and had to share, because it sounds like it could be a great tool for Virtual Assistants.  In his post, Robert mentions some main functions/ways he uses HootSuite to manage his social media accounts, and as I was reading I kept thinking about LastPass (see my blog post on LastPass here) and how this sounds like it performs a similar function, but so much more, so I had to write about it.  Not to mention, Robert is one of, if not the, most successful bloggers on the planet, with many different blogs, so I pretty much take his word as gold!

WHAT IS HOOTSUITE?

HootSuite is a social media management tool.  What exactly does this mean?  It means that you can manage all (or at least most) of your social media accounts in one place – how handy is that?  In other words, log in to HootSuite and you can see all activity in all of your social media accounts, you can post to those accounts, you can monitor the analytics for those accounts, you can interact with your readers through HootSuite, and much more!

Managing many different social media accounts can be daunting!

Currently, HootSuite is compatible with the following social media accounts:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • FourSquare
  • WordPress
  • Mixi

There is a lot of information on HootSuite’s website regarding what specific capabilities HootSuite has with each social media platform.  I’m not going to cover them all, as it would make this post very long!  But one feature I will mention that many seem to really enjoy is the ability to schedule tweets in advance.  That means that you can send tweets out at the most optimal times, even if you’re not at your computer (or even when you’re sleeping!).  This can really help get a Twitter campaign going!

HOW CAN HOOTSUITE HELP ME AS A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?

Well, as anyone who has or is interested in starting a Virtual Assistant business should know, marketing is key, and social media is a very important part of any robust marketing plan in this digital age.  Also, we all know that time=money, and the more time you can spend on billable work vs. marketing equals more money in your pocket

Time = Money, and HootSuite will help save you time and, therefore, money!

HootSuite can also be a major time saver.  Imagine you have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter account (and most have more than this!).  Before, you had to go to each account, log in, and manage your content directly from that account.  With HootSuite, you log in once (to HootSuite’s webpage) and can view, access, edit, post, share, etc. to and from all of your accounts from one location.  Imagine the time this could save you!  

This also means that you are able to monitor all of your accounts from one place.  Before, if you were logged into Twitter, you probably didn’t know what was going on with your Facebook account (or you had to go to another tab or window at least to find out).  This can be priceless, especially for ensuring you reply to your followers/commenters in a timely manner.

HOW CAN HOOTSUITE HELP MY CLIENTS?

I can think of several ways.  First and foremost, for Virtual Assistants who manage social media for their clients, HootSuite could be a lifesaver – and a time-saver.  And guess what?  Clients whose VA’s save them time are therefore saving them money.  And guess what?  A client saving money is a happy client!  Imagine having a client ask you to manage 10 social media accounts for them.  They ask you how many hours per week you expect the work to take.  You can tell them that to manage all of the accounts separately would take – throwing a random number out here – 15 hours per week.  BUT, you could explain HootSuite to them and inform them that using HootSuite, you expect to be able to manage all of their accounts in just 10 hours per week.  Who wouldn’t be happy with that??? 

Here is an article on Alpha Efficiency about how one man used HootSuite and a team of Virtual Assistants to save himself time and money, and ultimately massively increase his social media presence.  It explains nicely how he used VA’s and HootSuite.   

Also, HootSuite is really great in that you can create teams to manage your accounts. 

HootSuite Teams

I must note here that this is a function of the Pro Version of HootSuite, which comes with a (very small) monthly fee of $8.99/month (I discuss pricing in further detail below). 

In his post, Robert discusses how he uses a Virtual Assistant to help him manage his accounts (of course he does – he’s a smart man!), but was wary of giving his VA passwords to all of his accounts (understandably).  With HootSuite, his VA logs in one time to HootSuite and is able to manage all accounts he gives her access to from there.  She never knows the passwords to each individual account!  This was the basis of my post on LastPass, and I imagine would be a great selling point to ease clients’ security fears. 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

HootSuitePro

There is a free version of HootSuite, as well as a Pro version and an Enterprise version.  They tout the free version as being good for individuals, the Pro being good for businesses and professionals, and the Enterprise being good for corporations, organizations or governments.  Robert mentions that he uses the Pro version, and I think that is what I will try, as it seems to have everything necessary for me.  It includes, among other things, 50 social media profiles included (up to 100 available); 1 team member included (up to 9 available); unlimited RSS; security; and 100 archived messages included (up to 100,000 available).  The Pro version costs $8.99/month, which I think is quite fair and reasonable. 

Also, please note that HootSuite offers a FREE 30-day trial of the Pro version.  So you can try it out, see if you like it, and if not, cancel with no further obligation.  What have you got to lose?    

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT HOOTSUITE?

HootSuite also offers over 60 additional add-on apps that you can utilize if you choose.  There are a few premium apps for a small additional charge, and lots of free ones.  I give a sampling of additional apps you can use with HootSuite below.  I’ve added notes to a few, but didn’t want to get too in-depth as to make this post too long or lose your interest, so go to their website and you can get lots more information about each of these if you desire.  HootSuite’s website can be found here

Premium Apps:

  • SoundCloud ($1.99/month)
  • Gmail ($1.99/month) – Access your Gmail account from within HootSuite (handy, though I’m bummed they charge for it)
  • ViralTag for Pinterest ($9.99/month)
  • YouTube Analytics ($4.99/month)
  • YouTube ($1.99/month)
  • TrendSpottr ($4.99/month)
  • Chattback ($4.99/month)

Free Apps:

  • FourSquare for Business
  • ChartBeat – analytic
  • Nimble
  • Cashie Commerce – share products, photos, descriptions; publish marketing promotions
  • Brandwatch
  • Brightkit – contests & campaigns
  • Zendesk
  • MailChimp
  • Vidcaster
  • Shopseen – promote products; view your Etsy, Shopify, BigCommerce, Ebay and other platforms; track inventory & orders
  • Survey Monkey
  • ContentGems
  • 123FormBuilder
  • RankSpeed
  • Blogger
  • Batchbook
  • Storeya
  • Instagram
  • YouTube Free
  • Tumblr
  • Flickr
  • RSS Reader
  • WordPress.org – view published & draft posts & pages; post directly to WP
  • Reddit
  • Scoop.it
  • Constant Contact
  • Cmp.ly – create social media disclosures in-stream; add shortened cmp.ly links to social messages
  • NeedTagger – “customer search engine” for Twitter: find people who need your content, products & services now; directly engage prospects from within dash

I know that HootSuite is not the only program like this out there, and I will review and introduce others in the future.  But this one really grabbed my attention, for several reasons, so I had to write about it and I can’t wait to try it out as things get going for me over the next couple of months!

I would love to hear from you if you have used HootSuite, or if it seems like something you think would be helpful to Virtual Assistants, or if you have another favorite program that performs a similar function.  Well, I would love to hear from anyone on anything, actually 🙂

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