Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool that is a popular choice for many small businesses. I agree that there are other useful tools like Tweetdeck and Sprout Social, but Hootsuite is better known and more widely used by social media managers and marketing teams the world over. I remember my first marketing job required me to learn Hootsuite. I'd never heard of it before that point. I've since migrated to other softwares that are cheaper and, for the most part, easier to use, but I regularly recommend Hootsuite to clients and friends.
Here is what's great about Hootsuite
Here are a few of Hootsuite’s long list of useful features:
Manage multiple social accounts
Facebook pages and profiles
All this and more from a single Hootsuite account.
Schedule posts and updates
Schedule a post or an event in the future. This helps marketing teams avoid cramped posting schedules that reek of unprofessionalism.
Go Bulk or Go home
It's easy to post in bulk. Create a spreadsheet (csv file) then follow the instructions on Hootsuite. Know what? Just start by reading the instructions here.(Click here)
Create access for your team
Team collaboration is easy when you can tweet, mark as done, or even track ongoing messages.
Pull out the smartphone, Hootsuite has semi-usable* Mobile apps for popular devices like iPhone, iPad, and Android.
*overall you can check things and even post, but limited functionality compared to desktop.
Personalized Analytics Reporting
Get reports that will give a general idea of how your accounts are doing online. These reports can be costly and not very descriptive.
Are you there Hootsuite? It's me, Marketing.
Hootsuite has long been praised for their extensive FAQ, support pages and cheerful human customer support. Not too shabby.
The Dark side of the Hoot.
I know, the title is 'How Hootsuite is sabotaging your social media plan'. Yet, I've been sitting here listing what's awesome about Hootsuite. Here is the truth, Hootsuite is the correct choice and the best product for many people. What this post is about are the Liz Lemon-esque deal breaker problems which may ruin this software for a lot of users.
I would be interested in what you think about Hootsuite, so please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. To learn more about other simple ways to improve your social reach, check out my recent post on 5 SEO tips for local search.
Here's the big secret, this issue really only affects small businesses and personal accounts. The two main reasons are the cost of Hootsuite and the strategically lacking functionality. Yes, Hootsuite is free, and Pro is only $8.99 per month, but there are prohibitively expensive features of Hootsuite that most businesses (and some personal accounts) need.
In any event, here are my top 4 reasons NOT to use Hootsuite
Number 1 - Ow.ly is number one in Soviet Russia
For some, the ow.ly reports provide basic information regarding click throughs, referrers and more. Although, this does come at a price, you are required to use the 'state run' Hootsuite version of bitly, or tinyurl; the ow.ly url shortener. It's like the russian version of winnie the Pooh. Everything is there, it looks cute, but something is not quite right.
Hootsuite users are forced to abide by this url shortener. Now, you are able to add your own custom url shortener but this costs money too. Are you sensing the theme here?
Let's say you are like many users and will not pay for a custom url. This ow.ly url transmits to the world that you are using Hootsuite. You may not want people to know that there is no one staffing the social media desk.
One major issue is a lack of tracking from Hootsuite. If you are using any social media schedulers like Social Oomph, TweetDeck or Buffer, then Hootsuite can't track these links. The expensive Hootsuite analytics you are paying for are not capturing the whole picture. You aren't seeing the click throughs from all your monthly links. This is also true if you are using the reports from the previously mentioned social posting tools, you won't be able to see the hootsuite links' information. There is a way to get around this issue, but you're not going to like it. You can read both reports, each month.
Like the Iron Curtain, Hootsuite wants to keep its comrades in. No need for any other forms of social media or internet marketing services, you have Hootsuite...yeah, right.
For larger companies, this is not a deal breaker issue. If you want to offer customer services online through Twitter, then Hootsuite may be right. But, if you or your company is like the rest of the world, you probably use Buffer or picture services like Twit Pic, you are out of luck.
Number 2 - I mentioned you need to pay for Custom URL Shorteners, Right?
Not many people use custom url shorteners. Some people do, they use them to customize and brand their links. But like most people, I use bit.ly to create custom urls for free.
Now, if you want Hootsuite to create a custom url then it’s $49.99. Keep in mind this is the cost per month, not per year. Pull out your calculators, that's a total of $600 dollars for that custom URL. Hootsuite has gone a tad overboard. Considering these custom urls only provide information to the Hootsuite reports, this is bananas.
Number 3 - Hootsuite Reports are Pricey
I give the credit where it is due, I admit that Hootsuite has developed some incredible analytics reports. These will show how your social networks are faring in the high waters of the internet,
Here's how you do it. You purchase reports using points (learn more here). Presuming your account is a Pro rate of $8.99 a month, you are allotted 50 points per month to buy these reports. According to the discussion accessible through the link above, these points are like space on a hard-drive. Each report takes up around 50 points of space. Custom reports occupy more space and require additional pylons, I mean money. Basically, you need to fork over more money per month to get truly useful information out of your Hootsuite reports. If you are looking for a comprehensive way to monitor your social media performance, Hootsuite's Pro plan will not be enough.
I find that small businesses feel a $50 report is too expensive, especially considering they are already paying $9 a month. It sort of feels like the Hulu of social media reporting. You pay to watch shows and then also have to watch long ads. Something doesn't feel right. On the other hand, for medium and larger firms with a sizable social media team, these reports are accessible in price. Most of these established businesses will have the tools to glean the most value from these reports. One more thing, Hootsuite seamlessly integrates Google analytics and Facebook information to build useful data. Again, if you can bear the costs of these reports, great. If you can't, this may be a deal breaker.
Click the image above or the link below to find a great post about how to read the free report Hootsuite gives you. (click here)
Number 4 - Facebook unofficially Hates Hootsuites
Since Facebook updated it's algorithm ow.ly links have been seeing lower reach within Facebook. This was a move by Facebook to limit spammy or duplicate content. However, Hootsuite users have been complaining about a lack of reach and visibility issues with Facebook. This isn't Hootsuite specific though, many third party apps have been having issues with Facebook's EdgeRank score (this influences if your post will appear in your audiences' newsfeeds). Officially, facebook denies that these apps are being affected but many users say otherwise. For now, I recommend to clients that they should schedule posts for Facebook within Facebook (they have a simple scheduling system).
The Social Media Scheduler most recommended for and by clients
With over 1 million registered users, Buffer ($10 Monthly $104 Yearly) allows you to choose from multiple accounts to post to. Such as Facebook profiles, pages and groups, LinkedIn groups, profiles, and company pages, Google Plus and Twitter, they even have App.net. I recommend this product to clients that aren't too familiar with proper posting schedules. This helps you pick a weekly and daily schedule and stick to it.
You have the option to "post now" or add your post to a scheduled queue. Buffer recently started offering comprehensive analytics on business accounts. The business plan starts at a reasonable $50 per month and comes with multiple accounts, 2 member team management and access, unlimited posting, and customizable reporting. You can also pull data from the Buffer servers in a CSV form.
There are more tools than buffer that perform similar services as Hootsuite. Check out the comments and share your thoughts on other services you recommend.
If you already paid for Hootsuite and want to get the most out of it, check out these links below.
- 100 best HootSuite Tutorial Videos (Meta-Guide.com)
- Hootsuite Review (CrochetBusiness)
- Buffer Vs. Hootsuite (Social Media Today)
Sum it all up
We did it, 4 reasons why Hootsuite may not be the best choice for you. Of course, these reasons may not be total deal breakers for you. There is the possibility that you may feel these are not the most egregious of reasons, but they are valid annoyances that I have had to deal with. Although, as I mentioned before, I regularly recommend Hootsuite to many clients and businesses. Hootsuite may be for you if you can afford the cost of the Hootsuite extras and value comprehensive customer service.
How do you feel about this? Please add what you think in the comments below.
Hootsuite can post well
Tracking can be expensive
Think you can do better? Did we count wrong?