Hootsuite, an Interview with Adel de Meyer
Interviewer: Tim Martin, December 2014. Episode #26 from the NET:101 podcast.
TIM: Hello, and welcome to Episode #26 of the NET:101 podcast. With me today I have Adel de Meyer, who is a Hootsuite Ambassador and a social media marketing consultant based in Brisbane. Hello, Adel.
ADEL: Hi, good morning, Tim.
TIM: Thanks for coming on. Now, as I said, you are a Hootsuite Ambassador. Can you explain to the listeners what’s involved with that?
ADEL: Yeah, sure. Being a Hootsuite Ambassador is a volunteer role. What we do is we basically brand advocates.
Hootsuite approached me in January of this year asking me please would I come on board as an ambassador because they could see I absolutely love social media, I love being part of the online communities, helping other people out with social media questions. And I said, yeah sure. I love the product; why not? So I’ve been doing it for nearly a year now.
The Hootsuite Ambassador program has expanded quite a lot. There’s over 700 ambassadors worldwide at the moment from all different countries. What we do is we host Hootsuite events in our cities. They’re called Hootups. That’s free events that people can attend, and we’ll make it fun. We’ll have maybe a speaker that features for the day, we’ll talk about Hootsuite features, we hand out some Hootsuite swag. It’s just a great way for the community to learn more about Hootsuite.
Yeah, we’re mainly out there to help other Hootsuite users or people with questions. That’s what’s involved with the ambassadors.
TIM: Being an ambassador, you must learn a lot about Hootsuite yourself, right?
ADEL: Yes. Yes, I do. Just to know the advanced features, because a lot of people know the basics of Hootsuite, but when it come so the advanced features or just base practices for social media online, I think that’s really come in handy.
TIM: What does Hootsuite do, fundamentally? Can you run us through the main points?
ADEL: Okay, the main points for Hootsuite is monitoring, scheduling, and mainly just to keep tabs on conversations. I think that’s a great feature of Hootsuite. What I mean by keeping tabs on conversations is you can set up streams within Hootsuite platform and you can see what people are talking about. So you can follow hashtags, you can follow keywords, you can follow conversations in a specific area.
Then the other part of that is scheduling. As all social managers out there know, getting those posts out to social media is quite a challenge and time-consuming. What you can do is every day, log in for 10 or 15 minutes, go into Hootsuite; you’ll have all your connected platforms – Facebook, Twitter, or whichever ones you are using – you can type up your message, attach your image, shorten your link. You can schedule it for exactly which time you want it to go out, and off you go. So Hootsuite takes care of that for you.
TIM: And you can engage directly through the platform, too, as if you were on the native platform, Twitter or Facebook for example?
ADEL: Yes, you can. So Hootsuite takes on the format of the platform itself. With Twitter, if you connect Twitter, you can see your home stream, your tweets, your tweets that are retweeted, people that have favorited you, people that have followed you. So whatever that platform offers you by itself, you can get the same features within Hootsuite.
TIM: So monitoring, engaging, and scheduling. I know myself, for example, I’ve been using Hootsuite for the last couple of years; I like it as a platform.
ADEL: Oh, great.
TIM: But I only use it for scheduling. I actually find that I actually like being on the native platforms themselves in terms of engaging with people. So you must find different people working out their own particular ways they like to use it?
ADEL: Oh yeah, absolutely. One of my main things is also the scheduling; I do enjoy that a lot. And just finding content. I use Hootsuite for content because it plugs into RSS feeds that you can set up, and you can view like YouTube and TrendSpottr, WordPress, all of those.
So I like to quickly scan through that in my different streams and just schedule it right from there. I do find a lot of people do like to use Hootsuite mainly for scheduling and then also just to find that content and schedule it right there within Hootsuite. It’s all done and easy.
I also like to open the native apps myself sometimes, like Twitter. I really enjoy Twitter on my mobile, so I like to go into Twitter myself, quickly have a look around. But when I’m on desktop, I do prefer Hootsuite because it’s just easy with everything right there, ready to go.
TIM: So you’re a little old school, a little like me in terms of using RSS feeds for input. Would that mostly be around blogs and so forth? You would syndicate that through?
ADEL: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
TIM: Yeah, I don’t know what happened to RSS. It was one of the most powerful technologies out there. It’s so rarely used these days.
ADEL: Yeah, it is. But in Hootsuite, it’s just amazing. I like to use a platform called Alltop. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Alltop.
TIM: Yes I am.
ADEL: Yeah. I feed that through my Hootsuite as well, and it just puts all the different social media on marketing or whichever field you’re into all together within Hootsuite. You can quickly scan through the topic, you can see if it’s interesting for your readers, and share that on. So I definitely think it’s something other people can use as well.
TIM: Okay, let’s stick with monitoring. What are the different ways that we can monitor through the platform?
ADEL: Monitoring through the platform is hashtags, keywords, and like I said, the geolocation feature, which is really good. What you can do is you go into Hootsuite – let’s say you pick Twitter. You can then set up a stream, as I call it.
Within Hootsuite you get tabs which will be your platform; you would name it maybe Twitter, and within that Twitter, you will get a stream which you then specify what it is exactly you want to do within that stream.
Around the monitoring, you can set up monitoring, like I said, with keywords or within a certain location. You can for example search on people talking about what’s the best burger in Brisbane. You can set up that search within Hootsuite and you can see all the conversations on Twitter asking what is the best burger in Brisbane.
And that’s a great opportunity for you as a brand to reply and say “Hey, we’ve got fabulous burgers. We’ve actually got a 20% discount today. Here’s a link to a discount. Come pop in and grab our burgers.” That’s a great way for you to communicate with potential customers online.
And then with Hootsuite itself, I know they track the #HootAmbassador hashtag to see what we all are talking about. So all the Hoot Ambassadors use that hashtag so we can all communicate worldwide and see what everybody’s talking about and who’s got Hootups planned, what’s up and coming features.
It’s just small little things like that that help you to see what people are talking about, and it can give you a great competitive advantage.
TIM: So we can monitor specific social media platforms based on individual keywords, keyword phrases, hashtags. What about usernames and people’s handles and so forth?
ADEL: Yes, you can also set up to track people mentioning a certain “@.” So if you want to see all conversations that mention @Hootsuite, you can do that. You can see conversations mentioning brands. So yes, definitely the Twitter handles.
You can also track negative and positive sentiments, so a smiley face or an unhappy face. If people are complaining, they’ll obviously put an unhappy face, and that will pop up in a stream as well so you can respond to that compliant. Maybe assign it to your customer service team and they can take care of the issue.So if ou certan set up to track pele at about usernames and pele'le saerch do within that
TIM: Okay, so you can arrange in tabs based around a particular platform or a particular thing that you’re tracking, and then we’ve got streams within tabs, yeah?
TIM: I know that Hootsuite is a freemium product; there’s a free version and a paid version. What are the differences between the two?
ADEL: With the free version, you can connect up to three different social media profiles. With the pro version, you can connect up to 50. Your message scheduling is also a big difference. With the free one, it’s very basic; with the pro one, you can advance schedule up to 350 posts at a time.
Also, with team members, there’s no team members included in the free version, where with the pro you get one free included team member. So that’s the main big differences there.
Also with the RSS feeds that we spoke about that we like, with the free you can only add up to two. With the pro, it’s unlimited.
TIM: When you say you can only schedule one at a time in the free version, you mean in the paid version I could say “Here’s a post” and I could schedule that multiple times just as a one-off? Is that the way it works?
ADEL: Yeah, up to 350 different messages. It keeps it in the memory, yeah.
TIM: Yeah, that certainly would make things a lot easier, wouldn’t it? There’s a good reason to go paid. (laughs)
ADEL: Absolutely. And look, Hootsuite is very affordable. In Australia, it’s only $10.79 a month. If you look at the time it saves you, and the frustrations, and what you can do with it, it’s well worth the $10.
TIM: Yeah, for sure. Okay, now you said you can get three platforms for free, so I could take Facebook and Twitter and Google+, but I’d be limited at that point. If I get the paid version, then obviously just about any social media platform I could probably think of is going to be there as an option.
TIM: How do the apps work against what’s natively in the platform?
ADEL: The apps are definitely one of the biggest features in Hootsuite that sets us apart from the rest. There’s a total of 119 apps available within Hootsuite that you can connect. What we mean by “apps” is extra features like CRMs, YouTube, WordPress, Gmail, your Google Drive, Evernote. You can connect all of those extra within Hootsuite. So that’s fabulous. And 80 of them are free, so that’s really, really good.
TIM: Let’s look at a use case here. I could connect my Hootsuite account up to my Gmail?
TIM: And then my Gmail would become a stream or a tab on Hootsuite, yeah?
ADEL: Absolutely. Exactly the same as we discussed before with the features. And then you can see your inbox and sent messages within Hootsuite, and you can respond to them.
TIM: What are some other interesting ways that the apps can be used? You got some examples of things that you do?
ADEL: Yeah, there’s the Wordpress.org one that you connect your WordPress blog and you can actually schedule your blog posts and photos and things that you want to go out. That’s really handy for people that blog a lot. And then I use the Gmail one, which is fabulous for the email.
Then there’s YouTube as well, so you can bulk schedule videos to be uploaded to YouTube. That is a paid app, but the apps are not expensive at all. I think they’re very affordable. They range between $1 to about $5 or $6 a month, which I think is a really good price for that added feature.
TIM: The discussion we had before the podcast started, you said that they’re rolling out new apps all the time.
ADEL: Yes, they are, all the time. If you go and have a look at the app directory and there’s something there that you use as a business that you would like integrated with Hootsuite, get in touch with them and make a recommendation. They’re more than happy to look at adding more and more apps to suit everybody.
TIM: We can schedule posts to go out as a one-off or a continual stream on a particular platform, but you can also schedule across multiple platforms at once, can’t you?
ADEL: Yes, you can. You can communicate one message to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn all at once if you choose to do that. My personal recommendation is not to do that.
The reason why is because of the following: not all the platforms communicate with hashtags, so if you’re going to post to LinkedIn the same message you want to communicate to Twitter, it’s not going to look good because you’re going to have hashtags in there, and people on LinkedIn are going to see the message and they’re going to go “Why is there hashtags in there? We don’t use hashtags on LinkedIn.”
And also because of images and image sizing. This is quite a biggie, and I know a lot of social media managers out there are frustrated sometimes as well, because each and every platform has a different suitable image size. This can cause problems when you schedule one message across all platforms at the same time. So it’s not just a hashtag issue, but it’s also the images issue.
Facebook’s sizing compared to Twitter’s sizing compared to LinkedIn’s sizing is all completely different, and I do think that’s sometimes where people might pick up issues when they schedule, and frustrated because their message doesn’t look good. It’s because they did exactly that, is they scheduled the same message, the same image to all the platforms, which like I said, it’s not my personal recommendation to do that.
TIM: Beyond the issue with the images, I would say that also some of the messages are just not appropriate for all those different audiences.
TIM: What seems like an easy way out is actually a little bit lazy and can cause some damage.
ADEL: Yeah, absolutely. Look, you can do that. Sometimes I also run short on time and I go, “Oh, I really need to get this message out to my audience,” so what I will do is find a happy medium. What I mean by that is obviously your tone of voice for your brand or company is different on each platform. As for Facebook, it might be more informal and casual, whereas with LinkedIn you obviously talk a little bit more formal.
I try to find a happy medium. I obviously cut out all the hashtags because I don’t want hashtags to go on LinkedIn, and I’ll find a happy medium to schedule that message, and I schedule that to go out to all my platforms at once. You can do that to save some time.
Or if you’re sharing an interesting article that you just want to share on to your audience, you can do the same thing as well. Leave out the hashtags, just find a happy medium in the language that you use to communicate, and then you can schedule it like that, all platforms at once, for sure.
TIM: Yeah. What would you say to people who adopt the position that “I’m just at the start of the year going to queue up 1,000 different posts, and that’s my work done for the year”?
ADEL: If you’ve got basic messages that you want to communicate across, that is fine; you can do that. But obviously you want to create fresh content within your website. As we all know, content marketing is such a big thing at the moment. And things change as well, and different platforms also update their features or tings that they can do. So you want to stay on top of that.
I would say the maximum time to schedule out messages which would be a good best practice is maybe a month – if you really have to, maybe two months in advance. Again, maybe just filtering through previous blog posts from your website or things like that.
But you definitely want to stay on top of what you are saying out there. Because I mean, it’s also public, and you want to make a good impression. You want to make sure you get fresh content out there. A lot of things happen instantly, like new news or something happened somewhere that you can talk about. You definitely want to personalize that and stay on top of it.
And then engage with your audience. It’s so important not to just talk at people, but to talk with people. I do see still a lot of brands out there that do not engage on social, which I, again, would not recommend at all. (laughs)
TIM: That would be the “social” in social media that we’re talking about there. So maybe a blend of content that stands the test of time, that you’ve got on the fly content based on what’s happening in the here and now, and then of course that continual requirement for engagement.
ADEL: Yep, absolutely. That’s a winning recipe, I think.
TIM: You talked before about blog posts. There’s lots and lots of content out there that I would classify as evergreen content; it was relevant 6 months ago and it’ll be just as relevant 6 or 12 months from now. A lot of people won’t have seen that content the first time around when it was posted. So to go back through and pull some of that very, very good evergreen content out and give it a new lease of life – is that okay to keep reposting certain content assets?
ADEL: Yeah, absolutely. I do it myself as well when I come across posts or things that’s maybe like a year old already, and I go “Wow, this is really good. It’s so relevant.” I absolutely schedule those. And like I said, you could do the same thing with your company’s blog. If you maybe discussed a feature of your product or you discussed competitors or whatever you’ve discussed on your blog, you can keep filtering those.
But just make sure the gap between the sharing is enough. You don’t want to get people bored with sharing the same message too often, but you can absolutely, even if it’s – I try to not share content that’s over a year old, but that’s just my personal preference. I think it’s just because of my industry with social media; it changes every day, so I try to share the most relevant new things.
TIM: What about Twitter? I know that a lot of people, myself included, it was a bit of a wake-up call when the analytics was introduced and we could actually see what our reach on particular tweets were. And of course, it’s pretty low. (laughs)
The idea that if only a fraction of people saw a tweet on their stream when it was posted, is it okay to post that multiple times over the next couple of weeks, maybe different times or different days?
ADEL: Absolutely. It’s all about providing value to your audience, Tim. If it’s a good tweet that you think is really good and people need to see it, absolutely you can schedule that to go out again.
TIM: And mix it up a little bit in terms of day and time?
ADEL: Absolutely. Talking about day and time as well, I think that’s where Hootsuite is fabulous, is if you’re quite a big company or if you think about like Red Bull for example, they have fans and followers all over the world. So how do they reach and talk to all of their fans?
That’s where analytics come in, and you can see where’s your audience based, what times are they online, and you can actually then schedule your posts to go out while you’re sleeping to reach the other fans that are on the other side of the world.
That’s a great thing to keep in mind for businesses out there: make sure you look at your analytics. You might think your audience is somewhere, but you might be surprised when you actually look at the analytics and you see, “Wow, I’ve actually got 5,000 followers that are all based in Canada” or things like that. So you want to get a message to them as well in their time zone.
TIM: What about for people that are working on behalf of clients? Can they manage multiple client accounts through the one account?
ADEL: Yes, you can, absolutely. I do that myself as well; I’ve got a few clients’ accounts that I manage, and I do it within my own Hootsuite because I’ve got the admin rights. As long as you’ve got admin rights, you can connect those profiles within your own profile if you’d like and manage it from there.
The other recommendation could be to sign a client up with their own Hootsuite account, and they can add you then as a team member, so I can then access – hold on, let me just explain that. When someone adds you as a team member, within your own Hootsuite profile, you will then see that you’ve been added to that team. Let’s say it’s the Red Bull customer service team; I’ve been added just to that team. I can then access that team and all their platforms within my own Hootsuite profile.
So that’s another way you can do it. You can either use just the one connected and manage all from there, or what I can recommend as well is get the client on their own Hootsuite profile, let them add you as a team member.
TIM: I guess the one thing you need to be careful of if you’re managing multiple accounts is to which account you’re actually posting through.
ADEL: Yes. (laughs) Yes, you’ve got to be careful.
TIM: Some very good war stories out there as to people that have got that one wrong.
ADEL: (laughs) Yes, absolutely. Luckily within Hootsuite, it’s quite easy. It’s a dropdown menu, so you can quite easily see your profiles there. You can also pin them. Maybe for different companies, you want to highlight or pin their profiles.
Or like in my instance, I pin all my personal ones so they stand out, and then the businesses I manage are then all unpinned, and I have to go in and select them each one by one. I think that’s a good way to stay safe, to make sure you don’t select the wrong profile.
TIM: Absolutely. I understand that the premium version allows posts to be put into draft mode awaiting approval? Is that correct?
ADEL: Yes, that’s correct, Tim. What’s lovely about that is you can access your publisher, and that will show you all the scheduled content. When you run a business, you can actually have team members assigned that can go in, create these posts I want to send out, but it might actually need your approval.
What you would do then as the manager is go in, look at all the scheduled content, and actually go and approve it before it gets scheduled and sent out.
TIM: Oh, fantastic. Yeah, that’s a level of control that I’m sure some organizations would really enjoy.
ADEL: Yep, absolutely.
TIM: Once posts have been scheduled, we’ve got the ability to go back and edit them before they’ve been published?
ADEL: Yes, we can edit them, reschedule them, remove or add photos, links, anything you would like to do with it.
TIM: Great. Here’s one question that I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to ask someone: around shrinking URLs or using a URL shortener, I know that Hootsuite has an onboard shortening process.
TIM: What are the ins and outs? Why should I shrink within Hootsuite and not just shrink it within Bitly, for example, and bring it across?
ADEL: You can do that. It just depends on the analytics. Hootsuite has got its own analytics, so it obviously tracks all the link shortening. The default one is ow.ly. You can also get the analytics on that for free, where you go to your analytics, look at all the ow.ly links, and it will show you exactly how many people have clicked on it and the journey that that link has followed.
You can also with Hootsuite post posts without shortening a link if you choose to do that. I know some companies prefer to send out the full link because they want people to see the [companyname].com and then the link.
TIM: Okay, so it’s mainly for analytical purposes by using the onboard shortener, the “ow,” that we get to track it.
ADEL: Yes, absolutely.
TIM: Okay, that makes sense. Does Hootsuite have any browser plug-ins?
ADEL: Yes they do, and it’s called the Hootlet.
TIM: Ooh. Cute.
ADEL: (laughs) Very cute. With the Hootlet, it’s a browser extension. You can literally browse websites, so when you go onto your favorite blog, you can open up a blog post, you can read it, and a little Hootlet will be on the right hand corner of your browser. You can click on that, and it will pull through the article, the link and everything, and you can schedule your message right there, ready to go. You don’t have to go inside the Hootsuite dashboard.
TIM: Oh, you can actually schedule it within the plug-in itself. That’s pretty nifty.
ADEL: Yeah. It pops up, it brings through the message, and you can then alter it whichever way you want to. You can even add your own image, and then schedule it, and off you go.
There’s also a great feature that Hootsuite has which is auto schedule. This works on algorithms, and it reads when your audience is likely to be online the most. It will then schedule the message out automatically at a peak time.
TIM: Oh, very clever. So sitting on a beach somewhere in Fiji, and it’s all been taken care of for us. (laughs)
TIM: Social media is easy. I don’t know what the problem is.
TIM: I know that Hootsuite has some great online resources around how the platform works, because I’ve been onto – is it Hootsuite University on YouTube?
ADEL: Yes, absolutely. They’ve got their own official Hootsuite channel on YouTube, and they’ve got Hootsuite University, which has got all the videos that walk you through step-by-step with all the features.
Then there’s also the Hootsuite blog, which you can find at blog.hootsuite.com. Fantastic articles there about Hootsuite and social media and marketing and content marketing and everything that’s happening, and what’s ahead for 2015. It’s all there. It’s a really good resource. Then you get Hootsuite Resources, where you can search different resources. That’s hootsuite.com/resources.
Then there’s a great book as well that’s written by Mike Alton, and that’s The Unofficial Book on Hootsuite. I can highly recommend that. It covers everything about Hootsuite, so if you like reading, that’s definitely one you can check out. It’s available on Amazon.com.
Hootsuite has also got their Community Forum, which you can find at forum.hootsuite.com, where you can discuss praise, questions, and problems. You can also go there and vote for features that you want available on Hootsuite. And like I mentioned earlier as well, if there’s an app that you would like integrated with Hootsuite, this is definitely the place where you can go put down a little note and Hootsuite will pick it up and put it towards the wish list. (laughs)
TIM: Nice. You mentioned the Hootups before; are the general public able to be a part of that?
ADEL: Yes. If you’re a Hootsuite fan or user yourself as well and you want to organize a Hootup, absolutely. You can get in touch with Hootsuite, and they’re more than happy to help you to set that up. It’s not just ambassadors that can host it.
TIM: Good stuff. Adel, let people know where they can find you.
ADEL: Yeah, sure. The best place to find me is on Twitter. My handle is @adeldmeyer. Also on LinkedIn, Adel de Meyer, one word. You can also drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIM: Excellent. Thanks so much for coming along today, and I’ll look forward to jumping onto Hootsuite and taking a look at it through new eyes.
ADEL: Thank you very much, Tim.