Emerging Communication Tools

Evin Demirli and Rennie Dickson

Managing Social Media With HootSuite

Background

HootSuite is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Ryan Holmes. The website was first developed in 2009 and since then it has become one of the most used social media tools by companies across the globe. HootSuite’s headquarters are in Vancouver, where they maintain strong relationships with universities throughout Canada and the US, encouraging social network activity. With HootSuite still being a relatively new social media product, it has a huge future in store. From small-scale start-ups to multinational companies, everyone can benefit from harnessing such a lucrative tool.

What is HootSuite?

HootSuite is a tool available to organizations or individuals who wish to manage their social media and effectively coordinate a marketing campaign across all of their platforms. The web-based dashboard interface allows users to monitor all their social media bases from one online location. HootSuite is currently integrated with; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ as well app integration with YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr. This social media service can help organizations achieve key marketing objectives such as; targeting new audiences, increase their current audience base, maximize effectiveness of campaigns and many more. There are various benefits attached to this service, not only does it allow the safe coordination of multiple marketers to manage the same platforms but also HootSuite provides analytical tools to track the effectiveness and traffic generated by a companies social media campaigns.

How Many People Are Using HootSuite?

In 2012 HootSuite officials announced that over 3 million people are using their social media managerial tool. A relatively large number for a young company, however the company reported to take 24 months to reach 1 million users, another 8 months to reach 2 million and an additional 6 months to reach 3 million. The success could be because HootSuite is available in two broad packages, the free package, which covers all the basic needs but provides only limited analytical options and the Pro package, which costs only $9.99 per month which has extensive analytical tools whilst not limiting the amount of social profiles allowed.

Who is Using HootSuite?

One of the most appealing aspects of HootSuite is that it is free to use (or very inexpensive), therefore there are very few limitations as to why not to use it. HootSuite has done well to target and appeal towards entrepreneurs and start-up companies. By giving them clear value proposition for virtually no cost, great gains can be achieved. It is not, however, only small start-ups with financial constraints that see the benefits of HootSuite. Other, much larger organizations are taking full advantage of the services provided. The likes of Lamborghini, Pepsico, Virgin and WWF are all using it to track their social media footprint.

Capitalizing on Trends

There are many developing trends in the social media and mobile social media realm that Hoot Suite accommodates. Web 2.0 is the overarching trend that encompasses all of social media and has changed the way we interact with the web and each other. It is the trend where users play a major part of creating content and sharing knowledge on the Internet. It is a medium where we communicate and interact with each other in ways that we never had before. The emergence of Web 2.0 has given life to social networking, blogging, and information sharing.  These now play significant roles in the lives of consumers and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

As the incorporation of social media into marketing communication strategies becomes more and more relevant, companies are faced with managing several different pages and profiles. A company may be present on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Youtube, and Word Press. Not only is it timely to manage all of these accounts and keep them updated, it is important to ensure that a consistent message is being delivered across all of them. An organization must be consistent throughout its interactions with consumers in order to effectively position themselves and develop a desired brand image. Hoot Suite provides companies with a single place where they can update all of their accounts with ease. They will be able to confidently monitor their online brand reputation, ensuring that they are communicating the right things to consumers.

Another emerging trend is that companies are increasing the amount of spending they do on social media marketing. In turn, they are in search of metrics and analytics to monitor their return on investment. Who is visiting these pages? From where are they visiting? What are they saying about the company? These are just a few things that Hoot Suite can provide to a subscriber. Also, with the use of Google Analytics, a company can trace revenues directly to their social outreach.

Mobile devices have certainly changed the way that we use social media. HootSuite recognizes the importance of mobility for all users of social media, including the companies who trying to reach their customers. It is available for Android, Blackberry, and IOS, so customers of HootSuite can always have access to it while on the go. Users of social media are constantly viewing profiles and creating content from mobile devices so businesses should be able to continuously monitor this and communicate with them as well.

HootSuite in the Marketing Mix

The whole idea of HootSuite is to create synergies amongst a variety of social media platforms. As mentioned, these include, but are not limited to: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+ Pages, Myspace, Wordpress, Tumblr, Youtube, and Flickr. It enhances a company’s ability to efficiently manage all of these. Making sure that the content and messages delivered across all platforms are consistent will make each of them and the entire aspect of social media marketing more effective.

HootSuite enhances the abilities of social media marketing to target and gather information on specific consumer groups, at specific times, in specific places. It enables companies to plan ahead of time what is going to be said, to whom, and when, and proceeds to execute this plan. This has clear implications on communication objectives. More data on consumer demographics, brand image, and overall attitude toward the product in specific locations will help the company determine what messages need to be delivered to what segments and where. It enhances the company’s ability for location based and personalized advertising. When the use of the aforementioned analytic tools is incorporated the company will also be able to measure the successfulness of their communication efforts, creating measurable benchmarks.

Adopting HootSuite

A company will be able to adopt Hoot Suite with practically no risks whatsoever. There are trial versions as well as free versions that they can try before committing to the purchase. Even when they do decide to purchase this product it is inexpensive. A monthly subscription is only $9.99, resulting in annual costs of around $120. Considering all of the time saved compared to updating these sites individually and the value of the market research that can be acquired it is definitely worth the investment. If the company does not want to continue using Hoot Suite they can simply stop their subscription at no cost.

Success Story

Whistler Blackcomb is one of the world’s premier ski and snowboard resorts during the winter, while in the summer it transforms into a center renowned for world class mountain biking. Over the years Whistler Blackcomb has developed a strong brand image that is associated with very high quality. Even non-sporting enthusiasts know what “Whistler” is; this has been achieved by effective communication between Whistler Blackcomb and their target audience. Harnessing social media is one of the factors that successfully helped Whistler Blackcomb stay in touch with their customers all over the world.

In the winter months Whistler Blackcomb runs The Deep Winter Photo Challenge, where professional photographers come to the mountain to capture images that portray athletes in their natural setting. Whistler states the objective of this is to ultimately increase brand engagement. However, with this being the busiest time of the season, time management is a constraint, Whistler Blackcomb could not devote as much staff to this as they would like to. To help achieve their objectives Whistler Blackcomb took advantage of the services offered within HootSuite and scheduled all their tweets prior to the start of the event. They spent time developing appropriate Tweets and Facebook updates to maximize communication with their customers. As this was done before the event Whistler Blackcomb was able to focus on face-to-face guest interaction and hospitality while they were still reaching out to the public keeping them updated on the event. Whistler Blackcomb promoted the event through hash tags and incentives to re-tweet. During the campaign Whistler Blackcomb had a 4.7% increase in twitter followers and a Facebook fan increase of 5.2%.

Whistler Blackcomb was able to use HootSuite as a tool to strategically achieve objectives. Scheduling hundred’s of updates across all 9 of it’s social media profiles was a planned and thought out strategy. This is a clear example of why HootSuite is continuing to grow and organizations varying in size and structure are using it to communicate with their target audience. Furthermore, user reviews and ratings will continue to create a strong image for HootSuite, displaying the numerous benefits it has.



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