TwiTip Reader Review: HootSuite

by Jeff Russell- Follow him @iapam

Like many of you, I’m a member of so many social media networks, the last thing I wanted to do is join another one.  But this Twitter thing just kept coming up over and over again. I kept thinking what am I going to do with a microblogging service that is limited to only 140 characters? My time is limited as it is, and if I’m going to invest my time, like any business expense, I want to know my ROI. Yes, it really comes down to how is getting a Twitter account going to make me MONEY!

Well, after creating an account, and identifying and following key people in the my industries, I knew this was like nothing else out there.  Not only did I create one Twitter account for business-related tweets, but I quickly created another account for my Foodie alter-ego. I use twitter to keep up to date on the latest breaking news, industry trends, my competition, as well as getting creative ideas for articles and marketing.

As I added followers, and people started following me, one thing became abundantly clear, there is a lot of information to keep track of. To make all the Tweets I receive manageable, I created multiple groups in TweetDeck.

The next problem was how am I going to contribute to the twitosphere, but still have time to actually work and spend time with my family?  Like Tim Ferris says in his classic book, “The Four Hour Work Week,” you need to automate, and that is where HootSuite came into my life.
HootSuite allows me to efficiently: schedule tweets, link my existing RSS feeds and tweet them out, utilize Ping.fm tweet broadcasting, manage multiple twitter accounts, track tweet statistics, and allow for multiple editors so I can get a break!

The primary reason I chose HootSuite is for its ability to schedule tweets.  I originally was using Tweetlater, but I like the HootSuite interface better (its the Mac guy in me), plus it allowed me to link RSS feeds from my blogs and tweet them out automatically. Scheduling allows you to create a series of tweets and send them out at whenever you want.  For a business, this is great since it allows you to create a series of tweets that may lead to a “special” deal. Or you could be promoting a special event or webinar. Of course the other nice thing is it allows you to take Friday’s off by scheduling all your tweets earlier in the week! Scheduling tweets is very simply in HootSuite, you simply click the “send later” button in your tweet box. You will then see a calendar option for you to schedule the date and time of when your tweet will be released.

While I was navigating around HootSuite, I discovered another great timesaving tool, RSS feed integration.  Found in the Settings section, this tool allows you to link up to 5 RSS feeds to your HootSuite account, and it tweets them out when you tell it to.  I don’t know about you, but I find it annoying when I see a 5 tweets in a row come from one twitterer. A nice option for the RSS feed integration tool is to only take a maximum of one RSS story every hour (or 2, 3, 6, 12 or 24hrs).  It also allows you to prepend tweets with a some relevant words (i.e. “Latest News:” or “Jeff Says”).  This also has the added benefit of helping you promote your blog. This took me a whole 5 minutes to do, and now HootSuite is automatically promoting all of my newest blog postings without me needed to do any additional work!

For even more automation, HootSuite also allows for Ping.fm integration. Now you can have your tweets automatically sent to all your social networking accounts you have set up in Ping.fm (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, flickr, friendster, friendfeed, yammer, etc..).

HootSuite will also shorten urls for you, and it will also keep track of the statistics of how many people have clicked those tweets.   You can click on the stat’s button of a specific tweet, or you can see the stats of all your tweets. It also give you a summary of your most popular tweets. One caveat here is that you must use HootSuite’s url shortener (ow.ly) in order to get these statistics.
If you run a small (or large) business, another great administrative tool is that you can have multiple people manage your HootSuite account.  As well, if you have multiple Twitter accounts, you can easily add them here and watch them all on the dashboard.

One additional tool that HootSuite has is an add-on browser app called the Hootlet. This great tool allows you to quickly tweet out a webpage you come across within 10 seconds.

As with many of the great Twitter tools available, HootSuite is currently free, but with all these great time saving benefits I strongly recommend you make a donation.

With the multitude of great time saving features, HootSuite is a must have for any busy business or blogger.

Have you tried HootSuite? Leave your thoughts in the comments…

Comments

  • June 28, 2009

    Great review!
    The biggest complaint I got when I used it was the Frame the Owly links had
    Didn’t bother me, but the twitfolk complained
    The stats are fantastic
    But twitfolks complaining wasn’t cool
    Switched to a competitor

  • June 28, 2009

    Very nice write-up about HootSuite. I was a huge fan starting in their BrightKit days for all the reasons you mentioned – scheduling tweets, statistics, RSS integration, and Hootlet. I used HootSuite to manage my personal profile as well as my company’s. Unfortunately, service performance and reliability continued to be an intermittent and ongoing issue – for example, ow.ly links for company tweets not working when I needed them to work (ow.ly server down) or very slow application response, etc. After a couple months of giving HootSuite “a second chance,” I eventually abandoned it altogether. I’d love to use it again if I could depend on it.

  • June 28, 2009

    I love HootSuite! I have been using it for a while–I was a user back when it was called BrightKit, actually. And I have to second this review. HootSuite is great! @ZuDfunck–maybe HootSuite will, in the future, allow paid users to remove the bar. I like it, actually, and haven’t got any complaints personally. But you must have a different audience.

  • June 28, 2009

    I personally will not use Hootsuite while they have ow.ly link shortner as the only choice.
    If you do click on an owly link you do not get the actual web address without closing the bar. If you are on that page & decide to click a link from there, you do not get a new web address in your bar, it is still the original ow.ly link. To me that is bull. I also find it a bit misleading that the username of the person that tweeted it is in the toolbar when they may not be the author of the content that you are reading. It is like spam.
    I just do not click on ow.ly links!

  • June 28, 2009

    Wow, thanks for this. I’ve been using TweetDeck, and have been pretty happy with it, but I’m migrating from PC to Mac, and am looking for something that’s more Mac-friendly (I’ve had some problems with TweetDeck on my new Mac).
    Bonus: HootSuite is a Canadian program! (okay, maybe that’s not a big deal to you, but it is to me!)

  • June 28, 2009

    I absolutely love Hootsuite and use it every day for several accounts. Actually I didn’t know that people wouldn’t click on ow.ly links. Well, I cannot complain about the click rates. The hootlet is a big time saver, although I find many sites that do not work properly (text and link aren’t added into the form). Is this a hootlet issue or does it depend on the programming of the websites? I don’t know.

  • June 28, 2009

    Melanie
    That reminds me of another issue. When the attraction was Google AdSense on the Frame bar, that was what attracted me to HS. There were sites that blocked the frame like the NYTimes wont allow it nor any Twitter URL’s, Its a simple piece of code to strip the Framed bar and it was to me only a matter of time before everyone would do it.

    But you all seem happy with it, so Hoot Hoot! Hooray…

  • June 29, 2009

    I use hootsuite to manage 3 twitter accts and love it. One Twitter is more personal and ministry oriented (lisajcopen); 1 is for everything related to Invisible Illness Week (invisibleillwk) so just stuff related to invisible illness; the third is for a separate adoption scrapbooking business. It’s easy to post to 1, 2 or all 3 accounts with just a click.

    I also use it with ping.fm integration. I was using Ping.fm for about 6 weeks before I found Hootsuite and they had just a week earlier started ping integration so the timing was perfect.

    For Invisible Illness Week I am able to go in and do “25 illness facts” in 25 days and post them in advance. I also find it helpful when I am reading a lot of newsletters, etc and want to share facts, links, etc. I’ve found- I can space them out over a week, so I don’t bombard my followers with a bunch of stuff at once.

    I love being able to quickly glance at stats and see what is getting retweeted and when, what my post popular links are, and more. The frames, etc dont bug me. If someone avoids clicking on a great link I’ve provided to some content because it has owly, it’s their loss. I also use the Hoot This button which makes it easy to post info I come across when surfing sites.

  • June 29, 2009

    I agree that HootSuite offers exceptional functionality. It’s fun and easy to use — and the Hootlet bookmarklet is really quite good. The whole system is great for folks who enjoy using Twitter to share links, but don’t want to clog their stream with long clumps of tweets during their active hours.

    On the other hand, I think the Ow.ly integration is fatal. Users absolutely hate it. Beyond the iframe issue, there’s the question of Ow.ly’s durability: Will the links still work a year from now? I prefer to use a better-established service, such as Bit.ly.

    Until HootSuite offers some flexibility on this, I won’t be using it. That’s a shame, because it’s really quite well done.

  • July 1, 2009

    Love the HootSuite. Great write-up on it. You covered all the key elements of this awesome tool. Personally, my favorite features are the Hootlet and the ability to allow editors for various accounts.

  • July 2, 2009

    I was a user in it’s BrightKit days but the reliability with ow.ly links being down, is what turned me away. The Hootlet bookmarked is a great feature but if the service is down there’s no point.

    I now use Bit.ly along with CoTweet but would return to HootSuite if they became more reliable and removed the bar ontop of links.

  • July 3, 2009

    Hi Jeff!

    I work for the company that created HootSuite and we’d just like to say: Excellent review! Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

    To everyone that commented – thank you for your feedback! In response to the comments about the ow.ly links and the ow.ly bar, we’ve released a 2.0 version called the ow.ly social bar and it allows you to opt out of ever seeing the ow.ly social bar if you so choose.

    You can read more about this and the other features here: http://blog.hootsuite.com/introducing-owly-social-bar-20-because-sharing-is-caring/

    Thanks again folks and all the best,
    Kirsten

  • November 6, 2009

    I think the Hootlet app is the best thing since sliced bread. This allows me to (almost) instantly tweet or schedule a tweet on anything I find interesting across the internet. HootSuite is wonderful!

  • April 2, 2010
    Ugarit

    I dropped Hootsuite because they actually want your passwords for all of your social networks instead of using Oauth and they are not using https. Not safe. I didn’t like the fact that Hootsuite now has the passwords for every single social network I communicate with. If they had used Oauth I could revoke their access more easily.

  • April 2, 2010
    Ugarit

    Also if one supplies an incorrect email address for their login one gets the error “The supplied email can not be found”. That’s not secure because now hackers can use their login panel to determine who has an account AND the the user doesn’t have a challenge response test to make sure that a human is logging in and not some brute force application.

    I really liked what Hootsuite offered but their lack of security and https is very disappointing and frankly is going to be their undoing.

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