HootSuite is an application that we think is particularly good for managing your Twitter accounts (like this one) and Facebook business pages (like this one). It can manage quite a few other social networks for you too (such as LinkedIn and FourSquare, and soon you'll get to use it for your Google+ pages too) but we’ll keep this little starter guide simple and focus on HootSuite for Twitter.
Why not TweetDeck?
We used to prefer TweetDeck, but as our team (and our customers) have grown HootSuite is a better fit for our requirements. Also – since it’s purchase by Twitter, TweetDeck seems to have got a bit flaky. In short – we like HootSuite best.
Get signed up for Twitter / HootSuite first.
If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you should go and set one up before you start using HootSuite.
Try to choose a Twitter name that fits you or your brand. Not something like 5w3llz which while it was available, didn't really build the personal brand of our Sophie. It needs to be 20 characters or less... so, think short.
Once you’ve got your Twitter Account. Go to www.HootSuite.com and sign up for an account there too.
Done that? Good. Let's get started.
OK – here’s how to get going and (because the team at Noisy Little Monkey use HootSuite for Twitter every day), a few trade secrets too.
To tweet or not to tweet? That is the question.
And since you're reading this, the answer is that it's time to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune and start tweeting.
Top right of the HootSuite dashboard is an empty box containing the words "compose message..." - click in that box and you'll see this (without the arrows!):
This is a nice little screen to help you tweet. Starting with the arrow top right and working round in a clockwise direction.
- The contents of your tweet. Type in here :)
- The number of characters you have left, 140 is the limit and although Hootsuite will shorten your tweet if you go over this, don't go over 140 characters. Nick Griffin the leader of the BNP nearly always uses too many characters and he's a tosser. Don't be like Nick.
- If you want to link to something paste the link (including the http:// bit) into the link shortener.. otherwise your link will make your tweet too long
- Click the paperclip to attach a photo or a video, but remember, these will be shown as links, so leave plenty of character space for the link.
- You can schedule your tweets for later. If you're going to be out of the office tomorrow, the day of that big product launch, you can schedule tweets throughout the day, in line with the launch time table. Sweet!
- If you hit 'Send Now' the tweet will get sent, you guessed it, now.
- You can add your location, if you think that makes it more interesting. Tip: Your office / home is not interesting. Neither is Tesco.
- If you have connected multiple Twitter accounts, you can select which to tweet from, here.
The perfect tweet?
Don't worry about perfection. I've spent hours composing tweets that are not even a the tiniest hint of the merest of blips on the screen of eternity. These aren't haikus you're composing, they're tweets. Think immediate, think now, in fact, sometimes - don't think, type.
- If you're going to add a link. Add it in the middle of the tweet. You'll get more clicks.
- Leave at least 20-50 characters to spare if you want retweets. The more characters you leave available, the easier it is for people to retweet with comments of their own.
Reply, ReTweet & DM
These buttons make communicating with other Twitter users simple, but if you want to do it the old fashioned way, this is how:
@MrJonPayne then the tweet - will send me a direct message that will be seen by anyone who looks at my profile or follows both you and me.
RT @MrJonPayne Just reading @mattyweeks latest link development report. O, as the young people say, MG! - will retweet the message above and give me credit.
D @MrJonPayne then the tweet - will send me a private message (a bit like an email) which nobody esle can see.
Finding out more about your Twitter followers
If you want to know more about the people who are following you (or who you follow) so you can write about subjects useful to them, then HootSuite makes that really easy.
First off - click on their photo / logo which shows next to their tweets and you'll get a window pop up that looks like this:
Obviously not all profiles have my somewhat camp photo. Those tabs above the photo will lead you to more information about the account and my particular favourite is 'Insight':
In here you can find all the other online profiles HootSuite has been able to discover for this user. Good stuff if you're planning to sell to them / approach them to write some content for your blog / whatever.
Following Subjects / Brand Monitoring
One of my favourite uses for HootSuite is following topics I know lots about and sharing advice, helpful articles / videos when people have problems. It's nice because it makes me people happy AND it gets me lots of retweets and good sentiment which shows Google I'm a nice, honest guy. Really.
Here's how to follow mentions of your brand so you can see what people are saying and then engage with them if they feel they need better customer service (when they compain) or just to say thanks to them for being so nice (when they are a brand advocate).
Just under the bit of the dashboard where you compose your tweets, click the 'Add Stream' button.
In this example I've set up a search for any mentions of my brand. You'll notice I haven't set up a search for the words noisy little monkey because that would return any tweet containing the words noisy and little and monkey - which is 100's per day. Putting it in "quotation marks" means that it will only return tweets when those words are used in that exact order.
HootSuite recommends these query types and we love em!
- twitter search = containing both "twitter" and "search".
- "owls rock" = containing the exact phrase "owls rock".
- ninjas OR pirates = containing either "ninjas" or "pirates" (or both).
- super -man = containing "super" but not "man".
- #followfriday = containing the hashtag "followfriday".
- from:HootSuite = sent from person "hootsuite".
- to:invoke = sent to person "invoke".
- @memelabs = referencing person "memelabs".
- colbert since:2008-07-27 = containing "colbert" sent since "2008-07-27"
- w00t until:2008-07-27 = containing "w00t" sent up to "2008-07-27".
- unicorns :) = containing "unicorns" with a positive attitude.
- fail :( = containing "fail" and with a negative attitude.
- bacon ? = containing "bacon" and asking a question.
- rainbows filter:links = containing "rainbows" and linking to URLs.
Have more than 1 member working on an account?
Cool - you can both sign up for a HootSuite account which allows you to add a free team member for one Twitter account. More than two people? That's fine too, we have lots of people working on lots of accounts. It just means you have to pay for Pro Membership (which starts at $5.99 and goes up to around $1,500 per month).
More Twitter beginner posts...
How many times a day should I tweet? by Nicola Payne
What types of social media are used in the UK? by Matthew Weeks
Who should I follow on Twitter? by Matthew Weeks
Is there a best time to tweet? by Nicola Payne
How to use TweetDeck for business by Matthew Weeks