By Lori Shecter
If you’re like me, everything you “have” to do with social media makes your head spin. Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, and Instagram, it’s impossible to keep up with posting, responding, and evaluating how each positively impacts your studio’s image and enrollment.
Social-media management tools help you manage your accounts in one place, without visiting each site.
However, sustaining an effective social-media presence is important for every studio’s digital footprint now that search engines include it as part of their algorithm and people spend the majority of their online time on social sites. Social-media management tools could be the time and sanity saver you’ve been looking for.
Management tools defined
Social-media management tools help you manage your accounts in one place, without visiting each site. Functions include posting, “liking,” sharing, replying, and re-tweeting across multiple outlets, in addition to measuring and analyzing results. They also help you monitor what people are saying about your studio and allow you to respond instantly. You won’t be able to do everything you’re able to do from each individual social media platform, but according to smallbiztrends.com, up to 90 percent of day-to-day social activities can be handled, including replying to others, retweeting, “liking,” sharing, and responding to private messages, and otherwise carrying out activity on your social accounts as well as scheduling updates.
Dozens of social media management tools are available. Not all are created equal; some are free, while others offer basic and pro accounts. All experts have their favorites, but the tool most frequently mentioned is HootSuite.
HootSuite: the pros
Multiple-platform management: You can manage up to five social-media platforms for free; you might choose to integrate such platforms as Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google+ pages (not your profiles), MySpace, or WordPress. Equally tantalizing is that HootSuite has an App Directory of about 65 apps (52 free, 12 premium, $1.99–$4.99/month) for other social-networking sites, including YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, and Mail Chimp. The complete list of apps can be found on HootSuite’s site.
Analytics: HootSuite aggregates analytics from Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, Twitter stats, and so on, which enable you to analyze the impact of your efforts on followers, fans, and site traffic. This information helps you understand the best times to post and the best topics to include.
Scheduling: Once you identify your highest-impact messaging, you can use HootSuite’s scheduler to automate posts across multiple platforms to go live at specific times. For example, if you want to post to your Facebook page and tweet about the amazing performance of your competition team, on Saturday you can schedule it to go live on Monday, because you know that’s when most of your followers are online.
Security: You can have someone on your staff help with your social-media empire without giving away passwords. In addition, your staff can help respond to Twitter and Facebook page comments through the HootSuite dashboard.
It’s affordable: Most studios can easily manage with a free account. However, the added features of the Pro account are well worth it. The extras include up to 100 profiles, enhanced analytics, HootSuite University, and message archiving.
HootSuite: the cons
Facebook penalty: A hotly contested debate (still under investigation) is that Facebook penalizes you if you use a third party (i.e. HootSuite) to publish. Several studios I interviewed noticed up to 60 percent fewer likes, comments, and clicks when they used HootSuite versus direct posting. Supposedly, HootSuite is working on a solution for this.
Learning curve: As with all technology, you can’t hope to use HootSuite effectively without spending 5 to 10 hours training yourself to use it. The HootSuite University tools will help you get started and are, I believe, a necessity.
Different messaging: Facebook fans are different from Twitter followers, and Facebook allows for more details than Twitter. Hence what might be good for one social-media site might not translate or perform in the same way as it would on another.
And the answer is . . .
In the end, how you integrate your social-media options comes down to personal preference. HootSuite can save you time in the long run. But the only way to know for sure if it’s right for you is to experiment. If you want to optimize your social-media presence, you’ll be glad you did.