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Keeping up with your social media profiles can be quite a challenge, especially if you are active on several sites, or accounts for several different brands. There are lots of applications dedicated to making the task easier, but the quality of those applications varies significantly. One of the better tools for managing your social media accounts is Hootsuite.
Hootsuite differs from other tools; such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic, in that it is a purely browser based tool. You don’t need to download and install a separate application, and you can access all of your social media profiles via the tool no matter where you are or what computer you’re using, as long as that computer has a fairly modern browser installed.
HootSuite allows you to build a dashboard that displays up to five of your social media streams in one place, for free. You can link up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace, WordPress, Foursquare, PingFM, and Mixi feeds. The basic functionality of HootSuite is free, and if you want to add more feeds, create reports, or allow someone else to use your account (perhaps you want to let your social media agency manage most aspects of your social campaigns but you still want to have an easy way to manage them yourself), then you can upgrade to the Pro Basic service for a nominal fee.
At the time of writing, the Pro Basic service costs $5.99/month. There are two more tiers of service, called Pro Advanced and Pro Premium, which cost $35.99 and $215.99 respectively.
Hootsuite stands up well when compared to most desktop Twitter apps. It’s easy to use, stable, and runs quickly even on Netbooks with fairly limited processing power.
On a feature for feature basis, Hootsuite compares well to Tweetdeck and Seesmic. There are lots of plugins available for Seesmic that make that particular app quite extensible, and, if you’re willing to use several different services to get everything that you want out of your social media monitoring system then you can get all of the features of Hootsuite (including some decent reports) for free. The convenience of getting everything in one place makes it worth considering Hootsuite’s basic pro service, however.
The most appealing feature of Hootsuite, however, is the scheduled posting feature. While many desktop (and web based, for that matter), clients offer such a feature, Hootsuite’s is the most reliable. You can allow your social media agency to schedule posts in advance for you, and you don’t have to worry about leaving a computer on, and some software running, for the posts to go out.
You can schedule tweets on a range of other web based services, however all of the ones that I have tried have proven unreliable – either failing to send posts out altogether, duplicating those posts, or sending them out at the wrong times, which could ruin the entire point of your scheduled posting. Reliability counts, and Hootsuite has it.
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