Monday, December 3, 2012

Effortless Social Media

That's a lie, of course. There's really no such thing. While technology has certainly made some tasks easier, the opportunities it presents have conversely gunked up the speedway of our lives. Now it's not enough to write the novel, you've also got to blog, tweet and have a lively Facebook page. All of this social networking takes time, time away from writing, time away from your relationships.

But, there is way to get the speedway zooming again, to manage the social media so it's not managing you. I use Hoot Suite, a free social media management tool that is both efficient and effective for planned social media activity using my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Planning is the key word here. There are two ways of engaging in social media: impulsive activity and planned activity. I think you should have a good mix of the two and this is where Hoot Suite comes in.

Current research indicates that most people tweet from their smartphone. It's immediate—you have a thought, whip out the smartphone, type, and boom, you've told the world something important :) in less than a minute. It's very gratifying and at the same time seems efficient. I really like efficiency, so you'll find me tweeting my ass off while standing in line at Whole Foods or waiting for my son's ball game to conclude.

But, there are some challenging aspects to just tweeting from your phone and even from your Twitter account on your PC. This is where planning and Hoot Suite can help.

In my writing life and Day-Job, I plan tweets and Facebook posts following completion of a blog or other promo activity such as an e blast, update to website, news article about my organization or mention of me as a writer (those are far and few between). The tweets and Facebook posts are necessary to extend the reach and life of the other promo activity. But I find it hard to do that impulsively and from my smartphone. First of all, I hate using precious character count on long URLs. Of course you can always go to Bitly to shorten your URL but that's an extra step (and I can't do it from my smartphone). Second, if I don't plan it, it won't get done.

So, here are the three reasons why Hoot Suite is my go-to social media management tool:

One-Stop-Shopping – Hoot Suite can host both your Twitter and Facebook accounts in one location so you're not hoping from site to site. Best of all, if you have multiple accounts –for instance, at my office we have two Twitter and two Facebook accounts—you can see them all on one screen. Plus you can view your feed, mentions, direct messages and sent tweets in one screen. You have to scroll across the screen, but it's all there. No hoping around.

Schedule Posts and Tweets. I’m so busy that I can easily forget things like picking up the dry cleaning and remembering to tweet about my newest blog. So I plan and schedule. Right after I publish this blog, I'll go to my Hoot Suite account and schedule a series of tweets that relate to the blog. I usually do three scheduled tweets a day for the week of the blog. If I used my Facebook account (I don't), I'd schedule posts to it. As my social-media-whiz friend Megan says, this might be counter-intuitive to the rapid fire nature of Twitter, but when you're very busy Hoot Suite can keep your social media ball rolling. Over the day, I check my Twitter feed to see if anyone responded to my scheduled tweets. I can also tweet impulsively during the day—or not! Scheduling gives me that freedom.

Shorten URLs. Have you ever wanted to share a website with your Twitter friends only to find it has a mile-long URL? Of course you can go to Bitly--the Samurai sword of the Internet--and shorten it, but that's another step, another website. In Hoot Suite, just dump the URL in the URL Shortener right there in your Compose Message box. It will shorten the URL for you.

So is Hoot Suite a panacea? NO. It can be a pain the ass to get started. If you're not a techo-whiz don't try to rush this. You'll get frustrated. You'll need your log in info for your Twitter and Facebook accounts and I'd recommend checking out the Hoot Suite help articles on getting started. Like new things, there will be bumps in road when you start. But don't give up. Hoot Suite can save you time and keep your account active even when you're asleep, or writing, or settling down with a good book—maybe one you've written with all your extra time!

Do you have a social management tip or tool that works for you? Share it please by commenting.


  1. Great post, Shellie. Good information here. You've sold me. I'm going to look into HootSuite. Scheduling your tweets ahead of time sounds like a planner's dream. Thanks for the great tips. I look forward to seeing more about the awesome tools out there to equip my writing & promotion toolkit. Kudos!

  2. Shellie - you make it sound easy! I think I'd have to schedule my scheduling. I think I tried signing up for one of these bundling services and never got it to work, so I gave up. You've given me new determination to try again!

  3. Keely, you know what they say? If at first you don't succeed, fry fry a hen! I mean try try again!

    Just remember setting it up WILL be frustrating. Do it while drinking a glass of wine.


  4. Thanks for the all of the information regarding social media. I'll have to look into some of these tools. Thanks for great post.

  5. I wish i had Shellie to hold my hand with all my technology. I'm almost as good at it as Dame Edna (remember "her?") Very interesting. Had heard of Hoot Suite, and finally now have some understanding of what it's all about!