If you’re building a startup you’re probably familiar with the positive impact that a vibrant social media profile can provide. Having a strong social presence can give instant buzz to your latest company announcement, as well as provide third party validation as to your product or service’s legitimacy when potential customers or partners research your company online. You also know, however, that your primary job is actually building your company, not engaging in the never-ending conversations taking place in social media.
That push and pull begs for a solution where an entrepreneur can spend just a few minutes a day working on social media, but grow a robust profile. Thankfully, there exist a number of pieces of software that help you to accomplish that, and the one I’m discussing is HootSuite. Below are four simple tips for entrepreneurs to effectively and efficiently manage their social profiles with HootSuite:
1. Push Pretty Posts From a Single Interface
The first technique for effectively using HootSuite is also the most obvious. HootSuite allows you to load the login details of multiple social media sites into your account. The first three are available with their free plan. The way I have my account setup, is that I have Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ all loaded into HootSuite. This means that I can log in to a single place, compose a post, and push it out to all or only some of the three social media platforms. HootSuite automatically tells me if I’ve used too many characters for a Tweet, and cleans up the formatting for Google+ and facebook posts, so that they look more professional.
None of this is difficult to do via an individual social media’s platform, but by running them all through HootSuite, I’m able to publish to all 3 platforms in a fraction of the time that it would take me to log in to each platform individually.
2. Monitor Multiple Streams in One Place
To build an effective social media profile, you cannot simply blast out corporate messages, rather you have to engage in conversations with your customers, vendors, fans and competitors. Following conversations that are taking place across multiple platforms can become a tedious and all-consuming task. HootSuite streams, which allow you to create multiple tailored feeds (again the first three are free) help you stay abreast of any mentions of you or your organization so that you can quickly respond, retweet, etc.
I have my feeds setup pretty simply. I follow all activity related to my company on each of the three platforms that HootSuite manages. Thus, on a single page I can check for any mentions or discussions about my company on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. I simply check my feeds once per day, and respond if applicable. It typically takes me less than a minute to do so.
3. Time Posts Throughout the Day / Week
One of the most useful features for entrepreneurs engaging in social media is the ability to future date the publication of posts to your social media platforms via HootSuite. You can pre-write the post, preview it, and set the time and date for publication.
The reason I find this particularly useful as an entrepreneur is that I largely cannot predict how busy I’ll be on a given day or week. Therefore, I try to pre-schedule at least a few posts each week on evergreen topics, so that even if I’m completely unable to actively participate in social media for that week, my accounts appear active.
Another good reason to set a future time and date for a post is to reach different crowds using social media, for example the folks checking their feeds just before bedtime, without actually having to be actively using your account at these times. That is to say, you can schedule a post to go up at 7:00 am to catch the pre-work folks, 2:00 pm for the large population using social media in the afternoons at work, and 9:00 pm for the pre-bedtime crowd. By doing so, you better ensure that your post will be at or near the top of their feed when checking their accounts.
4. Use Team Management to Outsource or Go Around the Clock
For those entrepreneurs who detest social media personally, or simply require a level of activity that they find difficult to sustain personally, HootSuite offers a team management option (this requires a Pro account, which starts at $9.99 per month). With team management you get to set permissions for other users in your company to publish on your behalf.
Although I don’t personally use Team Management, I have seen it used effectively either as a means to outsource active management of your profiles to another individual without giving up complete control, or as a means to create almost around the clock social media engagement by divvying out responsibilities by the hour to multiple people.
Creating and maintaining an active social media profile as an entrepreneur is one of the many things that if you’re not careful will get pushed off and never done. Given the power of that media to boost a young business or young entrepeneur’s efforts, however, allowing it to be something that you push off, or ignore with the excuse that the level of discourse is beneath you, is a mistake. By effectively using tools like Hootsuite, however, you can effectively maintain an active and growing presence, without letting it infringe into your real job of building your company.
About the Author
Rich McIver is an attorney and entrepreneur who has founded and successfully exited a number of startups. His current project is a comparison platform for small business owners to compare merchant account services providers at Merchant Negotiators. Engage with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.