HootSuite is, well … Sweet!

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Evernote, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, RSS feeds. Aaaaahhh! Managing all this social media activity can make me go crazy at times. Can I get an Amen from the congregation? Don’t go crazy, get HootSuite!

A One-Stop Shop

HootSuite is a web-based social media management tool that monitors and manages just about all your social media activity from one location. Even if you aren’t a heavy social media user, chances are you have a Facebook account, maybe even Twitter. You might dabble in Evernote … Instagram, too. Given that you stopped by CatholicMom.com, you might even subscribe to your favorite bloggers’ RSS feeds.

HootSuite allows you to organize all this activity under one roof with a web-based dashboard. Rather than having all these social media accounts open over multiple tabs in your browser, HootSuite provides for a single point of access for multiple applications.

It’s kind of like finding that really cool one-stop shop to pick-up the hodgepodge of items scribbled on your shopping list.

HootSuite also has a library of apps developed specifically for the dashboard. With these apps, you can view the content from programs such as Evernote, Flickr, YouTube, and Instagram accounts.

For example, in my Tech Talk column last month, I wrote about Instagram. In the comment box, Lisa Hendey remarked that she would like to see Instagram develop an online portal allowing users to interact with their photo streams. Generally speaking, you can only do this from a handheld device. HootSuite effectively solves this problem with their app library. You can view and comment on the photos from your Instagram photo stream all from the HootSuite dashboard.

A Time-Saver

Ever log into Facebook saying, “I’ll just post this one thing really quick and log right off.” An hour later you find yourself completely sucked in to an argument about why wearing white after Labor Day is okay after all.

Given I manage the Facebook page and Twitter account for The Practicing Catholic blog, I’m always on the look-out for tools to help me do that more efficiently.

HootSuite’s auto-scheduler has helped a great deal. Here’s an example.

I often post items to the blog’s Facebook page to highlight the liturgical calendar -- feast days, memorials, seasonal celebrations, etc. As I look ahead on the calendar, I see the Feast of the Archangels, the Memorial of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and Respect Life Sunday all soon approaching. Sometime this week, I will sit down at the computer to find stories and information highlighting those celebrations, and schedule them to post on the corresponding date.

Another benefit of the dashboard is the ability to track keywords and filter messages in one stream. I rarely watch TV, so I go online to receive my news. I have created a couple of streams in HootSuite that track various news organizations and keywords. I also have a Catholic stream to filter Twitter messages specifically related to Catholic media.

And finally, the biggie: HootSuite is free! There is a tricked-out HootSuite pro version available at a low-cost monthly fee (30-day free trial), but I have all I need with the free version. HootSuite mobile offerings are also free for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and iPad.

I could continue listing benefits but these are the big ones for me.

Ready to try HootSuite? Start with this quick start guide. Happy Hooting!

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Schmidt