Every minute counts for business owners. How can you maximize your time spent on social media marketing for your company? HootSuite is one example of a social management tool that helps marketers deploy and monitor campaigns across multiple social networks.

HootSuite can add automation tools to your social marketing efforts, although automation is not a substitute for real, actual human interaction in your social media communications. Instead of a replacement, look at Hootsuite automation as a way to augment your social efforts. Automation can help make some processes simpler, help you be more organized and save you some time. This time of year, I have really appreciated HootSuite's automation tools. HootSuite helped me to maintain a measured social media presence while I took some holiday time to spend with family and friends.

So how does it work? Check out these HootSuite features.

Team Play Support with HootSuite Conversations

HootSuite Conversations is a relatively new feature that allows marketers to communicate with their teams. Conversations support collaboration with people both inside and outside the company, and supports sharing social marketing responsibilities among a group. Launched in September 2012, Conversations allow you to:

  • Collaborate and communicate with colleagues within the HootSuite platform.
  • Assign messages to team members, social contacts or others inside and outside the organization.
  • Send social messages to team members for redistribution across social networks.
  • Draft and approve social messaging within the HootSuite platform.

The HootSuite Conversations feature is available in the free version as well as in professional and enterprise versions.

Secret Social Weapon: Hootlet

One of HootSuite’s more powerful features, Hootlet, is a browser extension that allows marketers to share content when browsing the web. That’s just a fancy way of saying you add Hootlet to your bookmarks bar. From there, you can click the Hootlet icon whenever you see content worth sharing, snag the content and post it easily. Also, Hootlet grabs the text for your tweet or Facebook message and automatically shortens the URL for optimal social posting. Even better, it works with the cool AutoSchedule feature, described next, that makes HootSuite so incredibly useful.

AutoSchedule Posts for Simple, Optimal Timed Social Messaging

One of the features that made HootSuite popular was the capability to schedule posts. This summer, HootSuite expanded their scheduling feature to include AutoScheduling, a feature that is available both from the dashboard and with the Hootlet button.

Instead of manually scheduling a time for each planned update, you can turn on the AutoSchedule feature. HootSuite then posts your update automatically at the best time for each of your social networks. You can edit the time, if you choose, from your calendar.

Enhance Content Creation with HootSuite Apps

HootSuite’s dashboard includes access to 41 different apps and extensions by third-party providers, which include popular applications like Vimeo, WordPress and Scripted. This feature is a fantastic option, because each app and extension is integrated with HootSuite. That fact alone can make a marketer’s job that much easier by allowing access and posting to your favorite apps through a single dashboard. The WordPress app, for example, allows you to monitor and compose new pages and posts, moderate and reply to comments, share your pages and post to social networks, all from within HootSuite.

Getting Started with HootSuite

HootSuite offers three different membership levels: Free ($0/month), Pro ($9.99/month) and Enterprise, which is priced depending on your company’s needs. They do offer a free 30-day trial for the Pro membership. The best way to become comfortable with HootSuite (or any other social management platform) is to get in, roll up your sleeves and try it out!

Are you using a social media management platform? Share your favorites in the comments!