The HootSuite Challenge

Short version: I'm going to take a "HootSuite challenge" for 10 days, using HootSuite as my default Twitter app.

Long version: there are usually two questions that people ask me when it comes to social media:

"What is the social media analytics tool you recommend?", and my default answer is SimplyMeasured;

"What is the social media management tool you recommend?", and my default answer is HootSuite...even though I technically do not use HootSuite. Let me explain.

I have HootSuite on my iPhone, although prior to their iOS 7 redesign it was a bit of an install-delete situation: I'd install it, use it for a while (between 24 and 48 hours), get frustrated by a few missing features that I've grown to love and live with from my usual Twitter apps, and end up deleting the app.

Meeting up with a client on Saturday and recommending HootSuite for the umpteenth time I wondered why I was never able to properly use HootSuite. I then realised that there were two reasons why I didn't last longer than 48 hours with HootSuite: main reason why I didn't last for more than 48 hours with HootSuite was pretty simple: when trialling it, I still had my go-to apps on my devices, and I'd end up using them when I couldn't find what I needed in HootSuite.

My main Twitter apps are:

I use these apps for two reasons: design and functionality.

Design-wise, I'm a sucker for a great app - yes, I do judge apps by their icons (and I actually prefer HootSuite's new iOS icon - nicer, cleaner, neater, it fits them pretty well); yes, I do love what I call "beautiful pixels" - the details, the contrasts in colours, how the UX and UI mesh up nicely, meeting, if not exceeding, my expectations. Design isn't everything - I've seen lots of gorgeous apps that are pretty much useless, so many apps with great icons but with really low performance after you open the app; on the other hand, I've seen other apps (and tools in general) that don't pack the "OMG LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIFUL PIXELS" factor BUT they do pack a lot of power in the features that they have. Hootsuite, in my opinion, falls in this last category - while I don't think that Hootsuite is great at intuitive functionality, it is a strong tool, hence why I always recommend it to people who are looking for a social media management tool. However, when it comes to layout, the design for Hootsuite Web always leaves me wanting - I always end up going to Tweetdeck not because it's the 'familiar' app but because design-wise it appeals to me and it feels (and looks) less clunky than Hootsuite Web. Hootsuite's dated layout has been given a nice fresh touch on the iOS app, following the iOS 7 release; however, when it comes to the Web interface, the 5-year-old Hootsuite doesn't look like it's keeping up with the times.

Then comes functionality. In all honesty, while there are some functions I love in Hootsuite, such as the ability to create streams à la Tweetdeck, and the ability to incorporate other applications within Hootsuite, the suite as a whole has left me a bit underwhelmed. Coming from an analyst point of view, I didn't really see much in-depth analytics that I could make use of, while coming from an account/community manager point of view, I've often wondered why some of the basic functions were not part of the tool (have you ever tried sending a tweet to someone you don't follow? Yeah, that doesn't autocomplete - small detail I know, but it's a standard in most Twitter tools out there).

There are mainly 5 features I look for in an ideal Twitter application:

  • Easy communication: I want to reply, retweet and favourite easily; I want to be able to mention people easily, whether I follow them or not; this includes
  • List management: I have quite a few lists which I regularly update - some of these are public, the rest are private. I want to be able to update my lists on-the-go easily.
  • Sync: one thing that really grinds my gears is going from one device to another and having to mark messages as read just because they don't sync between devices. Thankfully, there are some applications that sync read status, as well as drafts and even the reading position between devices and platforms (iOS and OS X).
  • Support for multiple accounts: while I don't know if I'd use an application to manage more than one social platform (with the exception of Buffer), partly due to my consulting job, I manage quite a few profiles, especially on Twitter. Because of that, I need an app that can manage all of those profiles, without me having to log in and out of accounts.
  • Third-party integration: I find quite a few interesting tools on Twitter, which I then save on Pocket and Pinboard. These are two of the several tools I use, but the main ones I integrate Twitter with.

So, I guess to see the real benefits of Hootsuite I need to bite the bullet and get rid of my go-to apps, all of my Twitter apps, and have this situation:

  • iPhone & iPad: Hootsuite app
  • Mac: (as there is currently no Hootsuite app for OS X).

So, here's the challenge I'm setting myself: I shall only use HootSuite as my default Twitter app for 10 days. Ten full days, no exceptions - iPhone, iPad and Mac. I'll blog about my progress and happenings day by day too*.

*Ok I guess that sounds a bit dramatic.


HootSuite Challenge Day 1: Frustration

Scoring Social Content and Performance - How, Why, and Why Not