Have you seen Owly? Hoot! Hoot!

When I was just starting out to build a platform for marketing my books and stories, I worked the social media angle mostly from my iPhone. My PC at the time was a boat anchor running Vista. I’ve since turned to MAC for deliverance. Where has Mac been all my life? It was like finding the fountain of youth.

My wife grew ever more exasperated as I ran into her office each day; holding my iPhone aloft and dancing with the exciting news that ten people had followed me on Twitter that day. Up until I started working at it in July of last year, my follower count was near rock steady at a static 200 — give or take 1-3.
Since then, my excitement has grown less naive. I have over 5400 followers and the average day sees 30-40 new ones with spikes close to a hundred on occasion. Twitter is my main marketing platform.

I also use Facebook and Google+, yet I haven’t paid as much attention to those as Twitter since the little blue bird is where my best interaction, growth and success have been.

As my account grew via iPhone, I soon realized that a good SMMS (Social Media Management System) would be necessary to monitor, grow and maintain the growing interactions. Without Hootsuite as my choice, this could not have been accomplished short of going insane. I’m now a rabid fan and brand ambassador for this top-rated platform.
Just so you understand clearly, I am a volunteer and am not paid for any of my endorsements or promotional activities. Hootsuite has been such a game-changer in my efforts to build a marketing platform on social media. So much so that I want to wash the CEO’s car or at least mow his lawn.
I didn’t just fall into… with the first pretty bird to come along either. I did my homework. I tried the others and evaluated them for ease and performance. Hootsuite won hands down. There were super simple programs that sacrificed too much performance. That would not work for me. I test drove Owly(HootSuite’s monicker). Within the month, I upgraded to the Pro Version and never looked back.

If you are on Twitter at all, you have no doubt been bombarded with ads for adding followers, 10,000 guaranteed in one day for $29.95. Sounds like an old commercial from the 70’s for painting cars. I tried it and the paint peeled within the year. That same thing will happen to your new bytes of friends. Do you really want to pay for your friends? Can we be so desperate for recognition that we pay some computer savvy person money to tweak the system so it looks like 10,000 people were interested in what we had to say? What kind of gravitas will be gained by that number under our profile pic? The proliferation of such offers suggests a lot of people drink that Kool-Aid.


If 10,000 REAL people, in one fell swoop and all in one day, were interested in me and my books, the media would be parked in front of my house clamoring for an interview like flies on a sugar stain. Quite a temptation for a writer…

And, there are others offering to automatically manage my content for me. Just think of the free time that would suddenly be available to me. Succumb to that one and you’d end up with hearts and flower romance novels in horror story posts or vice-versa (I’ve seen it). How about a little porn stirred in with your Christian brand? That would do wonders for your image.
The profiles using automated content providers are easy to spot; they have no original content. All their posts are Retweets and rarely any original content from the account holder. Occasionally a post says someone else is doing the heavy lifting — just for legalities sake.

Me, I like to get to know people whether online or in person. I like to shake their hand even if it is across the data stream. I like to recognize and celebrate them for their achievements and help them achieve their goals. Yes, Mom all that happens on a well run Twitter profile. Read my post on the simpler basics of Twitter I learned from watching others and by applying Common Courtesies and a Handshake to Social Media.

Meanwhile back at the ranch —
I really need to give credit where credit is due. Without HootSuite‘s SMMS (Social Media Management System) I could not have accomplished what I have so far. Hootsuite allows you, through an online dashboard, to manage multiple Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Word Press accounts, and you can manage multiple accounts within each one of those. I’m out of breath just thinking about it.
In addition, there is a plethora of third-party apps  to work with available through the dashboard: Instagram, YouTube, and even Gmail. Being web based you can do all this from anywhere in the world on any computer. There is a free version of HootSuite‘ or a Pro version for $9.95 a month which has proved its worth ten and a hundred fold, perhaps more, each and every month.

Within my dashboard, I manage 9 different Social Media accounts, some of those I curate for companies who were impressed with my proficiency, knowledge and the results I got back from my own accounts. I can also manage each of those on a limited basis from my iPhone and iPad. Using a laptop or desktop computer, of course, enables you to extract all of the features and best benefits.

Since my mainstream is Twitter, I’ll tell you my experience from that standpoint. The single most beneficial thing is the bulk scheduler from which I can upload up to 350 messages at one time to each profile. For me, that’s about two week’s worth of content. This takes a little head scratching and finger grease, but if you have a bare minimum of experience with Excel you can do it. I learned through a reccomendation from HootSuite’s help pages that the best program to use is Google Sheets their online answer to Excel. Sheets is not as powerful as Excel, but having it web based alongside the HootSuite Dashboard is more convenient than bouncing from software locked to one computer in which you have to save filenames and perform other juggling acts. Sheets also makes cleaner CSV files for uploading.

HootSuite even gives you templates ready for you to enter your info. The date and time go in the leftmost cell, the contents of your post in the next and technically a link goes in the third column. The digits you see in the fifth column is my own invention: I have a formula there that counts the characters in the content column. Since Twitter is limited to 140 characters, it removes a lot of guesswork. Then save a CSV file of the sheet and upload through Dashboard/publisher/bulk message upload. If there are any errors the program will tell you what and where they are located. A note on the third column link: I shorten links beforehand in Hootsuite’s composition box and insert in the second cell. It works better for me and keeping count of characters.
This is my dashboard, like command central. From here I monitor Retweets, New Followers, Mentions and even see what my latest tweets were since I scheduled them up to 2 weeks ago and can’t remember what they were without looking. Now I can respond rapidly and appropriately to those interacting with my account. By the way, that is only one tab visible. If you scan across the top you’ll see 9 more tabs and the last one holds multiple streams also.
One more beautiful thing is search streams. I can check on the competition or other sites putting up great content that I can use. I can even find everyone within a specified radius of anywhere talking about coffee or church or whatever you might need — to find people locally that are interested in what you like.
I do have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
Always on the hunt for a faster and better way, Google Sheets have been a godsend. Look at the tabs on the bottom. I used to keep different sheets for every upload, now I keep the same one, change the dates and time and change the informative tweets. Promotional tweets I keep in the same time slot, tweaking. adding and subtracting them as needed. Retweets, quotes, and funny dog pics are exchanged for new ones and these I keep in other tabs. There are tabs that hold all my blog tweets and tabs that hold all my books and another one for the stories I giveaway and on and on it goes.
Last but not least and probably the best feature of HootSuite is its people. Customer service is near instantaneous, only a Tweet away through @HootSuite_Help. If they don’t have an instant solution they sic a team of people on it till it is done.
Recently, I have  become a HootSuite Ambassador, one small part of 1,000 others who volunteer to support the brand because they believe so strongly in it. 
HootSuite has improved my life.

If you’d like to leave a comment and find the form tedious you can also comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or Facebook M. Matheson

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