Its been over a week since Hootsuite has sent out emails messages upon login about going pro and why we should have to pay to have more features. As most of us probably did, we closed that email and started searching for an alternative to Hootsuite that is still free. For me, I loaded up TweetDeck, for the first time in months. I updated and started the program on my laptop. Within minutes it crashed and I had to reboot. To me that’s a sign. I never liked desktop Twitter apps in the first place. They are resource hogs, combined with Adobe PhotoShop and Dreamweaver open and two or three web browsers open. Adding TweetDeck to the mixed crashed my computer.
At that point, I realized I needed a better web app for Twitter. I spent several hours researching and testing the different ones out. None of them came close to Hootsuite. Most of them, could not schedule or did not have RSS feed to Twitter options. So then I came to conclusion that I either needed to upgrade to Hootsuite Pro or use multiple services to use Twitter the way I did before being forced to upgrade.
How I use Hootsuite without Using the Pro Services
As a designer and blogger on a budget, every penny counts. We all have expenses but having to pay for a little thing adds up and adding another small cost didn’t add up. Of course there are ways around that extra fee we can always take on new clients or amp up our article postings and let our affiliate sales pay for it. But why should we do that, when we may not be ready, or we simply do not have the time in our already busy schedule to do that. If we went against our better judgment, our clients and our companies would suffer.
With that being said, I decided to stick with Hootsuite Free and use other resources that are still free that Hootsuite took away. But when I have a reason to upgrade I will. Today I wanted to share with everyone how I use Hootsuite without using the pro services.
To start with, I setup Hootsuite with lists and columns. My main stream is first far left column, followed by my @ mention stream. The rest are set by importance. Currently my most import are on the left to center of the screen. This way I know where to look and keep track of what’s going in Twitter Land. On days when I can’t be on Twitter, I only check DMs and at mentions, and respond to them as needed. With Hootsuites columns, this makes it easy for me to track everything. Whenever I need to look at a less important column, I just scroll the screen to the right and check those columns. Of course, you can do this with TweetDeck and most other clients, but to me, Hootsuite just does a better job graphically and its easy on the eyes.
One of the major features that brought me to Hootsuite was the option to feed my Facebook and other social media streams into Hootsuite. For me, I did this because a lot of the public computers and networks, I visit block these sites and with Hootsuite, they get through. Plus, I can send status messages to all the networks that they are linked with and not have to visit each site to leave an update But Hootsuite put an end to these features or limited them so have to do a monthly subscription to get all your features back.
Social Media Feeds
To get around this, I use RockMelt to stream some of my social media feeds into it. RockMelt is a social media browser built off of Google Chrome and is still in closed beta but you can get an invite or request one from the RockMelt’s site / FaceBook Page. The new browser works great. All my friends are running down the left side of the browser and I know when they are online. On the right, all my feeds are there. I have facebook, twitter (when I do not have Hootsuite open), and several of my favorite website’s RSS feeds setup. Whenever a new article is published on any of those feeds, the right hand icon feed bar will tell me what site has updated.
As for using Hootsuite for other social networks to send status messages, I would only use Ping.FM (service sending status udates to multiple social networks) as one my social media sites to send status messages from Hootsuite. As RockMelt gets more poplular and more advanced, you will be able to add more sites you can send status messages to.
Another Feature I used a lot was the RSS to tweet. I used this to tweet out my most trusted blogger articles and several design magazine articles. In all, I had eleven RSS feeds that tweet to Twitter and Ping daily for me. But with Hootsuite Free we are limited to only two feeds. Also, if you want to Tweet a feed to both Twitter and Ping, its considered two feeds! For me that wasn’t going to work and going pro wasn’t option. I had two options, I could always go back to manually tweeted or find another service to do this.
After researching, I found there was not another Twitter client that did this well and did not have all the features Hootsuite had. But I did find TwitterFeed and Twaitter both offered RSS to Twitter. TwitterFeed even offered to send Tweets to Ping. But recently, Ping put a stop to this and longer offering this service from outside services., they will only allow you have one feed on their site.
TwitterFeed is a great service, very easy to configure and they even track your link clicks. The downside to this site is, many spammers and bots use this service. Because of this, I limited the use of this service and feed some of the lesser magazine and bookmarking sites that I like share on that serive. I set these sites to Tweet only one update from the feed in a 12 hour period. If I catch one of these sites start to have content that isn’t worth sharing I turn it off and only post when I find good articles.
Twaitter is actually a newer client that offers features such as, sending status updates to different social media networks, scheduled messages, follow management, and RSS feeds. I am not all that impressed with the other features, but I do like the RSS feed. Since, it is a client and it is not used as much as TwitterFeed, I feed the rest of my feeds through them. Its easy to setup, but sometimes, I find it can’t find some feeds even though, TwitterFeed and Hootsuite will. So I have to use TwitterFeed for those sites. For the sites that only post once or twice I day and have a random posting schedule, I will set Twaitter to check them once an hour and only post one article every 50 minutes. So far, after a week of use, I haven’t found any issues with the feed service. So it looks like I will be sticking with them.
Who needs them, we shouldn’t be checking our twitter stats everyday. If you want to check them, check them once a week or every few weeks. They really do not change that much overnight. If you were using Hootsuite to check your Google Analytics, don’t pay for the service. You can still check it for free on Google’s site, plus its more detailed. As for Twitter stats, I now use Bit.ly and Su.Pr. Both track your links and they are accurate. To me, they seem to be more accurate then Hootsuite link shortener. If you want to know your Twitter stats, instead of using Hootsuite Insights, you can use TwitterCounter to Twitter Grader to learn more about your Twitterstats. Both have a lot of features and are accurate.
Hootsuite doesn’t really have a follow management system. But if it did, they would charge for that as well. For me, I spend a lot time looking for followers that are in my areas of interest and in my niche. So I tend to find Twitter users that I might be interested in following, I will add them and follow them for a few days. But as time goes by, I like to check my followed to following ratio. I will remove anyone who isn’t following me back, spammers, bots, rude / offensive users, and anyone with an inactive account for over two weeks. This takes times, to do this quickly and safely, so I use Tweepi to remove those I choose not to follow. You can filter users by what they have on their bio and when they last tweeted. They have features, such as flush, safe lists, and reciprocate.
Need Help Getting ReTweets and Traffic from Twitter?
Recently I got my hands on John Paul’s Aguiar ebook Twitter Dummy and spoke with him about the book and how he built his followers to over 70,000. If you have any questions, send him a message. He can help you build a large following. Then use his book to turn that following into free targeted traffic to your blog. I have been following his advice and book for at least two weeks now and I have seen an increase in followers, followers ReTweeting my tweets, and more traffic from Twitter back to my site. Also, you may want to check out his site, his articles are all about marketing, blogging, social media and SEO affiliate marketing.
What tools are using on Twitter?