Wouldn’t it be great if you could manage multiple social media networks from one place? How about a site that lets you track statistics?

By BILL RISSER

Editor’s note: Bill Risser is an assistant vice president and branch manager for Chicago Title in Phoenix.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could manage multiple social media networks from one place? How about a site that lets you track statistics? While we’re at it, how about a site that lets you easily create custom tabs and streams? Finally, what if this site had an application that allowed you to share across multiple networks any website you happen to be viewing? All of this and more is available at HootSuite.com.

Just two years old, HootSuite has come a long way. When agents in my workshops ask me to name my favorite social site, the answer is always HootSuite. Recently, HootSuite instituted free and paid versions of the base product. The free version is more than adequate for most agent needs. If the premium version is required (if you have a team and need multiple users on your account, the paid version is the way to go), it is an affordable $5.99/month.

Here are my top five reasons why HootSuite is important to agents:

1. Manage up to five networks on one dashboard — Most agents I work with have Twitter, Facebook (profile), Facebook (page) and LinkedIn accounts connected via HootSuite. This allows the user to post updates to one, two or all networks if desired. The free version allows five network connections. This is a great time-saver, as users do not need to jump from site to site. For more than five networks, the paid version is required.

2. Create multiple tabs and streams — Lists on Twitter can be viewed only one at a time. With HootSuite, you can create up to 100 tabs and each tab can have 10 columns or "streams." These streams can be based on social network feeds, search terms, keyword searches or Twitter lists. With this flexibility, an agent can create search streams to watch for conversations about a particular topic. 

For example, an agent specializing in a certain subdivision can create a series of keyword streams to filter for any tweets mentioning that subdivision. Aren’t these potential relationships?

3. Best status update functionality available — The status update box has its own URL shortener, file attachment tool, draft-saving capability and a scheduler. You can also select which networks to post to by clicking on the appropriate avatar. If you select a Facebook profile or page, the scheduler automatically adjusts to the Facebook character limit. The ability to schedule tweets or updates allows effective time management strategies for agents.

4. The Hootlet is the best innovation since sliced bread — OK, I’m dating myself with that cliché, but it is true. While surfing the Web, if I come across a relevant article or website that I need to share with my followers/friends, I can click on the "Hootlet" applet on my tool bar. I am given the same HootSuite update scheduler, without opening HootSuite! It also automatically inserts the article title and the shortened URL into the update. Users simply add commentary, select the appropriate network(s) and share.

5. Built-in analytics for ow.ly shortened links — HootSuite’s proprietary URL shortener is ow.ly. By using this feature, users are able to get analytic data on these links. The stats feature allows the user to see when and how many times the link was clicked. This feedback allows the user to determine which links are important to their followers/friends.

I have introduced many agents to HootSuite and even converted some from other, similar products. Being Web-based, HootSuite can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer or your smart phone. For the busy agent, it is a must-have application.

I have prepared a few tutorials on basic HootSuite functions. Also, HootSuite.com has great documentation at the site, as well as a blog and other help features. Give HootSuite a shot. You will not be disappointed.

Are you using HootSuite or a similar product? Please share your experiences here.

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Future of Real Estate Marketing is a part of Inman News.

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