During this week’s Hootsuite outage, I decided to finally use the Buffer account I had registered for months ago. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a short term alternative, but found that this San Francisco startup could make a few changes to its free app that would help Buffer compete against Hootsuite.
Here are the 3 features Buffer needs to compete with Hootsuite
1. Support for more profiles per user, on more social media platforms
Buffer needs to allow more than one account for each of the social networks it supports. The free version of Buffer allows you to schedule posts for up to 3 of your social media accounts, while Hootsuite’s free plan allows up to 5 social profiles, including Google + pages, foursquare, wordpress, Myspace, and Mix (not included on Buffer).
2. Give us streams!
One of the most useful real-time features Hootsuite offers is the ability for users to create customizable streams for each of their social network profiles. A user can choose to display just her home feed pane, or add panes to display most recent mentions, retweets, followers, DMs, lists, favorites, scheduled posts, searches, wall posts, events, or popular discussions.
Adding a feed feature to its free version would make Buffer a better tool for monitoring and engagement. But what Buffer lacks in engagement potential, it makes up for in content curation capabilities… almost. Which brings me to my last suggestion:
3. Content curation customization (say that 3 times fast!)
Buffer and Hootsuite both offer great bookmarklets for Chrome. But from what I can tell, Buffer is the only social media monitoring tool that offers up its own content for sharing. “Suggested Tweets” are both homegrown and crowd-sourced. A user can choose suggested content ranging from quotes, to trending articles, to Buffer blog posts – which is great for community managers on a time crunch.
This is the most unique feature Buffer has to offer, so why limit it? Although the maximum of 5 content suggestions per day per profile is meant to incentivize free users to upgrade, it hinders user experience. Placing a limit on the number of suggested content posts without offering customization features means that users may end up stuck with irrelevant suggestions. What if Buffer’s algorithm doesn’t find the user what she’s looking for? A simple “This isn’t relevant” or “Don’t show me this kind of content” button would do the trick.
Lastly, after seeing a few repeats in my “Suggestions” queue, I’d recommend that Buffer include a few top fold calls to action, reminding users that they can submit their own content. This would likely make suggested content broader and deeper, while transforming Buffer into a viable syndication tool for content creators seeking more web traffic.
What are your experiences with social media dashboards? Do you prefer Hootsuite over Buffer?
The few of you that follow this lil’ blog (thank you for reading, by the way) may have noticed a complete drop in activity from me in the past few weeks. Sadly, I had to put my Klout Experiment on hold in order to search for a job and a chance at Canadian permanent residence. Whereas my last Klout Experiment update a month ago indicated that trying to improve my score did more harm than good, abandoning my conscious efforts at increasing my Klout score and instead using LinkedIn and Facebook to inform everyone who hadn’t hidden my updates yet that I was on the hunt for a new position, resulted in a steady score of 59.
I learned an important lesson about social media in my job hunt: it only really works when used in combination with real, human interactions. After seeing a Facebook post I wrote about my employment and immigration situation, a lovely recruiter friend of mine sat down with me to chat about my resumé and career goals. Weeks went by and we kept in touch, exchanging articles on LinkedIn about job hunting strategies and social media developments. My offline and online interactions with my recruiter friend – my Facebook posts about job hunting, our conversations about career goals, and the blog posts she helped inspire with interesting articles she sent me on LinkedIn – helped lay the foundation for finding an opportunity. Our interactions let my friend know that I was looking, what my goals were, and helped demonstrate to her that I was a capable writer with a passion for social media.
I had many job listings sent to me by caring friends who had read my Facebook posts, many of which I applied to with little to no success. I was so thankful for all of their support, but I do believe that the kind of on-and-offline alliance my recruiter friend and I formed, helped me access a few jobs that were more suitable for my experience level and goals. One of the positions my on-and-offline ally helped me access, through a LinkedIn introduction to the Hiring Manager, was the Membership and Community Specialist/Social Media Expert role at an IT Consulting firm. After two interviews, which I definitely consulted my friend about in-person and online, I was offered a contract and my long search was over thanks to a lot of annoying posts, plenty of LinkedIn searches, and many enlightening conversations. Most importantly, sustaining a real one-on-one relationship with someone, rather blasting all of my online contacts with a canned message (which I and so many people marketing themselves or their products/services have tried with little success) made all of the difference.
I wonder if my new employer ever looked at my Klout score…
I’m out of town this week!
So in lieu of my weekly Klout Experiment update, I’ve decided to let a guest weigh in on a social media issue of his choice. Mike Riverso is a tech geek and an excellent improviser from Toronto, Ontario. This week, he shares his views on the oh-so-controversial Facebook Couples Page. Ironically, he asked me to plug his Twitter in this introduction…
Do you follow these? Are there any you disagree with?
I like to keep #12 and #33 in mind: #12 because accepting failure comes with the territory when you’re working with an ever-changing and context-based medium – try predicting everything when building a new brand’s social media strategy. It’s pretty difficult/impossible. #33 I enjoy as a mantra for marketing and business in general. It’s important to remember that your brand (if it’s a successful one) represents not only your product or service, but the people who use it. Your fans should interact with, and ultimately have a hand in generating content for your brand. Think of it as a 21st century take on “the customer is always right.”
This week, I learned that a downturn in engagement isn’t always a bad thing.
Every week, I document my Klout Experiment: a vain and foolish attempt to match Sarah Palin’s Klout score of 72 by January 1, 2013.
Generally, you’ll find me nerding out about all things Social Media, but I’m also looking for full-time work in Social Media. So, reading recent articles on the importance of Klout and other social scoring tools in recruiting got me thinking about the ways in which we determine our online influence.
Each week, I record the results of my Klout Experiment in a weekly social media engagement digest.
As we learned last week, my efforts to increase frequency across platforms proved ineffective, reducing my score to 60 from a glorious, glorious 61.
This week, I’ve actually managed to damage my score further, as I’m left this week with a measly score of 59!!!
After discovering my score decrease and short-circuiting my Macbook with bitter, bitter tears, I took a moment to re-consider the weight online brands put on their social influence scores..
What I realized is that a Klout score only reflects a small snapshot of my network’s engagement. So what if I miss the mark one week? Presumably, the measly 59 Klout points worth of engagement is from people who’ve enjoyed my overall online persona, before this week. Those followers will stay with me unless I start posting way too much on social media or I post something that really pisses them off.
The conclusion I came to about my decreasing Klout score applies to businesses, too: wavering metrics don’t mark failure, but a learning opportunity. And the fans who stick with you are the most evangelical, and thus the most likely to help you reach future benchmarks.
How have you or your company leveraged a bad week?
Somehow, despite my best efforts to increase frequency and vary use of my social media outlets, I lost a point this week! I believe this may be related to how I divided my attention between Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare this week. I only posted on Facebook 4 times this week, as opposed to the 24 posts I had last week.
I decided to increase the frequency and interactiveness of my professional Twitter handle this week, replying to and RT’ing a few tweets from local comedians and Social Media Marketing bloggers. Although your Klout score accounts for only engagement (likes, comments, replies, RTs) and not frequency, I figured that tweeting more would help boost my score by potentially boosting engagement.
Getting traction on Twitter takes far more frequency (and great content, of course!) so my hunch about increasing Twitter activity to increase my social influence score was partly correct: 1% of this week’s score originated from Twitter interactions, whereas last week’s score was 100% Facebook. But, that new Twitter contribution did not make up for a lack of engagement on Facebook and ultimately, my Klout score suffered.
Do you or our company think Twitter is worth the time and extra output?
Yesterday, I had the good fortune of noticing and deleting the following tweets I had scheduled for two of my clients: a curated month-old article on how to deal with “Supply Chain disasters” and a link to a report that named India as the leading consumer of green technology in 2011.
As the social media administrator for 3 separate brands from widely disparate industries, I have similar social media brushes with death almost daily. Like any content strategist, I schedule the bulk of my clients’ tweets in advance. However, if accidents like Celeb Boutique’s awful Aurora Twitter Fail have taught me anything, it’s that updating based on relevance is a high priority in the fast-paced world of social media. Not doing so can mean sacrificing quality, diplomacy, or worse, accuracy.
So how can I avoid generating insensitive or inaccurate content and stay on top of current events and industry news without being glued to the news, the blogosphere, and my Twitter feed for 23 hours a day?
Here is my must-have check list for maintaining frequent and relevant online content:
IN THE MORNING:
- Give your editorial calendar a once-over (10 mins)
If nothing else, this is great for spelling and grammar (yes, that still matters!)
- Take a look at Twitter trends (10 – 15 mins)
You never know what might come up – maybe a celebrity has worn something truly awful to a red carpet event and your working for a fashion blog or a designer. Also, don’t be afraid of a little snark… it’s what secretly fuels Twitter. Can’t think of what to write? Feel free to RT, but only as a last resort.
- Take a look at the headlines (10 – 15 mins)
Reading the news can save you from accidentally tweeting something that may alienate a large portion of your audience.
- Take a look at celebrity gossip/pop culture sites for top stories
- Check Google Alerts
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend making google alerts for your brand name and industry
- Check Google Reader
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend getting the RSS feeds for any and all industry blogs you read. It saves lots of time and screen space.
- Get offline!
I know this is sacrilege, but sometimes talking to friends, family, and coworkers in person can give you nuance and context in a way that just can’t compare to your best friend Internetz. If you’re feeling especially stuck, schedule a walk to the water cooler or a midday coffee date with your chattiest friend.
As a Social Media Strategist or as my mom puts it, “professional Tweeter,” I pride myself on not only finding and engaging online influencers, but being one myself. It’s my humble opinion that in order to engage your brand’s most active users, you must walk a mile in those users’ shoes.
After reading Seth Stevenson’s remarkable piece on the growing ubiquity of the Klout Score – and its importance as a professional and personal tool – I attempted to take stock in my own online influence by taking a look at my somewhat inactive Klout account:
- I could only register one of my Twitter accounts. I have 2, but the one associated with my main email address (and thus searchable by potential employers) is only 2-months old. So I went with my personal account, which has more followers.
- I’m a Facebook addict – this is where the bulk of my new points derived
- I’ve just started to use Foursquare. I absolutely love it and have earned quite a few “first check in” badges. I only have about 9 friends, though, which has more of an influence on my overall score.
- Linkedin is a resource for me as a young professional, but sadly, I linked my Klout to the Linkedin page for my previous employer and have lost access to enable me to revoke permissions.
After this narcissistic digital dissection, I decided I needed to dig deeper. I needed to figure out exactly what it would take to become the kind of influencer my future employer(s) need to engage. As an individual with a Klout score of 61, I’m taking my cue from the job-seeking subject of Stevenson’s article, and conducting a weekly experiment:
I will try to raise my Klout score to 72 by January 1, 2013.
Why 72? Well, according to Wired.com’s infographic, Sarah Palin’s people have managed to get her that score. Since I tend to tweet for brands and individuals far less cuckoo-bananas than Ms. Palin, it would actually pain me not to match or exceed her publicists’ Klout score.
So, here’s to (completely amateur) scientific inquiry!
Do you track your Klout Score? Tell me in the comments!