Hootsuite has recently updated and streamlined its interface. It’s now easier on the eye, and retains the functionality that has made it a social media powerhouse for more than ten years. At a starting price of free, it’s definitely worth a try.
Hootsuite – Helpful or Hyped?
Hootsuite is a great tool, but in order to stay on top of your marketing game, you need to have a strong social media strategy in place. As an SMB you might not have the time or skills to build one yourself but for the price of a business lunch, you can hire a social media expert on Fiverr that will take your business to the next level.
When you’re talking about the best social media management tools, the name Hootsuite is bound to come up. And that’s not a surprise – it’s been around for a while, and many individuals and businesses depend on it. But does this mean it’s the best?
We’ve tested the best social media tools. Our Hootsuite review will help you decide if this tool is the right one for you.
Hootsuite launched in 2008 as a way to manage multiple social media accounts. Initially, it worked mainly as a tweet scheduler, but it has added more social media services over the years. If you’re looking for a Facebook scheduler, Instagram scheduler, or Pinterest scheduler, Hootsuite will work for you.
Currently, Hootsuite supports Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages, and groups), LinkedIn (profiles and pages), Instagram (business and personal profiles), Pinterest, and YouTube channels. It also supports Google My Business through the Hootsuite app directory.
Is Hootsuite free? Well, yes and no. One of the best things about Hootsuite is that it has a free plan. That gives a single user a social media dashboard for three social accounts. Plus, you can set up a social media posting schedule, with up to 30 messages scheduled in advance.
But if you need to schedule content for more than three profiles – and what business doesn’t? – you’ll need one of the paid Hootsuite plans. One cool feature when you upgrade is that there are no more limits, which means you get unlimited social media scheduling.
Hootsuite Professional lets a single user manage ten social media profiles, while Hootsuite Team lets a group of three manage up to 20 social media profiles. This is the plan our review will largely focus on. But don’t worry – if you’re not sure which one to choose, all paid plans come with a 30-day free trial, so there’s plenty of time to test out Hootsuite’s automated Facebook post scheduler and other social media scheduling tools.
Hootsuite also has an employee social media advocacy tool, Hootsuite Amplify, although that’s not part of this review.
In the past, I’ve found Hootsuite’s interface kind of dated and clunky, although it recently had a refresh. But is that enough to eliminate the competition from Hootsuite alternatives? More importantly, will Hootsuite work for you and your business? Read this in-depth review of Hootsuite’s features to find out.
Many Hootsuite reviews rave about the tool, but with social media monitoring tools like Buffer and SocialPilot around, can Hootsuite still compete? Even after its refresh, Hootsuite can still look cluttered in comparison to other tools.
But if you’re more interested in functionality than aesthetics, Hootsuite’s still got a lot to offer. As well as the features we’re looking at in-depth, Hootsuite offers social media security for enterprises, plus content curation and promotion.
Social Inbox and Engagement
If you want to track what’s happening in your social media profiles you’ve got a couple places to do that within Hootsuite. First of all, you can track incoming direct messages and respond to them via the inbox.
A useful feature for teams is that you can mark messages as “done,” so there’s no duplication of social media efforts.
You can also use the Streams interface – which is the main Hootsuite dashboard – as a social media tracker. As you’ll see, once you’ve added your social media accounts, you can easily keep track of mentions.
This is a useful feature for businesses that need to be responsive. By default, your dashboard refreshes every ten minutes, but you can also set it to refresh manually.
To stay competitive, you’ll want to know what your customers are saying about you, and what’s happening in your niche. Hootsuite handles this with a built-in monitoring tool called My Industry. Click on it, then choose the social media networks you want to monitor.
Then, add the keywords or hashtags you want to follow. You can find these anytime by clicking on the My Industry link. Then you’ll see the Streams interface, as in the screenshot below.
Hootsuite’s hashtag tracker works well, but if you’re following multiple hashtags or keywords on multiple platforms, the interface will soon get cluttered.
Note that, for Instagram, you’re only allowed 13 unique hashtag searches a week. This seems low, considering that you can add dozens of hashtags to every Instagram post.
One thing I like about Hootsuite is that you can reply to mentions from within the app. And if you’re on a team plan, you can assign the task for follow-up. This makes managing busy social accounts much easier, as there’s one place to do everything, and the workload is shared.
Publishing and Scheduling Posts
As with many social media marketing tools, publishing content is very easy to do with Hootsuite. Go to the Publisher section of the dashboard, and you can create a new post for any or all of the social media platforms in your account.
Type in text or add a link, and you’ll get an instant preview of how the post will look, so you can tweak as needed.
Once you’re done, it’s easy to post content immediately or schedule it for later. You can even use the Post and Duplicate feature, which is awesome if you want to schedule the same update for multiple times to reach audiences in different time zones.
You can also add multiple images or media, and set a location. All in all, Hootsuite’s publishing tool is pretty versatile. And if you’re not yet ready to publish just yet, you can save the content as a draft, and go back to it later.
In addition to looking at your social media content in Hootsuite’s calendar or post planner view, those on a team plan can go to the Content tab to see drafts, scheduled content that needs approval, and content that’s been rejected.
But a killer feature is the ability to use RSS feeds as a content source for your social media accounts. You just add the RSS feeds you want to follow and Hootsuite will automatically send this content to whatever social account that you’ve indicated. This no longer works with Facebook or Google profiles, but for Twitter and other social media accounts, it’s pretty useful.
It’s an easy way to make sure you’re automatically sharing current and relevant content with your audience, even if you don’t have time to do it manually.
On the face of it, having a WordPress integration sounds like a good thing. In practice, it’s of limited value. That’s because Hootsuite works with WordPress.com sites, but if you have a self-hosted WordPress site – as many businesses do – you’ll need to install Hootsuite’s separate WordPress integration from the app directory.
Once that’s done, you’ll be able to create and publish posts. However, Hootsuite says you can’t schedule posts or add feature images with this integration. And it admits that it works best with simple sites and templates. So this feature may or may not meet your personal needs.
Although Hootsuite has a team plan, in my opinion, its features are a bit limited. Yes, you can have multiple users on the account and assign responsibilities. However, if you’re managing a team, you won’t get insights into team productivity unless you spring for an Enterprise plan. While you can keep tabs on assigned and resolved tasks, this doesn’t compare with the approval workflow features available in Buffer.See full list of features
Ease of use
Hootsuite’s Setup Is Super Simple
It doesn’t take long to set up a Hootsuite account. Just enter your email, create a password, and you’ll be up and running in less than a minute. But what’s it like to actually use the app? As you’ll see, the interface is pretty intuitive, no matter how tech-savvy you are.
Adding Social Profiles
When you first log into your new Hootsuite account it’s simple to get started. Click on My Posts & Mentions, choose the social network you want to add, complete the validation process, then add it to your dashboard.
Repeat the process to add more social accounts, or come back to this later.
Once you’ve added your accounts, it’s time to personalize your dashboard. Go to Add Stream, and choose one of your social media accounts. You can monitor different information, depending on the account.
For example, for Instagram, you can keep track of posts, scheduled posts, and hashtags. And for Twitter, you can monitor mentions, keywords, retweets, likes, and more. For LinkedIn, shown below, you can track your updates and scheduled posts.
Each account has its own link in the dashboard. But if you are tracking multiple streams for Twitter, for example, the interface can soon feel a bit cluttered.
Integrating New Apps
Another killer Hootsuite feature is its app directory, which lets you integrate new apps into Hootsuite with just a couple of clicks. It’s got more than 150 app integrations, so you can add social media measurement tools, customer relationship management software, self-hosted WordPress sites, and much more.
One particularly useful app is the Google My Business integration, which you can leverage for customer reviews and building awareness from within Hootsuite. Overall, the app directory is a winning Hootsuite feature.
Keeping Track of Scheduled Content
Hootsuite’s calendar interface is a useful way to keep tabs on all your upcoming social media content. There’s only one downside: You can only see what you’ve scheduled via Hootsuite itself. So if you’re also using Buffer, for example, you won’t be able to track that content.
As well as the at-a-glance view, you can also drag-and-drop the post to a different date. And if you change your mind about a piece of content, you can easily delete, duplicate, or revert the post to a draft.
Hootsuite has a reputation for providing useful social media analytics that can help you revise and strengthen your content strategy. And even free users can get actionable information on their social accounts. This added value gives Hootsuite a competitive edge against a tool like Buffer, which now includes most of its analytics in a separate paid product, Buffer Analyze.
Since Hootsuite started as a Twitter dashboard, it’s no surprise that its Twitter reporting is pretty robust. You can get reports on tweets, engagements, follower numbers, and more. There’s also a useful overview of content performance.
However, other platforms don’t fare quite as well. I found it difficult to get data on a LinkedIn account I’d previously added. Plus, many of the metrics seemed better suited to those using company pages rather than personal profiles.
One good thing about Hootsuite is that it makes it easy for you to create reports on different social media sites. You can track your Hootsuite campaigns via a number of pre-built report templates. Then you can simply share with your team or clients with a single click.
Apps and Integrations
If you want to get more from Hootsuite analytics, there are more apps and integrations available via the app directory. However, it’s hard to tell whether these offer any more insight than using the social sites’ own analytics.
Hootsuite supports its users in a number of ways. There’s free training through Hootsuite Academy, as well as a fairly detailed Help Center. The main page of the Help Center features recent updates and useful articles as well as webinars and a link to the Hootsuite blog. You can also submit a support ticket from that page.
Hootsuite also has a “tweet for support” feature, which I tried. This brings up a publishing window which includes the Twitter handle for Hootsuite Help.
You can type your message and send it immediately. And like regular publishing you can add screenshots or media if you need to.
This sounds great, but the first message I wrote didn’t go through. I tried again, but the process seems to be broken – or was at least down at the time – as I never got a response.
In contrast, getting help on Facebook was a lot easier. This option wasn’t immediately obvious, but when I sent a Facebook message, I got a response within the hour. And once I’d clarified some information, the next response came minutes later. This enabled me to solve my issue.
When trying live chat support, I wasn’t able to get a response, as the chat window kept disappearing. However, the support team continued our conversation over email, and three hours later I got a response.
Overall, I’d say that my experience with Hootsuite support was less than impressive.
For bloggers and small business owners just starting out with social scheduling, Hootsuite pricing is great. There’s a free plan where you can manage three social media accounts and schedule up to 30 pieces of social media content in advance.
To remove the scheduling limitations, and use the Hootsuite autoschedule features, you’ll need to upgrade, though Hootsuite Professional is still affordable for small business owners. This plan also lets you add up to ten social media accounts.
Hootsuite Team is more of an investment, but could be worth it if you need multiple people to manage your social media accounts. As well as removing the scheduling limitation, you can add up to 20 social accounts, and will benefit from custom analytics reports.
Large businesses with complex social media needs may want to enquire about the Enterprise plan, which allows five team members, and more than 50 social accounts.
You can pay for Hootsuite by PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, or JCB.
# of Social Profiles
# of Users
# Scheduled Posts
Monthly Price Per User
Cancellations and Refunds
Wondering how to cancel Hootsuite? Hootsuite has a 30-day free trial, so if you decide that it’s not for you, it’s easy to delete your account. And if you’ve taken a paid plan, but now want to move onto another social media tool instead, getting a refund is pretty simple. Learn more about Hootsuite’s free trial and cancellation process here.
This is the most frustrating, non-user friendly software and company EVER. When chatting support to help SET UP my account--I am "escalated" to an even slower form of communication via email. The option to get on the phone with someone to help me solve the issue in a matter of minutes instead of DAYS is not an option for my "plan." Yes, I am on a free trial...my intention is to buy this program if it is to meet my needs. How can I even convert to a paying customer if I cannot get started? Terrible customer service model, terrible user experience.
I didn't choose the professional plan, but this website stole my money!!! I can't connect with them via email or any other way.
Please don't sign in this website, you don't know when they will steal your money and the bank also can't help you chase the money.
Signed up for a free 60-day plan yesterday. Woke up to a $400 invoice this morning. Raised the issue with billing team expecting it to be a quick resolution But they want screenshots to confirm I was on a free plan to reverse charges. I didn't realize Hootsuite was such a scam site that you needed to take screenshots at each stage of the signup process. What a complete scam, do not give Hootsuite your card number!!!
Any company that jacks up prices x12 after you've grown accustomed to them, can't be trusted. Perhaps, if they'd fixed that 1995 User Interface. This is a money grab. They aren't investing in their infrastructure. The market has caught them. Many better alternatives for a fraction of the cost.
The Instagram feature seemed to fail without explanation on a regular basis. The product was then useless to me. It worked fine for a few months, and then I couldn't upload photos and had frequent errors. I tried to refund the remainder of my contract and they refused. I am not getting what I paid for. Very poor customer service. Try another service that actually cares about its customers.
DO NOT USE THEM Horrible Customer Serive and they stole my money.
They changed the platform and now no longer works for my business. Refused to refund (prorated) and refused to speak to me. DO NOT! FIND ANOTHER COMPANY They ended the chat, they do not have a phone number to call, they refused to help me with the situation.
So is Hootsuite past its prime, or is it still a useful social media scheduler for bloggers and small business owners? Here’s my take: If you’re looking for an all-in-one social media dashboard, Hootsuite’s still an excellent choice. The free plan offers real value, and even Hootsuite Professional won’t break the bank.
When it comes to reporting, there are a couple of items on my Hootsuite wishlist. I’d like reporting for other social media platforms to work as well as it does for Twitter. I’d also love a complete overview of all my social analytics. Despite that, Hootsuite’s always worth considering when looking at social media management tools.
Sharon Hurley Hall
Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her work has been published on Jilt, OptinMonster, CrazyEgg, GrowthLab, Unbounce, OnePageCRM, Search Engine People, and Mirasee. Sharon is certified in content marketing and email marketing. In her previous life, Sharon was also a journalist and university journalism lecturer.