If you’re an edtech addict like us here at Fractus Learning, you probably already know how important social media can be to building a truly great personal learning network. In fact, we’ve already published some tips on getting a Twitter-based PLN started, as well as guides to the top ten accounts and hashtags to follow.
That said, social media can still be difficult to manage, even for us techno-geeks. With so many accounts, passwords, and settings to remember, things can get more than a little overwhelming. Thankfully, there are a handful of products out there that can help us make some sense of it all.
Although several of these products are very high-quality, none is quite as comprehensive as HootSuite. Now, you may have already seen HootSuite mentioned in the status updates of your friends, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Basically, this product allows you to read and respond to all sorts of social media feeds, all from within one central interface. Follow along and learn how to get yourself set up with an account; you’ll be back to tweeting and Facebooking in no time!
Signing Up For HootSuite
Getting a free HootSuite account is pretty simple, and I imagine you won’t need much guidance from me. Simply get yourself over to HootSuite.com and sign up. If you’re really into social media, you might consider paying for a Pro account, which has some nice additional features for $9.99 per month.
Adding Your Social Networks
Once you’ve signed up, you should be immediately logged into the dashboard. The first thing you’ll see is a little introduction box that prompts you to add some social networks, so let’s do that.
First, click the “Add a Twitter Profile” and then the “Connect with Twitter” button to get started. HootSuite will have you authorize it to use your Twitter account by entering your Twitter username and password. Just click “Authorize App” and you’ll be sent back to the HootSuite dashboard, which will now be full of tweets in a few different columns.
If you go back to the “Getting Started” tab, you should see a button labelled “Add Another Social Network”, which exactly what we want to do. This time select Facebook, and then the “Connect with Facebook” button when it appears. Enter your username and password and you’re all set! Once you’ve added Facebook, a third tab should appear with some columns in it, one each for your News Feed, Wall Posts, and Photos from your News Feed.
The process for adding the last two social networks, LinkedIn and Google+, is pretty much the same. (Note that HootSuite can only publish to Google+ Pages right now, and not to your profile.) Once you get all four services integrated into HootSuite, you’re ready to start sending messages!
Sending Messages to Your Accounts
Sending messages with HootSuite is about as simple as it gets. To create a new message, simply click inside the “Compose Message” box in the upper-left corner of the window. Type your message in the box, making sure not to exceed 140 characters if you plan on posting to Twitter.
In this box you can also do things like add a link to a message (by pasting the URL in the “Add a Link” box), attach an image to a message, schedule a message to be sent in the future, insert your location, and even set privacy options for your message.
In the box to the immediate right is where you’ll select which social media accounts to post the message to. I usually select all three of mine just to be sure all of my friends see my posts, but you may prefer to only post to one or two of your accounts.
Following Topics and Hashtags
This is the area where HootSuite can really come in handy for connected teachers. Say, for example, that you want to use one column in HootSuite to follow two of the major education technology-related hashtags: #edtech and #edchat. Here’s how to focus in on those topics:
- Click on the + Add Stream button in the upper-left.
- Select Twitter from the left menu.
- Select the Search tab.
- In the search query box, enter “edchat OR edtech”.
- Click Create Stream.
This creates a new column in the main window that displays tweets containing either the #edchat or #edtech hashtag. You can even add as many hashtags to the search query as you want to create a unified column of tweets on subject you want to follow.
Using the various search methods, you can create just about any combination of keywords to use as the basis for a new stream. Try experimenting with a few searches yourself and seeing what you can come up with!
Well, that’s the basics of HootSuite. Hopefully this short guide was enough to get you started!
Of course, there are a ton of features I simply don’t have the space to go over, but hopefully you’ve got the essentials down, so feel free to branch out whenever you’re ready.
Let us know in the comments if you use HootSuite and what you like most about it!
Image courtesy of Flickr, Maneula