New Social Media Tools that Work Together
At a conference in Boston this week, I met Jason Boucher, the Social Media Manager at the University of New Hampshire, who informed me of some new media tools that might be helpful for me to reach my audience. Boucher said that one way he engages with students and alumni is to ask questions through social networks. A poll or a fill-in-the-blank post can generate many responses. To try this out I set up a quick Facebook poll using a widget—an embedded app—to ask my friends about the 2016 presidential debates that they have watched. This was easy to set up and generated info graphics illustrating the data for me to analyze. The free Polls for Facebook service provides only a maximum of 40 responses. Paid plans for unlimited response data currently range from $96 to $336 per year (“Polls,” n.d.).
In a 24-hour period my poll had 33 visitors, with 25 participants. Producing quick polls not only engage my audience, but also provide me with useful data about them. For instance, 80% responded to the poll on a mobile device, while only 20% used a desktop computer. The gender distribution of respondents was 74% female and 26% male.
Another way to collect data is through a “mash-up” or aggregated social media tool that allows users to manage multiple social media accounts. Analytical data is available and can help refine media strategies. Boucher pointed out that an app, such as Hootsuite, is a powerful solution because combines the useful analytics with the effective functionality of a secure collaborative platform that allows a social media team to track and manage many channels—including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and WordPress blogs—simultaneously from one place. One benefit of this approach is that a user can determine, through data analysis, the most effective time to post. If a user learns that there are more likes and shares with their audience at 10 p.m., rather than noon, they can create future messages on Hootsuite and schedule them to post at 10 p.m. for the greatest reach.
This promotional video gives an overview of how Hootsuite (2014) works:
I trialed the free version of Hootsuite and can see that the paid plans, which start at about $120 per year, have much more to offer in terms of the quantity of accounts and data reports included (“Hootsuite,” n.d.), which is needed for an accurate evaluation. I have to admit that I was a little overwhelmed by Hootsuite when I tested it out for myself, and I recommend that you take advantage of the numerous Hootsuite tutorials and webinars when you get started.
It is important to continue to learn all we can about how technology is changing so that we remain to be effective in our media-driven culture. I have now connected with Boucher through LinkedIn and have subscribed to his RSS feed to read more about social media on his blog posts found on The Huffington Post site (“HuffingtonPost,” n.d.). An old-fashioned conference session followed by a breakfast discussion led me to discover new tools that will help reshape how I incorporate improving technology into my media strategies.
Hootsuite. (2014, August 21). Hootsuite—Empower Your Business with Social. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHHQoNCFWuw
Hootsuite: Select your plan to get started. (n.d.). [Webpage]. Retrieved on January 30, 2016, from https://hootsuite.com/plans
HuffingtonPost blogger feed for Jason Boucher. (n.d.). [Webpage]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on January 30, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/index.php?author=jason-boucher
Polls for Facebook: Affordable plans that start at just $8 per month. (n.d.). [Webpage]. Retrieved on January 29, 2016, from http://fbpoll.co/pricing/