Game Over Hootsuite

It was a great relationship while it lasted. Sure, we had our ups and downs. Sometimes they couldn’t be relied upon to do what they were supposed to do, but on the whole, they were there when I needed them.

Not anymore!

Yep, my love affair with Hootsuite has come to a screeching halt. Last week, with no warning at all, they changed their free plan, subsequently screwing over a lot of people, me included.

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For the uninitiated, Hootsuite’s free plan allowed you to auto-schedule up to 10 posts per profile per day. More if you manually scheduled them. But now they’ve well and truly throttled their scheduling ability, again, without warning, to a maximum of 10 posts total, across all profiles. Meaning if I schedule 10 Twitter posts, I can’t then schedule anything for Facebook. Personally, I think this is an underhanded and somewhat dumb move.

Of course, the reasoning behind this will be money money money. By limiting the number of posts, they’ll be looking to force people’s hands into signing up for their paid accounts. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will go quite the way they plan. Sure, some less social media savvy people might cave because it’s the only platform they know, but for others, like me (small businesses, charities, low/unwaged) this will probably get us looking for better options/deals elsewhere, even perhaps a paid one. And guess what? we’ll find them!

I use Buffer for free as well. I am limited to 10 posts at any one time, but this is per profile (as Hootsuite used to be). I can schedule 10 post on Twitter and 10 posts on Facebook. Any surplus can then be added to Facebook’s inbuilt scheduler, or to Tweetdeck. Sidenote: Yes Tweetdeck is crap functionality wise, but it’s free (and likely to remain so), so hey! For some, this bit of extra faffing around with multiple schedulers may not even be an issue if they only post a couple of times a day.

And what if I suddenly decide, “Hmm, maybe I should get a paid account for some extra functionality,”? Well, even then Hootsuite won’t be (shouldn’t be) the go-to account. At pretty much half the price of Hootsuite’s basic ‘Professional’ plan, Buffer’s basic ‘Awesome’ plan would be the way to go (Buffer = $10 per month (with a 15% saving if you pay annually!), Hootsuite = $19 per month).

Okay, so Hootsuite’s paid plan gives you 500 posts per month, whereas Buffer only gives you 100, but as far as I can tell, with Buffer that’s 100 posts per profile, whereas Hootsuite’s 500 will be divided across profiles. So if you use just Twitter and Facebook, that’ll be 250 each per month. If you throw in Linkedin say. With Buffer, you’ll still get 100 posts for that too, but with Hootsuite, you’ll be reduced to 166 posts per profile. As you can see, the more profiles you have, the better deal Buffer becomes compared to Hootsuite. And let’s face it, chances are, both plans probably provide way more slots than actually needed with their basic plans, especially for small organisations, or independent users like me.

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Sorry Hootsuite, you’re now nothing more than a turkey!

Google’s Digital Garage – A Review

It all started with Facebook winning the war with Adblock. The sponsored posts and ads that I didn’t want to see cluttering up my feed came back with a vengeance. How I rolled my eyes, after all, it’s bad enough that Facebook keeps changing my feed back to ‘Top Stories’ without having to wade through, what I consider, irrelevant tat. However, one advert kept popping up repeatedly in my timeline that piqued my interest, that being the one advertising Google’s Digital Garage.

What got me intrigued was that a) it was about marketing and the web, and b) it was free. I’m always up for a bit of free training, and as I wanted to learn more about SEO and the like for both marketing my novels, and for gaining extra skills in the realm of social media with the hopes of getting a job, I decided to have a look.

Briefly, the Digital Garage provides “free tutorials from Google on everything from your website to online marketing and beyond. Choose the topics you want to learn, or complete the whole online course for a certification from Google and IAB Europe.”

I signed up using my Google account, after which it asked me some questions about my online needs. Using my answers, the site formulated my personal learning plan, picking select modules from its selection of 23. For me that was 9 modules. Each module came with 3 to 6 videos, which were, on average, about 3 minutes long (overall they ranged between 3 and 6 minutes long).

After each video was a short quiz, and each module ended with a longer quiz. Once I’d watched all the videos, and passed all the quizzes for my selected modules, all the rest of the modules became unlocked, and I could work through them to gain a final certificate. Which I did….

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The videos were easy to watch, and each module can probably be completed in less than an hour. So basically, if you do a module a day, the whole course will take less than 23 days. The quizzes were pretty simple, but if you got any questions wrong you could take them again until you got 100%. The ease of the quizzes might seem a bit of a cop out to some, as basically you can keep trying the answers until you get full marks, but to be honest, the video content is the more important thing.

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My completed Digital Garage modules

I have to say, I genuinely learnt some new things, had a few aha moments, and made a load of notes. Now, not every module was relevant to me, for instance, creating a mobile app is probably not something I’ll need to do, but the seeds of knowledge are there should I ever work for a company that might benefit from one. I’ve gained a bit more knowledge about web content, keywords, SEO, and becoming more visible on the web, which as an indie-author is important. Starting up my blog again has been as a direct result of doing the Digital Garage.

Would I recommend doing the Digital Garage? Yes. As I said, it doesn’t take long to do, even if you only do an hour a day, and your online strategy may benefit from the information provided in the videos. To be honest, you have nothing to lose in doing it. And once you’ve completed it you get a nice certificate that you can show off on the likes of LinkedIn.