How to use HootSuite for PR and online marketing

Its dashboard can streamline the way you use Twitter—from scheduling tweets to monitoring brand mentions, even helping you identify journalists who’d genuinely love to hear from you.

A common challenge my clients face in social media marketing is a lack of time and focus.

Hootsuite can help. You can get more out of Twitter through streams and custom searches, all available in Hootsuite’s free version.

By setting up streams within your Hootsuite dashboard, you can filter the mass of information on Twitter and get what you need quickly.

Several streams should be standard: the home stream (pulls the Twitter home feed), mentions stream (every time someone mentions your Twitter handle), messages inbox stream (to show DMs) and the retweets stream (shows your tweets retweeted).

Custom streams enable you to monitor what people are saying about your brand when they don’t use your Twitter handle, to spot potential customers and engage in relevant conversations, and to use Twitter as a PR tool.

Employ the custom brand search stream.

People might talk about my agency, Impression, without writing @impressiontalk. I can still keep track of that chatter.

To set up a custom stream to monitor mentions of your brand, select “add stream” and choose “search” in the tabs at the top:


Select the profile you want to set up the stream for, and enter your search query into the box.

Your query should include search modifiers—similar to those in advanced Google searches—to specify when the results must include multiple phrases or could include different phrases.

For example, I’ve set up a custom brand search stream to show instances of people mentioning Impression, and I’ve asked the stream to show variations on our brand name. Here is what’s in the search query box:

“Impression” OR “Impression Digital” OR “Impression Digital Limited” OR “Impression Digital Ltd” OR “Impression Agency” OR “Aaron Dicks”

I’ve included “Impression Agency,” which was our name when the agency launched, as well as the name of our marketing director, Aaron. This stream lets me see what people are saying about us and about Aaron, all in one place. Now I can respond, retweet and follow those users straight from my Hootsuite dashboard.

Use the custom product or service search stream.

This stream searches for mentions of your products or services, helping you identify potential customers, people who are sharing opinions about your product or service, or those seeking advice about it. You can answer their questions or cultivate their business—or both.

I work for a digital marketing agency, so I’ve set up a custom search that looks like this:

“Digital marketing” OR “SEO” OR “PPC” OR “online marketing” OR “ecommerce” OR “content marketing” OR “digital PR”

Often, these searches yield a lot of results. To refine it you might add a location—particularly useful if you provide services only within a certain area. For example:

“Plumber” OR “plumbing service” OR “plumbers” AND “Nottingham” OR “Notts”

One coffee shop’s team set up a search for “coffee” and their local area. In one successful incident, they identified a woman who had tweeted about her nightmare day and the need for a good coffee. They offered her a reserved seat and a free coffee to help her relax. Their generosity generated far more in PR value than the coffee cost them, while exemplifying great social listening.

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That’s what these streams are all about—being tuned in to what your target audience and customers are saying, so you can appeal to them in appropriate and valuable ways. It’s all about generating new business and revenue.

Optimize Hootsuite for public relations.

You can also use Hootsuite as a PR tool, thanks to the array of hashtags used by PR professionals and the availability of their Twitter handles.

Find new PR opportunities with a hashtag search. Journalists use hashtags to identify commenters and contributors; search industry-specific hashtags to find them.

There are also more general hashtags used by journalists across all industries. Two common hashtags are:

  • #journorequest
  • #prrequest

Using the technique described above, set up a custom stream to search for #journorequest OR #prrequest.

This will deliver journalist requests to your dashboard. You can always refine the stream. For example, a client rents out holiday cottages in the New Forest, so I set up this hashtag search:

#journorequest OR #prrequest AND “new forest” OR “holiday cottage” OR “holiday cottages” OR “travel”

This delivers opportunities to contribute to relevant journalist requests.

Follow local and industry-specific journalists.

You can search for journalists’ Twitter handles. Many are posted on their newspapers’ websites; some are available in Twitter lists.

By searching for their handles, you can see what they’re tweeting about and gauge the stories that might interest them, as well as seeing their requests for contributors or stories. You can tweet them directly if you have a story topic you think they’d cover.

Use it for scheduling.

Hootsuite enables you to schedule a tweet for a specific day and time or to use its “auto schedule” feature, which determines when your audience is active and thus when the best times to tweet are. The scheduling tool, within the tweet area, looks like this:


Of course, scheduling should be done with caution. An ill-timed tweet can sully your brand or your client’s reputation.

The key to Twitter success lies in conversation. The danger with scheduling is that you become a broadcaster rather than a conversationalist. Check Twitter a couple of times a day to respond when people contact you or mention something relevant. Your new streams will make this much easier.

Laura Hampton is the marketing manager at the digital marketing agency Impression. A version of this article first appeared on SmartBlog on Social Media.

Topics: PR

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