My five favourite things about Hootsuite

When I first used Hootsuite, it felt like I was sitting at the control panel of a spaceship. So many columns, so many posts! What if I end up like George Clooney in Gravity!? But once you’ve got the hang of it – which doesn’t take long at all with this helpful beginners’ guide – you’ll never want to go back. It makes managing multiple social media accounts a breeze, but even for just one account, it helps you run your social media better.  I still feel like I’m in spaceship, but now it’s looking down at all the busy planets of Facebookland, the Twitterverse and LinkedInland.

Here are my five favourite things about Hootsuite:

  1. You can manage it all from one window.

    Research has shown that 42% of adults are using multiple social networks so your brand had better be there too. Hootsuite is essentially a dashboard which supports social network integration for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, TrendSpottr and Mixi (I’ve never heard of the last two either) without you having to hop from window to window.

  2. You can schedule posts.

    This cultivates the practice of planning your content which is crucial to good social media management. Being able to schedule posts means that you have to think ahead: figure out what’s coming up, what you want to highlight, what kinds of interaction you want to foster and what content you want to share. This awareness gives your content structure, saves you time and completely eliminates the dreaded morning feeling of, “Oh crap, what am I going to post today?” which generally ends up being something lame, which helps no one.

  3. You can see action quickly and easily.

    All of your notifications show up on your dashboard so you can keep track of interactions immediately. You can also read through all of the feeds of all of your platforms in one place. Not only that, you can see your private messages, set up lists and see what you’ve scheduled.

  4. You can dip in whenever you like.

    While you can schedule your posts ahead of time, there is nothing rigid about the platform; you can jump in to share something spontaneous or join a conversation at any point.

  5. You can shorten URLs in a flash.

    For the times when characters need conserving, Hootsuite has a built-in URL shortener. Simple, quick, easy.

Quite simply, Hootsuite helps you work smarter. It’s integral to efficient working methods like How to Spend Only 10 Minutes Per Day on Twitter.

Twitter_time

Five reasons why I love Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms – particularly in South Africa. And I just love it.

Are you on it? Because you should be. Here are five reasons why it’s creeping into my heart.

1, With Instagram filters, even your driver’s license photo looks good. True story.

2. The character limit is quite generous, and sometimes the captions are even lovelier than the images. There is something about the artsy vibe of Instagram that tends to inspire people to think of more creative captions. Being a words person, I sort of love this about a visually-driven platform.

3. You can be inspired by such a wide range of posts and people to follow. No matter what time of day I check, the following are always in my feed: incredible travel destinations, awesome fitness inspiration, beautiful poetry (tip: follow tylerknott – seriously. Just do it.), and little windows into the lives of my friends.

4. The short video feature – just enough to entertain you, not long enough to get boring.

5. While you may get a kick out of following celebrities on Instagram and getting a first-hand snapshot of their “real” lives (once they’ve been selectively filtered and cropped), it’s the rare glimpses into reality that I love most. Case in point: Anna Kendrick. And photos like this one, which is captioned: “I would just like to remind everyone of the reality of the situation.”

anna kendrick

You can follow me @skgurney and Liz on @123_liz_is_me

The importance of a dance break

Dancing is rarely associated with office culture except, perhaps, in the regrettable case of Christmas parties when a few sad strings of tinsel and too much free booze compel people to reprise their famous air guitar solos.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. At the Pomegranite office (which we share with the awesome Agriprotein crowd) we take fun dance breaks seriously. It’s not about dancing well and it’s not about looking cool (as the story of how it started shows). Bored of working on our accounts, I decided to recreate this amazing music video:

It was so good that Sarah had to take a photo (everybody cheering me is just out of frame).

dance break

Spitting image right?

Since then, we’ve been cranking up a great tune, having a singalong and moving our bodies. It’s about getting out of your head and back into your groovy body for a little bit. The benefits are SO worth it:

  • getting up and moving gives your back and stiff muscles a break
  • the music (and laughter) help clear your mind and improve your mood
  • those couple of minutes are transportative – you return to your desk renewed
  • having some fun and (most importantly) not taking yourself seriously bring your office mates closer.

So go, turn up something you can’t resist and get on down!

Five tips for a strong LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn may not be the sexiest social media platform, but it’s a really useful one. Apart from connecting you to thousands of professionals and potential clients, employers, employees, and/or associates, it helps significantly with your Google ranking as well as giving you or your business an added sense of legitimacy.

Here are five tips for creating a stronger LinkedIn profile:

1. Use an avatar – and keep it professional

Having a profile picture on your LinkedIn profile is crucial. Not only does the default avatar make your profile look incomplete, but LinkedIn will automatically move your profile to the bottom of the search results. Adding a professional photo gives you a definite advantage – that’s the key, here. A bikini beach pic, or you in your wedding dress, is not going to do you any favours on this particular platform, unfortunately.

2. Add media to your profile

Do you know what the three fastest growing apps of 2013 were? Vine, Flickr and Instagram – all visual platforms using photos and video. The “visual” is more important than ever, and your LinkedIn profile is no exception. Adding elements like photos, presentations and PDFs will make your profile stand out.

3. Have a strong summary

Your profile summary should be strong, punchy, and full of key words related to your industry that people are likely to search for. When someone clicks on your profile, they want to get a clear idea of who you are and what you have to offer within a few seconds. The moment they have to trawl through a jumbled concoction of your work history and qualifications to construct a picture of you, you will lose them.

4. Publish blog posts

LinkedIn allows you to share links – and the best way to take advantage of this is to share links to your own blog/business news feed. That way you establish yourself as a leader in the field, someone with thoughts and opinions on best practices, someone who offers valuable tips and information. This is content marketing 101.

5. Endorsements and recommendations

Endorsements are great on LinkedIn – they are very easy to give and it’s therefore quite easy to rack up a nice collection of them. Even more valuable, though, are written recommendations from previous employers or colleagues. While these take more time and energy than a click of the mouse (which is all an endorsement takes), they are worth asking for.