Please note, although I wrote this article some time ago, it is being updated regularly. (February, 2014)
I’ve written an updated guide on Hootsuite and Social Media Management Tools and why you and your business should be using one. We look at the pros and cons of using HootSuite and discuss alternatives.
Hootsuite is one of the most popular and comprehensive social media tools out there. Yes, there is Tweet Deck and cotweet, but Hootsuite is considered the “crème de la crème” of the Social Media Tools World. I’ve used it for many years and I’ve recommended it regularly for my clients and still do.
It was launched back in December 2008 by the digital agency Invoke Media. With a list of features as long as, well, something long, it’s hard to see why you’d never want to use Hootsuite.
Here are some of Hootsuite’s many features:
- Manage multiple Twitter, Facebook (profiles and pages), LinkedIn, ping.fm, Word Press, Foursquare and Google+ networks all from one place
- Schedule updates (including on a calendar and even upload from a spreadsheet (csv file)
- Collaborate as a team (delegate replies, tweets, mark as done, track messages etc)
- Mobile apps (iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry)
- Customised analytics (including scheduled reports)
- RSS integration (post updates from an RSS feed)
- Helpful and comprehensive support pages and friendly customer support team
However, this post isn’t about the reasons why you should use Hootsuite, this is a post on why you should not! I know the title of this post is a little provocative, but I don’t mean to be overly negative. Hootsuite will be the right product for a lot of people– this post is about a few issues that may be a deal breaker for some people. I’d be really interested in your thoughts, so please let me know in the comments. To get a more balanced view, you should also have a read of my more recent post entitled 7 Reasons why you SHOULD use Hootsuite.
It boils down to 2 main reasons and only affects (mostly) small businesses and individuals. The 2 points are cost and lock down. Although Hootsuite has a free option, and the pro option isn’t exactly expensive there are some very expensive parts to Hootsuite which you may need. When I originally wrote this article Hootsuite Pro cost $5.99 per month, then it increased to $9.99. Also, from May 2013 Hootsuite started to offer prices in different currencies and discounts for paying yearly, so effectively you can get Hootsuite Pro for $8.99 per month.
Anyway, here are my top reasons for NOT using Hootsuite…
#1 Hootsuite Analytics are REALLY expensive
Don’t get me wrong, Hootsuite have gone out their way to produce some awesome analytics reports. These can in great detail how your social networks are doing.
You buy reports using points. Assuming you are on the Pro plan (now $8.99 per month if you pay yearly as of May 2013) you get 50 points to use every month. There are some free reports but most reports are 45 points which will cost you $50 (or $45 if you pay yearly) on top of your 1 free report each month. If you are serious about monitoring your social media performance then this is simply not going to be enough.
Yes, there are free reports like the ow.ly one (more on this later) but the others are $50 per report. As a medium-to-large size business with a large social media team this may well be fine, but for smaller businesses or individuals this is just going to be way too expensive. Some may say that these reports are worth it, and in some regards I’d agree. The Google analytics integration is just awesome and the Facebook report is a massive improvement on what Facebook give you. As I said, if you can afford these reports then great.
Perhaps the ow.ly report is enough for some– this gives you the number of click throughs, which location they were from and the referrer. However, you are forced to use Hootsuite’s ow.ly url shortener, which brings me on to my next point…
#2 ow.ly is Compulsory
(Forced to use the ow.ly url shorteners)
Of course, where would we be without url shorteners? They started as a result of people wanting to add links to their Tweets without using up as much space. Later on, url shortener providers offered tracking services, as they also had the advantage of tracking how many clicks were made on the link (and tracking information of the person who clicked the linked link like location and what browser they were using). Hootsuite have their own url shortners– ow.ly and ht.ly. That’s fair enough, but you are forced to use them (unless you add your own custom url shortener– more of that in a bit).
As well as broadcasting to everyone that you are using Hootsuite (which, to be fair, happens with any non-custom url shortener) you can only track any click throughs that have been added from within Hootsuite. This is a real problem, as if like many, you use other services such as Buffer, Social Oomph, Twit Pic or even Tweet Deck, then you can’t track the links you’ve added here. The Hootsuite reports that you’ve paid for won’t give you the whole story. If you use other analytics services such as Twenty Feet, bit.ly or Buffer App then they won’t show the click throughs from the Hootsuite links. You could of course monitor reports from each, but that’s no easy task.
Perhaps, that’s what Hootsuite want. They want to lock you in– they don’t want you to use other services. For some, this isn’t a big issue. For the big companies out there, offering customer services via Twitter, Hootsuite will be the best option– they don’t need to use Buffer or Twit Pic. However, if you use multiple services on your Twitter account then you are out of luck. Finally, although only a temporary blip, there was an issue when Facebook blocked all ow.ly urls. Hopefully that won’t happen again.
#3 Expensive Custom URL Shorteners
This isn’t going to put everyone off. How many people actually use custom url shorteners? I use a custom url shortener for the links I share on my social networks– to.iag.me. This personalises my links, makes them more clickable and more professional. I use bit.ly for this, which allows me to add a custom url for free. Of course you have to pay for the domain, but in my case I didn’t have to pay any extra as it’s a sub-domain.
If you want to use a custom url shortener (or an ow.ly custom vanity URL as Hootsuite call it) then it’s $49.99. Well, I suppose that isn’t too bad, except that that is the cost per month. That means using a custom url shortener will cost you $588.88 per year on top of the cost of the domain! You get a slight discount if you pay this in one big chunk per year– $539.88. This is madness, especially since when you consider you are still locked into only using Hootsuite’s reports.
#4 Facebook Image Problem
(No Thumbnail & Summary previews in Facebook in Certain Situations)
If you are posting or sharing a link to your Facebook page, ones with photos and a summary are far more likely to be clicked than ones with just a short text status. When you post a single update or use the standard scheduler in Hootsuite, it does post the thumbnail and summary. It gets this from the open graph tags on the web page or tries to have a good guess. However, if you use the bulk scheduler (uploading from a csv file) or use the RSS feature (posting directly from an RSS feed) you are stuck. Facebook is only going to get the text in a Tweet-like status (see the screenshot on the left).
I did contact Hootsuite about this, and to be fair they were quick in responding “Yes that is correct, if you schedule a post you can choose the thumbnail and it will post. However this is not a feature yet with Rss feeds and Bulk schedule, we invite you to submit this idea to our feedback forum here: http://feedback.hootsuite.com”. Hootsuite Help also replied to a Tweet saying that it probably wouldn’t be added in the future due to “logistical reasons”.
#5 No Data in Facebook Insights
Barbara Karnes (in the comments) came up with a 5th reason:
When posting new content to Facebook via Hootsuite, those posts do not track the, likes, shares, and comments that you received in Facebook’s Insights analytical data for that post. The likes, comments and share do exist when viewing from the front end Wall and Feeds, but the “credit” for getting them is not recorded in any way by Insights.
#6 Facebook EdgeRank Issue
This doesn’t just affect Hootsuite, but bear in mind that some people have seen a drop in the visablity of Facebook page posts when using a 3rd party app such as Hootsuite. Although the EdgeRank score (which determines how likely your post will appear on your Fan’s newsfeeds) isn’t supposed to be affected, many say it is. Now that Facebook have their own scheduling system, it may be better to use Facebook instead.
#7. Expensive for Teams
Team users is one of Hootsuite’s killer features. It allows multiple members of a social media team to access multiple social media channels without needing to know the password for each one. This is very important for a security point of view and is why so many big companies use Hootsuite. If you use Twitter for customer service, being able to delegate tasks between team members is going to be integral to your way of working. Hootsuite Pro and Enterprise should be affordable by the big businesses that work this way. For smaller businesses however, Hootsuite users are going to be expensive.
I was under the impression that extra team users (on the pro account) cost $9.99 per month but on close examination but it’s not quite as simple as that. You get 2 user free per month on the Pro account (and one of these users is you). The 3rd user costs $9.99 per month, and then each one up to 10 users is $14.99 per month. 10 users is going to cost $1,800 per year. If you want 11 users, you’re going to have to sign up for Hootsuite Enterprise which costs an eye watering $18,000 per year as the maximum number of users for Pro accounts is 10. Here is a table that summaries the user cost (since it’s far from obvious from Hootsuite).
In 2013 Hootsuite started offering a discount if you pay yearly. Please note that Hootsuite now offer prices in different currencies, so if you are in the UK you will now be offered prices in £s.
(If paying mthly)
(If paying yrly)
|1||Included in Free Plan||$0||$0||$0|
|2||Included in Pro Plan||$9.99||$119.88||$107.88|
|3||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 extra user at $9.99/mth||$19.99||$239.88||$215.88|
|4||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 extra user at $9.99/mth + 1 user at $14.99/mth||$34.99||$419.88||$377.88|
|5||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at $9.99/mth + 2 users at $14.99/mth||$49.99||$599.88||$539.88|
|6||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at $9.99/mth + 3 users at $14.99/mth||$64.99||$779.88||$701.88|
|7||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at $9.99/mth + 4 users at $15/mth||$79.99||$959.88||$863.88|
|8||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at $9.99/mth + 5 users at $14.99/mth||$94.99||$1139.88||$1025.88|
|9||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at $9.99/mth + 6 users at $14.99/mth||$109.99||$1319.88||$1187.88|
|10||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at $9.99/mth + 7 users at $14.99/mth||$124.99||$1499.88||$1349.88|
|11+||The maximum number of users in Hoostuite Pro is 10, to add more users you will need a Hootsuite Enterprise account.|
Hootsuite don’t publish the prices for Enterprises, so this is the last known price. Hopefully it should be cheaper than this.
|$1499 (?)||$17,988||$17,988 (?)|
UK Prices in dollars
Hootsuite now offer prices in a few other currencies . If you live in the UK for example you have to pay in pounds (since 8th March, 2013). This is determined by your IP address. Unfortunately the prices are quite a bit more expensive in other currencies. You could try and dodge this by connecting to a VPN to get a United States IPN, delete your cookies and visit the sign up page, but that is trying to trick Hootsuite into thinking you are from the US which may be morally grey. Here are the prices in pounds with the conversion to dollars. Please note that the exchange rate changes all the time, so please do check what it is currently.
(in £ on
(converted to $ from
(in $ for US users on
|1||Included in Free Plan||£0||$0||$0|
|2||Included in Pro Plan||£7.99||$12.38||$9.99|
|3||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 extra user at £7.99/mth||£15.98||$24.77||$19.99|
|4||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 extra user at £7.99/mth + 1 user at £11.99/mth||£27.97||$43.35||$34.99|
|5||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at £7.99/mth + 2 users at £11.99/mth||£39.96||$61.94||$49.99|
|6||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at £7.99/mth + 3 users at £11.99/mth||£51.95||$80.52||$64.99|
|7||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at £7.99/mth + 4 users at £11.99/mth||£63.94||$99.11||$79.99|
|8||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at £7.99/mth + 5 users at £11.99/mth||£75.93||$117.69||$94.99|
|9||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at £7.99/mth + 6 users at £11.99/mth||£87.92||$136.28||$109.99|
|10||2 are included in Pro Plan + 1 at £7.99/mth + 7 users at £11.99/mth||£99.91||$154.86||$124.99|
What should I use instead?
I still use Hootsuite for certain tasks such as displaying multiple streams from multiple accounts. This is something that Hootsuite does very well. Here are some alternatives depending on what you are trying to do…
Displaying Streams of Tweets (and replying)
Update May 2013– Now Twitter Management Only. This used to be one of my top recommendations, but Twitter have done their best to make this less useful. TweetDeck used to be able to manage your Facebook profile but now it is just for Twitter. Also, as I mentioned in a recent Seriously Social News podcast, Twitter are pulling the plug on the Adobe Air version which had more features
Sprout Social (from $39/mth)
A big competitor to Hootsuite with some awesome features (really snazzy reports, multiple bit.ly url shortener integration, Google+ pages etc) - it does have a hefty price tag though– prices start at $39/user/month. There is no free account but they offer a free trial.
Sendible (from $9.99/mth)
Similar to Hootsuite and SproutSocial with an impressive array of features. It supports Twitter, Facebook profiles, pages and groups, LinkedIn profiles and groups, Google+ pages, Foursquare and more. The prices are very reasonably priced starting from $9.99 per month. There is no free account but they offer a free trial.
Although fairly basic, GrabInbox is free and allows you to manage multiple Facebook (profiles and pages), Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.
Social media management tool with team collaboration at its heart. Only supports Twitter. Integrates with both bit.ly and Feedly. Prices based on number of followers– $19/month for up to 20,000 followers to $99/mth for up to 100,000 followers.
A new UK based social media management platform which is geared primarily towards medium to large teams of social managers, although smaller businesses are supported. Many of the team and collaborative features on offer would only be available on the expensive HootSuite Enterprise plan. Prices available on application.
A social media management tool primarily built for Business to Business (B2B) marketing. Supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (profiles, company pages and groups), Google+. Oktopost shines by allowing scheduling across multiple social networks including LinkedIn groups and by using a scheduling calendar. There is a free account and paid accounts range from $49/mth to $249/mth.
Posting Tweets (including scheduling)
Buffer App (free or $9.99/mth)
Allows you to post or cross post to Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages or groups), LinkedIn (profile, groups or company pages), Google+ business pages or app.net. You can either post straight away or create a schedule for each social network. Buffer is an amazing tool and one that I use every day. For more information see my post on 10 Must Have Social Media Tools for Small Businesses.
(As mentioned above)
Social Media Relationship Tools
I’d also highly recommend Commun.it which is a full Twitter community management tool or CRM. As well as being able to manage multiple Twitter accounts you can find out who is relevant in your Twitter community. Examples include your influencers or people who support you. You can also find out who is talking about you or your business or who is linking to your website and interact with them straight away.
I don’t have enough room to go into it here, but please see my Complete Guide on how to Manage your Twitter Community using Commun.it together with its walkthrough video.
There are plenty of other tools out there that offer similar services to Hootsuite. Have a look at some of the comments below and let me know if you know of ones that you’ve personally used and would recommend. In particular I recommend reading my latest article (May 2013) on my recommended social media tools for small businesses.
If you need any more help on getting started with Hootsuite or want more advice in whether or not Hootsuite is for you, check out these posts…
- HootSuite Tutorial Video (Basic Blog Tips)
- Hootsuite Review (PC Mag)
- HootSuite Review – 5 Reasons to Use HootSuite as Your Social Media Dashboard (Adam Troudart)
- 7 Reasons why you SHOULD use Hootsuite
- 10 Must Have Social Media Tools for Small Businesses
So there you go, 7 valid reasons not to use Hootsuite. Of course, you may well feel these aren’t strong enough reasons, but they are annoyances that I have found with it. Despite all this, I would still recommend Hootsuite to businesses in many situations. If they have the resources to pay for the extra features and especially if they want to use it for customer service.
What do you think? Please do add your comments below.