Hootsuite Certification: What? Why? and How?

So last weekend, I took the plunge and – in between bouts of frantically revising for my final research exam this Monday (which I really shouldn’t have bothered stressing about as it was super straightforward) – I finally got around to completing my Hootsuite Professional Certification. YAY! With that in mind, I thought it might be an idea to give a bit of a breakdown as to what Hootsuite is and what value a certification in it might (or might not) have within a creative career.

Hootsuite Certified Professional

So what IS Hootsuite?

Hootsuite is a social media management system that collates the feeds of all your social media profiles, such as Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress, Reddit etc.), and integrates them all within one handy dashboard.

Whether its your Twitter ‘mentions’, your Facebook comments, or your Instagram feed, you can have multiple streams that are personalised to whatever areas you are interested in keeping on top of. Plus, when you upgrade to Hootsuite Pro, you’ll also get access to ‘Bulk upload’ features, the ability to filter your feed by your user’s Klout score, AND the ability to analyse your data to give you the info on how to increase your followers, your content’s reach and your engagement with your community.

How do you get certified?

Honestly? It’s pretty simple. All you need to do is upgrade to Hootsuite Pro, Sign up to Hootsuite university (which is free with the Pro setup, go through the video lessons in ‘Getting started’ and ‘Advanced Tactics’, and then take the 40 question, multiple-choice exam. Super straightforward and super easy!

Why bother?

Although I am without doubt more than a bit of a social media addict, and (to be perfectly honest) this certification is incredibly easy to pass (in part because half the questions seemed a tad too ‘self-congratulatory’ about their work), I wanted to be certified in part because A) it gave me the opportunity to learn how to apply the professional features of a REALLY commonly used tool in PR, Advertising and Marketing, and B) it gave me the reassurance that I was using the software properly.

Would I recommend?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: It depends.

On the one hand, if you’re already working in a professional role where using Hootsuite is a daily part of your role, then getting professionally certified might be a bit of an overkill as you’re most likely going to pick up what you need to know merely through doing your job.

On the other hand though, if you’re still a student, or are yet to secure a job where social media plays a part, its always good to have another skill box to tick – especially when you can take advantage of the free trial to get it done. The (only) downside of this however, is that once you downgrade/stop paying for Hootsuite Pro, you lose your place within their ‘Certified Professionals’ database. Whether this is an issue for you however is up to you. For me, I’d hope my work would demonstrate my knowledge more than having my name in a database – though admittedly that is nice to have.

#GE2015. Britain’s ‘Social Media Election’

Sixty years since the 1955 ‘Television election’, 2015 is looking to be the year in which social media platforms will play a decisive role in reaching Britain’s electorate.

Although Marketing Magazine reports that the Conservatives are expected to “outspend Labour 3:1, opting for traditional media”, Labour is putting more emphasis on door-to-door canvassing due to Miliband’s desire to have “4 million face-to-face conversations”. This means that despite less financial spend, Labour is equally more likely to be harnessing the influence and engagement potential of digital and social platforms.

This I think has been perfectly demonstrated during tonight’s Sky/Channel 4 Leader debate between PM David Cameron and Labour leader, Ed Miliband, which generated a considerable amount of simultaneous discussion across Twitter via the amazing – if a tad long – hashtag #Battlefornumber10.

Tweets ranged from the tongue-in-cheek:

To the thoughtfully considered:

To the frustrated outrage in response to the behaviour of Kay Burnley and Jeremy Paxman:

The vital role of social media within politics is becoming ever more widely accepted, and now it is becoming increasingly obvious that whichever party is first to develop and implement a convincing social media strategy will have a distinct advantage this upcoming May. Sites such as Facebook have already been used successfully in the US as a way to engage with – and gather information from – potential voters, and in the UK, 24million people have signed up to the service. This of course gives political parties a pool of voters from which to fish (or more accurately target and engage) on a more personal and responsive level than anything offered via traditional forms.

According to some however, social media is “massively overrated”. Richard Huntington, group chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, argues that “It’s great at preaching to the converted and distributing leaders’ speeches or policy points, but political messaging rarely escapes its bubble, unless it’s very amusing.” Personally I think I’d disagree with this.

Although ‘amusing’ posts and tweets (particularly tongue-in-cheek satire) create increased ‘talkability’ online (thus enhancing a post (and brand’s) potential reach), I think this view doesn’t take into consideration the age old adage that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

I mean, it’s no real coincidence that only 55% of MPs in the safest seats use Twitter compared to nearly 90% of MPs in the most marginal seats. Being in a ‘safe’ seat erases the need for an MP to engage in a two-way conversation with their electorate – which I honestly think is to the detriment of the political sphere as I’m wholeheartedly a supporter of the ways that engagement and communication builds trust and brand loyalty.

Personally, I think a multi-pronged/integrated campaign approach will work best. Combine the power of Ad agencies which deliver strong, strategic messages, with the considerable influence and attention generated by public relations, as well as the personalisation and responsiveness allowed by digital and social platforms, and I think you’re/your brand is in with a winning recipe for increased engagement, trust and loyalty from your audiences.

Overall I think tonight has given me a lot to think about…

I was planning on dedicating a considerable part of my dissertation this year to analysing @Nick_Clegg’s Twitter use in the month prior to the election using a range of frameworks, but I have to say that tonight’s debate raises a new potential focus…

Do I continue looking at the influence of (and need for) trust within political (ie. the Liberal Democrats) brands, or….

do I look at the role of and way that social media is being used in the run up to the election….

Advertising done right

When done right and based on the right insights, advertising doesn’t bog down the creative concept with marketing artifice. Sometimes it’s about just stepping back and letting your subjects say what they really feel. The 2008 NHS Smokefree Generation was one of the first to get out of the way of its subject’s personal appeals to their parents, but this year’s #PutYourHeartToPaper Valentine’s Day campaign by Hallmark, to me, goes one better in bringing a couple together who’ve been married 56 years, and asking them to describe their feelings for each other without using the word “love”.

Introducing 500 word ‘fixes’: Subject 1 – Interflora

We use flowers to mark every occasion. They decorate weddings and holidays, mark births and deaths, and say ‘Thank you’ or ‘Get well soon’. Interflora: the largest and most experienced flower delivery network in the world, has been helping its customers’ “Say it with flowers” for nearly a century. Its reputation for excellence, based on the work of its award-winning florists, is centred on three specific brand values; ‘trusted’, ‘personal touch’, and ‘WOW! Factor’.

However, Interflora’s customers are invariably middle aged men and women. If you ask young adults where they would go to buy gifts for their loved ones, flowers has fallen down the ranks; even asking them where they would go to specifically buy flowers will rarely spark recognition of the Interflora brand. Instead, they’ll think of supermarkets, whose focus is on convenience and low prices, leading to supermarket’s market share rising so that over 70% of the UK’s £2.25 billion flower sales are now bought there.

I propose that to increase brand awareness within young people and regain market share, Interflora needs to tap into the mind-sets and consumption habits of young people so as to raise the profile of buying premium hand-delivered florist-made bouquets as opposed to a cheaper supermarket alternative.

Praised for their delicate beauty and heady aroma, flowers are often given to loved ones such as parents and grandparents, so I propose a digitally-led integrated campaign which focuses on them as the recipients. However, rather than using the standard sentiment of “I love you” for these recipients, I believe that saying “Thanks” holds more creative potential. Our parents and grandparents after all, are often those who’ve most actively shaped our childhoods and therefore the adults that we become. Centring a campaign around this fact can therefore have universal appeal, tapping into the gratitude of young people, the nostalgia of the elderly, and the sentimentality of all.

The campaign would consist of an initial series of short videos on Facebook showing, for example, how a grandmother’s role in teaching her granddaughter to bake sparked a passion for cookery, resulting in the granddaughter getting a job in a top kitchen. Simultaneously, under the hashtag #minetaughtme, a Twitter campaign can be used to tap into real people’s memories of growing up and how those experiences have shaped their lives, with the results being used to reward lucky users with a discounted bouquet delivery to their loved ones as well as to create additional videos which can be aired both on and off-line for maximum reach

I would also seek celebrity endorsement, as gaining their stories on how their parents’ and grandparents’ actions during their childhood influenced their success as adults would, without doubt, boost the campaign’s appeal and recognition amongst its target audience. I would also utilise their inclusion by hosting Interflora-sponsored events in shopping areas across the country to celebrate and reward particular parents/grandparents with a surprise bouquet whilst they’re shopping with their loved ones.