Hootsuitehootsuite pro (1) offers a free and a paid-for service. Is it worth upgrading to the paid version of Hootsuite? Or does the free option provide everything you might need?

We all love our free tools but sometimes paying for a tool makes or saves us a lot more money than the cost!

If you are a Hootsuite user, I’m sure you have considered whether or not you should upgrade and, at $10 per month, it’s not a big expense.  In this post, we will look at the different features available for free and Hootsuite pro users.

Hootsuite Freemium Model

I was running a training course recently and someone asked me why so many tools offer their software for free.

This is known as a freemium model, where ‘free’ and ‘premium’ are combined to make the word ‘freemium’. It usually means that the majority of users use the tool for free and a small percentage upgrade to the paid version.  But, even just a small proportion of users upgrading can lead to a company making good profits.

Hootsuite has over 10 million users and the vast majority use the service for free.

Here is a Hootsuite review which shows severn differences between the free and premium accounts offered by Hootsuite:

1. Number of Social Profiles

Free Hootsuite users can manage three social profiles on the site, and Pro users can include up to 50.

If you are just using Hootsuite to post to a personal Twitter and Facebook account, the free profile probably does exactly what you need. But, if you have separate personal and professional Twitter accounts, Google+ Pages, LinkedIn, and multiple Facebook Pages to manage, the Pro account allows you to deal with them all from one place.

This will streamline your social media work, which can save you a lot of time and energy!

2. Message Scheduling Options

Social media posts need to go out regularly, and new and existing content should be shared out several times to make sure it reaches as many people as possible.

Doing this manually gets a bit overwhelming and it means you might need to be up in the middle of the night to reach your international customers or readers!  This is why it’s important to decide on a way of scheduling posts, so you can manage your social media accounts efficiently.

Hootsuite lets its free and premium users schedule posts in advance, but there are more features available to Pro users.

Free users can schedule posts for the future, using either the auto scheduler, which sends out messages a set number of times per day, or the manual scheduler, where you choose the date and time it should be sent.

Pro users can use these features but they can also list up to 350 posts in a spreadsheet and upload them all in one go. If you like to schedule a lot of posts in advance, this is a quicker and easier way to do it.

3. Hootsuite Apps

Scroll through over 100 apps on Hootsuite

Scroll through over 100 apps on Hootsuite

One of the features that we really like about Hootsuite is that you can add apps to the service.  The apps integrate with your Hootsuite dashboard and let you do things like:

  • connect YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram accounts
  • monitor content on sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon
  • share pictures and videos from Google Drive or Dropbox to your Hootsuite account
  • integrate social media analytics from services like SocialBro, JustUnfollow, twtrland and DemographicsPro.

Both free and Pro Hootsuite users can access free apps but Pro users can also use premium apps.

4. RSS Feed Integration

In Hootsuite, users can set up RSS feeds so that, when a new blog post is published, it is automatically shared with the social media accounts you select.

Free users can have two RSS feeds, whereas Pro users can have an unlimited number.

The number you need depends on what you will use the RSS feeds for. If you just want your latest blog posts to be auto-posted, and you only have one or two blogs, then the free account should be fine. If you have more websites, or a single website with different feeds, you may prefer to upgrade to reduce your workload when a new post has been published.

Some people even set up RSS feeds so that posts from their favorite blogs by other people are auto-posted, but be careful if you do this that it doesn’t end up looking like spam.

5. Hootsuite Analytics

There is no point putting time and energy into social media marketing if you don’t pay any attention to what is working and what isn’t.  Looking at good analytics reports can help to make sure you focus on the most effective strategy.

Hootsuite offers a range of analytics reports that users can access to measure the success of their Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn pages, their Google Analytics or the stats related to their link shorteners. Users with a free account can get three basic reports included, and users with Pro accounts get one in-depth analytics report on top of that.

Users can choose from a series of analytics templates in Hootsuite

Users can choose from a series of analytics templates in Hootsuite

You can either pick one of the templates provided by Hootsuite or customize it and build your own report from scratch.

6. Team Work

If you manage your social media accounts as part of a team, it’s really useful to be able to work together in a shared interface.  In Hootsuite, teams can work together so that if one person schedules a message, the other people can see it.  This helps to make sure that updates are spread out evenly and that messages aren’t duplicated.

Free Hootsuite users cannot share team work in this way but Pro users can. With the standard Pro account, one extra team member’s account can be incorporated but you can also pay for additional extras to include up to a total of ten people in a team.

7. Message Archives

If you like to keep a record of the tweets you have sent out, Hootsuite can store up to 100 of your latest updates with the Pro account. This can also be upgraded, for an extra fee, to 100,000 archived messages.

Casual social media users probably don’t need this feature, and it is not available with the free account. For businesses, it can be really useful to be able to look at recent posts and see how much engagement your tweets received.

To set up archiving, click Settings in the left-hand menu, then select Archives.  Then, you input keywords and Hootsuite will store tweets containing those words.

Set the parameters for Hootsuite to archive tweets

Set the parameters for Hootsuite to archive tweets

Summary

Many Hootsuite users find that the free account offers them everything they need. But the cost of upgrading to a Pro account is very low, and there are some really useful tools included.

For just $10 a month, Hootsuite makes it a lot easier to manage and automate social media profiles and tap into extra services with the apps, too. They also offer a free trial month, so you can try out the Pro account without committing to the cost.

What do you think? Is Hootsuite free for you? Which features do you like best?  Are you going to upgrade to Hootsuite professional?