Hootsuite vs. Sendible, or Why Paying To Use Facebook Is Amazing
‘Social media’ won’t exist in three years because by then all media will somehow have become ‘socialized’. It will just be ‘media’ again.
That said, I’ve built my comedy career via social media. Since I perform live at universities, most of my audience has a vibrant digital life. This means, whether I like it or not, my shows don’t end when the stage lights turn off — they just move to Youtube, or Twitter, or Facebook, or even Yelp.
At this point, I pay to use services that are free to the public, because I have no choice.
Since 1) my fans gather in multiple locations online, and 2) between my assorted accounts I’ve garnered a total friend/fan/subscriber/follower count well into five figures, and 3) there’s only one of me, I need a comprehensive solution for effectively communicating with all of these people.
Not broadcasting, mind you — communicating. That means responding and participating and engaging with the people who take the time to enjoy my funny stuff.
So, if you relate to expecting digital intimacy from tens of thousands of college students, you might already know about Hootsuite or Sendible. They’re both services allowing users to harness social networks with an advantageous level of control.
I was using Hootsuite, which lets folks cross-post to multiple accounts and track keywords that others post. You can hit send once and post a Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare status scheduled for 5pm PST next Wednesday. You might then track users mentioning the term ‘[Your Name]‘ in their posted statuses, in real time. That’s useful when I know in advance I’ll be touring through areas with poor internet connectivity. I might schedule, “Have you seen the poster for this Friday’s show? [link]” to post Monday, “Here’s the Facebook event for my free show this Friday @ 9pm! [link]” to post Wednesday, and, “See you at the show tonight!” to post Friday morning.
Hootsuite originally let me add an unlimited number of social accounts, and I eventually became proficient enough at it (lots of retweets, ‘likes’, and actual butts in seats at shows) that friends started asking me to help with their social campaigns.
Within a few months, I was coordinating about thirty accounts through Hootsuite, and it was beautiful. They were an eclectic bunch — a few musicians, a dance company, some comedy websites, a few community organizations, and some individuals I’ll just call ‘over forty years old’.
Perched atop my social tower, I observed the flow of data and optimized everyone’s experience. I ensured that the bands retweeted and shared each other’s promo, allowing their separate fan bases to congeal into one digital scene. The comedy websites now never posted overlapping content at the same times, ensuring maximum clickability. The community organizations supported the dance company’s fundraisers, giving relevance to two hard-to-promote groups. And, all of these accounts could now take advantage of a timely hashtag at once.
It was a lot of work, and everyone involved benefited almost constantly. Especially me, experience-wise: consulting everyone’s accounts taught me how to best manage my own.
Yeah, it was a great service for a bunch of reasons, but was it worth paying six bucks or even fifteen hundred bucks per month? I had already invested others and my time and promotional capital in this service, and it would be terrible suddenly halting forward momentum on thirty social accounts because of a fee.
I was already paying $30 monthly for my awesome mailing list through Constant Contact (average for a list of three thousand or so email addresses) and I really didn’t want to add to my growing digital expenses. I figured, if I had to upgrade to a pay social media service, I might as well compare apples to apples with other Enterprise-class services.
I don’t know which god I pleased, but I soon found Sendible. It might be best described as ‘macro-social networking’.
Multiple accounts? How about multiple services per account. Sendible can schedule future Facebook statuses, Facebook posts, Facebook notes, Facebook photo albums, Facebook group messages, Facebook personal messages — even posts to any of your friends’ personal walls at once. It’s uniquely powerful, and must be wielded with a deep, mature respect towards one’s social community, lest there be a massive opportunity for abuse and Myspace-ification. That said, Sendible grants users the ability to disseminate information with remarkable scale and granularity, and when used responsibly, can be very effective.
And that’s just Facebook.
The interface is just like Gmail, except I can send messages well beyond other email addresses. Sendible schedules and posts tweets, Foursquare shouts and venue tips, LinkedIn status and personal messages, as well as WordPress and Tumblr blogs, Flickr albums, and even SMS/text messages.
It’s one inbox for pretty much everything.
Beyond merely scheduling statuses, Sendible can auto-follow relevant Twitter accounts by keyword. So, I’m a comedian; Sendible automatically identifies and follows users tweeting the keywords ‘comedy’, ‘comedian’, ‘stand-up’, or ‘funny’ for me. I divide these relevant new accounts into private Twitter lists with titles like ‘Comedy Blogs’ or ‘Other Comedians’. If these users notice that I’ve followed them and think my account is relevant, they’ll follow me back, steadily growing my follower count.
Sendible has also allowed for my growing opt-in SMS mailing list of mobile phone numbers. It’s used for hyper-local, time-sensitive updates. For example, the message ‘Hey Denver! I’m being interviewed on 106.7 KBPI *right now*!’ would be delivered only to Denver-area mobile numbers, determined by zip code.
I’ve since replaced Constant Contact with Sendible for my mailing list, and it’s been a tremendous improvement. Every time I schedule an email blast, I directly coordinate it with posts to my assorted social accounts, my SMS mailing list, and this blog — all from one ‘Compose message’ box.
Here’s an elaboration of the Denver example, now with Sendible: in one sitting Saturday morning, I’ll schedule a mailing list blast and blog entry to post Monday morning. I’ll schedule the same three status updates to post though out the week, and I’ll know they’re well-received since I’ve been auto-following folks in Denver tweeting keywords ‘denver comedy’ and ‘[name of local college]‘ for the past three weeks. I’ll also schedule a hyper-local SMS blast to post five minutes into my radio interview.
During the show, I’ll pass clipboards around and collect local email addresses and mobile numbers.
After the show, I’ll direct every social account I have back to my site’s Sendible mailing list capture page, facilitating communication with Denver for those now-fans who want more information.
Sendible has different price plans for different a-la-carte services, and their mostly-unlimited plan (which I use) runs $40 per month. That lets me drop Constant Contact, Hootsuite, and pay-per-SMS services, meaning it’s saving money. It’s certainly a reasonable middle ground between $6 and $1500, and provides an unquestionably superior way to experience community online.
So, that’s some of how I do what I do. If paying to use the hell out of Facebook makes sense to you, definitely check out Sendible.
EDIT: Well Sendible sure liked this post: