Getting Started with Hootsuite for Writers


Having just returned from Penzance Lit Fest, where I had lots of discussions about social media management for writers, I’ve prepared this post for people who are starting out with Hootsuite for the first time. Hootsuite is a fantastic program for organizing your social media posts and tracking what sort of response your posts get from your audience. I think Hootsuite is absolutely necessary for attending scheduled chats as well as researching your target audience.

This blog post will show you how to set up your Hootsuite account, follow a live chat and start researching your target audience. I’ve tailored the material to suit the needs of writers using a DIY approach to promoting themselves online so you can get up and running straight away without having to weed through lots of unnecessary info.

If you’re setting yourself up to attend a Twitter chat for the first time, follow the steps in this post first and then move on to my post on how to get the most out of a Twitter chat.

Set up Your Account

  1. Sign up for a free Hootsuite account. The sign up button is on the top left at Hootsuite.com. Hootsuite hand holds you through the whole process.
  2. Connect your social media accounts. Hootsuite offers step by step instructions on how to do this.
  3. Learn how to set up streams by watching my Hootsuite streams tutorial below. This is my debut YouTube appearance so don’t be put off by the quality! I promise, the info is correct and useful. 🙂

Setting Up Hootsuite Streams (Written Version)

To set up your streams the way I do, when your accounts are connected to Hootsuite select the Home stream first, then Mentions, then Retweets, then My Tweets. All of these streams will then be side by side. This way you can see at a glance what’s going on with the accounts you follow and whether or not your tweets are getting a response from your audience.

When these are set up, then it’s time to start setting up streams to follow hashtags in your area as well as important accounts. To do this, click Add Stream, select the tab for Search and type in the hashtag or account you want to follow.

Set Up Hootsuite Streams to Follow a Chat

Twitter chats are fun, energetic and offer you the chance to acquire a lot of new followers in a very short space of time. However, they can also feel like a massive information dump that is impossible to keep up with. You shouldn’t try to read every tweet or follow every conversation, but rather try to keep up with two or three or even a handful as well as the main questions. Anything you miss during the scheduled time can be dealt with afterward anyway. The best way to do this is to set up your Hootsuite streams to monitor the chat.

And here’s my second ever YouTube appearance.

Set Up Hootsuite Streams to Follow a Chat (Written Version)

I always have a separate page of streams set up and ready for #women_writers chat. The first stream is a search on #women_writers, the second is Mentions, then My Tweets and finally Retweets.

For any chat that’s set up like #women_writers, you need to be able to watch the chat hashtag for questions so you know when the conversation will shift. You also need to keep a close eye on Mentions so you can keep conversations going with people you meet on the chat. Also, sometimes when a side conversation starts the hashtag gets left out so tagging ends up being the only means of recognizing related tweets.

Researching Your Target Audience with Hootsuite

The searches in Hootsuite streams can be an invaluable tool for locating other writers and potential readers.

These are some of the hashtags I like to follow:

#womenwriters

#amwriting

#writerslife

#whattoread

#selfpublishing

There are a lot more general interest hashtags for writers out there and even more when you start looking for genre-related hashtags like these:
#Dystopian

#SFF

#HistFic

#LitFic

#MemoirChat

Take a look at these two blog posts to find even more to experiment with:

10 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

100 Twitter Hashtags Every Writer Should Know

So what do you do now you’ve got a long list of streams following hashtags and selected popular Twitter accounts? Check your Hootsuite account every day or at least a couple times a week and make sure you have a browse of what’s showing in each of the search streams you’ve set up. Monitoring hashtags helps you weed out the best ones to use to promote yourself and your writing. It also helps you find loads of new accounts to follow.

Then, start talking to people. Retweet them. Ask them a question.Tweet your blog posts in relevant conversations. Follow chat hashtags and jump in when you see an opportunity. Make sure you stick with the hashtags you find interesting and ignore hashtags that are saturated with blatant sales attempts. Twitter is a place you should go for socializing, not selling.

Tweet me your questions: @lauriebg_

Want to Learn More?

My course, Online Self-Promotion (That Won’t Make You Feel Slimy), teaches concepts and techniques writers need to create and manage their own online marketing platform. This is a self-study course with live support from me.