Summaries of 3 HootSuite Video Lectures


Lecture 1: How to Amplify Your Paid & Earned Social Media with Storify

Storify is a social network service that enables users to create stories with any content that can be found online, including article, image, blog post and tweet, mostly from social media.

The video presentation was given by Xavier Damman, Founder and CEO of Storify. He demonstrated in the video that users can search for content related to their story from sources such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Google, as well as other stories on Storify, and then drag that content into their own Storify story timelines. Users can add comments to each link within the story, and can also embed URLs in their stories. Users can also embed their own Storify stories elsewhere on the internet, for example on their own blogs.

Xavier also introduced to us different types of stories that users can create with Storify:

  • News: Collect reports from the ground reported on social media and live blogging
  • Events: Conferences, sports, concerts, and personal events (weddings or parties)
  • Debates: Collect and publish the highlights witness them.
  • Memes: Curate and publish highlights of trending memes
  • Content Marketing: Curate the views from experts in your industry
  • Micro Sites: Show the social momentum around a product launch

Xavier also mentioned that, when you embed a Storify story, you could either embed it as a classic story or embed it as a slice show. This is an interesting feature that many people don’t know yet.

Lecture 2: How to Use Social Video to Drive Results

Videos are becoming one of the major sources of information. Marketers are using more social videos to draw attention from consumers. Meanwhile, people are consuming videos in the ways that they never had before. So how to use social video to drive result has become critical.

In the video presentation given by Cameron Uganec, HootSuite’s Director of Marketing, we first learned the definition of social video, which is: Online video that is designed to be shared through social networks. And then Cameron shared with us some social video strategies:

  • Clear and measurable objectives: The success metrics for social video objectives are usually cost per view, shares, views, click through rate, embeds, clicks and time spent.
  • Customized content: Focus on your target audience and corporate beliefs. Always know what is the one key message you want your audience to take away.
  • Distribution plan: Either the videos are going to be distributed through paid, earned or owned channels, you should always have a well designed plan. Otherwise, users and consumers are not coming.

Ok, strategies are done, now what should we do to ensure successes in social video? Cameron told us 11 secrets in creating videos:

  • Make it shareable
  • Tell a story
  • Shorter is better
  • Always start strong
  • Try non-linear storytelling
  • Remember search
  • Have a long tail
  • Focus on evergreen content
  • Take advantage of Youtube as a search engine
  • It’s now always the case to have a lot of product information
  • Always consider music as an important component in the video

With all these strategies and practical tactics, we are all going to achieve more success in social video marketing.

Lecture 3: Customer Service in a Social World

With the blooming of social media, organizations have more channels to connect with their customers. Meanwhile, the customers are experiencing more services from the service providers. The more good experience they have, the stronger engagement they would have with you. Social media provides the opportunities of connecting customers anywhere and for anything.

In the video of Customer Service in a Social World, Sharad Mohan, Director of Customer Success here at HootSuite, introduced to us how we can leverage social media to provide awesome customer service.

Where are your customers?

Before you jump out to create social presence in the market, you need to know where are your customers. In social media context, that means which social media channel your customers are using. After identifying this, you can place your focus on that channel and maximize the customer satisfaction there.

What are they talking about you?

Listen first. Try to response to the dissatisfaction with a prompt solution. At the same time, amplify the positive sentiments from your customers through social media. Spread every good word about your organization and product/service.

Are you meeting their expectation?

Social media are fast and inpatient. So once you create a presence on social media. Make sure you response fast and cover different time zones and languages. Customers expect you react on social media reactively and proactively. Keep that in mind.

Are your teams collaborating?

There are two types of conversation on social media: band conversation and product conversation. So internal teams (or individuals within a certain team) need to collaborate when trying to response to customers’ inquiries and solve different type of problems.

The strategies in leveraging social media to provide customer service introduced in this video are great guidelines for organizations and individuals. Applying these strategies will bring the customer service experience to a new level.

In general, HootSuite not only developed a fantastic social media network management dashboard, but also provided us splendid self-taught content in HootSuite University. All those lectures are specific and practical. Professionals in social media or digital marketing industry would all benefit from these great resources.


Define the Target Audience: 3 Variables That All Organizations Should Consider

The first step to execute your social media strategy is defining your target audience, so that you can customize your message and ways of delivering the messages. Different organizations have different groups of audience. For business, this is usually your potential buyers. For a nonprofit, it can be donors to support a cause or potential clients for a program. For government entities, it can be voters, constituents or general citizens. Within one organization, target audience may vary when conducting different campaigns.


(Image from Yahoo!)

Though the business, nonprofit and government face different social media audience, they share common variables when trying to define their audience.

Objective of initiatives:

To achieve different objectives, you need to go to different people. So always keep in mind your objectives. For example, to generate profit, a business will target people who have potential needs for that particular products or services. If a nonprofit plan to fundraise for its organization, it would cover existing donors and people who care about the cause. The elected officials and their organizations would pay much more attention to the constituent communities if they want to compete for those areas.

Demographics of audience:

Knowing the characters of your target audience makes your target shooting more accurate. Should your audience be young or middle aged? Are they with college or higher education? Are they more attachable to mobile or computers? No matter you are with a business, nonprofit or government, answering questions like these will help you narrow down the general public into more specific groups that you can more easily target with appropriate messaging.

Media preference of audience:

What social media platform are your target audience using? If they are more interested in images than videos, you may need to consider Pinterest rather than Youtube. If you are targeting well-educated professionals, people on LinkedIn would be your first choice. Moreover, organizations in business, nonprofit and government sectors have their own preference on content management. So when trying to define the target audience, matching what you have on your platform and what they are interested is also very important.

Apart from above mentioned variables that all organizations need to consider when defining target audience, there are specific aspects that require each organization to think about. The key is focusing on a well defined group of audience who are closely related to your products and causes. And then monitor what they say, response to them at a personal level, amplify the positive while desalting the negative, and finally lead the audience to take actions you want them to.

Reading source:

Demystifying Social Media, McKinsey & Company

Who is Your Social Media Audience? Really, Who is it?, Kelly Jennex, February 14, 2013

Social Media in Government: Five Considerations, HootSuite White Paper, 2013

Different Type of Organizations, Different Social Media Strategies

Nowadays, social media has become a significant aspect of the success for all organizations, which usually fall into 3 types: business, non-profit and government. As their organizational objectives are different, their social media strategies vary from each other. However, one thing in common is that, the social media objectives need to be aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.

After aligning the social media objectives with organizational objectives, the development of a social media strategy usually consists of the components indicated in the following graphic: listening to influences, content design, engagement with community and evaluation of approaches. With the graphic, we can have an easy understanding on the substantive differences between the social media strategies used for business, non-profit and government.


Listening to influences:

Businesses have to listen to what the customer say about their products or services in order to make the sales more profitable and satisfying. Non-profit organizations rely a lot on what the donors think about their causes. While government need to pay attention to constituents’ sentiments towards the policies and campaigns.

Content design:

Customers expect to find on a business’ social web the information on products, and ways of solving problems around products. So business should be ready to shoot any problem or inquiry there. For non-profit, social web content is more about how is the cause going on and what impact the cause has made. Government tend to bring up opinions and policies in a more social and personal way on its web presence.

Community engagement:

Social media changed the business approach of one-way influence into two-way conversations. Customers are never so connected with product and service providers like they are now. Non-profit make the operation of a cause more transparent to donors and volunteers via social media. Promoting a cause or appreciating donors are never done so naturally. Government, though utilizing social media with great cautions, is engaging target proponents faster and broader today.


Is the social media strategy successful or not? When asking such a question, make sure you have your social media objectives in mind. All social media approaches are supposed to accelerate the achievement of social media objectives. For business, it could be avenue, brand awareness or customer satisfaction; for non-profit it means more donations or more support from supporters; for government it could be larger coverage in a constituent community or a win in the election.

As seen from the graphic, different type of organizations have different social media strategies, based on which different social media objectives and approaches are developed, and different type of content is optimized. Various approaches of engagement also lead to different results.

Since existing social media platforms carry multiple features, organizations from 3 sectors may choose the most suitable platforms according to their unique needs and resources. For example, Google plus and Facebook may be useful social webs for organizations with abundant photo, video, article and text. Pinterest is a good choice for those who regard qualified images as their unique content and have more female audience. In one word, through understanding the differences between social media strategies used by different organizations, one can achieve the organizational objectives with the social media efforts.


SMD102 Week4 Course Documents – Strategy development process

Social Media Strategy Workbook: The 12-Step Guide to Creating Your Social Media Strategy

Moving from Stakeholder to Weaver: Social Media Strategy for Nonprofits

Social Media Strategy for Government Organizations

Starbucks vs. Tim Hortons: Website Data Comparison on SimilarWeb

Tim Hortons is Canada’s largest fast food service with over 3,000 stores nationwide. One of Tim Hortons’ competitors in Canada is Starbucks, which is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 20,891 stores in 62 countries, including 1,324 in Canada. SimilarWeb is a free web traffic analysis service that provides traffic activity for a given domain including website ranking, traffic sources breakdown, leading referring sites, leading paid and organic keywords, geographic breakdown and also visited sites. I used SimilarWeb to compare the website data of Tim Hortons( and Starbucks(, with the aim of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each site.


(Figure 1)

Website Traffic Overview Analysis

The two websites’ global ranks are very close. SimilarWeb ranks Starbucks 40,776 versus Tim Hortons 40,967. Starbucks ranks 433 higher than Tim Hortons in Canada. However, Tim Hortons’ weekly number of visits in last 6 months is far more than that of Starbucks, according to the comparison graph as above. I also noticed that the number of visits on Starbucks website is very steady, which means the site owns steady audience.

The Time On Site for Starbucks and Tim Hortons are the same as two and half minutes. The Bounce Rate on two websites are also very close, with Starbucks 35.76% versus Tim Horton 35.99%. However, visitors on Starbucks website viewed more pages (4.82) than those who visit Tim Hortons website (3.40). With the almost same bounce rate, it is obvious that Starbucks website is more attractive and can maintain more audience on it. When I viewed Starbucks website, I found that they placed a few appealing videos on the home page. This type of content is a blend of visual and aural impact, which usually is more inviting to audience. The data tells us it works.

Traffic Sources Analysis


(Figure 2)

As can be seen from the graph above, about 40% of the traffic share on Starbucks website is from referrals, much more than the percentage (10.85%) of Tim Hortons website. At the same time, there are about 38% traffic is direct and only 21% is from search.


(Figure 3)

As to Tim Hortons Website, more than 50% of the traffic share in last 3 months is from search, while more than 33% is direct traffic and almost 11% is from referrals.

This seems to me that Starbucks has built up good relationship with other websites and created a lot of linking-ins. However, the web search power of Tim Horton website is more powerful than Starbucks website.

It is interesting to find that, Tim Hortons’ traffic share from Social, which is 3.39%, is almost 3 times of that for Starbucks, which is only 1.30%. It means Tim Hortons utilized social web tools in better ways to generate more traffic on their website. I found on Tim Hortons website homepage an embedded tweets window, inviting you jump into a conversation at any time. Considering the popularity of Twitter in Canada, this is absolutely a great approach to engage the website visitors. Though Starbucks website got icons connecting visitors with social platforms, they are just not so inviting.

Search Result Analysis

 Image (Figure 4)

As we can see from the graph above, 21% of total Starbucks website traffic in last 3 months is search, and among this amount, 100% are organic search. Organic search results are “listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being advertisements.” This data here infers to us that Starbucks website has optimized their webpage content and spread links pointing to the website. Relevant content also help build trust between the visitors and the website, which is another way to attain website traffic. Starbucks website did a good job on this.


(Figure 5)

In comparison, more than 50% of Tim Hortons website traffic in last 3 months is search, among which 6.77% are generated from paid search and 93.23% are from organic search. For Tim Hortons, to have half of their traffic generated from search, the paid search from Google has accelerated the result. So a budget for paid search of a website is worthy to consider.

According to the analysis, though Tim Hortons website has more visitors than Starbucks website, Starbucks still have many advantages to compete with Tim Hortons. That’s mainly because visitors on Starbucks website are more engaged. They tend to view more pages within the same time length. Moreover, users are more easily to get to Starbucks website because they optimized the website content and created more inbound referrals. In addition, Starbucks’ website SEO is more successful. They have a better search result for a cost-effective organic search. All these aspects will ensure the steady status of the website traffic, so the online engagement with the visitors, which are customers and prospective, will be strong and lasting.

What needs to be done on Starbucks website is: Firstly, make it more searchable for users so that more traffic will be generated. Secondly, optimize the utilization of social media to interact with visitors and lead them to the website eventually.

On the other hand, Tim Hortons’ ability on attracting more traffic from search engines and social media is much stronger than Starbucks. At the meantime, it would be necessary for Tim Hortons to optimize the website content to sustain the visitors and increase their engagement level.

Works Cited:

“Starbucks.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2013. Web. 9 October 2013.

“Tim Hortons.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2013. Web. 9 October 2013.

“SimilarWeb.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2013. Web. 9 October 2013.

“Organic Search Engine Optimization (Organic SEO).” Janalta Interactive Inc., N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 1: and Tim website traffic overview comparison graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 2: website traffic sources graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 3: Tim website traffic sources graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 4: website traffic sources – search graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 5: Tim website traffic sources – search graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.