My favorite Twitter management tool HootSuite has made the announcement that they are going to start offering different plans for using their service. New users from now on will have to choose a plan (with the option of a 30 day free trial), and current users will have to select a plan sometime in the next week.
Best Uses for HootSuite Still Free
Before we look at the plans, let’s think the best HootSuite features that you can still use for free!
Multiple Tabs and Streams
For each tab that you create, you can have up to 10 streams on each. This means for each Twitter account you manage, you can have a tab with your basic account information (Home Page, Direct Message Inbox, Direct Mentions, Favorite Tweets, Twitter Lists, etc.).
Keyword and Reputation Monitoring
Using your Tabs, you can create streams for specific keyword searches, including those for your own name, blog, brand, and products to keep an eye on what is being said about them on Twitter.
You can schedule updates for your Twitter accounts as well as other networks for future dates and times. You can monitor your Pending Tweets by creating a stream on one of your tabs.
Looking for something more specific in one of your streams? You can filter your stream using keywords, and also by Klout, so you can see updates by the most influential people on Twitter in a particular list, keyword search results, etc.
Freemium, Premium, and Enterprise Plans
Now that you know some of the best uses of HootSuite that are still free, let’s take a look at the plans and premium features.
The above shows the pricing for the Freemium Pro Plans for HootSuite. Here are some additional details about the features included in each plan.
So first of all, let’s look at what you can still get for free. Under the free plan, you are allowed to manage a total of five social networks, and have one RSS feed automatically updating your accounts.
I would say that the average person could easily have five accounts if you include one Twitter profile, Facebook personal profile, Facebook fan page, LinkedIn, and MySpace as well as have one blog to add as their RSS feed to auto update these accounts (although I personally prefer to use the attach link option on each of these networks to have more eye catching updates).
With this plan, you will be able to manage unlimited social networks and have 10 RSS feeds. You will also be able to use HootSuite at this level ad free.
This is probably the one I will go with, as I have 14 accounts on Twitter alone, not counting my other social networks. I could use more than 10 RSS feeds, but I do have an alternative service I can rely on for those.
This is the highlighted “best” option. You can manage unlimited social accounts with unlimited RSS feeds, no ads, one team member to assist you with your accounts, and priority support from HootSuite if there are any problems.
With the Gold Plan, you get unlimited accounts and RSS feeds, four team members, no ads, priority support, and enhanced statistics including Google Analytics integration with custom URL parameters.
This is the best of the premium plans – you get all of the features of the Gold Plan with a total of eight team members. You also can take advantage of custom vanity URLs with Ow.ly Pro for an additional $49.99/Month.
If you need even more features, there is the Enterprise Plan for larger businesses and corporations. You get unlimited everything mentioned in the plans above, enterprise support, VIP training, and 10 seats to a HootSuite certification program for the *low* price of $1,499/Month.
I must admit, the certification sounds interesting though – the HootSuite Dashboard and Social Media Certification program is $47/Month (exclusive of any of the above mentioned plans), and will allow you to become a HootSuite pro.
Free Alternatives to Paid Features
So, if you’re like me and don’t want to pay for more than the Bronze plan, how do you compensate for the other features that you are going to miss out on?
Automatically Update RSS Feeds with Twitterfeed
Twitterfeed allows you to do what the RSS feed in HootSuite allows – you can have unlimited RSS feeds auto updating any number of Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks at no charge. Unfortunately it does not work with LinkedIn as of yet like HootSuite does.
Get Shortened URL Statistics with Bit.ly
I don’t know about Analytics integration, but if you want to have stats for the shortened URLs you share, you can always use Bit.ly. You can check the stats of any Bit.ly URL without an account by adding info to the URL: http://bit.ly/info/hootpro. And, as you see with this URL, you can customize the Bit.ly URLs also.
Alternative Twitter Management Tools
Finally, if you refuse to pay, you can use other Twitter management tools such as Tweetdeck, CoTweet, and Seesmic to help you keep track of your social media activities. This post on Twitter tools offers a list of several comparison articles between the different services so you can decide which one is best for your needs.
Your Thoughts on HootSuite Freemium
Do you use HootSuite? What plan will you choose, or will you switch to another tool? And if you’re not using HootSuite, will you give the 30 day trial a go to see if the features are worth the monthly pricing? What other features would you like to see in the premium plans to make them more worthwhile?
Nice thought.Your article is so informative.
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wow. super disappointed in the prices! I really don't know of many who use hootsuite that only have one team member or if they do, they have more than 4 or 5 SM accts. Maybe the 95% who aren't affected are those who signed up with hootsuite and don't use it anymore. super sad panda hootsuite. :o(
Can I push you towards my Blog, I have written an open letter to Hootsuite. The issue is all about Team Members, for that functionality you need to pay... as a manager of other peoples social media, that functionality is vital... BUT it is not me that has to pay - it will be all the people who use my services, my clients. Not sure where Hootsuite get the 95% remain free model, but for me it will be 5% Free (only me) everyone else will have to pay... The loss is really Hootsuite's as it will be they that lose a lot of accounts, because there is no one to manage them. My Blog: http://ncompass.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-letter-...
Hello Kristi! I liked the post very much! Clean and simple way makes it easy to see what it is all about. Many times it takes too much time to search some sites for their own pricing. Great Job! Keep up the good work! With Respect, Slavik G
I am happy with TweetDeck so far, but am still learning the ins and outs. I will try to understand it more completely before I try another product. Learning curves are hell!!
Hi Krisit! have you tried MarketMeTweet at all? I"m the co-founder and would be happy to answer any questions :) tammy
Stephen, I know exactly how you feel. Gah. Have you tried MediaFunnel? I'm still using their free service, but the paid features are a lot more reasonably priced.
I'm a big enough fan that the $4.99/mo plan will have to do. I have way to much setup in HootSuite (which is probably what they were counting on) to go out and learn something different. If I had to pay more, I might be more motivated, but for this amount, I'll stick with it.
Yeah, there is really no work around for team members which bites, and $99 / month is definitely over the limit for most small business clients.
The other thing is, if you haven't used the service before, you sometimes end up getting a plan that is more than you need. Hopefully this can guide some people into the right plan for their needs with the right free alternatives to keep the costs down.
They definitely can be! If you ever find something limited on Tweetdeck though, make sure HootSuite is the next service you try.
I haven't tried it... up until yesterday, I was just planning on sticking with a free Twitter management tool. :)