Interview with Dave Olson, Community Director of HootSuite Media, Inc
Today’s guest at MikeShakin.com is Dave Olson, Community Director of HootSuite Media, Inc. Hootsuite is my favorite Twitter tool. I appreciate that Dave took time to answer my questions. I also appreciate help of Mike Abasov, Marketing Ambassador, HootSuite Media Inc., to organize this interview.
Thanks for talking with us, Dave. Let’s start with what Hootsuite is. In a world of Twitter clients, what does the new and improved Hootsuite offer that is different or better than any of the competing tools available?
HootSuite is designed for social media managers and agencies who need to manage multiple accounts collaboratively with teams. We also aim to make a tool which allows you to manage all aspects of a social media powered campaign in one dashboard. This means you can broadcast messages across networks, monitor conversations with searches, understand audience behaviour, analyze click stats and much more - all from one tool. In other words, it’s specifically designed for professionals using social media to power outreach efforts.
How long did it take to get Hootsuite from brainstorming to final product? What was the hardest part of work?
The product is never “final” per se, and it was only a few months from idea to first version. We iterate rapidly with new versions almost monthly and frequent releases of apps and platforms.
A few months after the first release, came HootSuite 2.0 which added the columns layout among other tools. This year, we’ve released team collaboration tools, a new HTML 5 version and too many tools (including influence measuring, Google Analytics integration and customer insights) to list. We’ve also started on a crowd-sourced translation project to add more languages. So we’re never done, and the hardest part is wanting to go faster, faster, faster…
How did your team go about determining what new features were needed for the next version of Hootsuite?
When deciding and the new features for future updates, we look at feedback ideas submitted by users at feedback.hootsuite.com, as well as usage patterns by existing users. We also spend a lot of time talking to agencies and businesses using HootSuite to hear what they want next but always keep focused on adding features which make sense for campaigns success.
One thing that drew me to Hootsuite was it’s clean interface and intuitive usability. Can you share a bit about your design, usability, and testing process for the next version of Hootsuite?
Our creative director takes the lead on the layout and design and tries to “make it make sense” to everyone. We extensively test and experiment in-house - acting as our own focus group -and adjust rapidly when needed whether to fix layout browser bugs or rearrange things which people are having a hard time finding. For example: Moving all the menus under the “Owl” button in HootSuite 5 was a big change which confused some customers at first, but in the end, this choice was powerful as it made customer support easier, the interface cleaner and gave another compelling brand impression.
What do you think of the current market for Twitter applications?
As more and more companies start to realize the power of Twitter and other social networks for marketing, they need the right tools to manage them. And while official Twitter web is changing and becoming more complex, it doesn’t target this kind of audience.
Additionally with programs like Promoted Tweets and Trends, Twitter is working with 3rd party tools to provide a revenue share and closer technical cooperation.
There are certainly many choices for Twitter tools, but we think it’s important to think beyond Twitter and consider other networks where desirable audiences hang out - this includes building for established networks (i.e. Facebook, Linkedin), adding regional specific networks (i.e. Mixi in Japan), and different platforms (HootSuite is now free on 5 mobile platforms).
Dave, thank you so much for giving us an insight into Hootsuite!