44 Things I Learned from
By Tink Newman
SFU Social Media & Business Class, Field Trip Notes
Jan. 31, 2012
1. HootSuite was born out of necessity. They noticed that people were frustrated with
logging in and out, sending messages to an international crowd at certain times of the
day and dealing with multiple clients.
2. The HootSuite dashboard system allowed marketing teams to do feats like doing 10
hours of work in 30 minutes just by scheduling messages and using other tools. In 6
months, they had 100,000 followers. In 1.5 years they had about 1,000,000. Then they
grew to 3 million. They only had 25 staff members.
3. The three main aspects of HootSuite that makes them unique is that: they shortened
links, allowed scheduling of messages and the ability to manage multiple accounts.
4. Some HootSuite team members use Bootcamp, a central project management system
that helps them collaborate. This company also wrote a book called the “2 Hour Work
Week” which is worth checking out.
5. Kristin B. is a hiring manager and times are-a-changing. She doesn’t care much about
your resumé or cover letter. She looks at your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to see if the
person has a clear role in their personality. She also checks to see what mutual friends
you both have on Facebook. If you have some, she will ask them for a recommendation
on you. A greater weight is put on social profiles. What kind of experience is she looking
for? Someone who has passion, critical thinking and can use the tool. She herself had a
degree in Art History and Classics but honed her social media skills after graduation
and starting working in marketing.
6. Sean Tyson, one of the counselor’s at HootSuite, has a degree in business at SFU and
has a completely different approach in how he hires in comparison to Kristin. He likes
resumes and does not place much weight on social profiles. He doesn’t have one he’s too busy. Face to face meetings are very important to him, and he hates it when
you get out your phone and check the computer during meetings. Even though
“appearing busy” seems to be cool. It’s not.
7. How do you get retweeted? Posting something of quality will drive quantity. The good
thing is about the online advertising with HootSuite is you pay per click.
8. User experience designers are tech savvy, understand user behaviour, how their eyes
move on the screen and have gusto.
9. Hootsuite wants to develop teams of people. They even brought in the VP of Adobe.
10. Tech talk: HTML5 is a rich language that can perform visuals like flash but is the
world’s standard for development. This will be replacing flash –flash is dead.
11. The trick is to build something that automates stuff, and then sell it.
12. Value is created by substance, building a community and intelligent marketing. For
example, PepsiCo starting taking down their billboards and focusing on making useful
tools customers could use.
13. It is difficult for corporation advertising to understand the value of being transparent,
democratic and spontaneous but it is easy for social media.
14. Don’t spend more time and money trying to fix something when there is irreversible
damage. Instead, spoil people, and let them talk about it. Other people will be
“listening”, view the conversations, retweet and post their experiences. This turns
15. During the Arab Spring uprising, Hootsuite was heavily used. They used it for meeting
points, dates, banners, protests because government shut down access to Facebook
and Twitter. The API at HootSuite served to host the outside country’s access. It
circumvented the government’s blockage and promoted social collaboration. Invoke
can’t take the credit that they “burnt down government” but their tool played a part. The
uprising generated more a substantial 4x traffic from the region during that time.
16. It is not the tool that is important - but how you use the tool.
17. HootSuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes promotes great team management and motivates his
staff. When they were growing their user base, the human resources department had a
way to support themselves and worked for free. Now they have over 50 accounts of big
agencies and each one requires different software based on their needs. They try to use
internal solutions when possible.
18. Who does HootSuite follow on Twitter? Frequent users, big and small clients and other
19. They received funding at the end of 2012 and broke away from Invoke. They created a
family atmosphere, launched global enterprise products and a global organization. In
2011 they grew from 25-100 people . They had only 3 office spaces. Ryan, the CEO
took a sledgehammer and starting knocking down walls to make more space (not
letting the landlord know). He is a do first - ask later - kind of guy. Thinking on the go
and bootstrapping are valuable skills in a startup. Funds are also important for startups.
The Bell Funds, sometimes valuing at $250,000 are a seed for startups such as
“Seed.ee”, a branch out of HootSuite.
20. A typical day at Hootsuite would start at 9:30 or 10:00 AM and go until about 7 PM.
They recently got a coffee machine, and the coffee shop across the street felt like they
were losing business – so HootSuite invited them to the kegger parties on Friday nights.
They have an inherent socialibiity.
21. When you work in a startup, you have to know why you are working, know your
initiative, goals and mission statement.
22. HootSuite University was designed to save the marketing professional time and learn
how to use the tool effectively. When HootSuite was first developed, it was a land grab
to manage as many networks as possible. First it was Twitter, then Facebook. They
would start at the ground level, give support at a higher level perspective then point
them to useful resources.
23. External companies developed HootSuite’s SDK – Software Development Kit.
24. How can you get your whole team using social media? You can implement it with the
ground floor level of operations, retailers and give technical feedback to customers.
25. How did Hootsuite get its name? They asked followers to vote on different names.
26. What experience or education do they look for in a new hire? Someone who wants to
go use the tool - its free – and they should have a love of the product.
27. Never underestimate the power of community. Create a product that is useful. Watch
how Dave Olsen builds a community…he is listening for key words including spelling
mistakes and engaging with users. The trick is saying thank you to people and perhaps
reminding them they were nominated for an award. The trick is to support the people
who support you. Love them and have fun!
28. Note: For me, I want to gain experience in marketing, use my guest experiences
knowledge, teach others and help people to become more effective.
29. When HootSuite when Pro, there was a backlash for upgrading to a paid service. First,
they observed Flickr for what to do when they went pro. They kept the advanced
analytics features for pro, took away a few things and kept many features. They sent
out an email before it happened, set an estimated price point and received lots of
feedback. They then remixed the pricing model and did more iterations of AB testing.
30. A few different sections of HootSuite include the Help section for technical support,
HootSuite University that helps professionals work more effectively and develop
leadership in their industry.
31. When our HootSuite representative Kristin didn’t know the answer to a hard, but
interesting question, she would refer for us to talk to Ryan, stating “he would love to
have greater insight.”
32. In the developing digital space of social media, advertising companies that “blast” out
ads just don’t get it. “They don’t get the space.” They need to know about users and
how to apply techniques of guest interaction offline to an online community. The trick is
knowing about users, campaigns, managing projects, managing product development
and creating a nice hybrid.
33. In working at HootSuite or in social media, degrees don’t really matter. Thinking
critically counts and if you participate in social media, contribute “something” of value to
the digital community. Always remember that media isn’t social, people are.
34. Sean hopes that in the future, social media isn’t a “checkmark” for companies. it should
be an experience and a good one. “Sometimes, people treat social media like teenage
sex. They want it, don’t understand it, do it, and its not a good experience.”
35. Suprisingly, HootSuite has been making it’s way in 3rd world countries, democratizing
communications where everyone has a public say. It is about building the 2-way
conversation. Companies need critiques and they need real people sitting behind
36. Is social media marketing logic or art? When people ask for an ROI on social media, it is
hard to measure. Sometimes you can only measure so much of a user’s objectives and
wants. When people would demand to place a value on social media, HootSuite would
hold its ground, using integrity and diplomacy. Social media is not all about making
money either. It’s like mom – super important, but hard to put a value on. (To me, this is
the same as the value of good design).
37. There needs to be an overall brand fitness – or optics. Ford gets it – they hired Scott
Monty, who was a guru in blogging, but modest. He would post the “best in class stuff”
in his blog. He proves that modesty rules in social media.
38. Microsoft starting asking “how can we be cool” in recruitment at a top university. So
they targeted one user’s name on a billboard and got everyone talking about it. They
defined their problem – which was recruitment.
39. Nikon invested in the social space by developing Flickr. This was a place that users
could post photos and would in turn, afford them a reason to buy more cameras,
40. Being open to flexibility and building a tool translates to becoming an expert in the
41. Invoke doesn’t advertise. They do good work, network with alcohol and are not “selly”.
They cultivate certain behavior, attitudes, interests, strategy, objectives, know their
target audience and when to vary their tone. The key is to crawl, walk, run.
42. Vancouver is a city known for its free spirit and laid back attitude. People run startup
companies in coffee shops. (Or in my case, a kitchen). Marketing here is a mix of all
things. Partnerships are key.
43. Margins are in products, not in services.
44. In order to be successful in social media, you take the things that work and build on
them. Know that tactical campaigns have a start date and end date. Realize that the
marketing industry is becoming 50% social media and 50% traditional media. In the
end, the danger is, once you open up yourself to social media, you need the resources
to manage it.