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A Review of The HootSuite Social Media Management Platform

Hootsuite Social Media Management

Developed in 2009, CEO Ryan Holmes took social media to another level by creating Hootsuite, a social media management system that allows businesses and organizations to send campaigns through multiple social networks. From Facebook and Twitter to Foursquare and LinkedIn, Hootsuite is able to support all of your businesses social media needs.

How Hootsuite Evolved

Hootsuite Began as Brightkit

Holmes came up with the idea while he was working for the company Invoke Media. Needing a program that was able to manage multiple networks, he realized that there was nothing that would serve his needs. He then collaborated with his associates and created a Twitter dashboard which was called BrightKit, and essentially had taken care of his social media needs.

Realizing that he was onto something that could benefit people all over the world, He decided to rename the platform Hootsuite and after funding from big named companies such as Blumberg Capitol and Hearst Interactive Media, created the platform that is now being used by over three million members.

How it Helps

There are so many social media sites, and more are popping up every  day. It can be hard for companies to manage all of their business needs, and sometimes very confusing. With Hootsuite's Social Analytics, you are able to receive custom reports such as Facebook insights, which allows you to manage your fans and feed, and see your trends over time.

Hootsuite Site Analytics

Google analytics gives you the ability to trace revenue and give you site traffic data. Twitter will track your followers and mentions, as well as Google+ analytics. Companies are able to share the updates with any Hootsuite user, making it possible to keep everyone up to date.

About Teams

Illustration of Hootsuite Teams

Hootsuite Teams gives you the opportunity to organize your business by incorporating your real life teams into your social media management. Built both for large scale companies and small businesses, Hootsuite Teams will give your team the inclusion that they need and will make it easier to manage permissions for the different levels of employment. Send messages to specific teams or company-wide with Message Assignments, making it quick and easy to keep your team members informed.

Conversations

Hootsuite Conversations - The Internal Communication Tool

With Hootsuite Conversations, you are able to chat with teams right inside the Hootsuite dashboard. Whether you need specific people or if it needs to be a company-wide conversation, you are able to invite anyone, making it convenient to discuss matters at any time. You are also able to send messages to internal conversations, this way teams are able to discuss strategies and share across their own social networks. Best of all, this is all able to be done within your Hootsuite dashboard, making it convenient and worry free.

Publishing Features

Hootsuite Publishing Features

Hootsuite gives you the most efficient and easy publishing features such as message scheduling and a bulk CSV uploader, as well as RSS feeds and Geo-targeting for Facebook posts. With the ability to search by hashtag and @mentions, you are saving valuable time that will allow you to focus on other important aspects of your company.

Hootsuite's Ow.ly URL Shortener

The Ow.ly URL  shortener gives you shortened links and file sharing, while also giving you tracking and site visit information that will help you see what messages are most effective with your audience. Hootsuite's mobile app is available through the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Keitai, making it even easier to stay on top of your business needs no matter where you are.

With a platform like this it is important that information be kept private and secure. Hootsuite's security allows you to login and out from any location so that you do not have to download or save any valuable information. You do not have to share passwords with your teams, keeping the information that needs to be secured safe.

Hootsuite's Membership Levels

Hootsuite Membership Levels

There are three different levels of membership to Hootsuite. The free version will allow you to have up to five social profiles, message scheduling, quick reports, and 2 RSS/Atom feeds. Hootsuite Pro, which is now being offered with a free 30 day trial, gives you unlimited profiles, message scheduling, 2 users, 1 Enhanced Analytics report, Google Analytics integration, Facebook Insights integration, and unlimited RSS feeds.

After the 30 days, Hootsuite Pro is available for only $9.99 a month. Hootsuite Enterprise gives uncapped team members, unlimited social profiles, social media security, enhanced analytics, unlimited analytics reports, tier 1 enterprise support, and unlimited RSS feeds. Hootsuite Enterprise starts at around $1500 a month. There are no long term commitments so you are able to cancel or adjust your options as you need to.

Awards and Accolades

Awards Received by Hootsuite

Hootsuite has won multiple awards including Best Social Media Management Tool 2010 through the Mashable awards, Best Application at Shorty Awards 2009 and Canada's Top Digital Companies through The Digi Awards 2011. Companies such as McDonald's, Sony Music, Pepsi Co, and many more are currently using Hootsuite.

Pricing Downsides

Dollar Sign

While Hootsuite does offer many features that may help your companies social media needs, there are some con's. While there is a free option, it does limit the user to what they are able to accomplish using that particular version. Even at $9.99 a month, users are still not able to take advantage of all that Hootsuite has to offer.

Posts do not stream as they do with an individual feed from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Instead, they have to be manually updated every time you want to refresh them. There are also many options and tabs to navigate through so it may be hard and confusing for someone to use that is not familiar with it.

Dollar Sign

Analytics reports can also be very expensive, giving you only one free report per month, and each report after that costing an additional $50. You are, however, able to get free reports from Ow.Ly. Using a custom URL shortener is also expensive at $49 per month, and that is on top of the amount that you are already paying for the plan that you chose.

Is It Worth It

Hootsuite may be expensive in some aspects, but one really has to think about the amount of their time is dedicated to managing multiple social networks to aid in their company's success. This is time that can be spent focused on other aspects that needs attention, and can create an ease in your company.

You have to ask yourself how important something like this is to your company and how will you and your employees benefit from it. While you may end up spending a little money, you are also allowing your company to advance to the next level in technology, showing customers and employees alike that you really do care about the business and its needs.

Getting Started

Hootsuite 30 Day Risk Free Trial

By taking advantage of the free 30 day trial, you will be able to see the advantages of Hootsuite, and find out if it is really something that will help you and your company in the long run. As a Pro member you will also receive prioritized responses to any questions you may have or any help that you may need, giving you piece of mind that you will be able to navigate and learn the ins and outs of Hootsuite in no time. The variety of platforms that are supported make it so that no one will be left out when it comes to creating teams and keeping people in the know.

A big part of a company's success is reliant upon social networks, making it crucial to ensure that you have a program that you can rely on. Hootsuite is constantly working on ways to improve performance and make it easier for companies to take advantage of all that social networking has to offer. Do not let your company be left behind.

posted by: HomeNetPro    6 Comments »

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Top 10 Sites for Contracting or Finding Freelance Work

Freelance

Ever wonder which freelance sites do the best job when it comes to helping you contract or find freelance work online? It is of great importance to take precautionary measures by researching the best freelance sites, before signing up.

No matter if you're a freelance worker or an employee looking for freelance workers, doing some due diligence can certainly save you some time and money, later on down the road.

There are many freelance websites willing to tap your talent and give you an opportunity to earn good money from the comfort of your own home. And in the same respect, if your looking for talent, there are sites that can supersede your expectations. On that note, we are going to briefly review the top ten freelance sites in ascending order of popularity.

This will give you a true picture of what to expect once you register with each of them. It’s our sincere hope that you’ll find this top 10 review useful in your quest to find your perfect source of income or contract employee, part time or full time.

Top Ten Freelance Sites in Ascending Order of Popularity

10. Freelancer

Freelancer.com Website Preview

Freelancer.com normally has thousands of jobs posted on a daily basis. You can bid on programming, writing, marketing or any other freelance roles that you feel you are good at. The registration process is quite easy and you can start working as soon as after your application is approved. You don’t have to deposit any money to start bidding but you’ll have to part with 10% or $5 for any payments received via the site.

With Freelancer you can receive your payment through Moneybookers, wire transfer, PayPal or via the Freelancer debit card. Home to around 3 million freelancers, this site provides you with a fantastic chance to put your talent to good use and at the same time, make some money.

On the downside however, if you don’t like congested websites, you might have difficulties using this one. The site’s layout and the huge number of jobs that are normally lined up are squarely to blame for this scenario. Apart from experiencing difficulties while navigating through the site, you may also be turned off by its intuitive nature.

The process of hiring workers is also a bit complicated and you might just find yourself missing out on some bids that you would have been well placed to handle.

9. Fiverr

Fiverr.com Website Preview

Fiverr.com is number nine in our review of the top ten freelance sites. Fiverr is a huge online marketplace for small gigs that retail from around $5. If you have an amazing talent, idea, experience or anything else that you feel can attract a buyer, this is the right place for you.

On the other hand if you are looking for services that are difficult to find anywhere on the globe, this is the only site to try your luck. The site has thousands of gigs posted on a daily basis from millions of creative freelancers who are categorized in 3 different levels, based on several aspects.

On the downside however if you are a freelancer, you’ll have to part with 20% of your earnings. This is a huge proportion especially considering the amount of effort invested towards delivering goods or services to clients.

Another issue that makes this site a bit hostile to use is the fact that it can be changed at any time without notifying the users. Some users have also complained of their accounts being banned without any explanation.

8. Rent-A-Coder

Rent-a-Coder Website

Rent-aCoder.com is another of the top ten freelance sites that often goes unnoticed despite its growing popularity. Once you register for an account here, you’ll access a huge number of jobs that are normally filtered based on skills e.g SEO writing, virtual assistance jobs etc. (You have to fill a particular section of the application form with details of your experience).

You can start bidding as soon as your account is confirmed; you don’t have to pay a single cent for this. However, once your work is approved, a certain amount (around 15%) will be deducted from your earnings as service fee.

7. Amazon Mechanical Turk or mTurk

mTurk.com Website Preview

mTurk.com is one of the most reputed websites for both contracting and locating freelance work. Developed by Amazon, this fantastic online workplace offers a superb opportunity for freelance workers to exercise their passion, through a friendly user interface.

Apart from being a wonderful meeting point for prospective buyers and sellers, mTurk has established its position as one of the fastest growing websites for both getting freelance work and finding freelance workers.

However, low pay and fraudulent HITS are a few of the qualms that lower mTurk's ranking.

6. PeoplePerHour

Peopleperhour.com Website Preview

Peopleperhour.com was started in 2008 and it is known to offer free membership as well as paid membership opportunities for Standard, Gold and Platinum plans. At this site, you can bid for a number of projects depending on your membership plan.

If you want to get the good projects, you will need to invest in a Platinum or Gold membership. Plus, with a profile system that allows you to rise up amongst the best based on what they call "economic activity/month", you can become popular really fast.

This growing site has its fair share of challenges. As a beginner, you might find it a bit difficult understanding some of its aspects. However, with the site’s developers frequently introducing new features, you can definitely expect the site to rank higher among the top ten freelance sites in a few years time. Bottom line; this is a site worth your attention.

5. 99Designs

99designs.com Website Preview

As the name suggests, 99designs.com is a design-oriented freelance website. Here, buyers post different types of contests such as page designing or logo designing. Freelancers need to post their best work. The person with the winning design usually bags lots of cash.

Although at first this may appear a bit time consuming, the site offers a good opportunity for people who want to put their talent into good use.  Payment methods include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and PayPal.

As a new freelancer, you may find it a bit risky displaying your samples to people who may be after duplicating your ideas for no pay. However, if you are a good designer, you can earn good money here. 99 Designs could have ranked higher in our top ten list of freelance sites if it wasn't for this tiny loophole.

4. Project4hire

Project4hire.com Website Preview

Project4hire.com is a fantastic place to start your online freelancing career. This site offers a plethora of opportunities for freelancers ranging from web development jobs, language translation assignments and content writing to multiple other fields that require specialized skills and talent.

If you are a requester, you’ll have every reason to smile upon receiving high quality services at this site from a team of talented individuals who come from the US, UK, Canada, India and Easter Europe.

Since its establishment, the site has received positive feedback from its users. However, there have been some rare, but minor, issues that have emerged in the recent past that have ranked it as the number four freelance site on our list.

3. Guru

Guru.com Website Preview

Guru.com is one of the largest freelance websites that has been around since the 1990s. With almost fifteen years in operation, this site has proven to be among the best, especially due to its easy-to-use and attractive design that has allowed millions of freelance workers to interact with prospective buyers in a friendly environment. One can doubtlessly conclude that this is a secure place for anyone seeking to get full value of their money and services.

As regards to disadvantages, one may point out the high fees charged for services offered here. In addition, many buyers are unrated and thus judging their past becomes difficult. However, with more and more features being introduced to improve the overall user experience, you can only expect to see this freelance site topping different top ten lists in the near future.

2. oDesk

Odesk.com Website Preview

Quality-wise, oDesk.com is one of the best freelance sites today. Since 2009, the site has grown rapidly and this has seen the number of jobs posted here grow steadily in almost all fields. Once you you’ve registered with the site (free), you’ll be able to access jobs within your category of skills.

This site charges a mere 10% for all payments made via its system which is a good rate, especially considering the high availability of jobs. The site also offers a good and secure avenue for buyers seeking to get good value for their money.

One of the main areas that we found worth some improvement is the statistics section of the website, where frequent updates would go a long way towards creating a complete user experience. Otherwise, this would have been the best site on our top ten list  of freelance sites.

1. Elance

Elance.com Website Preview

Topping our list of the top ten freelance sites is the UK based website Elance.com. Elance is a global database of jobs. Anyone can work here as long as they posses relevant skills. So far there are more than 1.5 million registered buyers who post more than 60 thousand jobs per month.

Due to the huge availability of jobs and options, one can make lots of money without having to leave their home. Apart from being suitable to millions of freelance workers, this wonderful site is an excellent place where buyers can get quality services at reasonable prices.

We found very few demerits associated with this site. In fact most of the issues that we came across can easily be dealt with by carefully reading the sites terms and conditions section. We can emphatically conclude that Elance is so far the best freelance site online!

In summary, from this list of top ten sites for contracting and finding freelance work, you can choose your favorite and start making money OR hiring your dream team at once. Hopeful as we are, you’ll make an informed decision after weighing the merits and demerits of each site listed above. All the best!

posted by: HomeNetPro    5 Comments »

Last updated:

Learn About Drop Shipping and Where To Find Drop Shippers

Finding and Using Drop shippers

Drop shipping is basically a supply chain management technique through which the supplier allows you to sell their  inventory of products in your online store without you ever physically handling the stock. For listing products from various drop shippers, you can use TripleClicks and other auction websites. When you get a sale, you just have to forward that order to a drop shipper. First the consumer pays you for the product/s, then you pay the wholesale rate for the same product to the drop shipper. Once the payment is settled, the items will be delivered to the customer along with your details printed on the package.

The biggest plus of using a drop shipper is that you will not have to deal with overstock which can badly affect your resale. Additionally, a drop shipping retailer will not need a warehouse or storage facility, neither will he be responsible to handle packaging and shipment of products. This leaves him to focus his efforts on marketing and customer service.

On paper, all this sounds like a piece of cake. In reality, however, the online world is a beast and can make things complicated beyond imagination. When you are working as an online merchant, you are not just looking for buyers for your products but also competing against many sellers who may have far greater experience than you.

Getting Started

Getting Started With Drop Shipping

To get started right away, select wholesale items from a drop shipper that can be listed in auction sites or if you have a website or online store, that's even better! Once any item is sold, you will receive the payment. Subsequently, you will forward the order to the drop shipper along with all consumer specifications, i.e. name and postal shipping address. Upon receiving the order, the drop shipper will ship the product directly to your buyer for you. The difference between the wholesale price and the retail price will be your profit for the sale of each commodity.

The Benefits of a Drop Shipping Business?

Listed below are some good reasons why an ecommerce retailer must consider drop shipping.

Your Product Line

A Diverse Product Line

When you own a physical store there is a limited space available to hold the inventory. Plus, there are additional costs associated with maintaining an inventory and you can only offer a limited number of products. With drop shipping, however, you get to offer as many products as you want which was not feasible otherwise. Only online merchants with drop ship arrangements get the opportunity to showcase unlimited products.

Quick Access to an Assorted Market

There is no denying of the fact that the online market is huge and when a merchant gets access to it, he will be receiving a good profit. The moment you post a product on your ecommerce platform, it will be available for selling. People working in the drop shipping business have less waiting time because it takes just a couple of weeks to deliver the product to its buyer, directly from the manufacturer. Hence quicker access to the diverse online market.

Testing New Product Lines

New Product Lines

Drop shipping retailers never have to get hold of the inventory which negates the risk associated with selling new products. You can test a whole new range of products without adding inventory. Let's consider the example of a retailer who sells equine gear for the category known as western style of riding. But every now and then, the retailer gets visitors who request for English style equine related apparel. Following the request, the drop shipper will just have to contact a supplier offering English style apparel to explore how the new product line would sell. Introducing and selling new product lines will not involve any risk or investment from the retailer.

Lower Capital Investment

Capital Investment

Online retailers working with a drop shipping business plan don't have to maintain an inventory. Therefore the burden of risk and investment is shared completely by the manufacturer and the drop shipper does not have worry about upfront investment. So the retailer will have reduced investment. Against conventional beliefs, most ecommerce beginners don't require much investment at all to start selling products.

Where to Locate Drop Shippers

Researching Drop shippers

When you have jumped into the drop shipping business arena, you will need a list of drop shippers and manufacturers besides customers. Since you are serving as the middleman or the retailer, you will have to research for reliable drop shippers who can fulfill your successful sales. Most usually, if the drop shipper is from the same country or zone as your intended consumers, shipping products will be easier. Below, I have listed numerous resources for locating companies will drop-ship their products for you.

Drop Shipping Resources to Consider

The following are some of the best resources online for drop-shippers. Some are completely FREE to join, some require a small fee and some require monthly fee's, it just depends on what you choose to do. My recommendation is to research them all and choose the one that best fits your own personal situation and what you would like to sell.

There is nothing wrong with joining more than one. In fact, this is exactly what I recommend IF you can't locate all the products you would like to have drop shipped through just one. In reality, the more you join, the more products you'll have access to sell.

Choosing Items to Sell

Choosing Items to Sell

Not every item in any store makes good selling material. You have to conduct market research to understand the buying trends. After that the products you list should have sufficient demand and the supply should be managed accordingly. Check advanced search in eBay and enter product name and sort it by "price highest first" and then check on "completed listings only". Save a copy of the search results and keep a note of the best selling products available.

Maintaining Your Account

For correspondence with the drop ship supplier, your account should be displayed as a retailer. Use email; send a letter to the supplier in order to find out how you can be the retailer of their products. Before conducting business with any of the suppliers, ask them clearly if they can drop-ship the products to your customers.

Asking for Shipment

Don't Make Your Customers Wait

You need to stay in touch with your distributors or suppliers and give them your customer's shipping address. Before you sell any products, don't forget to check if it's still in inventory in case the supplier ran out of stock. In this case, if the product was not available in stock, the shipment for the item you sold could be delayed, which leads to dissatisfaction and negative feedback from the client. Coping with the inevitable out-of-stock situation might be difficult but it's better to have no sale than to disappoint willing customers.

Pitfalls to Be Avoided

Using Caution

While doing business, you need to exercise caution in order to avoid any significant damage. Just like any other business, a drop shipping retail store will carry certain risks. You just can't avoid every other risk which might be an opportunity in disguise. However, there are certain pitfalls encountered by drop shipping retailers. Just stay prepared and watch out for any such pitfalls.

Choosing a product that has the highest competition as given by advanced search on eBay can kill your business even before starting it. Products with maximum competition appear to be quite promising since they have great demand but from a retailers' point of view, they give less or no sales at all. Some of the beginners in the drop shipping industry opt to start their business by listing products that belong to competitive niche like electronics or computer hardware. Any such product line that has great competition due to increased market demand, must be avoided.

Being Fooled by Fake Suppliers

Avoid being fooled by fake suppliers who either deliver poor quality products or are the reason of miscommunication. If you haven't been fooled by such suppliers in the beginning of your drop shipping business then I would be surprised because most people fall into the trap of fake supplier's right at the entry level of their business.

What to Look for in a Reliable Drop Shipper

Finding Reliable Drop Shippers

As you are aware, drop shipping involves purchasing the goods from the drop shipper and then getting them delivered directly to the customers, after making the sales. This process is literally the opposite of wholesale retailing where you are bound to order large quantities of goods, store them safely in an inventory and then hope to resell them for a good profit. In drop shipping, you play it safe since you won't have to purchase a product until it's been sold to the consumer. However, before you begin a full-fledged online retail business there are some important things to be considered for an online merchant. The most pressing issue here is to get access to a legitimate drop ship supplier but the resources provided above should be more than adequate.

Final Words

We hope this article has answered most of your questions about drop shipping and we would love to read your comments below. As you can see, finding a drop shipper and establishing an online business requires ample planning. However, the initial investment is fairly low and the return on investment is quite fast, all the best reasons to operate a drop shipping business.

posted by: HomeNetPro    1 Comment »

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