Sent to you by Chris Hunter via Google Reader:
HootSuite Free is a web application/Chrome extension, and iOS/Android app that allows you to streamline your social media. The free service can consolidate multiple social media streams such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others into an all-in-one media dashboard. It also offers other features like consolidated RSS feeds and scheduling of your messages.
With all the different social media and communication sites out there today, we're seeing more and more ways to connect them to each other and to other web content. HootSuite is one of those programs and allows you to connect and combine multiple different social media accounts into a single convenient interface. If you are the average user, you've got at least three different accounts that you have to switch between, whether they are Facebook or MySpace or Twitter, etc. Having to log into each site can be a pain in the neck (among other places) so it's a welcome sight when a program shows up that makes it easier to maintain those social outlets.
HootSuite does offer some paid services, but we are not looking at those today. I am looking at the Free account (which comes with a promise that it will always be free) that allows you to do specific things on HootSuite, all of which are very useful. You can combine up to five different social accounts, with RSS feeds and scheduling of your messages. Even without adding any of the pro services, the free version of HootSuite is quite useful. Many days all we do is open each social site and check out what the latest posts are, and the HootSuite free program is absolutely perfect for that. Also, it has a full compliment of mobile apps so you will be able to use it on the go, no matter what mobile device you're using. This is a nice change from the standard of supporting one or two of the most popular mobile operating systems. HootSuite is supported on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, iPad and Keitai. HootSuite also supports OpenID so you can log in using one of your existing accounts.
The only real downsides are the fact that they are always hoping you will upgrade to a paid account and the limits placed on the Free version. These are small annoyances, however, and not actual problems with the HootSuite software or system itself. It would also be nice if there was a way to handle your accounts from an offline status and have the updates you make go through automatically when you're online. This ability is pretty limited, based on the current system, but in the future it may become more available. The other big 'downside' is that HootSuite is pretty useless if you don't have any social accounts out there, but kids as young as 'oh my god they are on the internet?!' are signing up for social sites these days so I don't see that as being a problem.
The Verdict: HootSuite makes life easier by combining different aspects of social communication and media. It does this for free, and for the individual that isn't using it for business purposes, it's the perfect compliment to all those sites you've already signed up for. It's free and won't swamp your inbox with spam so give it a try and see how it can help you save time and headaches dealing with your social life. If you use HootSuite, I would love to hear your opinions and experiences here in the comments.
Until next time, my friends.
Sign up for HootSuite Free here.