The social media management software Hootsuite has a “freemium” business model, which means that anyone can sign up for Hootsuite’s free limited service, but more features are unlocked at higher-tiered subscription levels.
There are five levels of Hootsuite plans in ascending order of price: Free, Professional, Team, Business, and the most expensive, Enterprise.
But what are the limitations of the free account, and what features are you missing out on?
Here is What You Need to Know about the Limitations of a Free Hootsuite Account:
A free Hootsuite account provides users with a basic social media manager. You can connect three social media platforms, have one user, and schedule up to 30 posts in advance. It is good for small or one-person businesses.
1. Respond to Messages
If you are using a free Hootsuite account, you won’t be able to respond to messages that are sent to your connected social network accounts.
Previously, Hootsuite allowed you to respond to messages even when using the free account, but that is no longer true.
In order to respond to messages within the Hootsuite interface, you need to have at least a Professional subscription, which is the lowest in the tier of paid subscriptions to Hootsuite.
2. Add Team Members
You won’t be able to add team members if you are using a free Hootsuite account.
You need to have at least the Team subscription to add people to your Hootsuite account, which lets three people collaborate in the Hootsuite Dashboard.
If you need more people, you can go for the Business plan, which allows five people to collaborate with the possible expansion to 10 for an added fee.
The Enterprise plan allows five people to be added to an account, but unlimited members can be added for a fee.
3. View Analytics Reports
You don’t get access to Analytics when using the Free plan on Hootsuite.
That means you won’t have access to the data that explains your social media performance.
While you can opt to go to the native social media interfaces to view your Analytics, that kind of defeats the purpose of getting a Hootsuite account, which is to have a single place to manage your social media.
If you want to access your Hootsuite social media Analytics, you need to have a paid account.
Additionally, you need at least a Team account to download your datasets and Analytics in PDF or PPT format.
Those who use Business or Enterprise accounts have the option to download datasets in PDF, PPT, CSV, and Excel spreadsheets.
4. Social Listening
Social listening lets you find conversations that you can engage with to strengthen your brand.
While you can conduct a basic keyword search on Twitter using a free Hootsuite account, it does not paint the whole picture.
Free Hootsuite accounts do not let you filter by sentiment nor demographics, while a paid Hootsuite account allows you to do so. What you have instead are streams of Tweets you need to go through one by one to assess the sentiment of your audience.
Hootsuite Insights is a remarkable tool, but it is only available as an add-on for Business and Enterprise subscribers. Here’s what it can do:
- Hootsuite Insights simplifies those keyword streams and helps you understand your audience, their demographics, and their sentiments.
- Instead of going through each tweet, you can click on filters such as sentiment, gender, and location, among other possible categories. These filters make it easy for you to find particular conversations that need to be addressed, such as those with negative dispositions.
- Even better, these searches are not limited to Tweets, as they also cover posts from all over the web, including review websites, blogs, and web discussion boards.
If you want a service similar to Insights with a free or lower-tiered paid subscription, you can try using the Talkwalker Free News Alerts app available in the Hootsuite Directory. You could even use it in tandem with Twitter keyword search streams. It won’t be as in-depth, but it will give you some semblance of social listening.
Read more about Hootsuite and Talkwalker in our article Hootsuite & Talkwalker | 8 Things You Should Know.
5. Ads Management
If you are looking to do ads on social media, unfortunately, Hootsuite does not offer it on the Free plan. There are two components to social advertisements with Hootsuite: Post Boosting and Ad Management.
Post Boosting allows you to boost a post on social media so that your target market has a higher likelihood of seeing it.
- Post boosting is available for the Professional plan and above.
- Each Hootsuite plan has a spending cap, starting at $500 a month for the Professional, with Enterprise users having unlimited spending.
Ad Management lets you check the statistics of your ad spending, giving you an idea of what every dollar spent brings to your brand.
- Ad Management is available only for Business and Enterprise accounts.
- You get to see the reach, clicks, and views of ads.
- You can also set triggers to automatically boost posts in certain set conditions.
If you have a Free account but still need an ad manager, your best bet is the default ad manager of whatever social media accounts you are using.
6. Premium Apps Access
Hootsuite grants access to certain premium apps that are often embedded in their services as you move up the plan tiers.
These include Talkwalker, Brandwatch, and Adobe Analytics, among others, which focus on improving your productivity and understanding your social networks.
If you wish to use these services, you need to subscribe to a paid plan. It depends, but these premium features are usually only available at the Business and Enterprise level.
7. Employee Advocacy Access
Hootsuite’s Employee Advocacy service is another feature that you can’t access with a free plan. Amplify is only available as an add-on for Enterprise users.
Hootsuite Amplify is meant for larger businesses, and if you are a small business, you won’t really miss it.
Hootsuite uses its Amplify service to help you turn your employees into evangelists for your business. You can feed employees recommended content, especially if you want to show off what your business has been up to.
Read more about Hootsuite Amplify in our article What Does Hootsuite Amplify Do?.
8. Security Notifications
Keeping your social media assets secure is very important. That is why Hootsuite offers security notifications to help you keep your accounts secure.
This feature notifies you of any suspicious activity or sign-ins through the desktop or mobile app.
Security features are not available for Free accounts. You need a Business or Enterprise account to get security notifications.
9. Single Sign-On
Single Sign-on is not available for Free users.
That is not surprising, considering that to use this feature, you would need to have a system often associated with big companies.
Chances are, if your business can afford such assets that allow for Single Sign-on for different services, it can afford an Enterprise plan and the cost to get this security add-on.
10. Auto Scheduling
Auto Scheduling is a feature that comes with all paid plans of Hootsuite, but is not available for Free accounts.
With Auto Scheduling, Hootsuite uses algorithms that automatically space out and schedule social media content for you.
For most smaller businesses, it’s one of those features you can live without, but it’s a nice perk for large businesses.
11. Campaign Management
Hootsuite features campaign management, which lets you tag your scheduled content according to the campaign and is not available to free subscribers.
That might sound pretty simple, but it’s an incredibly useful service!
Hootsuite’s campaign management lets you view your content calendar according to the campaign.
When you view by campaign, you get to easily spot any gaps that may exist on the calendar for your scheduled posts. Instead of one big mass of posts, this feature lets you see specific campaigns you’re running on social media.
You can then move content around to balance the distribution or advice your team of any gaps so that they may be addressed.
The campaign management feature is available for Business and Enterprise users.
The limitations imposed on Hootsuite free accounts might seem discouraging, and just a ploy to entice users to switch to a paid account.
But the free account is a great option for small businesses or solo enterprises. But if you need more power, the Professional plan is a good place to start.