You get what you pay for
Updated October 30, 2014

You get what you pay for

Richard Chen | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

Hootsuite Free

Modules Used

  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Overall Satisfaction with Hootsuite Free

We use HootSuite Free to initially examine the cross-social media postings and activities of a client. It is too bad of a UI to use as an enterprise edition and too limited in analytics to use as a true client solution but you get what you pay for and it's a very low cost ($0, no setup fee) way to start getting a grip on a client's state of affairs in social media. Its popularity makes it a good initial sell for research purposes before we move to a solution which both has a better UI and has a more client-specific features (namely in reporting and analytics where HootSuite suffers in, perhaps as it's meant for management). HootSuite Free is also useful for increasing activity on clients' social channels at the lowest price just to get the client to feel confident about their social media activity rate before moving onto a more fully featured service. Pro ($14.99/mo) is required for any useful feature so Free is obviously only intended to get users to pay. We use it only on new clients who have naive or no social media experience. We ultimately usher them to mostly SproutSocial (most clients, small to mid) or Percolate (big, corporate clients).
  • Web-brower based (no more Adobe Air, thankfully)
  • Very fast setup
  • Free means no payment or client billing needed
  • Widely known so easy to sell clients on it
  • The original in social media management remains useable, relevant
  • Reports are overviews only thus user needs to pay for anything more thus condemning HootSuite Free to management only
  • Publisher, Conversations & Analytics in Free do nothing without Pro payment, so remove it
  • Far slower stream updates than native platforms
  • Questionable security (2FA not defaulted = problem) given sensitive nature of its associated credentials
  • Apps are many & seem useful but no ratings for the developers disallows vetting trust
3 - HootSuite Free users here represent all the Business side from engagement to development to onboarding to all the subsequent times until they move to (i.e. pay for) a true and serious and fully functional service. Free is simply just the beginning, before a truly real service can be had. It earns little recognition beyond this stage, it is inappropriate to use due to its lack of analytics, ROI, reports, etc.
  • Cheap (free) to start monitoring a client's streams & thus how they can make quick changes to posts/content
  • Reasonable functionality given the sheer array of social platforms
  • Increases client confidence as they & we can view the whole social media stream at once for free
You get what you pay for. Each of the others are far pricier but far better and as clients have so much on the line, there's a need for a fully featured, beautifully designed and functioning product with a high emphasis on reports, analytics and ROI. Social media's buzz has led to a deluge of such services, of which HootSuite was the earliest, and competitors have then taken it to far higher heights. HootSuite Free retains its original crown but as a professional firm not an individual team, we must service at a higher level of product.
Useful only during beginning of contract at the lowest cost level (free) just to build the client relationship, for clients who're unwilling to pay even $14.99/mo to have us work on their social media. Typical clients are thinking about it but need that additional push by convincing them we're capable of handling the social media workload. Lack of reports and analytics means we must confine our resulting recommendations to verbal and descriptive rather than with numbers and more advanced tagging/categorization.

Using Hootsuite Free

Even a basic understanding of social media platforms' individual specific details is not important as most of them are basically self-explanatory. HootSuite does a reasonable job conveying that ease while trying to add (but not much succeeding) some cross-platform and platform-specific functionality. Basically, anyone can use it with neither delay nor training.
  • Initial client social media use monitoring
  • Most basic levels of posting
  • Initial push to increase social media management for early-stage clients
  • Basic UI which anyone can fearlessly use
It's free so there're few blockers to renewing the subscription which is just a permanent account other than to revoke the social platforms' permissions after the clients have bought into another non-HootSuite platform. As its obvious purpose is to move users to Pro ($14.99/mo), the limited functionality plus the security permissions it raises as well as disabling any other HootSuite account from registering the associated social media platforms means we'd delete the HootSuite account after its limited initial use.

Evaluating Hootsuite Free and Competitors

  • Price
  • Prior Experience with the Product
  • Existing Relationship with the Vendor
We've only experienced using it for the aforementioned purposes so we continue to use it as such. The general lack of support due to its price (free) means it'll remain locked into this limited use case but with in person demos from far costlier but more fully featured services.
We can't sell clients immediately into a high cost thus fully featured solution so our social media entry points must start at these lower price points then move up as client confidence grows. Our business requires this gradual development.

Hootsuite Free Implementation

Nothing, it takes 2 minutes to associate accounts (note, social accounts cannot have been associated with any HootSuite previously else it'll deny permissions to HootSuite's request) HootSuite, couldn't be easier.
Change management was minimal - No changes, HootSuite (Free or its predecessors) hasn't changed by itself for many years, only keeping up mildly with the social platforms' changes in features.

Hootsuite Free Support

"Help Desk", basically a collection of articles, is clearly outdated and not keeping up with its features set with inaccuracies and errors yet is still the only possible option for finding help. You get what you pay for, they say.
No - HootSuite Free has no support, no contact possible as only Pro ($14.99/mo) receives contact support.
None, HootSuite Free has no support possible, only Help Desk read-only articles, no contacting possible without Pro ($14.99/mo).

Using Hootsuite Free

Its UI is very busy, the result of many years of adding features as the number of social media platforms exploded underneath them, and the lack of platform-specific features (whether for streams, posting, reporting, anything) reflects it. Nonetheless, for free management & quasi-updated stream viewing, it still remains the original and classic. The UI's lackings aren't in its 1990 borders-and-table-bezel glory but rather its not supporting platform specific features (such as image sizing, see my earlier points) which can be so critical. Too many fly-in's and fly-outs as well as the very different designs resulting from left-menu selections for mode really make it an anxious UI to use.
Technical support not required
Quick to learn
Difficult to use
  • Web-based
  • Reasonable self-explanatory UI
  • Free cost still includes basic management
  • No reports beyond overview
  • No Analytics
  • No Conversations
  • No ROI/Metrics
  • No confidence in platform-specific features being supported