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If there’s anything to be said for the usefulness of social media, it’s that you’ll normally learn news about social media there first. While checking my Twitter feed this weekend, a friend posted how she wasn’t looking forward to finding new multi-account Twitter client in the wake of HootSuite’s recent announcement of their new “Freemium Services.” According to the popular multi-platform social client company, HootSuite plans to roll out changes to their current free and premium service tiers, which would limit the number of social profiles a free user can operate on one account. My friend, who operates more than the limit on her own HootSuite, grumbled that she now had to give a less liked competitor another chance.
Then it hit me how many profiles I have on my own HootSuite account, and that got me worried. Especially if you manage Twitter and Facebook accounts for different people, you’ll find that when life throws a curve ball in the guise of new terms of service, you’re left scrambling to decide to swing or stand.
Think about why you use Twitter and Facebook. The casual user with only one profile on each needn’t worry in this situation – this change won’t affect you. However, for the entrepreneur monitoring several Twitters, Facebook pages, and even LinkedIn and Foursquare, not only do you stand to let a lot of hard work go stagnant, but now you have to shop around for an alternative solution, and basically start anew. Yes, you could hold onto HootSuite for your Top Five list and continue that work, but then you risk neglecting other accounts which demand attention as well.
It’s not uncommon, as free services grow, for the providers to contemplate and execute paid options in order to keep everything running. Some, like MySpace, turn to ad model and Google Adsense to generate profits, and depending on how much you like the social client you may be willing to pay for the perks. Many podcasters I know, while they could upload files to their own server and post new episodes on Blogger, choose to work through a paid podcasting service for the convenience. If the convenience and ease of use is there, it could be worth the investment. Plus, if the work is entirely for business purposes, it’s a tax write-off.
Now, let’s say paying for premium multi-account social monitoring and posting leads you to raise your own prices in order to absorb the cost. This could backfire on you, especially if you had to do some creating accounting to afford a premium account. Now what? Suddenly the headache of transferring everybody over to a free service doesn’t sound so bad in light of the possibility of losing work/customers.
In the event your business in unaffected by the added expense of premium services, you may not have to worry, for a while. As often as policies change, you never know what tomorrow or next week will bring. The free service for which you abandon Hootsuite for just may end up a paid model as well. Closely following that, another beta startup.
If you are an avid HootSuite user bothered by the coming change, consider all options and map out your future strategies involving your social media campaigns. Base you next move on the future of your business in social marketing, whether you promote only for yourself or for others, and adapt to the changes. If you don’t regardless, you’ll most certainly be left behind.
Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and blog writing services. Recent clients include retailers of pet supplies and cloth diapers, Gainesville bed and breakfasts and European hotel booking agents, and Virginia Beach web design firms.