Hootsuite launched a free version of its Campaigns social media engagement and lead generation software platform, allowing small business marketers and owner/operators to kick off their promotional efforts with ease.
Last year Hootsuite acquired Campaigns from BrightKit, a social media marketing specialist. Describing the software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering as an enterprise-grade product, Hootsuite boasted at the time that Campaigns "guides marketers through creating effective social campaigns like contests, user-generated galleries, and sweepstakes. These campaigns help businesses attract followers, gather leads, and activate their social community."
Although the product has obvious appeal for big-business marketing departments and digital agencies, Greg Gunn, vice president of new product Growth at Hootsuite told Small Business Computing it was always the company's intent to bring the tech to "the small business marketer who wears so many different hats."
Free Social Marketing
Thus, Campaigns is now available as a freemium product. Hootsuite Campaigns Free—the company also offers paid Pro and Enterprise plans—is part of a strategy to bring the "high-performing tools that help large enterprises drive engagement and leads" to small businesses, Gunn said. "For folks just starting out, we have a free option."
Campaigns is an extension of the Hootsuite ecosystem, which already includes a popular social media management and engagement tool that let marketers create, schedule, and monitor the progress of their efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks. Hootsuite's users are familiar with all those capabilities, said Gunn. But they wanted more.
The company polled its customers, and while they considered Hootsuite "already good at publishing, tracking, and analyzing, 90 percent said their biggest challenge is engaging audiences and driving leads," said Gunn. Enter the Brightkit-powered Campaigns tool, which not only addresses those social marketing pain points, it empowers smaller organizations to run engaging, lead-generating campaigns.
Digital Marketing Agency in Your Pocket
Hootsuite Campaigns Free provides small businesses with access to two of the product's most effective lead-generation capabilities.
"Social marketing campaigns aren't just for Fortune 1000 companies. They're a great way for businesses of all sizes to engage their fan bases on social," wrote Sumari MacLeod, Hootsuite Campaigns expert, in an Oct. 27 blog post.
"Launch a Signup and watch your fans register for newsletters, promotions, and exclusive offers, while Sweepstakes offer fans the chance to win the prize of your choice on social," she continued. "One of our clients generated a remarkable 97,000 leads with one four-week Sweepstakes campaign," stated MacLeod, referencing a successful run by Dwell, the architecture and design magazine.
What's more, the product essentially serves as a "digital agency in your pocket," said Gunn. Traditionally it "takes a ton of different folks and a couple of weeks or months for well-branded sweeps." With Campaigns, "we distilled that down to a few clicks" of the company's "super intuitive" WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor in the Hootsuite dashboard, he added. Users can launch a campaign on their social media networks in as little as two minutes, according to the company.
Furthering the company's commitment to small businesses, Gunn said Hootsuite's community team works to educate customers and to share best practices on generating creative and engaging campaigns. From forums to virtual meetings to in-person meetups, expert users and community leaders will share their tips and tricks.
Businesses seeking more functionality can upgrade to the Hootsuite Campaigns Pro plan for $50 per user per month. It supports Facebook pages, photo and video contests, and user-generated submissions from Instagram and Twitter. A Campaigns Pro subscription also includes a Hootsuite Pro seat.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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