HootSuite aims to move beyond marketing

HootSuite announced its acquisition of Seesmic for the social media manager’s consumer base. The move was an element of HootSuite’s plan to expand its social media management services beyond its customers’ marketing departments.

HootSuite is still debating whether it will keep Seesmic’s product features but is open to new customers. “We’re absolutely helping [customers] transition into our product,” says HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes. “We’re basically putting up [migration] paths for them. We feel that our product is too complicated for somebody that wants a simple consumer experience. We’re helping direct those people to the appropriate direct properties: Twitter or Facebook. And for the people that need deeper functionality—they’re managing multiple accounts, multiple social networks, multiple brands—we’re helping migrate them in what we hope to be the simplest way possible.”

HootSuite is split 50/50 between its “pro”  users (primarily small and medium businesses) and its enterprise businesses and social media “power-users,” which consist of the brand’s larger customers, says Holmes. Based in its freemium model, 99.5% of HootSuite’s customers use its services for free, while the organization monetizes the remaining 4.5%, which “need additional functionality.” Holmes predicts HootSuite’s consumer base will grow in the upcoming year.

“Right now the split between pro and enterprise is 50/50. A year ago it was about 80/20 in favor of our self-serve pro offering. In Q1 of 2013 we see our enterprise offering likely pulling ahead to 55/45 in favor of our enterprise tool. So, we see that as being a bigger growth area potentially, and pulling ahead even further in 2013,” Holmes says.  “When we look at how the Seesmic integration will go, I’m anticipating that it won’t affect or skew those user bases or the ratios at all.”

In addition to broadening its customer base, Holmes says HootSuite intends to tap into Seesmic’s android technology and work it’s done with Ping.

Holmes claims that HootSuite’s next big move is projecting social into departments outside of companies’ marketing division, including PR, sales, HR, IR, and management. “I really want to figure out how we bring the rest of the organization into social. How we can help them better interact with the social sphere and solve pain around that,” Holmes says, adding that social plays a crucial role in each department. According to Holmes, social ties into customer conversations and interactions happening across customer service, marketing, and sales. Additionally, he notes, PR and HR are critical to “understanding what’s going on with the organization and brand. And management, just having a high view on how this is happening within the organization.”

HootSuite has been in talks with Seesmic regarding the acquisition since this past spring, says Holmes. And while he says HootSuite is “looking at key staff that we think will be valuable to our team,” he admits that layoffs will ensue.

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