Earlier today HootSuite announced an upgrade which included a new set of tools they’ve bracketed within a new option on the site called Publisher, which is intended to provide greater control, options and reportage for HootSuite Pro and Enterprise users when scheduling tweets.
I can see where they’re coming from with this idea but I’m not a fan of this change for a number of reasons that I’ll get to in a moment. More importantly, however, is that this upgrade appears to have broken the scheduling functionality completely for a lot of people, meaning thousands and thousands of tweets have gone unpublished throughout the day. And as HootSuite is a business tool for many users, and one that they pay for, they’re not very happy about it. And have taken to Twitter to complain.
You can read more about Publisher at the HootSuite blog. Essentially – and this is my biggest criticism – they’ve completely removed the useful Pending Tweets column and replaced it with an entire new section within HootSuite (Publisher) that proposes to give you far more control and detail over your scheduled tweets, which is now broken down into four flavours: scheduled, those that require approval, a calendar-formatted history of published tweets, plus an RSS option.
The problems here are numerous. One, it’s made HootSuite unbelievably buggy and slow. I’ve had to re-send tweets multiple times today before they go out. But I can let that go because upgrades can often be glitchy.
However, two, I loved the Pending Tweets column. Loved it. I’m not even sure why they needed to remove that. HootSuite, please bring it back.
Why? Because, three, managing scheduled tweets is now an awkward and time-consuming business as you need to go somewhere else to do it. Sure, you’re still in HootSuite, but whereas before I could simply look over to the right-hand side of my screen and see all the scheduled tweets for that account, now it’s a pretty laborious combination of multiple button clicks and filters to get the information I need.
But more seriously today for the many business users and brands who pay for HootSuite is that Publisher has broken the scheduled tweets functionality completely. I’ve been out on the road today and the four tweets I had scheduled were not published. The frustrating part is that HootSuite says that they were published – that is, they’ve moved from the scheduled part of Publisher to the calendar – but they never made it to the actual Twitter feed.
The same is also true for the many clients that I work with – their scheduled tweets have not been published. And nor, it seems, have the tweets of other paying customers, too, who of course have taken to Twitter to complain en masse.
Twitter’s @HootSuite_Help customer support account is getting bombarded, too.
What really concerns me about all this is HootSuite usually excels at customer service, but the @HootSuite_help account hasn’t issued an update for 4 hours, and it’s been even longer since @HootSuite posted anything.
Can you put a price on tweets that were not delivered thanks to a botched upgrade? I think you can, and with all the business and marketing generated through Twitter it would need to be set pretty high.
I’ve written in the past about how the typical user’s allegiances to their favourite Twitter client are so fleeting that they can switch from one to another at the drop of a bad update. I’ve done it myself. When it comes to tech, all of us are capable of going from a very happy place to a very dark place in just a few hours, and once the decision has been made we rarely venture back out from that cave, certainly not in the same direction. In the past HootSuite have been quick to respond to technical issues, and have done so in a satisfying way. But they might need to give back a little more this time.
Suffice to say, and the scheduling problems aside: I am not a fan of this upgrade. In fact, so far, I hate it. To be honest, I’m not even sure it is an upgrade. All the design and UI seems incredibly poorly thought-out and I’m not sure this has been properly tested before the launch.
This is incredibly unlike HootSuite, who have often surprised and at times delighted me with the innovative steps they have taken with their product. But this one feels like a mistake. More than that – it feels like a total misjudgement. At the very least I’d like to see Pending Tweets returned and possibly an opt-out from Publisher. Or just get rid of the thing completely. Whatever you need to do to make this work better, HootSuite, please do it. And soon. You’ve built a loyal and passionate community of users who have become devotees and fans. And we want things to stay that way.
After all: we’re now paying for this service. And if you thought people were quick to jump ship when bad updates happened to free products, they move ten times as fast when their hard-earned cash is on the table.