Hootsuite is one of the world’s most renowned social media management tools. The platform integrates dozens of third-party apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. In the spring of 2019, FreshWorks partnered with Hootsuite to deliver the newest integration for the platform which allows users to manage their Google My Business (GMB) listings.
Background - Google My Business
The information that appears in search results for your business has a strong influence on the perception of potential customers. Google’s search engine sees a very large share of internet traffic so it is natural that they would be in a good position to help you curate that information. Google My Business (GMB) was launched in 2014 and since then has become undeniably important for any business that wants to create a trustworthy and reliable online presence. The platform gives business owners greater control over the information that appears by allowing you to receive and respond to reviews, answer questions from prospective customers, and easily keep the information or hours for your business up to date.
Background - Hootsuite
Hootsuite was launched in 2009 after founder Ryan Holmes was unable to find a tool that allowed him to manage multiple social media platforms. Maintaining a consistent presence on social media was becoming important for companies to engage with their audience and Hootsuite became one of the early pioneers of such management platforms. They have since become trusted by some of the worlds biggest brands and organizations to manage their online presence on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
One Ring to Rule Them All
Over the years Hootsuite has been taking the social media management world by storm, evolving into a comprehensive, easy-to-use platform of all platforms. In order to continually create a better social media experience for businesses, it became clear that allowing users to manage their Google My Business listings through the Hootsuite dashboard was essential.
Hootsuite came to FreshWorks with the goal of building an app that would make this possible. With clear requirements established for the MVP (minimum viable product) version of this integration app, we were excited to become a technical partner for Hootsuite and help them achieve this goal.
Hootsuite gave some clear criteria for what the 1st version of this integration needed to be able to do. At a high level, the required features were:
View and respond to reviews left on GMB listings
View and answer questions asked on GMB listings
Schedule and publish posts across multiple GMB listings
So our development team rolled up their sleeves, then rolled them back down because they mostly wear t-shirts and that looked silly. Then they got to work.
The app was built from the ground up, and features a dashboard that is split into three “streams” - Reviews, Questions and Posts. The streams were built in React, are displayed within an iframe, and are deployed on Hootsuite’s AWS.
Abiding by both Hootsuite and Google security guidelines created challenges. For example Hootsuite had server specifications for deployment, and dictated ways in which our apps would interact with the Hootsuite dashboard or store any data. Code had to be sent to Hootsuites security team for review + reviewed our AWS infrastructure to make sure it was up to their standards.
Google also had special requirements about storing keys from each user, and their authentication also proved to be quite a challenge. Managing authentication was done on a per-stream basis, meaning each individual stream in your Hootsuite dashboard may be attached to a different Google account. The authentication became complicated because one Hootsuite account may integrate multiple Google accounts, each with their own unique authentication process. Nothing worth doing is easy though, and the result is an experience that will delight users and the security teams at both Hootsuite and Google.
As we mentioned, the first step of deployment involved integrating the app into Hootsuite’s app directory as a proof of concept. Hootsuite does this to ensure the app gains traction and this creates more opportunities to resolve any final bugs with alpha version users. Once those boxes are checked, Hootsuite will include GMB as part of the native platform. Once security checks were complete, we deployed the app in Hootsuite’s app directory on May 28, 2019
The key benefit is the increased convenience for managers controlling their Google My Business account. Previously users had to sign into each location and manually navigate through each to interact with customers, but they can now manage everything in one central location. This kind of functionality is not available within the native Google My Business platform; you can only manage one business listing at a time.
Post & Schedule Posts
Post company updates to your Google My Business profile or schedule them for later. When creating a post in the Hootsuite-GMB integration, users can upload photos from their Google Drive, Google Photos or local drive, add a call-to-action button which appears within the post, or make edits to previous posts.
Users can view and reply to questions asked by the public on all of their Google My Business listings. The stream indicates whether a question has been answered or not, ensuring that no question is left ignored.
Users can keep an eye on what people are saying about their business and respond to customer reviews for up to 100 locations from within Hootsuite.
The app is mutually beneficial to both Hootsuite and Google, as it integrates yet another essential digital marketing tool for businesses into the comprehensive platform. The integration will also increase user activity on Google My Business and ultimately allow for continuous improvement of the user experience for Hootsuite customers.
If the users appreciate this Google My Business integration, Hootsuite will be looking to add this into their native platform for all users. There are plenty of additional features that could be possible such as updating business hours and location information - but that’s pure speculation at this point. However we are already working on another integration with another great company that will make Hootsuite’s platform more powerful that is set to launch very soon.
What The Client Is Saying
“They have a very skilled team that was dedicated to our success. The integration that they put together was adopted by many users within the last four months. There were very few bugs or issues, and FreshWorks Studio was always highly responsive and resolved them as soon as possible. They delivered a high-quality product, and we'd work with them again on future projects.”
Technical Partner Manager, Hootsuite