The Company

Hootsuite is the world’s most widely used social media management platform with over 15 million users, including more than 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies. Hootsuite offers an integrated platform for social marketing, social selling, social customer service, and employee advocacy—helping organizations champion the power of human connection at scale.

The Challenge

Hootsuite manages multiple online customer engagement programs that consistently adapt with the evolution of social marketing and customer support.  However, these communities and customer support channels don’t always share the same goals and features.

“Our customers find the community to be easy to use and are able to ask and find answers to their questions quickly.”

-Gabrielle Maheux,
Social Channel Lead

Consequently, Hootsuite found itself working with multiple platform providers to engage with their customers with different business objectives. In addition to the support community, they have communities dedicated to product feedback and their Ambassador program.

Reconciling to a single platform that managed all three types of communities became an important corporate initiative. Each posed their own challenges. The first to migrate was the support community.

In June 2015, Hootsuite’s support forum successfully migrated from a legacy platform to Vanilla Forums. In 60 days, the multi-channel social customer self-service center was handling a growing customer base looking for answers to pressing support questions without impacting general customer satisfaction ratings and self-service goals. According to Gabrielle Maheux, Social Marketing Specialist at Hootsuite, the migration was a success. “Our customers find the community to be easy to use and are able to ask and find answers to their questions quickly.” (You can read the full case study for their support community here.)

Based on the positive results of the first migration, Alicia Taggio, Advocate Marketing Manager and Brittany Ho, Advocate Marketing Coordinator, turned to Vanilla Forums with similar support requirements for Hootsuite’s Ambassador program, which relied on gamification to drive engagement. Their requirements included an intuitive user experience for both desktop and mobile users, a multilingual platform to support its global customer base, the ability to migrate off the legacy platform without any loss of data, and stringent security requirements.

The third community, Hootsuite’s ideation and product feedback forum, had fallen into disarray. Seeing how successful the customer support community was with its customer base, Maheux led the charge. She moved Hootsuite’s feedback and ideation community to Vanilla since it had all the features needed. Customers can submit product suggestions and vote ideas up or down. The product management team can then communicate directly through the community with the customers on their ideas.

The Logistics

“It was an easy decision for us to turn to Vanilla because of our existing relationship,” explained Ho. “We knew it would be a straightforward migration that aligned with other departments. The Vanilla support team already proved easy to work with and willing to make customizations to meet our needs.”

Both the Hootsuite Ambassador and Feedback programs were migrated from different legacy platforms to Vanilla in only a few months – with no problems. Vanilla’s services team was able to accomplish this using knowledge gained from migrating hundreds of forums, big and small.

Vanilla’s process includes a test migration; ample time for testing and orientation; communications best practices; and a final migration with minimal downtime that is scheduled based on traffic patterns. This includes passwords, images, emoticons, uploaded files, private messages, banned users, etc. Vanilla also ensures SEO rankings are maintained and key functionality is preserved.

According to Ho, “We were able to export our data from the legacy platform without even having to contact our Customer Success Managers (CSM). It was seamless because we could export all our user data. That made the migration process really easy.”

“The same thing happened with the feedback forum,” added Maheux. Vanilla helped us figure out what was important to bring over and what could be filtered out and left behind.”

How did Hootsuite Benefit?

Not only did Hootsuite see immediate savings with Vanilla during their consolidation, they also realized some unexpected benefits. For example, customers now have a single sign-on (SSO) to access both their Hootsuite accounts and the Ambassador forum, which positively affects engagement.

“We’re still building and experimenting with our community, but our ambassadors are already letting us know that they really like the UX, the focus on discussion and community building because that’s what they’re looking for, and the ability to interact with ambassadors all around the globe,” explained Ho.

Another benefit that was realized, unlike the previous platforms, these forums and program links go directly to Hootsuite’s web site. This means traffic is driven to Hootsuite web pages rather than an external site making analytics and insights much more accessible and transparent.

“One of the things we regularly monitor is the engagement rate within the forum and we’re at about 80%. That’s a really positive number,” said Taggio. “They’re really responding to our creating a space for the ambassadors to talk about a lot of things, particularly all the changes in social media.”

As Hootsuite’s customer support channels continue to evolve, the team is ready to work with Vanilla to achieve new goals.  Ho explained that based on the accomplishments to date, “We look forward to growing with Vanilla’s platform as it continues to develop analytics, engagement features and everything else that may come about in the future.”