Hootsuite recently followed in the footsteps of fellow social media company Twitter in eliminating free offerings.
Earlier this month, Vancouver-based Hootsuite announced that it is ditching its free plan for users by the end of March.
Meta is also currently testing a paid version of its platform.
The decision came weeks after Twitter first announced that it is ending free access to its application programming interface (API) service. The news of Twitter’s decision was met with concern that cutting off free access to APIs for developers would lead to the shutdown of a number of third-party apps.
While Twitter getting rid of free APIs is expected to have less of an impact on larger companies, like Hootsuite, that already pay for full API access, it has been speculated that the move will have some downstream effects — such as the loss of free plans.
A Hootsuite spokesperson told BetaKit, “this decision was not made as a result of any changes being implemented at Twitter. Our partnership with Twitter is important to us, and as Hootsuite is an official partner, its changes have not impacted our business or our customers’ access to Twitter through the Hootsuite Platform.”
Even so, Twitter making changes to monetize its platform is a trend that others, like Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, are following. Meta is currently testing a paid version of its platform. This has led to speculation that the era of free social media is coming to an end; the impacts of which are likely to be felt downstream and mean changes to business models for companies like Hootsuite.
Much like Twitter, Hootsuite has gone through difficult times of late: a refocus of priorities and a focus on monetizing. For Hootsuite, this has included three rounds of layoffs that have impacted more than 35 percent of employees, and a switch-up in CEOs.
With Elon Musk at the helm, Twitter has explored various ways of monetizing its platform. The changes to its API policy is just the latest in a long line of revamps. Discontinuing free access followed Twitter changing the terms of its APIs, which has led to the shutdown of a number of apps.
Twitter’s new API platform was expected to come online on February 9 but has since been delayed multiple times. As of February 17, the Twitter Developer account shared that the platform’s roll-out is set to take place “over the next few weeks.”
Meta also sees a need to better monetize its social platforms as it faces a number of changes that have impacted the company’s business, from Apple’s recent privacy restrictions to a slower advertising market and the threat of regulation.
For its part, Hootsuite’s free offering ends on March 31. Customers using the plan will be required to upgrade to a ‘Professional’ one if they want to continue using the platform. The Professional plan is $99 per month, and allows one user access to unlimited posts on 10 social accounts. The next tiers up are focused on businesses and start at $249 per month.
Hootsuite is a predominant player in the social media management space. The company claims 18 million users with 80 percent of the Fortune 1,000 companies using its platform.
Even so, the company hasn’t had a smooth trajectory. Tom Keiser, who took over as CEO from founder Ryan Holmes in 2020, was replaced earlier this year by former CareerBuilder CEO Irina Novoselsky. Hootsuite cited Novoselsky’s experience expanding CareerBuilder’s audience and enhancing its product and user experience as reasons for making the change.
At the time, Novoselsky noted that Hootsuite has “nearly five times the customers of its nearest competitor,” and feels the social media management market is a “largely untapped and growing” $28 billion global market opportunity.
Having helped turn around past companies like CareerBuilder, Novoselsky will likely play much the same role at Hootsuite as the company navigates changes in its own market as well as the downturn in the tech sector.
Regarding the elimination of its free plan, the Hootsuite spokesperson added, “At Hootsuite, it’s incredibly important to us that we are innovating at the pace of social, and creating a market-leading product that not only meets, but exceeds, our customers’ expectations. We have an ambitious roadmap to accomplish this, and have made improvements in our product functionality to meet the demands of this rapidly-changing space.”
“As we map out our future, it’s equally important that our plan structure best reflects the innovation and growth of our product, which is why we made the decision to remove our free plan.”
Feature image courtesy Hootsuite.