You will have no doubt heard about social media scheduling, and been encouraged to use it. As I’m having a break with my family this week, social media scheduling is currently saving me from disappearing from the blogging community! (We wouldn’t want that now, would we?!)
Social media scheduling is one of those things where you may catch yourself wondering where to start, and what to use. So, let’s explore the options and to try to provide some answers.
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Pros of Tweetdeck:
- You can schedule an unlimited number of tweets. I must admit, Tweetdeck was a lifesaver when I did the 24 hour Twitter chat, because it meant I could set all my questions up the day before. I wouldn’t have been able to do this on the other options because of the restrictions.
- You can have streams for Home (your timeline), Notifications, Messages, so you’re kept up-to-date at all times.
Cons of Tweetdeck:
- It’s for Twitter only, whereas other options link to other social media platforms.
- There’s no longer a mobile app, as Twitter wanted to push users towards the normal app.
- Setting up your tweets on here feels more tedious compared to other tools, in my opinion.
- The streams can be distracting. I tried to turn off auto-refresh but it didn’t work, so they were constantly moving. In the end, I removed them.
Top tip: If you want to improve productivity, if you’re using a scheduling tool which has streams, remove them so you only have your scheduled column. This means you can focus on the task of scheduling content, rather than getting distracted by tweets and notifications.
Pros of Hootsuite:
- You can schedule posts to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more.
- You can set up streams, in the same way as Tweetdeck.
- It has an auto schedule which apparently sends it a time for “optimal impact.” I haven’t tried this feature but if you’re unsure about posting times, it could come in handy.
- Convenient mobile app, in case you need to tweak times, or add new posts. On the rare occasions I’ve remembered to schedule things for Instagram, the mobile app has been great for this!
Cons of Hootsuite:
- You can only schedule 30 posts without upgrading.
- Plans are expensive. The basic one is £25 a month – 10 social media profiles, 1 user, unlimited posts.
Pros of Buffer:
- Easy to use.
- You can connect Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more.
- Similarly to Hootsuite, it has a good mobile app.
- If you go to Settings > Posting Schedule, you can select the times you’d prefer for your posts to go out. This is useful as it means when you press “add to queue”, you don’t need to think about a time to set. Don’t worry, though, you’re not stuck with the times you set up. If you needed to send something at a different time for a particular reason, you still have the option to set a time.
- I like the fact when you paste your link into the box, it shortens it and pulls images from your post so you can select an image.
Cons of Buffer:
- You can only schedule 10 posts per social media platform, which would be fine for the likes of Instagram and Facebook, but not Twitter. I generally schedule 4 promo tweets per day, so it’s not going to get me far.
- You need to upgrade to be able to post more, and it’s $15 a month.
Of the three, I tend to use Hootsuite. I personally don’t enjoy using Tweetdeck, although I can’t put my finger on why. It seems a little outdated and less intuitive than the others. Buffer, in terms of usability and features, is my favourite, but too restricted. With Hootsuite, I can set things up for a whole week, which is an important factor for me.
Top tip: While using a social media scheduling tools like these keeps everything together in one place, you can schedule posts on Facebook itself. There have been rumours and debate as to whether this enables better organic reach, but it’s hard to prove that, given the varying factors which impact a post’s success.
I haven’t tried Hootsuite or Buffer for Pinterest because Tailwind* takes the crown for me when it comes to Pinterest scheduling. It’s one of the tools which took my viewers to 1 million in less than 3 months. There’s a lot to it and it could probably do with a post of its own, but I’ll try and cover some basic points.
Pros of Tailwind:
- As you can see from the image, it gives you handy facts and figures to consider, including how many repins your pins have had, pins from your site and the growth in followers.
- Tailwind Tribes – these are similar to Pinterest group boards. You can pin your own content to them, have them repinned by fellow users and find new content to repin to your own boards. You can access these even with a free account.
- It’s approved by Pinterest, so there’s no risk of your account being suspended for using this automation tool.
- Similarly to Buffer, if you go to Publisher > Your Schedule, you can select times you want to post. When you add a pin to your queue, it will go to the earliest available slot. Again, you can set a specific time if you’d prefer. Tailwind suggests times to pin, based on activity on your account:
The slots which are coloured in are times I have selected. The white ones with the dotted line are recommended by Tailwind. Of course, you don’t have to select them all, you can play around – select new ones, deselect old ones and see how you get on!
Cons of Tailwind:
- You have to pay to get the best of it. I do believe it’s worth it, and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made for my blog, but it’s not necessarily an outgoing everyone can afford.
- The mobile app is pretty hopeless, so you really need to access Tailwind through a browser on your computer.
- If you pay monthly, you can pin 400 times a month, whereas if you pay annually, you have unlimited pinning. It does work out cheaper if you pay all at once for the year ($9.99 a month rather than $15 a month) but this involves dropping $119 in one go. If you decide to go for a paid plan, you can use my referral link* to get $15 credit.
There are other social media scheduling apps out there, but these are the ones I have the most experience with. If you find none of these are right for you, a quick Google search for “social media scheduling tools/apps” will bring up lists with other options to try!
How many posts should I schedule?
This depends on the platform.
- Facebook – once a day, twice MAXIMUM.
- Twitter – As I’ve mentioned, I have 4/5 promotional tweets set up a day. These are spread throughout the day. I also try to tweet/retweet other things in between so my profile isn’t full of my own links.
My times are like this:
- 3am – to reach my American friends
- 8am – to catch those on their way to work/looking for something to do
- 1pm – lunchtime
- 6pm – most people have finished work and are free to check things out
- 9pm – after kids have gone to bed and the grown ups have some time to themselves
You could go with similar times, try your own, or go on what Hootsuite/Buffer suggest. If you wanted to go with your own, make sure you take a look at your audience first. Check your stats to see where your views are coming from. The majority of mine are from the UK and US so I based my times on this information.
- Instagram – I hardly ever schedule my posts on Instagram, because I shove them on there as and when I feel like it. I am considering starting this up, though, because I’ve been quite inactive on there lately. I’d say once a day is plenty, but it depends on your preference.
- Pinterest – as you can see from my Tailwind schedule, I have A LOT of pins scheduled. I pin around 50 times a day. You don’t have to dive into this commitment straight away but try to schedule around 30 pins, throughout the day, to start. If you have a spare few minutes, you could use the Pinterest app on your phone to pin manually to bump up the number.
What do I schedule?
If you’ve recently published a new post, then that’s obviously where to start. But, what else can you schedule?
- Have a list of your old posts (including guest appearances on other blogs) and cycle through them. This brings life back to your old work. As you will hopefully have gained followers since you published some of your posts, you can get it in front of a new audience. Make sure to include some RT accounts and hashtags, too.
- Other social media links. So, share your Instagram link in a tweet, or schedule a Facebook post to encourage people to follow you on Twitter. You get the idea.
- Other people’s content. Read a blog you LOVED? Get it set up! This is a nice break from self promotion, and a great opportunity to do something nice for another blogger.
But, why bother with social media scheduling?
The number one reason I encourage people to use these tools is this:
If all of your promo is set to go out on auto-pilot, your time on social media can be used to interact, engage and network. You don’t need to stress about sharing your blog posts, because they’re set up and ready to go.
People always seem to worry about the best times to post on their blogs, but here’s the truth: it doesn’t matter. You can post whenever you want, it’s when you promote that makes a difference.
Other than that, it saves time and stress in the long run, and gives you a consistent presence online. Sure, it takes a chunk of time to get it set up for the week ahead, but I promise, it’s worth it!