One of the biggest gripes small business owners often have with social media, is finding the time to do it. While sending a tweet may only take a minute, developing a strategy and social media content which meets the objectives of a business is definitely time-consuming. It’s also very easy to let a week go by before realising that you haven’t posted anything on Facebook or Twitter. It’s particularly important on Facebook to post regular, good quality content in order to make sure you remain on the radar of your page fans. But this is sometimes easier said than done.
The key to maintaining control of your social media is scheduling, something that many business owners are unaware they can do. While having organic, ‘spur of the moment’ statuses, images and Tweets are important, having a backlog of content that goes up automatically for you will take a lot of the pressure off. By sitting down for an hour a week, or perhaps a couple of hours a month, to schedule all of your content in, will save a lot of time and stress in the long run.
Below are five online tools which can make the process of planning and scheduling social media easier. All of them have basic, free packages, so you really don’t have to pay lots to improve your online presence.
When it comes to creating a schedule of potential social media content, Evernote is a very useful tool. Evernote is an archiving and notetaking app where you can save ideas, create timetables and share ideas with others. Evernote can be great for saving a ‘notebook’ of ideas and articles that you may want to share in the future, as well as drawing up a schedule of content.
You can create a number of different notebooks, which would be useful if you have different themes for different days – for example, if you share industry articles on Tuesdays, or something funny on Fridays.
Another bonus of Evernote, from a business perspective, is the ability to scan in documents so you can return to look at them later. Evernote is essentially a virtual filing system.
Alternatives to Evernote include Dropbox and Google Drive. Google fans may also want to utilise the calendar function to have potential content saved right next to their daily tasks and meetings.
Once you’ve put together a list of potential content, you can start to schedule it. Hootsuite is an online tool to schedule to a number of social networks. For example, you could schedule one piece of content to go up on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ all at the same time. Simply click on the little clock icon, and choose when you want it to go up. Hootsuite also provide a template you can use in Excel or Google Docs, so you can enter in all your content then simply upload the document to Hootsuite for it to schedule it all in for you.
Hootsuite also has a tracking link option, so you can see how many times your content has been clicked on and more stats about where they’re clicking from etc.
Buffer is an easy way to quickly schedule in content, through a ‘queue’ method. You choose the times you want your posts to go live each day, then add an item to the queue. It will automatically then go out during the next available slot. Buffer offers a bookmarketlet for your browser, so you can add retweets to your queue or pages you’ve visited online. Additionally, with the paid version, you can see which content did well, and reschedule it to go out at a later time. This is useful if you want regular reminders going out about your products or services.
One final bonus of Buffer is that it will suggest content it thinks you want to share. It’s fairly accurate, so it’s an added bonus to have this virtual assistance to find relevant links to share.
If you’re looking for a simple solution, focusing on Twitter, TweetDeck is a good option. You can quickly and easily schedule content, while also viewing your feed, your replies, your favourite hashtags and your lists in a series of columns.
Finally, is IFTTT. IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and is a trigger-based system. For example, if you post something to Facebook, it will trigger off an alert and post the same thing to Twitter. Or if you favourite a tweet, it will save it to Evernote for you, or add it to a Google Drive spreadsheet. It automates a lot of the process for you, to save you time in the long run.
These are just a handful of tools you can use to schedule and automate your social media presence. While it’s not advisable to rely purely on scheduled content, as you’ll still need to monitor and respond to comments and replies, it can be hugely beneficial for small businesses who are time poor.
Which social media tools do you use to schedule your content?