Business owners and entrepreneurs are busy people, wearing 100 hats and trying to get it all done. An important productivity tip for online marketing is planning and scheduling social media in advance. But there is a difference between scheduling and automating your social media posts.
This guest post by Catherine Russell originally appeared on hirecatherine.com
Social media experts say your social media posts must be authentic, in real time, and personal. Yet, many tools exist to help you plan and schedule your social media shares and posts. Social media is a critical marketing tool for businesses. Social media can broaden your reach and find your ideal audience to attract them to your business. Smart social media tools help you run your business efficiently and maximize your resources. Social media scheduling tools can share your message efficiently and at a reasonable cost.
There is a major difference between automating and scheduling your social media posts:
- Automating social media posts is using tools set on auto-pilot to update your networks and send messages to followers and interactors without your intervention or screening: you welcome a new high-quality follower as easily as a spambot.
- Scheduling social media posts is strategically using tools to plan and posts content that you personally have selected, edited and scheduled.
Updating your social media networks takes time, and many small businesses and entrepreneurs have limited time to log into their various social networks several times daily to share updates. Scheduling your social media posts is a smart and effective strategy to connect with your followers but optimize your time.
5 Tips for Scheduling Your Social Media Posts
Eliminate Minimize Automated Posts
For my social media clients, I don’t automate their social media posts at all, ever. That means I do not:
- use automated Thank You or Welcome messages to new followers
- automatically follow back all new followers
- DM new followers or connections with a special offer
- automate RSS feeds to curate content for social channels using keywords
Should you ever automate your messages? If your schedule is so tight you can’t engage your new followers weekly – or your budget is so tight you can’t hire someone like me to interact with them – then automating a Welcome message might be good for your business. Personally, I don’t automate, but sometimes things are necessary for a business. Evaluate and customize any decision to automate: for example, automated posts from RSS feeds you follow can provide good content – but it can also provide irrelevant content, or even bad content, that you would not have shared if you’d read the article.
2. Use Tools to Schedule Social Media Posts
I’m a fan and user of tools to plan and schedule social media posts. My clients have a business strategy, and social media helps them meet their goals. We plan blog posts and social posts, and use tools to schedule them in advance. Scheduling tools I use or recommend include (there are other good tools, but these are the ones I use):
- Facebook Scheduler
My post scheduling guidelines are:
- Schedule a link to each new blog post to run 3 times on Twitter when the post goes live, at 3 different times of day, using 3 differently worded updates, including images.
- Repurpose: Schedule 1 post on each social network, using different messages with a link and an image. Do NOT use the same message on all social channels: your followers will notice, and stop following! Optimize your message for each social channel.
- Evergreen content should be scheduled no more than once per month, but can run indefinitely.
- Schedule posts as far as 6 months in advance, but review all scheduled posts at the beginning of each week to make sure that some news event or change in your business does not indicate the post should not run.
- Listen to and monitor your social media engagement at minimum one time daily; and reply, repost and engage as needed.
- Thank and welcome new followers and interactors at minimum weekly. This convention varies on different social media channels, but you can never go wrong by being polite and welcoming.
- Curate content to post on each social channel. I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 rule: post 20% content about your business, and 80% content from SMEs (subject matter experts), industry leaders, groups and communities you belong to, and current news topics relevant to your audience.
3. Use Tools to Amplify Your Posting Strategy
- I’m a huge fan of IFTTT: If This, Then That. I use several recipes to enhance social posting of images to help build up following on Pinterest and Instagram:
- Post Your Instagram Photos as Native Twitter Photos: when you post an image on Instagram, the image (not the link) is also posted on Twitter, with a short message and a link to your Instagram post.
- Pinterest image to Twitter as image: when you pin an image on Twitter, the image (not the link) is also posted on Twitter, with a short message and a link to your Pinterest pin.
- Revive Old Post is a great WordPress plugin that allows you to post evergreen blog posts to Twitter or Facebook. There is a paid and unpaid version, you can schedule how frequently you want old posts to be shared, on what channels, and if they can be re-shared multiple times.
4. Download Social Media Scheduling Apps to Your Smart Phone or Tablet
As a social media manager for small businesses as well as for my own small business, I have the apps for my social media scheduling tools on both my iPhone and iPad. I do the bulk scheduling for social media updates on my desktop, but I need to be ready to update my client’s social media post schedule on the fly: I don’t want to be chained to my desk.
- If an event occurs that will impact what a business has scheduled to post, I can quickly use the app to edit or delete a scheduled post.
- While I’m out and about see things that are meaningful to my client’s audience, I can quickly snap a photo and immediately post it to their social media.
- I sometimes have a great idea – or remember something I meant to schedule – and I can quickly schedule a post to run now or later.
5. Post in Real Time
In addition to scheduling time to schedule your posts, schedule time to go on each of your social networks and post in real time, repost, and engage.
- Don’t just hit ReTweet: tell the poster what a great article he shared, or ask a question.
- Don’t just Like on Instagram: add a Comment to show your interest.
- Share your personality: don’t just post articles, tell them what you’re doing or feeling. I always get a lot of interaction when I post my Starbucks drink or a cocktail, and you know the cat craze just keeps growing on social media!
I recommend going on each of your social media networks in real time at least once weekly, but put more emphasis on channels you’re trying to build or where you have the most engaged followers.
There’s a big difference between automating and scheduling your social media posts: know the difference, and use smart social media scheduling strategies!