In this modern age of busy lifestyles, multi tasking and forward planning is a must, especially in the sector of social media. It is a hub of constant content and ensures there’s always something new to consume. While it is important to be present on social media to ensure you can comment there and then, it is also essential that new content is readily available for your audience frequently. As a Social Media Management Consultant, I like to operate using a content calendar – this can be on a physical calendar or in a good old Excel spreadsheet. It allows you to clearly see where your content gaps are and it gives you a way of tracking all of your engagement in one place. It can also be good to have small gaps here and there to allow you to be flexible with urgent posts or topical musings. This may seem like very obvious advice, but for someone who is brand new to using social media for business, being prepared can ease the stress.
In response to this, it is crucial that you master the simple task of scheduling. Planning ahead isn't just important for analysis, it allows your business to be active online when you are busy. You can’t expect to be available to post any time, any day of the week. As a business, you’ll want to hit your audience at the right time for maximum engagement and reach, this could be 8pm on a Thursday – when you’re tucking into a family dinner, and if that is the case, you don’t want to compromise on your own time or your social media presence.
Once you’ve analysed the habits of your following and worked out what content works best and when it performs well, you’re ready to start scheduling your posts. While it is possible to do this within networks such as Facebook, other sites like Twitter and Instagram have yet to follow suit. However there is a variety of external sites offering social media scheduling. I’m always looking for the best apps and tools available to ensure that I can offer my clients the best possible service. For the last few years, I have been indebted to Hootsuite for my social media management. It offers a view of all social networking streams in one window so that you can see exactly what your audience is saying and how they are responding to your content, as well as being able to schedule content. What’s also great is that the free version can host up to three channels, so if you’re only using a few platforms, it won’t cost you a penny. However, I’ve recently found it slightly clunky. Since I first started using Hootsuite over four years ago, not much has seemed to change. That’s when I decided to dip my toe into the wider pool of social media tools.
I had been recommended Buffer, and upon registering it immediately seemed to solve one of my biggest bugbears from Hootsuite – tailoring your message for the platform you are using. Whether it be Facebook or LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram – they are all different, and so your message must adapt too. For example, Twitter’s character limit requires a short sharp message, whereas you can afford to be slightly more wordy on LinkedIn but keep a B2B professional focus. This means that while you can post the same photo or link, the accompanying text must be diverse and shouldn't be distributed across all platforms with a simple copy and paste. Buffer solves this. Without leaving the page, you can tailor individual posts for each network – problem solved! (Hootsuite does do this, but is slightly more awkward, in my opinion.)
Personally, the jury is still out for me between the two sites as they each have their pros and cons but hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be more confident about trying some new tools and a little more selfish in reclaiming time to other things that make your business tick!