Do you ever scroll through Twitter late at night on a weekend and see one of your favorite brands is still tweeting? Pictures of an unpaid intern slaving away at a keyboard in an empty office come to mind. Man, do these people ever take a break?
And sure, some brands do have someone on duty 24/7 — but that’s just not realistic for most companies. Third-party scheduling tools are a great way to plan your social media days or weeks in advance and allow you to keep a consistent posting schedule.
(Also, let me preface this by saying, in general, I don’t use scheduling tools for Facebook.
Facebook says it doesn’t punish an account for using a third-party scheduling tool…but I’m not sure I believe them. Unlike other social media platforms, how well your post performs is totally at the mercy of Facebook. If something about it doesn’t sit well with Facebook’s algorithm, your reach may only be in the single digits.
And Facebook actually has a pretty great scheduling tool, whereas other platforms do not. It’s also good to see exactly how your post is going to display on Facebook, so you can make adjustments to create a high-quality post. Why risk angering the Facebook gods?)
I could write a whole blog about how much I just love Buffer. I have used Tweetdeck and Hootsuite in the past, and it’s not that they’re bad tools. But in comparison, they’re really cluttered. Buffer is simple. Buffer is easy. Buffer is the best.
I primarily use Buffer to schedule tweets, although you can use it to schedule for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+, as well.
Buffer allows you to set up a posting schedule for each day. When you add a post, it automatically slots into the next available posting time, but you can easily move a post up and down your schedule.
Buffer offers this awesome Chrome plugin that places a button at the top of your browser. All you have to do is hit the button, and it will draft a post for you with the headline of the page you’re viewing. You can edit it or add it directly into your queue. Easy peasy.
I am a huge data nerd so I love that Buffer has great analytics that allow you to see at a glance your best performing posts, not just in likes or retweets, but actual clicks. It also allows you to add a post that performed well back into your queue with one click.
And for what it’s worth, Buffer has great customer service.
I was launching a big social media campaign recently, and I had to do some research on an Instagram scheduling tool. Buffer didn’t offer Instagram scheduling until the week after I found — and paid for a year subscription of — Onlypult.
But that’s ok! So far, I’ve really enjoyed using Onlypult. It’s really easy to use.
And the analytics — oh, the analytics in Onlypult. Love. It offers great information about change in followers and engagement over time and — even better — really useful information about optimizing your post times. Apparently 9 p.m. Sunday and 1 p.m. Friday are our sweet spots, while all day Monday is just a black hole of Instagram engagement. Who knew?
Onlypult knew, that’s who.
Anyway, am I bummed that I can’t just keep everything in my beautiful Buffer? Sure. But Onlypult gets my approval, too.
Ok, I love HubSpot — I really do. But their social media scheduler gets a giant “meh” from me.
It’s not bad, but put it next to Buffer — have I mentioned I love Buffer? — and it looks clunky.
The tool allows you to type in one message and it will copy that message across all the accounts you’ve connected to it. So you can type in a message to the box and it will copy over for your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., and you can edit and schedule them all. That sounds really convenient, right?
It is frustratingly inconvenient for two reasons.
One, when you select a date and time and hit “Schedule 4 messages,” it looks like you’re scheduling the same time and date for all of them — but surprise! You’re not! I learned this lesson the hard way. If you don’t select times and dates for each platform, it will just slow those posts into the next available schedule time.
Is this a huge inconvenience? No, of course not. But it still wasn’t as clear as it should have been.
Second, you shouldn’t be posting the exact same message on every platform! People go to LinkedIn for different reasons than they go to Facebook, and your social media strategy should keep that in mind. It’s easier to just post the same thing on all of your business’ social media — but it definitely isn’t smarter.
A good scheduling tool can help you efficiently manage your brand’s social media presence, but I would strongly advise against relying on these tools alone — they don’t handle everything, and it’s so important to jump on big news in your industry while the conversation is hot.
It’s also important to log into your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a regular basis to ensure you’re not missing anything important, like a direct message.