There are an overwhelming amount of social media scheduling tools available, so it’s easy to find yourself confused, stressed out, and paralyzed by indecision. Here’s the thing, these tools are supposed to make your life easier, not harder. While you can definitely start a free trial with as many as you like, don’t forget each new system is going to take time to get setup and to learn. Luckily for you, I’ve done a ton of the footwork for you, and I’m here to try and save you some time.
First of all, you need to know which social media platforms you’re going to focus your efforts on. You can’t choose all of them because it’s just not possible to keep up with. If you’re really new to social media, pick two. If you’re pretty confident, you can go with three. I wouldn’t suggest more than that.
You want to choose your social media platforms based on where your customers tend to hang out. If you’re marketing business to consumer, you’re probably safe to assume you’ll have some customers on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re marketing business to business, more than likely you’ll want to focus your efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter. Do some research and figure out where you can best reach the people you’re looking for and pick two to three platforms to focus on. You may want to do Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Alternately, you may want to use LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Start with the combination you’re most comfortable with and grow from there.
Last week, I covered more of the nitty-gritty details of how to Create Your Content Calendar with Ease, for Free. If you are still working on the planning phase of your content, check that post out first. Honestly, generating your content and posts is way harder than scheduling it.
Now, let’s talk scheduling tools. Some social platforms have built in scheduling options. You should always look to these first. They are native to the platform which means you won’t have crazy algorithms punishing you for using a third party app. Facebook and YouTube both have built in scheduling options. Facebook also has Facebook Creator Studio which not only allows you to schedule Facebook posts, but because Facebook also owns Instagram, you can schedule Instagram posts as well. You can also cross promote to multiple pages that you manage.
Though I’ve tried a lot of them, the only third party provider I have continued to use is Planoly and honestly, I only use the FREE plan. I really do love Planoly. It is Instagram specific, but what I love is that you can upload your photos (or a placeholder) and plan out your grid in advance.
I can also type faster and more accurately on my computer, and because Planoly can be accessed via your web browser or an app, I type a lot of my longer posts right on the computer. You can also copy and paste much more easily than you can on your computer than you can from your phone (especially on Instagram).
Planoly allows you to schedule and auto-post, so you can schedule out your whole week of content on Sunday and not have to think about it again. (This is not advisable though, read on for why.) One of my favorite things about Planoly is that you can create and save groups of hashtags. Then you can copy and paste them in an instant. If nothing else, it’s by far worth the free plan for that.
With the paid plan, you’re able to schedule your hashtags to go in the first comment, which I prefer because that way they don’t show up on Facebook. And Facebook isn’t the place for using a ton of hashtags. (If you still need help with hashtags, be sure to check out Hashtag Help.) So I love that I can click copy on my phone or computer and quickly paste my most relevant hashtags into the comments.
Again, with the paid plan, you get more options like Stoppable Links and the ability to post a video, things you can’t do with the free plan. The lowest tier on the paid plan is only around $7 per month, which really isn’t a bad deal, if you’re going to use all the features.
You also can post to Facebook at the same time with the paid plan. Like I said though, I don’t use that. I will schedule it to remind me to post manually to Instagram. Yes, posting manually is more work, but it’s better for a couple of reasons. First, you’re not going through a third party app, and though Planoly themselves promised Instagram won’t punish you for this, the act of testing it both ways has me seriously doubting this. Either way, what manually posting does, is allow me to post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time. I’ve now just posted my content in three places at once.
Mostly importantly of all though posting manually reminds me to engage. You see, you can’t just post to social media and be merrily on your way. A portion of your strategy needs to be engagement. You need to follow other people, like their posts, comment on their posts. Go out and socialize with your customers and your potential customers.
Now if you’re using a platform like LinkedIn or Twitter, I’ve used Postcron before, which also offers a free plan, but it’s not endorsed by either of those platforms, so use with caution. It’s easy to learn and you can use three social accounts for free.
What I appreciate about both Postcron and Planoly, is that they have a free version that is free forever. Most of the other scheduling tools out there give you a timed, free trial, or a certain number of posts for free. Now, it’s not that I don’t see the value in paying for these services. That’s how they keep their business running, after all. As with cost in your business, it’s important to determine if the $15 per month cost is giving you a return on your investment.
If it’s truly saving you a ton of time and headache, and bringing in conversions, than of course it’s worth it. Just don’t get caught up in the social media frenzy of feeling that you need to post every single day on every single platform without a real strategy and without seeing results.
Tell me below, are you using a scheduling tool? If so, do you love it?