Social Media is an important marketing tool for businesses these days. Arguably it’s one you can’t run a successful business without. However, as Social Media becomes more necessary it also becomes more time consuming.
If you take a look through the careers section of your local newspaper you are bound to see vacancies for full-time Social Media Managers as this has become such a big role for many large businesses.
For smaller businesses who, like you, may be doing this alone it is important to find helpful tools to assist you.
I have compiled a list of some of my favourite Social Media scheduling tools to help you stay on top of your social media without having to be posting each day.
Sprout Social is one of my favourite all round scheduling tools. You can pre-schedule posts, or post instantly to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
It also brings all your messages to one place in your “Smart Inbox”. This means you can quickly view all your messages from Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn all on the one page saving you from having to go into each platform individually. You can respond to the messages from within Sprout Social too!
You can attach images to your posts, target specific audiences and take advantage of their bit.ly integration to shorten your links as you go.
With each post you can select for it to publish to just one platform or multiple platforms. Just remember to ensure the number of characters and size of the image is relevant for all the platforms you are posting to.
Their ViralPost feature also allows you to leave it up to Sprout Social to post it at the optimal post time for maximum engagement.
Aside from the easy to use layout and functionality, my favourite feature would have to be their analytics and reporting. Not only do they show you the basics you can view on each individual platform, they also show you more important metrics like the percentage of engaged fans.
Their deluxe plan at $59 per month allows you to manage up to 10 Social profiles. Although not the cheapest option for a scheduler if you are looking for an easy to use tool with all the features and great reports this is the one I would recommend. Try a free 30 day trial
Hootsuite is what I started with before I discovered Sprout Social. If their price point is a bit out of the budget then HootSuite would be my next choice. They have a free plan for up to 3 profiles and then more advanced plans start at $10.99 a month.
Hootsuite also allows for publishing across multiple platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus.
It’s a great budget option and I know many people who happily use Hootsuite on a daily basis.
Reporting is also available at an additional cost. Try a free 30 day trial
If you mainly use Twitter as your Social Media platform of choice then Tweetdeck is for you. It is a free scheduling tool created by Twitter for Twitter users.
You can manage multiple Twitter accounts and pre-schedule tweets, The beauty of this tool though is your ability to create custom timelines to monitor. You can set up saved searches which then only show tweets which meet the search criteria – great if you’re wanting to follow a particular hashtag or keyword, You can also use this feature to follow lists.
If you use an assistant or staff member to Tweet for you this is a great tool as you can share access to your Twitter account without handing over your password.
Try it now, it’s free!
You may be wondering why I have included Facebook which is a social media platform rather than a scheduling tool. Lately I have been quite surprised by the number of Facebook page admins who didn’t realise they could schedule posts in advance right from their page.
If you’re using a lot of social media platforms then it makes sense to keep it all in the one place, however, if you are just using Facebook you really don’t need to invest in a scheduling tool at all. Facebook gives you the ability to schedule your posts and provide heaps of great insights for your page, Absolutely FREE.
To schedule a post rather than pressing “Publish” click on the arrow to the right and select “Schedule”
You will then be prompted to select the date and time you want your post to publish.
To access all your scheduled posts click on “Publishing Tools” above your cover image and select “Scheduled Posts” on the left-hand side menu. You can then choose to edit, reschedule or delete any of the posts right up until they go live.
The only limitation with this tool is that you can’t change an image once it’s scheduled – if like me you find a spelling mistake on an image you have to delete the scheduled post and start again – Hopefully Facebook will change this one day for those of us who are spelling challenged!
Viraltag was introduced to me by my good friend Kat Jarman of craftercoach.com. It’s the only good plugin I have found that allows you to pre-schedule pins for Pinterest.
Along with Pinterest you can pre-schedule posts for Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and LinkedIn.
You can access your photos from just about anywhere and upload multiple images at a time. You can then choose to enter a bulk description and link or customise it for each post (this is what I recommend). The beauty of Viraltag is you can then either create a scheduling calender for when you want them to be pinned or select a start time and then set intervals between posts. This means you can have each photo post a few hours apart so you don’t look like your spamming Pinterest but can still get a lot of images ready to go at once.
You can also discover other posts and re-pin from within Viraltag.
If you’re a Canva user like me you will be happy to know this tool integrates with Canva so you can upload images you have created within Canva straight to Viraltag. It also integrated with Dropbox, Picasa and RSS Feeds.
This tool has really got me excited about Pinterest again and I am loving being able to schedule entire boards to drip feed content to Pinterest.
Their Pro Plans start at $29 a month for up to 10 Social profiles. Try a free 7 day trial
I use Grum to schedule my Instragram post from my Desktop. This is a huge time saver for me as without a tool like this you are restricted to posting to Instagram from your phone.
Without getting too technical Instagram doesn’t allow for API connections like Facebook and Twitter do. These basically allow scheduling tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite to post on your behalf. Due to this there have been many other Instagram Schedulers who let you “schedule” the post but then just send you a reminder to post it at a certain time which still allows you to manually post to Instagram on your phone – not so helpful!
Grum I can only imagine get around this by actually logging in to your Instagram account (automatically) and posting as you – so that’s my warning I guess they do actually access you account but only to post for you when you want it, so for the time it saves me and the ease of being able to set up my posts on my desktop I’m cool with it! You can make up your own mind.
The tool allows you to connect to multiple accounts and schedule your posts just like in Instagram with the ability to crop images, add your description and hashtags. You can also pre-schedule your first comment, which is where I like to include my Instagram hashtags.
Plans start from
If this then that otherwise known as IFTTT is more than just a scheduling tool. It’s a free program that allows you to set off all sorts of automatic behaviours to triggers. You create what are known in IFTTT as recipes with a “if this happens then that that happens” mentality. You can integrate with heaps of different social media platforms as well as blogs such as WordPress.
There are far too many recipes to mention and you can even create your own. Some things you may like to set up are when you publish a new blog post it automatically publishes a link to your Facebook page or Twitter.
You can also connect between two social media platforms like sharing all your LinkedIn posts to Twitter or posting all Instagram photos to Facebook.
It’s a free platform so why not give it a try. Sign up now
So there you have it my 7 favourite tools for saving time with my social media marketing. You certainly don’t need them all but have a play and see which one works for you. You need your tool to be helpful and save you time so if you’re spending just as much time trying to pre-schedule everything as if you were posting it yourself you definitely haven’t found the right tool for you so keep trying!
Pre-scheduling is a great way to plan out your week with certain posts but remember to throw in some live timely posts that will be relevant to your audience and also keep an eye out for comments or messages so that you are still responding promptly.
If you have another great tool you think should be on the list please let me know in the comments below!