6 Low-Cost Tools to Schedule Social Media Posts

Let’s be honest.

Social media can be a time consuming endeavor. It can easily eat up your whole day if you let it.

But, you’ve got a business to run and you don’t have time to remember to sporadically send tweets or Facebook posts throughout the day.

I hear you.

That’s why I recommend scheduling your social media posts. This allows you to plan your social media sharing for the day (or several days) at a time. Then, you can use your time on social networks to engage and respond to comments.

While I don’t think you should automate your entire social media presence, scheduling can help you manage your time on social media more effectively (even in one hour a day).

How do you do it?

Here are six budget-friendly tools that I use and recommend to help you schedule social media posts effectively:

1. Buffer

I’m absolutely in love with Buffer and it has been one of my go-to tools for a long time.

When you set up Buffer, you can choose which days and times you want to send messages for each social network.  Then, you simply queue messages into your Buffer and it will automatically send the messages out at the times you selected.

Scheduling with Buffer

And, if you’re not sure which times to send messages, you can connect Buffer with Tweriod, and it will analyze your tweets and recommend the best times to reach your audience.

Buffer makes it super-easy to add articles to your queue thanks to browser extensions, integrations with Google reader and connections with a number of mobile apps.

Buffer also gives you analytics such as clicks on links, RTs, comments, likes, etc. They have a ton of great features – here are some of their latest improvements.

Social networks: Twitter, Facebook pages and profiles and LinkedIn profiles and groups.

Cost: Free version gives you one Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account and 10 updates in your Buffer. Upgrade to the Awesome plan for $10/month to get unlimited posts, use 12 social profiles and have two team members on your account.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a web-based social media dashboard that allows you to easily manage multiple social media accounts. The beauty of Hootsuite is that you can see multiple streams at a time for each social channel that you use. For Twitter,

In addition to the social media management capabilities, Hootsuite also offers scheduling. You can either schedule posts manually or use their autoschedule functionality and it will automatically select a time to send the message. And their browser extension makes it easy to schedule messages while your surfing the web.

Hootsuite autoscheduler

Hootsuite also offers tracking and reporting through their link shortener, so you get information about the of clicks on the links you share.

Social networks: Twitter; Facebook pages and Profiles; Linkedin profiles, pages and groups; Google Plus pages; Foursquare, MySpace and WordPress.

Cost: Free for five social profiles. Upgrade to the Pro version for $9.99/month to get unlimited social profiles and one additional user. View plans here.

3. Do Share

Before Hootsuite added Google Plus integration, there were few (if any) ways to schedule posts to Google Plus. Do Share is one of those options. It’s a Chrome extension that makes it easy to create a post and schedule it for a later time.

Scheduling Google Plus Posts with DoShare

The only caveat is that you must have Chrome open and logged into Google for the post to be sent. It’s not perfect, but if you’re not using Hootsuite, it’s your best alternative for Google Plus scheduling.

Social Network: Google Plus

Cost: Free

4. Facebook

Scheduling Facebook posts

Facebook itself now offers the ability to schedule updates to your Facebook page from right within their site. If you manage a Facebook page, you should see a clock icon. Clicking on it will give you the ability to schedule a post.

This works great if you only use Facebook and don’t want to fool with third-party apps. I also like to use this functionality if I want to tag another page in my post as third-party apps won’t let you do that.

Social Network: Facebook

Cost: Free

5. Sprout Social

Much like Hootsuite, Sprout Social is a robust social media management dashboard that gives the ability to manage multiple social media accounts.

Sprout boasts a unified inbox where you can get Twitter mentions and messages and Facebook posts and comments all in one place. They also give you beautiful reports and demographic data for each of your social networks and you can pull in your RSS feeds into their dashboard to make it easy to share directly from Sprout.

With Sprout, you can manually schedule posts or use their queue functionality to send messages at pre-determined times. If you want to auto-schedule posts, you have to upgrade to their premium plan.  Sprout also has browser extensions so you can easily add content to your queue while browsing the web.

Scheduling social media posts with Sprout Social

I’ve only tested Sprout, but it seems to offer a less intimidating way for teams to manage social media. Although I prefer seeing multiple streams at one time like Hootsuite offers, Sprout’s singular feeds might be more welcoming option for businesses just getting the hang of things.

Social networks: Twitter, Facebook pages and profiles and LinkedIn profiles.

Cost: $39 / month for standard plan – manage up to 10 social media profiles. See their pricing options here.

6. PinGraphy

If you’re a heavy Pinterest user, you might want to check out PinGraphy. Much like the other tools I’ve mentioned, PinGraphy offers a browswer Bookmarklet that makes it simple to schedule “pins” while browsing the web.

Scheduling pins with PinGraphy

PinGraphy also gives you more analytics than simply using Pinterest itself. The dashboard shows number of repins, likes, comments and reach for each pin and board.

If you need help setting it up, here’s a tutorial that walks you through it.

Social Network: Pinterest

Cost: Free

Which tools do you use to schedule social media posts?

There are dozens of social media management and scheduling tools on the market, but these are the tools that I use and recommend.

However, I’m always looking for new and better ways to manage social media. Which tools do you use? Do you have a favorite that’s not on the list? Let me know in the comments!

Image credit: Earls37a

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  • http://www.comprehensivemedia.com/ Joel W. Smith

    Hey Laura – we love Hootsuite and Buffer! I use them both every day.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Glad to hear it! I’m a heavy user of both of those too.

  • http://brownknowsmedia.com/ Jeff Brown

    Hootsuite for me Laura, but after hearing of your love for Buffer, I may go back and give it another try.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Jeff – Buffer rocks. I love Hootsuite for engagement, but for scheduling, Buffer is way better. Try it and let me know what you think!

  • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

    I’m curious there’s no love for Tweetdeck?

    Admittedly, I’ve fallen in and out of love with it myself, but it would seem to share many of the qualities we’re all searching for: it supports multiple accounts, multi-column-viewing, and pre-scheduling of posts. Plus, both the web-based version and desktop and mobile versions are all free.

    It was better before it was acquired by Twitter (I believe the change was literally identifiable when the app icon switched from yellow bird to blue bird, was it not?), and tech support is pretty bad, but the app also works pretty seamlessly.

    I’ve heard so many terrific things about Hootsuite and have been eager to try it out, but instead dipped my toe into Jugnoo… until I received an unceremonious email which *appeared* to boot me out in favor of exclusively enterprise accounts. Not sure what happened there…

    Anyhow, I’m a little miffed that Tweetdeck seems to have retreated into a more simplified version of itself, but it works for me: all my tweets are cross-posted into Facebook by virtue of Twitter’s own internal capability (and used to by LinkedIn until it pulled the plug on that, and began its yearlong campaign to begin disenfranchising users).

    Thanks for your thoughts, Steve.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      I’ve never been a big fan of Tweetdeck. Years ago, I was using Seesmic, but eventually moved over to Hootsuite. I know plenty of people love Tweetdeck, and yes, it does offer a lot of key features…..or, it did. The problem is that Twitter recently announced they are shutting down the desktop and mobile versions, along with Facebook integration. See here: http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/04/twitter-shuts-down-tweetdeck-for-android-iphone-and-air-discontinues-tweetdecks-facebook-integration/

      So, now might be the time to explore some alternatives. Good luck!

      • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

        Thanks for posting that link, Laura! I read it and although it’s not totally clear from the article what the impacts will be, the comments in the ensuing thread say it all: the prior version (0.38.2) is the Tweetdeck *everyone* fell in love with (myself included), while the “new and improved” version is the one everyone is starting to dislike (myself included).

        There is also a growing feeling (a concern?) that Hootsuite is/has become the new monopoly replacement. (Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.)