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.
How do you do it?
Here are six budget-friendly tools that I use and recommend to help you schedule social media posts effectively:
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.
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.
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 also offers tracking and reporting through their link shortener, so you get information about the of clicks on the links you share.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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