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should you schedule social media?

Updated: Apr 13

Before I became a Virtual Assistant, I had never even heard of social media scheduling, I had no idea there were tools that allowed you to create your posts in advance and schedule them to be published on select dates.

Since finding out that posts can be published in this way, it has revolutionised my working life and has now become a tool I can't live without. So, what exactly is social media scheduling?

Quite simply, social media scheduling is when you create your posts and usually, accompanying images, and use a scheduling tool to select a date and time that they will be published to accounts you link within your chosen scheduling tool.

Why do people choose to do this instead of posting in real-time? The main reason is time. Quite often, people find themselves unable to post consistently because they simply don't have the time. Certain platforms have prime times to post, to enable you to reach a bigger audience, but if you're usually in a board meeting at that time, you're never going to get your post out during these prime times. Scheduling overcomes this obstacle.

Some people are against scheduling, I can only assume because they don't really understand it. I hear excuses like, "Oh but I prefer my posts to be up to date and relevant". Scheduling in advance does not take away from ensuring your posts are fresh, after all, you're only ever really posting about a week in advance anyway, I would never recommend scheduling further ahead than that. If something pops up that would make a great post, simply slip it in and move along one of your scheduled posts to another day.

With national holiday calendars at our fingertips, it's easy to plan ahead to see what's coming up and ensure you don't miss an important holiday or national celebration, that would be relevant to your business. If you're a recycling company, for example, you would want to utilise posting about Earth Hour, so as long as you check ahead, you won't miss these important dates. Websites like this one can be a great source of information:

Social media scheduling is one of the top tasks we get asked to complete for our clients. There's no way we could do this 'on the go'. We schedule our client's posts according to their preferences of frequency and times, on one set day each week. Not only does this allow our clients to go in and check our posts before they get published, allowing them to make any changes beforehand, it also means if something comes up that would be better placed, we can go in and replace a post.

My advice is to make voice notes or simple notes on your phone throughout the week, of anything that you think could be used as a great post. Remember to take photos too. Then, on a day of your choosing, whether that's a day off, weekend or evening, sit and schedule your posts for the week ahead. If you regularly struggle with content ideas, just post 3 times per week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or check the analytics of your social media platforms to see when the prime time to post is according to your viewers. It's a lot of hard work and can take about an hour to an hour and a half of your time, but it's a relief when it's done, knowing that your posts are going to go out without you having to think about it.

The hard work doesn't stop there, however. In order to beat those pesky algorithms, you will need to be active on those social media platforms, you can't just expect your post to go out and for everyone to comment on it with you doing nothing at all. During your lunch break, take your cup of coffee and spend 15 minutes scrolling through each social media feed, make comments, like and share, and do all of the things you would want someone to do on your posts. Unfortunately, we don't often get asked to do that for our clients, the buck usually stops just at posting, and then frustrations can occur when those posts don't get thousands of views. That's because someone needs to be active on those platforms. That's not to say not doing so is a bad thing. Even if you're just posting regularly but aren't then able to sit there commenting, it's better to be active than doing nothing at all.

So, does it cost the earth to use scheduling tools? The simple answer is no. There are tools that can be expensive, like Hootsuite. But there are many more that cost very little or nothing at all. Here are my top 5:

  1. Buffer: Buffer allows you to connect three social media accounts for free. It's not the most intuitive tool, you have to copy and paste your post into each account, and you have to unshorten any URL you put in, but for a free tool, it's simple to use and doesn't falter like some others I've tried.

  2. Later: Later was my favourite free tool until recently. You used to be able to connect a few accounts for free but although you can still do that, Later no longer pushes them out for you. Having said that, their starter plan is only $15 per month and allows you to connect 4 accounts. You can also add stories and hashtag suggestions. It's a really good tool if you go for the paid version although you do have to refresh your accounts more often than I would like, to make sure they stay connected.

  3. Canva: Who doesn't use Canva these days? At only £10 per month, it's one of the best tools on the market. It also includes a handy content planner, allowing you to schedule anything that you create in Canva to be published to your connected social media accounts. It isn't the best tool in the world but it does the job.

  4. Facebook & Instagram: Your Facebook and Instagram accounts are usually connected, and most people don't realise that they can schedule their posts on Facebook to go out on select dates and times, adding the same preferences within the Facebook planner to your Instagram account.

  5. Hootsuite: I mentioned that Hootsuite can be a very expensive scheduling tool, but it does also offer a free plan too, allowing you to add 2 free accounts. For big businesses or for more complicated analyses of your posts, Hootsuite is a great option.

Overall, are social media scheduling tools worth it? Definitely. Productivity is key in business and in our personal lives which are now more fast-paced than ever before. Give one of the tools above a try and hopefully, it will benefit your life. If you still don't think you have the time, why not try our free trial? We can guarantee 2-week's worth of social media posts, posting 3 times per week, within our free trial so you can see how it could work for you.

#businesstips #businesssupport #outsourcing #socialmediahelp #socialmediamanagement

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