First, I want to share some wonderful news with you. I’ll be blogging on a monthly basis for BookWorks as their designated Social Media Expert. Just follow me and BookWorks on Twitter to keep up with all of my posts there. Of course, my role as contributing writer to TheBookDesigner.com will continue as well. These obligations won’t affect my obligation to my blog or my business. To learn more about my commitment to BookWorks, be sure to read this post: http://dld.bz/eAazX.
Regarding the blog post below, this is Part I of a two-part series on scheduling applications that will ease your social media marketing and help you save time online.
I don’t think that scheduling is uncreative. I think that structure is required for creativity. Twyla Tharp
Want to Save Time? Schedule Your Posts
You don’t have the time to sit in front of your computer all day and post information at two- to three-hour intervals. You’re busy enough as it is, waking up while it’s still dark outside to squeeze a few hours of writing into your day before heading off to work or fixing breakfast for your kids.
The good news is that social media marketing doesn’t require you to sacrifice large chunks of your time. Once you’ve curated your information using one or more of the applications and websites mentioned earlier, your next step will be to spend five minutes scheduling your posts by using an application designed to release your selected updates at times of the day when your readers are online.
There are two exceptions. (1) While you can use an application to schedule a post to your Facebook author page, Facebook has its own scheduling feature within the status update box that’s easy to use. You can even plan posts as far out as six months. (2) In addition, you can use a few applications (such as Hootsuite and Buffer) to schedule shares to your Google+ page—but not to your Google+ profile.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Social media marketing doesn’t require you to sacrifice large chunks of your time @CaballoFrances” quote=”Social media marketing doesn’t require you to sacrifice large chunks of your time “]
Similar to Facebook, Google+ profiles are for people and pages are for businesses, products, nonprofits, musicians, authors, and services. As an author, you have a business, and your products are your books. If you want to run promotions, buy advertising, and post about your blog and contests, you need a Facebook author page.
For most other social media networks, you can schedule your tweets, posts, and updates for the day, the entire week, or the rest of the month.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Automate
Some people like to use direct messages to welcome new followers on Twitter. In the process, they often direct their new Tweeps to a blog or to Amazon. Refrain from doing this. Increasingly, Twitter users are ignoring direct messages because they predominantly contain spam (“Buy my book!” “Read my blog!” “Like my Facebook page!”). Second, if you want to acknowledge a new follower, personalize your message. Follow the link to the person’s blog or website and comment about that. Or if you’ve read a book by a new follower, tell the author how much you enjoyed it and while you’re at it, retweet one of his or her messages.
Social Media Dashboards for Indie Authors
Use one or more of the following applications to schedule your updates.
This is a social media dashboard with superpowers. It enables users to manage their social media networks and email all in one place. You can combine news feeds for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Flickr, Picasa, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and an additional 220 networks.
Buffer is another popular choice. You can use Buffer for free. If you’d like to schedule images to Pinterest, you’ll need the Awesome plan, which is $102/year. What’s fun about Buffer is its integration with other social media applications, such as its curation app, Daily. Buffer is one of the easiest scheduling programs available.
This application will schedule your most recent blog posts for you, so you don’t have to think about it. Once you write and schedule your blog post, Dlvr.it will automatically post it to all of your social media profiles, including your Google+ page. The free plan allows you to post to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The application also provides data on click-through rates. I’m including this information even though I’m against these types of apps. If you decide to use it, don’t use it on your Facebook account. Facebook downgrades posts that are automatically added by applications like Dlvr.it and, therefore, very few of your friends and fans will see your status updates that Dlvr.it schedules for you. If you must use it, link Twitter and LinkedIn to this tool.
This tool will give you a secret address you can use to email your tweets to Twitter. This is probably the easiest scheduling application on the market. All you need to do is write “buffer” in the subject line of your email and you can schedule up to 15 tweets per email.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Email your tweets to this scheduling app – super easy @CaballoFrances” quote=”Email your tweets to this scheduling app – super easy”]
This free service allows users to schedule messages on Twitter.
People new to social media tend to start with the free version of Hootsuite. It’s easy to set up and will allow you to post to Facebook, LinkedIn and LinkedIn groups, Twitter, your Google+ page, and Instagram. You can set up your feeds and use Hootsuite to keep in touch with your friends, fans, and followers by aggregating your social media news feeds on this application. What this means is that you can navigate to Hootsuite to see all of your friends’ and followers’ posts in one place. The paid version provides analytics.
LaterBro is another web application for updates to Facebook and Twitter. It’s similar to Twuffer and has a built-in URL shortener. To start using this application, just sign up with your Twitter or Facebook account, set your time zone, and start scheduling your posts.
MediaFunnel will help you to distribute your content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and WordPress.com. In addition, you can use MediaFunnel to manage your brand and engage with your followers. For $5.95/month, you can manage 10 social media channels, schedule your posts, and use a variety of URL shorteners to track your click-through rates. This is a great price considering all of this app’s features.
This application interfaces with Twitter and Facebook, and offers plans that range from free to $199.95/month. The free plan is all you’ll never need as long as you don’t connect more than five Twitter accounts or send more than 10 scheduled tweets daily. You can also use this application to help you to find new friends to grow your following.
Originally designed for Facebook, PostPlanner enables you to schedule your status updates and have access to popular memes and images. It has additional features that are tempting on its $7/month plan. This application will show you the newest content trending in your niche, help you target your readers, and provide you with real-time analytics. It also has a cache of thousands of updates that you can select from on those days when you absolutely can’t think of anything to say on your Facebook profile.
Shareist is an all-in-one system for planning your content, producing it, distributing it via social media, and then viewing your analytics. The program features a bookmarklet system for capturing images, videos, and tweets to share. It also has a system for importing your favorite blogs and it will schedule your social media posts. You can start with a free account and then decide whether you like the app enough to sign up for its pro account for $25/month.
SocialOomph is a scheduler app for Twitter and LinkedIn. It will allow you to schedule your social media posts, set up recurring tweets and LinkedIn posts, find new followers, and track your click-through rates and keywords. It also provides limited analytics. In addition, you can schedule recurring tweets. A recurring tweet is a message that will repeat itself at any interval you choose. You can create a variety of messages with the same URL, or you can repeat the same message. Use SocialOomph for free or subscribe to the app to take advantage of all of its features.
SproutSocial offers many benefits. You can schedule your posts, including to your Google+ page, connect your account with the URL shortener Bit.ly to track click-through rates (hits to your website), unfollow users on Twitter, and find new followers. The real value in having SproutSocial is the analytics. However, the app is somewhat pricy: the monthly fee starts at $59/month.
With this free Twitter application, you don’t have to be on the Internet to check your account. Once you download it to your desktop, you can check your Twitter account and respond to Mentions, Direct Messages, and Retweets as they arrive. It’s an easy tool to set up and use, but it allows scheduling only to Twitter.
This free and user-friendly program will schedule your tweets, show you your news feed, and send you milestone reminders. To use this tool, you’ll need to sign in with your Twitter account, set your time zone, and start scheduling your posts.
Do you use any of this applications?
About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads, Avoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.