Many Internet users treat social media as news feeds. The challenge is to reach them at the right time – the time they are active online.
Even if some users don’t subscribe to your blog, you can still reach them via social media. There is only one disadvantage. Social networks are all about instant information. Your message will stay in a stream, well, we have to face it, until a web page is refreshed.
If the user opens a social media site and you’re not right at the top of the stream, or on a first page, or within a couple of scrolls down – that means you’re not there at all.
I’m not a SEO or SM expert, but I guess the same rule which applies to Google search results can be also applied to social media streams: top 3 items count.
And this is where message scheduling comes with help. All four tools described below are very effective and it’s up to your personal preferences which one you’ll choose. Also, all of them offer statistics, so that you can track the effect of your activity.
Hootsuite is my main social media tool. The service evolved from a web-based Twitter client into a powerful social media dashboard, where you can update at once to your accounts in several networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and even WordPress.com blog. If you add Ping.fm account, the number of connected accounts becomes even higher.
Scheduling was always one of the strongest Hootsuite’s features. The service is one step ahead of competition in that matter. Its application for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (AppStore link) is the only one I know, which gives you a chance to schedule updates.
When you sign up to Hootsuite, you can use a legendary bookmarklet – Hootlet. Once you add it to a bookmark bar in your browser you can seamlessly share a content of the web page you’re reading. Hootlet also supports scheduling, so if you usually read your favorite sources in the morning, you can schedule them when your readers are most active (and you may be already sleeping).
There are two very useful features of the schedule section. One is that you can schedule updates in bulk. Don’t get excited too much, you won’t be able to send the same, repeated message a thousand times. You can schedule up to 50 messages at once and they can’t be the same. The file format is csv. You can prepare a list of updates in a simple text editor and afterwards in the name of the file change .txt to .csv.
The updates should have the format DD/MM/YYYY HH:MM,”MESSAGE”,”URL”. The example is shown below:
16/11/2010 17:35,"Your message here","http://website.com"
You can download a sample .csv file from here and use it as a base to create a bulk upload document.
Another great Hootsuite feature is the ability to save drafts of most often updated messages. Instead of looking for the same page to get the new short link over and over, you can simply choose a proper update from a list of saved drafts.
If you want to dig further about Hootsuite, you can also use a simple tip to install Hootlet bookmarklet in Safari on iPad.
One more thing about scheduling with Hootsuite. Thanks to this service I’m running a book promotion which will last… 98 years more. Sounds unbelievable, but it’s actually doable with such a powerful tool like Hootsuite.
Plans & prices
A free account is ad-supported, and you can add 5 social media accounts. A pro account, $5.99/month, gives unlimited number of social profiles. Check a comparison of features here.
If you’re looking for a service packed with features for advanced, heavy social media users, you should try SocialOomph. It gives you all the tools you need to boost your online productivity. Twitter follow management, updating to social media by e-mail, writing blog posts and pages, auto-follow and auto-DM – it’s only a part of a long list of features.
Most of them are, unfortunately, not available in a free version. As far as it comes to scheduling, you can still use a free account if you focus on Twitter.
When writing a new update, SocialOomph offers a similar option to Hootsuite – you can save text as draft to be reused later. You can also schedule updates in two variants:
– absolute time – by selecting exact date and time
– relative time – just type how many minutes/hours/days/weeks from now you want to publish an update
Plans & prices
With a free account you can use basic features and add only Twitter profiles. If you upgrade to Professional version, for $29.97 per month, you’ll get Facebook integration with schedule features and many other benefits, listed here.
Timely is the smartest schedule management tool I know. It just does the scheduling for you.
The idea behind the service is genuinely simple. The tool is analyzing your recent activity and schedules the updates at the time of day, which gives the biggest response from your friends/followers.
Benefit: you save a lot of time and guessing.
Timely is scheduling to Twitter, but recently a support for Facebook was added. Thanks to that the tool becomes a very easy and time-saving way to reach your audience in two biggest social networks.
In a Settings panel you can set up how many updates you want to send per day and whether you want to include weekends in your queue. Timely can send weekly reports by e-mail. You can also receive e-mail notifications when the queue of scheduled updates is emptied.
The service has a bookmarklet and it’s lovely. You don’t have to bother with figuring out what will be the best time to send an update. What you can focus on is what you want to say – not when you want to say it.
One thing to remember: if you planned 30 updates in a row, 3 per day, and now want add a new one (let’s say the news you’re just reading), if you press Add to Queue, this news article will be sent on day 11. For quick updates use the Post now button.
Plans & prices
Free plan goes with unlimited number of Twitter accounts. At the time of writing this post an information about the number of Facebook accounts was not available at the page with comparison between free and pro accounts. With pro, which costs $9.99/month, you get priority non-stop e-mail support.
Opposite to Timely, Dlvr.it is not focused on update scheduling. It is just an additional and helpful feature to an advanced tool through which you can syndicate content from your blog(s) to social media channels.
The schedule box offers basic options. What’s exceptional is that you can not only schedule an update to one of your social profiles, but also to one of content distribution channels.
For instance, I’m blogging in two languages, English and Polish. I’ve set up a channel which syndicates English content to my English Twitter account and a Facebook page which is in English. When scheduling a message, instead of selecting two different social media profiles, I can just pick up one content channel.
Plans & prices
So far, Dlvr.it is free, but I think it’s just a matter of time, when a pro plan will be introduced. The service is just too good to be free.
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When it’s good to schedule updates? When the time of your highest activity during a day doesn’t match the time of your readers. For example, I’m most productive in the morning. My morning, Warsaw time zone, is a middle of the night for most readers in US.
You can use it the other way round. If you are a writer, you can change the time you send information about your book, let’s say to GMT. You no longer reach, in real time, readers in US, but you actually expand by being available to readers in Europe – just because of the fact you’re sending your message at the time they are active.
A well-scheduled tweet is a good thing, but don’t forget that social media is not a one-way communication. It’s about conversation. Find time to thank for the response and keep the conversation going.
5 Replies to “4 Powerful Tools to Schedule Social Media Updates”
I’ll add a nod for Buffer to the mix. Only used a few months, find myself using it more often. They have nice tools like Chrome extensions to make things simple, it’s just quick and easy. FWIW.
I missed this one, thanks for the tip. I especially like the option to add tweets to Buffer from a mobile by sending an email to a special address.
I would like to add Future Scheduler app in this list because this not only help you in scheduling status updates but also emails, text messages and phone calls.Download fromiTunes:http://itunes.apple.com/app/future-scheduler/id515936774?mt=8