Two previous articles considered the matter of social media scheduling:
Social Media Scheduling reflected upon the usefulness of having a scheduling system; and
Scheduling Software looked at a couple of available options for auto-scheduling.
This article is an extension to both and aims to help users gain the most from their scheduling systems and software.
Note: As is the habit with this website, the topic is being primarily considered from an independent (indie) author’s perspective. Nevertheless, what is shared may also be of help to other users.
To set this discussion in context and to repeat what has been previously stated:
- ‘To be effective in marketing and publicity authors, in the majority of instances, need to have developed some sort of relationship with their readers, fans and customers.’
- ‘…. fulfilling all the suggested requirements for maintaining a relationship with readers, fans, customers, etc. which should also include regular posting and tweeting is no easy task.’
Naturally, by definition, scheduling is a forward looking activity. Too many, probably due to the immediacy of modern day electronic information systems, appear to expect everything in life to be available to them in an instant. This is obviously very unrealistic but has lead to a noticeable percentage of people becoming very impatient and, dare it be said, lazy. Regrettably, and foolishly, this includes putting time into their own activities. However, if an author expects to find some success with their publicity, marketing and communications, they really need to dedicate time to forward planning.
What is involved?
- Deciding upon the end goal. (What it is hoped to achieve.)
- Finding where the people the user wants to reach are active. (e.g. which social media sites do they spend most time in.)
- Fathoming the best time to be active. (Taking into account time zones as discussed later.)
- Drafting meaningful content. (Ensuring it is relevant to topic and person.)
- Scheduling the content. (The subject of this and previous articles.)
Utilising Scheduling Software
In the second of the previous, related, articles Scheduling Software two scheduling software providers were examined: Hootsuite and Buffer. Because most independent (indie) authors have little, or nothing, in the way of resources, only the free plans were considered. (At an average cost of approximately $200 per annum, as at the time of writing, both sites have more robust paid for plans which, of course, have attractive enhanced features. However, even if they can afford the outlay, authors should determine whether they will recover such an investment from book sales.)
As also previously discussed, advice regarding how many sites an author should join and be active in varies, sometimes vastly. Nonetheless, overall, many authors have opted to be present on several sites. The free plans, in the services mentioned, allow for one (1) user and for three (3) social media accounts to be linked. Therefore using just one of the providers would be limiting, still useful but limiting.
How about using both to circumvent the limitations? Authors with multiple social media accounts could split their activity across the two software providers mentioned (Hootsuite and Buffer). Remember both have free plans. If this suggestion is taken up, users, before deciding how to split activity, should take the following into account:
- Only Hootsuite provides a retained drafts folder. (Buffer only provides the option with paid plans.)
- Only Hootsuite provides a monitoring facility. (Buffer only enables monitoring with paid plans.)
- Only Buffer provides the ability to gear one post to suit different accounts. (Hootsuite enables a post to be prepared for multiple accounts but within the limitation of the one with the least character requirements.)
- Only Buffer provides users with the option to have a pre-determined posting schedule. (Hootsuite requires the user to chose a posting date and time for each post/tweet.)
- Both provide the option for posts/tweets to be scheduled or sent immediately. (Buffer also enables users to override their pre-determined posting timetable so as to post at a different date and time.)
How to split accounts between the sites is the users choice though it is suggested the ability to monitor and react to posts and tweets should be a consideration: Some accounts are more active than others and some benefit from more immediate responses.
Up to this point only the services provided by Hootsuite and Buffer have been considered and of course, both enable Twitter accounts to be linked. However, there is a third alternative the writer would like to mention: TweetDeck.
TweetDeck was originally a separate standalone site that engaged with Twitter. It has now been acquired by Twitter and though it comes within Twitter’s parameters still acts as a standalone that enables users to engage with the main site.
Why mention this third provider now? Bearing in mind what has already been said about authors having multiple social media accounts and the limitations of the free plans (only able to link three accounts) it is worth considering this additional option.
To set the following in context here is a reminder of which accounts may be linked within Hootsuite and Buffer:
Facebook (Pages & Groups), Google Plus (Profiles & Pages), LinkedIn (Profiles & Pages), Instagram (Profiles (both) & Business Profiles (Hootsuite)), Pinterest (Profiles) (In Buffer only available with paid for pro and business plans.), YouTube (Channel) (Hootsuite), WordPress.com Blog (Hootsuite) and of course Twitter.
As already said, deciding which account to link to which software service is at the authors discretion however, if Twitter is one then obviously another has to omitted. May be okay for some but for others may prove limiting and frustrating. TweetDeck may therefore be an additional worthwhile option to consider. Tweetdeck is entirely free and has all the functionality to be found within the actual Twitter application (Tweeting; Monitoring; Re-Tweeting; Liking; Commenting). It also has three other advantages:
- Tweets may be scheduled. (Not available in standard Twitter application).
- Users may monitor by primary feed and, if they have set them up, by list (each list may be added as a separate column).
- Multiple Twitter accounts may be controlled from one TweeDeck account. (Accepted not many have more than one account but for those who do this is a real advantage.)
Besides the scheduling facility, a primary, perceived advantage to utilising scheduling software is that it is not necessary for a user to have all their social media sites open (the softwares allow users to be active without opening the sites). This helps keep screens uncluttered and manageable. Some may suggest using the three sites referred to negates such advantage. Of course, whether there is an advantage or not depends upon how many accounts a users has. In the end, users must decide for themselves but should not forget the basic purpose of the softwares: scheduling.
It is easy to forget the issue of time when active. However, considering most, if not all, indie author publicity, marketing and communication is done over the internet, time zones should be a consideration. Using more than one scheduling software service can help (users have to set their preferred time zone when setting up the account (this may be changed later if desired)). For example; one may be set for a USA time zone and one for the UK time zone or another relevant one. By doing this users extend the potential for reaching a broader base of readers at times when they are more likely to be active.
The aim for this article has been to simply provide readers with suggestions they may find helpful. It is entirely at their discretion whether to adopt or not any of the ideas.
Important Reminder: In the past repeatedly re-posting and tweeting the same or similar information was usually permitted however, recent changes in regulations and rules now prohibit this. All users, whether an author or not, need to ensure they take these changes into account to avoid their accounts being suspended or worse. Readers should also bear in mind Facebook’s new policy of giving ‘organic’ posts priority over others.
Disclaimer: Neither T. R. Robinson Publications nor T. R. Robinson have any affiliation, other than being users of the services, to any of the companies mentioned. Neither do either receive any rumination for referring to them.