Keeping up with social media can be tough when you’re running a small business. Having an active profile is one of the fastest and most effective ways of boosting your brand visibility online. But can you really afford to spend all day tweeting when you’ve got a business to manage? Fortunately, there is a solution. Automating social media can help you stay visible, while also effectively managing your time.
Automating social media accounts does have drawbacks. Your account won’t be as responsive as an account that’s updated live. This means if you’re not online when an automated post is published, you might miss out on valuable customer interaction. This is worth considering if your updates ask for responses or opinions on your posts.
That doesn’t mean you should discount automation. If your goal is to keep a feed appearing active, or remind customers about your business, scheduling updates is a great way to save time. You can bulk-upload your future posts rather than checking into multiple accounts every day. If you run a seasonal business, or are based in a different time zone to your potential customers, there will be times when automation can be useful.
Buffer is an online platform designed to automate posting. It offers a free plan with limited functionality. This gives you a chance to see if automating social media will work for you without incurring costs.
Buffer covers Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram with all its plans, enabling you to schedule posts across multiple social networks. Just allow Buffer the ability to post on your behalf.
Free plans start with 10 posts allowed in your queue, which is probably enough for a week on each platform. Buffer has some handy tools like automatic link shortening that will free up space when you tweet, and very basic analytics. Premium accounts enable you to queue up to 2,000 posts on each platform, and provide a host of analytic data.
SocialOomph is a less popular social media manager, but it has some great features. It is compatible with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, RSS, and Plurk. Its free plan has more advanced features than Buffer, including ability to review @ mentions and replies on Twitter. You can also add multiple profiles for a single network.
Hootsuite is probably the most technical of the social media automation systems in common use, but also one of the most popular. Pricing starts at $9.99/month (billed annually), although Hootsuite does offer a 30-day free trial.
The basic plan allows for 10 social media accounts—Hootsuite is compatible with a host of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr—as well as unlimited scheduled posts, extensive analytics, and a built in publishing feature to find and schedule new content.
A Twitter-only platform, ManageFlitter offers some of the same scheduling and automation capabilities as the more popular sites listed above. Where it comes into its own is with its account management tools. Sign in through Twitter to see an audit of your account, from the number of people you follow who don’t follow you back, to accounts in foreign languages, inactive accounts, or those without profile pictures.
Note Twitter manages follow/unfollow rates of its accounts and will suspend any that display signs of automating their follows (not their tweets). However it doesn’t hurt to cull inactive or unresponsive accounts from time to time. ManageFlitter makes unfollowing easy. Simply check a box next to the accounts you want to unfollow and ManageFlitter will do the rest for you.
Keeping on top of a social media presence can be time-consuming, but there are a host of tools available to help with automating social media, making even the most complex arrangement of accounts simple and efficient to manage.
If you’re not sure how to start, pick a plan and let TechTe.am’s friendly experts help.