Scheduling content on social media is critical to your success.
Your audience is not online the same time as you and you want to give people the best chance possible of reading your content.
…You need to schedule!!
Want to be convinced of scheduling? Want to know the tools and which to use.
Why is scheduling important?
Where are all your followers from and what are they doing when you send that Twitter, Facebook update etc?
Your followers are probably from around the world, in different time zones.
When you send that status update, they could be eating their lunch, on a call, drinking in the pub etc.
The vast majority of users do not see your content.
I was at a conference recently and one of the speakers talking about getting over 2 million potential impressions on Twitter. Do you know what that means?
An impression is when someone sees an update in their stream.
Potential impressions means they have the potential to see it but we don’t know if they did.
Actual impressions is where they seen the update.
When was the last time you checked on Twitter to see how many of your followers see your tweets?
The following is not totally accurate but it’s not going to be too far wrong:
Do you think Facebook is any different…?
So you need to schedule posts and also repeat your shares.
When we publish a new blog post, this is our typical sharing schedule:
Is that a bit excessive?
Well… I’ve never heard anyone about seeing our content twice.
Twitter is where we are most aggressive. For the first couple of days, I change the tweet I’m sending but when I’m sending content every month it’s the same tweet. Even with this aggressive sharing, less than 25% of your audience on Twitter will see the tweet.
Have I convinced you about scheduling?
Social media scheduling pitfalls to avoid
There are times when you should schedule and times when you should not. There are also times you should schedule but be very careful about it!
Getting it wrong at live events
I remember scheduling some content to go out 5 minutes before my talk was due to begin at a conference.
‘We’re starting my session on social media in 5 minutes, come to room xxx’
Well… I messed up the timezones so this was going out an hour and 5 minutes before the start of my session.
Be careful of scheduling at live events!
Sharing broken links
If you schedule content with broken links, they could be added to the queue and sent out on a regular basis. You should regularly check your links!
Don’t ask your audience a question and schedule it to be delivered at a later date. You need to consider the content you are scheduling.
If we’re scheduling blog content, it’s unusual to get a response and even if I do, I can follow up with a reply when I’m back online.
If you ask a question, make sure you are there to answer it!
Scheduled updates and breaking news
Be careful if there is some breaking international news or a crisis. Check that there is nothing that’s accidentally insensitive in your scheduled messages.
What platforms can you not schedule content on?
Most social media platforms allow you to schedule but some do not. For the ones that don’t, there are some workarounds.
Google Plus personal profile
Google Plus allows you to schedule content to your business page but not your personal profile. There are some work arounds, though. For example, there is a Chrome plugin called ‘Doshare’. When you schedule a piece of content, it holds it until the time is right and then delivers it. But you have to have your browser open at that time!
You cannot schedule content on Instagram. Instagram does this on purpose as they want live engagement. But the tool providers have a couple of workarounds.
For example, you schedule content through their tool and when the time comes around a notification pops up on their mobile app. You then copy the update and paste it to Instagram. Not a perfect solution but it works. Hootsuite and Buffer offer this sharing option for Instagram, where they remind you that a post is scheduled to go live, then you share it yourself. This helps you to schedule Instagram updates without breaking the terms of service.
There is no scheduling facility on Snapchat.
What are the best tools available for scheduling?
We have done out the following image which shows a range of management and scheduling tools that can be used.
For a couple of the tools we ignored the ‘free’ price as they didn’t support enough social media networks in the price.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Here are a couple of other social network specific tools that we use regularly.
Schedugr.am is for scheduling on Instagram. It supports multiple accounts and you can schedule video or imagery.
When content is sent out, it is stored so you can easily reshare on a regular basis.
When you schedule a piece of content, this instruction is sent to their servers. At this location, they have a lot of physical devices (e.g. iPads) and they programmatically use these devices to send the content at the right time.
So, do they have loads of these devices in their office…? Yes!
This is the only way of scheduling without any user intervention.
From your point of view, you have to do nothing other than schedule the content so who cares what happens on the backend as long as it’s secure and Instagram don’t have a problem with it?
This service has been available for years so, if Instagram had a problem with it, they would have been shut down by this stage.
Tailwind supports Pinterest scheduling. You can use their browser extension (or the Tailwind app) to auto-add a pin to a queue and then the pin will automatically be shared at the relevant time.
When is the best time to schedule?
The best time to schedule content is at a time when some of the audience you want to reach is available.
You don’t just schedule at the times when most of your audience is online for the following reasons:
a) Imagine if 70% of your audience was online at 7pm. Scheduling at this time could reach 70% of the audience but you’re still missing out on 30% so you need to schedule at another time to capture the remaining audience. If you have an international audience, they may never be available in the middle of the night!
b) Sometimes, when the most people are online, that is the busiest time of the day and the hardest time to reach people. For example, when status updates are shared on Facebook their algorithm makes a decision about who to share the content to. If it’s a really busy period, you are competing with more status updates.
c) It just may be the wrong time for something you’re promoting. You are probably more likely to get an interaction from a tweet saying that there is a discount at your restaurant at lunch time today as opposed to sending it in the evening when more people are online and promoting it for tomorrow.
As with all cases above, you still need to consider the busy periods but schedule the content at other times too.
Audiense (formerly SocialBro) provides a tool that identifies when your audience is interacting on Twitter. You can see that, although there are peaks, there are still times when plenty of the audience is online. If you pick the time when most people are online, that could be the busiest time on social channels so you may want to share at an earlier time.
If you’re smart, you won’t schedule on the hour because everyone else is…
[clickToTweet tweet=”When scheduling content on social media, share 5 mins before or after the hour to avoid competition” quote=”When scheduling content on social media, share 5 mins before or after the hour to avoid competition”]
If you want to check the best time to post on Facebook, use your Facebook Insights and analyze the type of content posted and the time the content was shared.
How often should you post on social media channels?
That is a very difficult question as it depends on how engaged your audience is, the type of content you are sharing and the volume of great content you have.
In the following report by Track Social, it shows that the number of retweets you get reduces as you send more tweets.
Does this mean you should send fewer tweets? No… because overall you still end up with the most retweets when you send the most tweets.
If you’re dealing with a local audience where you want social media to be more about interaction than broadcast then you’ll probably share less content across social channels.
If you have global fans, you’ll need to send more content out to the channels at different times and you’ll need to repeat-share more.
So, you need to consider your audience.
Of course, the frequency of the content distributed on each channel is different. Tweets disappear very quickly so you could be more aggressive with sharing on this channel. On Snapchat, you are creating stories and a story typically will require many updates. On Facebook, you will probably share a lot less frequently and, when you do send updates, you may do some targeting so that only the most relevant people see your updates.
Scheduling is an important part of your social media strategy, and using the right tools will allow you to do it effectively. Look at the channels you use and the best tools for each channel, and think about how frequently you want to post. Then, set it all up.
Which social media scheduling tools do you use?
Tell us in the comments!