The easy way to schedule social media

News sites and blogs are great sources of topical content which you can share with your social media followers. You can take a few minutes each day to scroll through your news feeds, pull out any stories that interest you, add a comment and share the links.

But don’t push out all your updates at once. This equates to spamming and is a surefire way to make people hit “unfollow”.

Instead, you can schedule your posts. This means your interactions will be spread out evenly over time. You reach more followers and, more importantly, you reach followers who tend to be online at different times to you.

I once did some work for a music membership organisation. It only updated its Twitter account during office hours, 9am – 5pm. But the majority of its musician followers were most active online in the evening or late at night – this meant the bulk of updates weren’t even being seen in followers’ timelines!

Don’t worry if you don’t know when your followers are online. A good scheduling tool will do that for you. They track when your existing followers are using social media, and use that data to calculate the best times to put out updates.

Ready to give scheduling a try? Here’s how to get started.

1. Choose your scheduling tool

My favourite is Buffer. Unlike a lot of content managers, which try to be all things to all people, Buffer is really simple. Like the name implies, Buffer stores your updates into an orderly queue and posts them out evenly throughout the day.

Buffer can also act as an RSS reader: if you use a paid version, you can add up to 15 feeds per social media profile. This is especially useful if you want to read your news stories on your commute to work – the Buffer mobile app helps you view and share stories in a couple of clicks.

The free version of Buffer works just fine. It takes ten seconds to sign up.

2. Add your social media accounts

You can add up to three social media profiles on the free version of Buffer. Choose from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Google+.

3. Set your preferences

Customise Buffer by clicking on the settings tab. Choose your preferred url shortener (buff.ly, bit.ly or j.mp) and set your posting schedule (Buffer will suggest a schedule for you, based on what times your followers are active online, but you may want to tweak this).

Url shortening is a way of simplifying long links that became popular due to character count restrictions on Twitter and instant messaging services. Today there are less restrictions on message length, and Twitter automatically shortens links anyway.

You can choose not to shorten your links at all – although this means any activity on them (clicks, shares, likes) won’t be tracked.

The important thing is be consistent – make your choice and stick with it.

4. Install the Buffer extension

The Buffer extension is a small button that sits next to the search bar on your browser.  It enables you to share stories in a couple of clicks, without copying and pasting. It’s free and simple to install.

5. Schedule your updates

When you find a story you want to share with your audience via social media, use the Buffer extension to schedule the update. The free version of Buffer allows you to schedule social media posts up to 10 at a time. If you aim to post just a couple of times a day, Buffer will give you a week’s worth of content in one fell swoop.

This is a follow-on article to How to create engaging content using RSS. Follow the steps in that article to set up an RSS reader and make your news browsing even more efficient.

Photo: Mathyas Kurmann via Unsplash

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