Earlier this year, a department within a local university asked us to evaluate their online marketing including their social media. As we delved into their social media we found a lot they were doing right, like posting highly engaging content. We also found ways to make their updates more effective, like posting more consistently at specific times of the day.
A look into their analytics showed posts before noon reached very few of their followers while posts later in the afternoon reached more followers. Changing the time of day you post is an easy way to increase the value of your status updates, right? Not always.
The director of these accounts, much like many non profit directors and business owners, has limited time to spend on social media. If a good topic came to her attention, she would post when she had the time–which was usually in the morning hours.
We run into B2B companies, non profits and small businesses with the same problem and routinely encounter the question, “How do I schedule my updates to go out when I want them to go out?” The good news is you have a lot of options for social media management tools.
Probably one of the most used in the marketing world, Hootsuite offers a free option (which is great for smaller organizations) and a paid option for larger organizations and B2B companies. The paid option allows you to post to up to 50 social media accounts and allows access for two people. That means if you are managing social media for churches you can post to the general church Facebook page, the youth Facebook page, the missions team’s Twitter account and any other accounts you have all from one place. You can also assign tasks so you always know who’s doing what: an important aspect of any small business social media strategy. Not only can you schedule posts, but you can review comments, analytics and messages across multiple platforms all from one dashboard. Be aware if you need more than one or two reports a month, your cost will increase significantly. We do, however, recommend this to many of the businesses who want to manage their social media themselves.
I have to admit, I haven’t actually used iContact’s social media tool. That said, I have worked with their e-mail marketing tool and was very impressed with its functionality. Being able to manage your e-mail marketing, contacts AND social media management all within one tool certainly makes life easier. Cost is dependant on the number of your e-mail contacts but it’s comparable to the other e-mail services out there. iContact does limit you to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you miss out on Google+ scheduling and Instagram analytics. Whether you’re running non profit social media campaigns or B2B social media campaigns you can coordinate your e-mail and social media through one platform–always a plus when you can combine services.
We have used Sprout Social for years because it allows us to schedule posts, respond to comments and messages, review analytics going back years all for multiple accounts. For an individual wanting to manage 3-4 accounts, the cost may be prohibitive. We have not have any problems with the posts being delivered as they should be delivered. We watch engagement rates very closely and study each month to see what worked best over the last month in order to make the next month even stronger. We’ve especially liked using it in our social media for non profits because we can e-mail social media reports to be shared with the board of directors or other staff members.
Yes! You can schedule posts directly within Facebook itself. For many companies, scheduling it directly from the site is the easiest and most cost effective method of scheduling posts (because it’s FREE!). You can also view Facebook’s analytics, choose the best time to schedule your posts and see what worked the best. If you’re for a social media made easy trick, this is it. You’ll get even more mileage, if you connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts so your work will post on both platforms. We urge caution in posting the same content to both Facebook and Twitter. Your audience is different and may expect different content. Remember, the only thing you can manage from here is Facebook. So if you’re looking to manage other social sites, you’ll need to look into a different platform.
If all you want to do is schedule a few social media posts, HubSpot will be overkill. If you are posting blogs regularly (or want to post blogs regularly), using e-mail marketing to follow up with prospects and hoping to convert traffic from your social media posts into leads, then HubSpot could be the one-stop shop you’ve been looking for. Social media scheduling is just one aspect of the over marketing tool. We’ve been HubSpot partners for a year and really like the way all our online marketing fits neatly together and feeds off each other.
What none of these tools will do for you is schedule Instagram or Pinterest posts. Instagram itself protects against scheduling because it’s built on the premise of being “instant” not “scheduled”. And Pinterest is a little bit of a different animal. You can manage the analytics from these sites which is helpful but you can’t post directly from the outside sites.
Most all of these platforms offer a trial account. If you’re really intent on upping your social media marketing game, it’s time to get some help with an outside app. Do you have a different social scheduling tool you like to use? Tell us about it in the comments.