This is the second post inspired by ‘spring clean’ health-check of my social media activity. I’m sharing some reflections on my social channels and outputs, which span both the professional and personal realm.
The topic of an earlier post, part 1, was our online personas, which can get confusing if like me you sometimes wear different ‘hats’ on Twitter etc. You can read part 1 here. I admitted that Tweeting, as I do on behalf of three accounts means switching your tone and persona to suit who you represent. In this blog I’m discussing scheduling, which is a boon for the busy and the less well organized (and I think I sometimes fall into both those categories, how about you?).
Social media scheduling means preparing posts in advance which are cued-up to go at a particular time and date. Scheduling is something I’ve dabbled with previously but not quite made into a lasting regular habit. The advantages include spreading your posts across the week – when you are not online all the time (and let’s face it, who is?) and perhaps timing your content to coincide with specific peaks when your audience is online.
Facebook, incidentally has some fascinating analysis of your audience by demographic, by country, by gender etc. and is well worth perusing if you run a Facebook page. Just take a look at the tab called ‘Insights’, then ‘People’. Try also looking the insights tab ‘Posts’ to see when your fans are online. If like me you simply need to bung a load of stuff on to be posted later then Auto-schedule does this job for you and works out an optimum time to put the post up, based on your audience’s peak activity times.
For scheduling across several different social networks eg Twitter and Facebook, I have used Hootsuite in the past, which offers a scheduling ‘dashboard’, (though the free version is more limited than it used to be). Another service to try out is Tweetdeck, which has an easy interface. It is twitter based as you might imagine from the name. In Tweetdeck and Hootsuite once you have registered your account it can be configured to show different feeds in parallel columns. So instead of just your home feed, you could see retweets, mentions, specific hashtags or keywords and respond to them as you wish in real time. Also you can prepare tweets then pick a date and time to schedule them, something Twitter itself does not offer.
Facebook also allows one to schedule posts ahead on a particular day or time. I’ve used Hootsuite to do this too, preparing material that goes out both on Twitter and on a Facebook page. (Sadly though scheduling does not work for Facebook Groups, which is where most of my FB activity is focused. I might tell you more about this another time.)
A further benefit of using a scheduling service is when you generate content such as a blog, you can schedule a whole bunch of posts to share a link to your new blog post on other channels. Rather than spamming your followers’ timelines by shouting about it repeatedly for a whole afternoon, one can schedule a series of posts over the next week. I’ve seen plenty of ‘In case you missed it…’ tweets serving this purpose. Notionally I aim to write a blog post once a month for Connecting for Nature on WordPress, more often it’s a bit less than that in practice. Each time I do publish a new blog post though I could schedule a series of posts to share the blog across FB and Twitter in the days that follow.
There are lots of blogs by social media experts covering this topic – telling you when is the best time to post and scheduling allows you to prepare a batch of stuff ahead and send it out at key times in the week. If you have never tried scheduling your output why not look into it? For those who are already converts, do tell of your experiences.