Streamline Your Social Media Marketing with Automation Tools
Imagine you are a restaurant manager, and the owner of the establishment has entrusted the company’s Instagram account to you. He does not want to bother with running it anymore and asks you to post to the account at least four days out of the week. While that seems easy enough, you soon realize that frequently pausing to post on social media is interrupting your work routine. In addition to keeping up with engagements from followers, you’re constantly taking photos, editing them, and coming up with quirky captions for Instagram.
While posting to any social media account on-the-go is doable, it can start to become more of a hassle than a simple task. The other problem? The more accounts your business operates, the more chaotic your social media management becomes. Certainly, there must be a solution to this, and there is. Let’s dive into some of the benefits of social media scheduling tools.
Social Media Schedu-what??
A social media scheduling tool is a software application that allows you to create content in advance of its targeted posting date. Want to make an announcement on Facebook and Twitter on Friday? With such a system in place, you could schedule it at the beginning of the week on Monday. Typically, these tools will also have the capability to automatically post your content for you as well as provide you with valuable information such as analytics and engagement notifications.
While using a scheduling system will take away some of the immediate hassles of posting to your social media accounts on a recurring basis, do remember that you still need to write these advance posts in a way that feels authentic and human-made. If your audience members feel like they are looking at tweets that were made by a robot, they may be less inclined to engage with your brand.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular scheduling platforms and their advantages and disadvantages.
Buffer is popular due to its flexible pricing and simple interface. You can schedule advance postings for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn seamlessly and pre-set posting times to make sure everything is in sync. If you want to know how your social media marketing efforts are faring, you can access analytical data on your posts to provide deeper insight.
Though Buffer is convenient and user-friendly, it does have three primary drawbacks. First, you cannot post direct replies to engagements. You still have to do that manually from your brand’s accounts. Second, the software cannot automatically post to Instagram. Rather than posting to Instagram for you, the Buffer app will send you a reminder that it is time to post to your account. It will load the picture into your phone’s camera roll and copy your pre-written caption to its clipboard for you to paste in the description, but it won’t do more than that. Lastly, there is no function that allows Buffer users to retweet or repost another user’s content. That still must be done manually.
Hootsuite is probably the most widely known of all scheduling and automation tools in the social media marketing world. Unlike Buffer, Hootsuite allows you to queue up private messages and schedule repostings. Additionally, it has an internal communication platform that allows you to better coordinate with team members that may also be operating your accounts. While its capability may seem more comprehensive than Buffer's, Hootsuite also receives its fair share of criticism. Some unsatisfied users report that Hootsuite has a confusing interface, up-charges for simple features, and that the platform has some interconnectivity issues with Facebook. You may receive a more extensive suite of services, but you will be expected to pay more for them.
SproutSocial is like the Dr. Pepper to Buffer’s Pepsi and Hootsuite’s Coca-Cola. It offers some of the basic features like scheduling, mobile app integration, and also includes some premium features like a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. However, as with Hootsuite and Buffer, SproutSocial is not perfect.
Some unfavorable aspects of SproutSocial are:
- Lack of visual platform integration – While SproutSocial does offer Instagram integration, it does not service Pinterest or YouTube accounts. For brands that use video content as a primary marketing strategy, this may not be desirable.
- Inability to publish to social media groups – SproutSocial does not offer the ability for users to post to groups, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. For brands and business professionals who maintain a strong presence within specific online communities, this is a drawback.
- High cost - SproutSocial is not cheap to use, especially for team-sized packages.
Preference is the Deciding Factor
You may have now decided that you want to enjoy the conveniences of a social media scheduling platform. Great! However, which one is really the best deal? Well, that comes down to what benefits each system will bring to your organization. Selecting the one that best aligns with your business practices will bring you the most desirable bottom-line result. For example, if you are simply looking for a tool to post with and gather analytics, Buffer is a very user-friendly option that will do just that. Perhaps you value private messaging and teamwork when it comes to marketing. Hootsuite can accommodate that. If customer communication is your top priority and you want a CRM system to best facilitate this, SproutSocial would be your best bet. Take inventory of your social media marketing goals and select the service that will help you reach them.