The number of social media users worldwide in 2018 was 3.196 billion, up 13 percent year-on-year.
This is why it’s so important to have a business presence on social media. The trick is to think carefully about the content you want to present, and who your audiences are for each channel. Once you’ve done some research and written your posts, scheduling them using one of many online tools is an excellent idea for saving time and resource.
There are several social media scheduling tools available for start-ups, small businesses and independent businesses to use, but in the spirit of keeping this simple, we’ll focus on Buffer and Hootsuite. These two tools are both key players that have been around the block and adapted with the market.
Using Buffer, you can link your Instagram Business, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ and schedule social media posts in advance, directly to your chosen channels. You can also access insights and analytics for each of your channels within the app or desktop site.
Costs and packages
If you’re using Buffer to schedule posts for three social media channels or less, the free starter plan is ideal, allowing you to forward-schedule ten posts per channel. Add up to eight social media accounts with up to 100 posts per channel for $15.99/£12.43 per month on Buffer’s pro plan. Buffer also caters to bigger businesses, with larger business plans available, priced at $65 and $99 per month respectively. Each of these plans allows you to add extra team members and schedule up to 2,000 posts per channel.
How simple is Buffer to use?
Not as simple as we hoped. Users should allow a little extra time to get set up with Buffer. Most importantly, you’ll need to locate your on-screen keyboard to access emojis (worth noting that we’re using Windows here). Don’t read the how-to guides online, they’re overly confusing. Just search ‘on-screen keyboard’ on your Windows menu and it will pop up. Make sure you pin it to your taskbar for easy future access.
Another obstacle with Buffer is the extra steps involved in setting up Instagram posting. Now Instagram has altered its API to allow direct scheduling, this should be very simple. With Buffer the set up is overly complicated. You have to go through a verification process, make sure you have the app installed and then turn mobile notifications on. Unfortunately, the last step can’t be skipped, and the app didn’t allow us to set up notifications (even after reinstalling), so we’re still using the Buffer reminders to log in and post manually to Instagram. This isn’t the end of the world and does copy the message text and image across for you but can be risky business if you don’t have time to check your phone.
On a serious plus side, their overview page is very clear and simply shows how many posts are currently scheduled for each channel linked to Buffer.
Hootsuite is a social media service which allows you to plan and schedule your social posts in advance. Using Hootsuite, you can link your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest accounts.
Costs and packages
Similar to Buffer, Hootsuite offers a free plan that allows you to link up to three social media channels and schedule up to 30 posts per month. For £25 per month, you can add 10 social media profiles and benefit from unlimited scheduling. The next package up is for marketing teams and costs £99 per month. This gives you the option to add up to 20 social media profiles, 3 users and unlimited scheduling.
How simple is Hootsuite to use?
There’s a lot to love about Hootsuite. It’s been LIT Communication’s go-to social media scheduling tool since we launched, and for good reason.
You can link your social media channels in a few simple steps. To check or edit posts once they’re scheduled, the publisher page conveniently displays each post along with the planned time and date in, also allowing you to filter by channel to quickly see the content you’ve scheduled for the week.
Once you’ve worked out what all the symbols mean, it’s simple to get started. There’s an emoji tool built into the scheduling section, so no need for any additional keyboards. You can also build reports, but we recommend getting to grips with the basics before you start analysing results.
Hootsuite is the clear winner in our opinion. It’s easier to set up (anything for less short-term frustration) and the free plan includes 30 posts to schedule, not limited to ten per channel like Buffer. For some reason, Instagram is 10x simpler to setup on Hootsuite, and because the photo-sharing channel is more popular than ever in influencing buying decisions, it’s important to make sure the right posts go out at the right times.
Whichever scheduling tool you use, both have multiple how-to videos and guides to follow to help you get started, so no matter which you pick, this will inevitably simplify your social media posting and ensure you spend less time worrying about individually posting on each account.
If you have any questions on social media management, LIT Communication is more than happy to help. Simply read our other blog posts for more handy social media tips or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie Marsden, owner and PR specialist at LIT Communication