How do you find the time as a small business to be a part of social media? You automate your social media posts, that’s how.
Successful social media automation requires knowing what to automate (and what not to automate), and doing this means choosing the right tools for the job.
Social automation tools can help you not only schedule posts, but manage your communications and find new people to follow.
Here are some social automation tools to get you started. Begin by focusing on one or two social media networks at a time. And don’t get too crazy with the automation. Social automation doesn’t mean removing the social entirely. Conversation and human interaction are irreplaceable.
Zapier includes nearly every online platform you can think of – and many you probably never knew existed.
When you make a “Zap” you create a trigger that results in an action. For example, “when I publish a new WordPress post, send a Tweet to Twitter.”
Because there are so many connected web apps, the options for automating events from one platform to another is mind boggling. You select when the Zap happens, and the free plan gives you up to five Zap configurations to set up and run.
“If this, then that” describes the function of this tool. Like Zapier, it lets you create triggers that lead to a particular action.
“If I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook, then send me a text message” is one example of what IFTTT calls a recipe. Each recipe, or automated post, can contain ingredients which give more specific data to the triggers.
An email trigger might contain ingredients such as subject, attachment, received date, and sender’s address. Most of the recipes are checked for new trigger data every fifteen minutes.
This is a great app for managing your own content as well as content you find elsewhere to share across Google+ pages, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and RSS feeds.
While content is automatically shared or can be placed in a queue, the free version doesn’t allow you to schedule a time for your posts. With the free version, you have up to five feeds, three social profiles, and one photo feed per account.
Twitterfeed will curate content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and App.net, allowing you to add RSS feeds for automatic updates. If all you want is to set up an automatic system for newly published posts, yours or another blog you like, this is for you.
There are some customizations, including showing the title of a new post and the link, and adding “RT @username.” Best of all, it’s free.
The free version of this app allows you to schedule and place in a queue your selected posts, as well as ones they suggest for you.
The networks include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages (not profiles), and App.net. You can link one each of these accounts for the free version, and you can store up to ten posts at a time.
There’s also analytics for your Twitter posts that tracks the number of retweets, favorites, mentions, and clicks if you shared a link.
These two social media apps are mighty similar, yet be forewarned: don’t let appearances fool you.
Tweetdeck is totally free and compares to Hootsuite’s free version, although Hootsuite also has a paid version with more options. What you get for free on Tweetdeck is initially far more user-friendly than Hootsuite’s overwhelming vista of columns.
However, Hootsuite’s ability to include your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles, not to mention all the potential columns for your different Twitter lists, gives you much more social media management.
In other words, why is anyone comparing them at all?
With either platform, you can schedule your tweets/posts ahead of time, sit back, and enjoy the show.
This is exactly what you mean to do on the weekend, after all, while still being able to engage your audience. Like I said, you need these tools.