If you’re looking to step-up your social media presence to promote your message more consistently, you’ll likely need to schedule posts in advance unless you plan to be on social media 24/7. And who has time for that?! If you’re hesitant to add automation to your social media strategy because it seems impersonal, read 5 Ways to Humanize Social Media Automation.
Some social media platforms have native scheduling capabilities, like Facebook and more recently Twitter (via Twitter Dashboard iOS app). There are other social sharing tools that can assist with publishing posts at a later time. This allows for batch scheduling and can save time during the day or week, depending on how far out you will be planning your posts.
If you’re exploring your options or focusing on growing just one or two platforms right now, I recommend starting off with a free plan. Below is a comparison of free plans from scheduling tools that I’m familiar with.
Note: some less familiar third-party apps are not in compliance with the guidelines of certain platforms and could result in the suspension of your account, so be careful about what you use. The ones on this list follow guidelines to use for posting. Also, at the time of this writing there aren’t any approved tools that I’m aware of that allow direct scheduling to Instagram. Instead these tools allow you to set up your posts and then alert you when it’s time to publish directly to the network.
Free Social Scheduling Plans
Free Scheduling Available for These Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram
Number of Social Accounts: One account per network
Number of Scheduled Posts: 10 posts per profile
Analytics: No report, but will show top tweets and posts
Link Shortening: Yes
Pros: Browser extension for adding articles easily to content queue, available on desktop and mobile app, Pablo image creator, and video and GIF uploader, ability to “re-buffer” previously shared content.
Free Scheduling Available for These Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Instagram
Number of Social Accounts: 3 social profiles
Number of Scheduled Posts: Unlimited
Analytics: Basic report that shows follower growth
Link Shortening: Yes
Pros: Ability to interact and monitor mentions, people, and topics from the Hootsuite dashboard, Hootlet add-on for Chrome to share articles, available on desktop and mobile app
Free Scheduling Available for These Social Networks: Facebook and Twitter
Number of Social Accounts: 1 profile
Number of Scheduled Posts: 5 per day and 25 total
Link Shortening: No
Pros: Gives status ideas and shows viral photos and top articles to help boost engagement on posts
Free Scheduling Available for These Social Networks: Instagram
Number of Social Accounts: 1 User, 2 social profiles
Number of Scheduled Posts: 30 photo posts per month
Link Shortening: N/A
Pros: Schedule posts on desktop or mobile app, view overall layout of scheduled grams with rest of Instagram feed, search and re-post
Buffer and Hootsuite are great as overall social media management tools for multiple channels. I personally think that Buffer’s format is more user-friendly and find the browser extension to be extremely useful. I also love the “re-buffer” option. However, Hootsuite’s ability to monitor keywords, hashtags, and other conversations is very valuable.
Post Planner is a handy supplement to a more robust scheduling tool to find out what articles and photos are getting great engagement, so you can share the relevant ones to your niche and message. Even though you can plan Instagram posts in Hootsuite and Buffer, I love how you can preview your feed in the Later app.
What’s your favorite scheduling tool? Which features do you find to be the most valuable?
For more tips on how to Streamline Your Social. Get my FREE Quick-Start Guide here!