Tools We Use for Social Scheduling

Hello friends of Balsamiq!

This is the last installment of our 5-part mini-series of posts about how we do marketing.

Here's the full list:

  1. The Balsamiq Mantras
  2. The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist
  3. Tools we Use for Brand Monitoring
  4. How We Do Content Discovery
  5. Tools We Use for Social Scheduling.

Today's topic is Social Scheduling: how to share interesting content with your community without going crazy logging in and out of all of your social media accounts.


Social Scheduling

Scheduling your social accounts' activity is crucial if you manage a bunch of them and want to have a steady and consistent stream of updates.

Finding out a good tool to do the job is vital if you don't want to do it manually. We used to manually post messages on our different social accounts, but it was way too time-consuming.

Even if there are a lot of tools out there, we still haven't found "the perfect tool" we're looking for: a solution that works well with all the major social media platforms and provides extra features, such as analytics. That's why we currently use 3 different tools for social media scheduling over our main social accounts.


Buffer (and Hootsuite and Facebook)

Balsamiq has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram - and more will come.

For Twitter accounts and Google+ we use Buffer. Buffer is like a big 'tank': the first step is to predefine posting schedules for every day of the week - this is its biggest timesaver feature. After that, you just have to write your tweet or message, attach a link (images are optional) and put it into Buffer. When the time comes, Buffer takes the oldest tweet/message from the tank and shares it.

You can also decide to schedule a message on a particular day and time, if you want - I have a hybrid approach to it, depending on the content I'm sharing.

You can also drag and drop messages if you need to switch the schedule around.

What We Like About Buffer:

  • Thanks to the posting time feature, you can schedule posts for weeks in advance (we recently did it to cover our company retreat period) so that your accounts are active and you don't have to think about it. But be careful and check on them, because they are still there and keep going! You may run into a flame or an #epicfail without realizing.
  • It provides easy analytics for every post: this helps us find out the most favorite tweets and what our community likes the most, so that we can share them again after a few weeks for those who missed them the first time:
    buffer-analytics
  • It comes with 5 flexible payment plans, and one of them is free!

What We'd Like to See Improved:

  • The way Buffer shares content on Linkedin. One year ago I was struggling with Buffer and Linkedin a lot: when I shared a content (consisting of a link and a short comment about it), it ended up with something weird on the Group page: a Linkedin conversation without a title (that means without a URL) and other visualizations outliers.
    As they emailed me, they were aware of the problem, which depends on the limited access they have to Linkedin's API.
    I must say things have improved since then, but there is still room for improvement (this is why I've started using Hootsuite for sharing on our Linkedin Company Page and Group).

Apart from that, Buffer is great for scheduling. 🙂

For sharing on Facebook, we still prefer to use its own built-in scheduling feature: it works very well, and I believe it’s nice for people to see that we use Facebook from the “inside" (if you use an external tool, they can see it). More than that, sometimes Facebook messes with metadata and your update ends to be published with a weird title or image, or nothing at all:

facebook-metadata

and you have to add them manually. So at least at the moment, the only way to be sure it will come out right is to do it all within Facebook.

Repost App

We recently opened an Instagram account with the aim of showing people's wireframes to our Community.

We rely on Repost to post our favorite sightings and properly mention the authors.

instagram

What We Like About Repost:

  • It keeps improving and becomes easier and quicker to use. We don't mind "poor" customization, and we definitely don't want to get rid of the repost mark (but you can, with a small fee): in fact, we regard as important and essential to give credit to the original poster.

Nothing to say about improvements: Instagram is relatively new to us. Moreover, unlike other social networks, it doesn't have a lot of features - and that reflects on third party apps like Repost.


Trello

Speaking of Social Scheduling, I thought it might be useful to add a reference to our blog scheduling calendar.

Trello is a project management tool with many potential applications, but we started using it for a small task: keeping a well-organized blogs calendar.

trello

We run 4 different blogs; there are 5 of us as main authors, but other Balsamici write blog posts, from time to time, and requests to write guest blog posts are growing. We felt that our old calendar (a simple Google spreadsheet) was too rigid and poor in features.

Now when we open Trello we can see all the details at a glance: what the next scheduled blog posts are, who's in charge of them, how the month is going, etc.

In our Trello Board, each column represents a month and every scheduled blog post has its own card.

For every card, we provide:

  • a colored label for each blog, and a special color for guest blog posts we do on other blogs
  • one or two members: people who are in charge of that blog post
  • a due date, which is the day the blog post is planned to be published.

After the blog post is published, I move its card to the Archive.

What We Like About Trello:

  • It strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and richness of features. What we like the most is that we can keep all the stuff about a blog post in its Trello card: messages, images, draft URL, comments... so that we don't have to look for them here and there.
  • We love tools that are quick to use, and this is why we especially like the quick edit feature on Trello cards: you can add/change label, members, due date in no time.
  • Thanks to its flexibility, you can use it basically for everything and not only for work.
  • It's free, and they promise it will stay that way: "Trello is free forever. We may add pay-only features in the future, but everything that's free today will be free tomorrow and forever."

What We'd Like to See Improved:

  • We'd like to see simplified the access to the archived items, because I often have to go there to grab the list of the most recent published blog posts.
  • I'd also like to invite contributors to join a card without making them members of the Trello board. I don’t want to bother my colleagues with signing up for the umpteenth tool, if it's not strictly necessary for them to have Trello in their toolkit.

So, these are the tools for Social Scheduling we use right now. Maybe some of them will be replaced - we tend to adopt the most effective tools we can find on the market and the ones which fit our needs better.

And what about you? What kind of tools do you use? Looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂

-Francesca for the Balsamiq Team

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