Welcome to Social Media Monday! In the past weeks I have focused on some specific social media topics (3 Facebook Tools You Need, How to Schedule a Facebook Post, & How to Hide a Vertical Image for Pinterest). Today I want to talk about a general social media management topic that deals with every platform: Social media scheduling vs. automation.
What is Social Media Scheduling?
Every major platform (except for Instagram) has the ability to schedule posts for some time in the future. This means that you can write a tweet or Facebook post to your page or group and then choose a time to post later rather than posting now. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Facebook itself, Board Booster, Viral Tag, CoSchedule, or Tailwind are all examples of schedulers for various platforms. You still write out the post, but you choose a time (or use an autoschedule feature) in the future for the post to go live.
What is Social Media Automation?
Many tools exist that not only allow you to schedule for the future, but will automatically post certain content once you set them up. An example of this would be Twitterfeed, where you can choose influencers and have a tweet automatically sent out every time that person writes a blog post. With automation, once you set up the workflow, the app or program will send it without you even knowing about it. Revive Old Post is a plugin that many people (including me) have used to automatically set up a schedule of your content that will automatically post to Twitter every single day.
Both social media scheduling and automation can help you manage social media. But they can have a very different effect on different platforms. Let me give you an example.
I used to use Twitterfeed for a few different bloggers. Generally speaking, we all shared similar content, so it seemed like a good idea. But when I went to check my Twitter stream, some of the content I’d been sharing was maybe NOT what I would have chosen. In the same way, a few people have MY blog on their Twitterfeed. And when I accidentally hit “publish” rather than “save as draft” on a post that was totally still a draft, I immediately got notification that a few people had tweeted it out. Which meant if anyone clicked, they would get a 404.
For me, automation seems a little too…automated. Impersonal. It’s not great for making connections, REAL connections online. It can also mean that you share content that you wouldn’t have chosen purposefully to share. This, to me, can result in a less-than-authentic social media presence.
Social media scheduling, on the other hand, has all the intention and control, but simply pushes out content across a span of time. This allows you to be yourself, share the things that make sense for your brand, and still save some time.
How does social media scheduling save you time?
Working in batches is a fabulous time-saver. John Lee Dumas talked about this with me on the podcast. I wrote about how I can manage Twitter in 15 minutes a day on Jane Friedman’s site. It lets you do one kind of task in a big chunk of time and helps you stay streamlined in your tasks.
For example: Sunday nights I try to schedule out the posts to my Facebook page for the week. I don’t share too many posts/day, so it takes maybe 10-15 minutes. If I forget and try to schedule during the week as I go, it looks more like this:
I get on Facebook and open my page.
I click to some of the share groups that I’m in to see what to share.
I see a notification that someone commented on my photo.
I click to see the notification.
I write a response.
I see an interesting news headline.
I click to read.
I get a new notification and click to see.
20 minutes later, I know all about the news and have interacted with my mom and two friends on Facebook and I NEVER FINISHED SCHEDULING.
This is why batches work. You have ONE task. You set a timer. You do NOTHING else. You finish. The end. Batching for the win!
The weeks I schedule social in batches (whether that’s in a daily batch or a weekly one-time batch), I get more done. I actually SET a schedule. I’m intentional. I’m present on social platforms throughout the week through the schedule. But unlike the automation that can feel so easy, I actually have CONTROL and INTENTION. It’s still me when I schedule. It’s a machine when I automate.
There are a few hybrids, where automation meets schedule. An example would be something like Edgar, where you write out a social media message and put it in your library. You set up some rules for how the automation works, but Edgar will essentially schedule out automatically the posts you put in your library. Tweet Jukebox is another, where you can set up a “jukebox” that you fill with content to share automatically. These hybrids allow you to schedule AND automate.
So which method is right for you?
First, let me say that WHATEVER you use, you need to be sure that you are balancing these more automated actions with REAL TIME interaction.
Yep. Tweet that.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what might be right for you. Clearly, I’m not into automation. I’ve had not-great experiences with both hybrids AND automation. But sometimes I’m not great at staying on top of my scheduling in batches, so this means I may not push out a lot of content if I’m too busy to be there in real time AND I forget to batch.
Too bad, so sad.
No, really. If I don’t have time to be present, then I’m not present. It’s hard to let that go. It was hard to turn off Revive Old Post. Maybe that wouldn’t be the right choice for you, but it’s the right choice for ME. I felt it in my bones after listening to this podcast episode from Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social. I’m choosing to be more present and intentional than automated.
I may go back. To Revive Old Post, anyway. Because sometimes I’m better at scheduling content for other people rather than remembering to share my own. I do see interaction from those posts. But I’ve seen more interaction since I’ve turned everything off. I think (for now) I just want to be ME. And if that means I don’t have a ton of time to batch schedule OR even be present, then that’s reality right now. We’ll see how I feel in a month.
Tell me! Do you (will you) schedule or automate? What works best for YOU?