In addition to putting boundaries on your time and using free tools like the publicize feature inside your blog or Hootsuite, there are a few other social media scheduling tools available with powerful features you can harness to build your platform.

Tool #4: Because I also blog and wanted to find a way to easily promote both current and past blog posts, I found a tool called CoSchedule that not only integrates with a WordPress blog but integrates with Facebook (page and profile), Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest, and soon Instagram. CoSchedule is considered to be a content calendar with all of your social media strategy contained in a single true calendar look along with a color coding feature and filters making it easy to “see” if I have a balance of content going out by topic and platform. Individual items can easily be rescheduled by simply dragging and dropping them into a new square.

The basic version costs $19 a month if you pay monthly (cheaper for a year) but you can get your price down through referrals or even writing a review. There is also a 14-day free trial if you want to try it out first. The basic version can connect up to five of your social media accounts while more expensive plans allow you to connect from ten up to 100 accounts, create preset promotion templates to use with future blog posts, recycle content, and add from five up to 25 team members.

Because it integrates seamlessly into WordPress, when I write a new blog post, I can also simultaneously schedule my social media updates to share the link to my blog to multiple outlets on the same day, the next day, the next week, and beyond with just a few clicks. The program pulls in the right picture, shows me a real preview of how the post will look inside that platform, and integrates with Bitly for shortlinks. It is also very easy to find and promote past blog content.

[Tweet “Use visual calendars and auto-pilot posting to #BuildAPlatform #amwriting via @CandeeFick”]

If you don’t have a blog or use a different blogging platform other than WordPress, there are still plenty of other amazing features to use beyond the social media scheduling features. For example, CoSchedule has a Google Chrome extension that makes it easy to curate and share content from other sites. You can also create tasks or notes to yourself or add team members and assign tasks to them with multiple due dates such as six days before the due date, contact the guest blogger. There is a “drafts” area to brainstorm content before dragging it onto a specific calendar date and they are expanding the capacity to include other content like video or podcasts.

Of course, there are downsides to this program in that you cannot read the social media feeds like in Hootsuite. You have to go to each account individually in order to actually interact, retweet, and such. (Remember? You must be present and interacting to win with social media.) However, with the apps on my iPad or “favorite” sites saved on my laptop, it is not too inconvenient to use CoSchedule to plan and promote my blog posts in advance along with all of my Facebook Page posts and specific tweets that I want to post on a particular day (such as a link to a guest blog appearance, launch day countdowns, or a reminder that it’s the last day to enter a giveaway).

Tool #5: Use Social Jukebox (formerly known as Tweet Jukebox) to put some of your social media scheduling onto auto-pilot. Like the name implies, this program allows you to load a “playlist” of posts into a jukebox and then it randomly “plays” them at specific intervals that you have chosen on selected days (i.e. every 3 hours and 17 minutes between 6:47 a.m. and 8:32 p.m. Monday through Friday). When the playlist is done, it reshuffles and starts over without you needing to add more content.

Speaking of content, you can add one tweet or post at a time or easily upload a .csv file thanks to their super-clear video tutorials. Once a jukebox is created, you can easily edit the tweets, add or change the hashtags or even add pictures. Remember that Excel spreadsheet I had filled with quotes and promotional bits? I loaded each type into a different jukebox and now have a steady trickle of content going out multiple times during the day…freeing me to use my 30 minutes actually interacting or on other platforms with only the occasional visit back to tweak the timing or content.

As of this writing, the free version of this application allows you to create two jukeboxes for a single social media account, store 300 posts, and send five tweets per day or only one Facebook post per day. Like other tools, there are several paid versions building up to serve large companies and teams. The cheapest paid plan at $20 a month (cheaper by the year) allows ten jukeboxes with 5000 stored posts for up to three social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook (pages, profiles, and groups), and LinkedIn with no limit on the number of tweets or posts per day. Like CoSchedule, they have an affiliate program where you can earn discounts on your own subscription through referrals to others.

In addition to the jukeboxes, there is also a scheduled tweets section that I haven’t used much (since I can do that inside CoSchedule), but it appears you can put a stop date on certain content like when a pre-order special ends. On the downside, there is not a link shortener built into the program, so you’ll need to use another program and then manually copy that short link into your tweet.

Personally, I think it’s a great concept for Twitter because most of your tweets won’t be seen by your followers unless they happen to be checking their feed at the exact time you post…plus since most of us forget where we saw something first if we happen to see it again a few weeks later, I don’t think the repetition of content over time would hurt. If you use it for Facebook or other platforms, use caution with the frequency of the posts and make sure the jukebox contains a large variety of posts before pushing play.

Tool #6: Pay attention to other programs that do similar things and might fit your social media strategy better. Also, keep in mind that many programs keep adding features that mimic the best qualities of their competition so your favorite tool might be even better within a year’s time.

Buffer is an easy way to share webpages, other blog posts, or videos with your audience. But, like the name implies, rather than show it all at once, it “buffers” it and sends it out on a schedule you select. Using the Google Chrome extension, content is added to the queue to create a single playlist like inside Social Jukebox. Then, when the appointed time arrives, the program sends out the first item in the list and so on until the queue is empty so it’s important to keep adding content.

I initially set up a free account and linked it to my Twitter and Facebook accounts, but then stopped using it once CoSchedule added their Google Chrome Extension that does practically the same thing. In the free version, you can post to one account per available platform (Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google+, and Instagram), access their photo editor tool, and store up to 10 posts per social account at any one time. For $10 a month, you can store up to 100 posts per social account, have up to 10 accounts (making it possible to post to multiple Facebook pages), and also access Pinterest.

Meet Edgar was the first to introduce the library concept to recycle posts and charged $49 a month for their service. Like some of the other tools we’ve already covered, they allow posts to multiple accounts including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn at pre-selected times. However, each evergreen post could be categorized by a topic and then added to a library to pull from if there was an empty slot in the future schedule. (With the addition of more social networks to SocialJukebox for significantly less per month, it should be interesting to see how this company changes to keep their customers.)

The main idea with all of these scheduling tools is to save you time and I’m sure that you’re more than ready to get started picking which social media platforms are best for you. However, just be patient for a little bit longer as we cover one of the best types of posts out there.

(NOTE: If you found this post helpful, the entire blog series is now available in a single book here.)

The Author Toolbox: Social Media Scheduling Tools (Part Two)
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