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The Dos and Don'ts of Scheduling Social Media.

Aliza Sherman is a new media entrepreneur, author, women's issues activist, and international speaker.

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Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a news media entrepreneur, author, women's issues activist, and international speaker.
Sherman has received recognition for her role as an entrepreneur focused on women's issues, particularly women's role in the news media industry and their participation on the Internet.

The Dos and Don'ts of Scheduling Social Media

The Dos and Don'ts of Scheduling Social Media

Handling the demands of social media marketing can be a burden for many small business owners. Between running a business and providing customer service, putting out regular, strategic messages on popular social networks is time consuming.

Luckily, there are social media dashboard and scheduling apps available that help you manage social media messaging. Some popular dashboard apps offer free and paid levels such as Buffer for scheduling or Hootsuite that, in addition to scheduling, also offers a one-screen view of multiple streams for multiple accounts. Other more enterprise solutions include SproutSocial and Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram.

There are several ways message scheduling can happen. On Buffer, you can either accept the app’s pre-selected posting schedule based on the activity on your accounts or specify your own daily schedule including what exact times each day to post. Once you have your posting schedule set, you can save posts to Buffer that will then trickle them out one by one based on your pre-determined schedule.

Buffer also offers the more specific scheduling tool as does Hootsuite, SproutSocial and most other scheduling apps. With specific scheduling, you can choose the exact date and time each post should go out based on your social media editorial calendar. Note that while some of these tools do integrate with Facebook Pages, you are better off scheduling posts for your Page using Facebook’s own built-in scheduler. Facebook tends to look down on messaging coming into its site through third-party apps.

The idea of scheduling messages can seem like a life-saver to busy entrepreneurs, but there are always caveats to this seemingly convenient and time-saving process. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering using a dashboard or scheduling tool for your social media marketing.

  1. DON’T replace scheduled messages for actual conversations. People want to hear from people in social media, not a company with a broadcasted message. Be pro-active and spend time each day responding to messages in the social networks you use and answering questions. Reach out to others on the network, start conversations, and interact. Your scheduled messages may keep your name out there, but your interactions build relationships.
  2. DO be strategic about the timing of your scheduled messages. If you have an event or sale or something tied to a specific date, build your scheduled messages to post slowly at first, far enough in advance to allow people to plan for something or put it on their calendar. Then increase the frequency as you get closer to the date, changing the wording of your messaging to create a sense of urgency and encourage actions such as RSVP’ing for an event or signing up for something.
  3. DO use images and video in your scheduled posts. Scheduling apps allow you to upload and attach images or link to videos to make your messaging more compelling and attractive in social media news feeds. Some apps will provide preview images lifted from the sites where you link, but not all of them will so be prepared to add some visuals to make your message stand out. You should also be able to add multiple images to create a more visual experience so look for that feature in the scheduling app you use.
  4. DON’T ignore what is happening in the news and trending in social media newsfeeds. Be aware of current events, particularly if something major is happening in your community or city, the country or the world that impacts the conversations that are happening on social networks. Be sensitive to the times when your marketing messages may be completely inappropriate because people are paying attention to a crisis that is unfolding such as a natural disaster or international incident. Tragedy is not fodder for marketing. If you have scheduled messages and something tragic is being reported in the news, put your messages on pause or remove them and wait for a more appropriate time to post them.

Scheduling social media messages can be a valuable part of your social media marketing process, but don’t let it replace the need to pay attention and participate. Be thoughtful about scheduling and use scheduling in combination with a social media editorial calendar to stay strategic.