One morning I opened up my Facebook Page, determined to share something encouraging or funny or at least somewhat valuable and I stared at the blank “status update” window for about five minutes. I started typing a few times only to quickly delete the text and resume my writer’s block. Then, I did what any productive professional would do – I spent the next 20 minutes browsing through my feed hoping to be inspired or, at the very least, distracted. Eventually, I closed my browser without having left a comment. And I got to work. Has that ever happened to you? I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves because we’re told that social media is a wonderful tool for business and that we need to make sure we’re active online. But sometimes, we’re just not in the mood to be social. Other times, we’re perfectly happy being social, spending hours mindlessly watching pet videos and liking someecards when we should be working…or spending time with our families. But we get swept up in all the smiling faces and we can’t seem to click away. (It happened to me twice while writing this blog post!)
That’s why I use a few tools to help me organize my time on social media. I’m not trying to be sneaky by pre-scheduling updates. Instead, I’m trying to be productive so that I’ll be able to spend my time online having real, live conversations with people – not stressing over what to write. And I’m getting help sifting through all the distracting (but entertaining!) messages so I can concentrate on the ones I want to read and comment on.
I rely on these three free social media management tools to help me better prioritize my time online:
Hootsuite. I started using this tool to pre-schedule Twitter posts. For example, when a friend has a book launch I want to support, I use it to pre-schedule a series of tweets at the time of her launch. That way, I can write them and schedule them when I’m “in the mood,” and they will appear during her launch without me having to think about it again.
Once I got familiar with Hootsuite, I learned you can use it for other channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. So I can pre-schedule a bunch of updates on several channels all from one dashboard. And I discovered that Hootsuite streams are a fabulous way to keep track of conversations I follow online – I can easily se who is sharing information for “mompreneurs” and what my friends from a recent conference are talking about. There are probably a billion other features to Hootsuite that I have yet to uncover, but I already know it’s an invaluable tool and a huge time saver!
Buffer. Let’s say you don’t want to pre-schedule a bunch of messages to be published on a specific date and time. But you do want to have a regular online presence – even when you’re on vacation or intentionally unplugged. Well, you can fill up your Buffer queue with interesting articles, quotes, images and other messages and set them to be published according to a schedule you create. You could tell Buffer to publish something once a day, three times a day or more. One of my clients uses Buffer to schedule LinkedIn posts once a week. She spends about 30 minutes every few months gathering interesting articles to share and adding them to Buffer. Then, she doesn’t have to worry if she forgets to log into LinkedIn and share something – although she often does that in addition to the pre-scheduled posts.
Feedly. I learned about this one from Michael Hyatt and he says he uses it to “forage for his tribe.” It’s brilliant, actually. The way it works is that you can follow a bunch of your favorite blogs in Feedly on your desktop, laptop or phone. And you can organize them into categories (e.g., business, fashion, food, spiritual, fitness, parenting, etc.). Then you can spend 15 minutes a day browsing through all of your favorite blogs (all in one place at one time — instead of opening dozens of emails or searching a bunch of websites). If you find something interesting, you can Buffer it to share with your friends later. Genius!
Want more details? I love these tools so much that I created a webinar demo about them with my friend Kelly Garrett of Ekcetera Design and Marketing. We spent more than an hour explaining how we use these tools and some other more advanced tools. We went step-by-step through the process, sharing our computer screens so you can see exactly how these platforms work. We also talked about how to make sure you’re interacting “live” on social media – and not just prescheduling messages all the time like a robot. And we discussed several things to consider before hiring someone else to do your social media.
If you’re interested, you can watch the recording of the webinar here. But, if you’re a self-starter, then please dive right in and start using the tools today! I think you’ll be hooked.
What are your favorite tools and tips for saving time on social media?