If you’re a heavy social media user and manage multiple accounts, then you know that the right social media scheduling tool can make a world of difference. Such tools go beyond saving time, and have now become a necessity for most. But there's also such a wide range of tools on the market that it can be difficult to determine which is the best fit for your organization.
So which are the best? What social media scheduling tool should you be using in 2018?
In this post, we’ll be looking at:
What to look for in a social media scheduling tool
I’m an avid Twitter user - I have a big audience so I tweet a lot to reach them. I know how quickly these updates disappear from their feeds, so I tweet multiple times an hour to make sure they see and read my updates too.
I couldn’t do this without a tool to help - frankly, I can’t believe I used to manage with the rudimentary scheduling tools we had years ago, when social media marketing just started taking off.
Now though, social media scheduling tools are so much more complex, and are constantly adding new features to either help improve your results, or to help you save time.
There are a few different features that you should be looking for in a social media scheduling tool:
- Ease of use and mobile app for scheduling on the go
- Supported social networks
- Evergreen updates queue for setting and forgetting
- Content categories – this is one of those must-have features, in my opinion - if you post a lot (and on a few different profiles) setting up content categories to queue can save you hours of work every week
- Media upload
- Post preview
- Social media calendar
- Collaboration tools (if you work with several people managing the accounts)
- Analytics (and best posting times)
Depending on what your focus is, you’ll need different features, and you’ll use a social media scheduling tool in different ways. If you work as part of a team, collaboration tools can make a world of difference, especially as you can involve different departments. For example, as social selling grows, sales development teams need to be a part of your social media strategy - with collaboration features in place, the social media manager can help the salespeople perfect their message, check that it’s good to publish/schedule, and so on.
Or, if you’re an avid blogger and social media user, then queues are essential - otherwise, it would mean hours of work every week scheduling all of your evergreen content.
Before we go into each tool, here’s an overview of the main features needed in a social scheduling option:
And here’s why I picked these three tools: quite simply, because they are some of the most popular and well-known options when it comes to social media scheduling.
Now the question is, are they as good as their popularity suggests?
Supported networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube
Main features: Publishing and scheduling, evergreen content queue, social inbox for managing mentions, social listening, collaboration tools, analytics and reporting
As you can see from the list of features above, Agorapulse is an all-in-one social media management tool, and the reason I mention it here is that its new scheduling features make it one of the best.
One of the biggest new features – and something that I personally find incredibly useful – is that you can queue your evergreen content in different categories:
The way it works is you create your categories, give each a name, a color to help you easily identify it, then add your content to each category.
Then, to make sure they get published automatically, you set the time slots you want for each category:
For someone who tweets as much as I do, this is a must-have feature. You can use it to promote events, share your blog posts, and any other evergreen content you might have.
Another very cool feature is that you can also set how many times an update goes out, so you don’t have to keep an eye on it and remove it manually:
- Queue it unlimited times
- Set an ‘expiration’ date (good for promoting events, for example – you can stop the updates the day before the event)
- Or queue a post a specific number of times (anywhere from 2 to 50 times)
You also have the usual options – i.e. publishing then and there and scheduling updates just once, on a specific date and time.
In terms of the actual post composer, here's what it looks like:
You can create a post for all of your social accounts, preview them, and edit for each social network so they’re optimized.
Another way of adding posts to your queues is to upload a .csv file - this is a pretty cool feature as you can upload in bulk both to schedule for specific times:
And to add to your different queue content categories:
Additionally, you also have access to collaboration tools - content can be assigned, verified by the social media manager, and so on.
You then have a separate tab for all the content that needs approval, so you can easily go through them to edit and approve updates, and a tab for “content assigned to me”, so you know exactly what you need to do.
What I love about it: The evergreen queue with categories – I can set all my evergreen posts once and make sure they all get published without me having to do anything else. I also love that I can use it for everything social media – managing my mentions, monitoring, checking my analytics and creating reports, and so on. Plus, it has very useful collaboration features for those who work with a team.
What other features I’d like to see: The main thing I’d love to see is a ‘pause queue’ option, preferably for each category. At the moment, you can remove the time slots for each category so they don’t get published, but then I’d have to re-add them, which can take up some time, particularly on Twitter.
Supported networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Main features: Evergreen queue with categories, social media calendar
MeetEgar is a simple, to-the-point tool - it does one thing, but it does it quite well. However, it is limited in terms of the social networks it supports, so if you need it for more than just the usual suspects – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – it’s probably not a viable option.
But when it comes to creating big evergreen queues, it’s a great tool.
The way it works is, you create the categories, add your content – either manually or by uploading a .csv file – and then simply add the categories to your schedule so that they go out automatically, on a loop, and you can just forget about them (until, of course, they need removing or changing).
The post composer enables you to create updates for each of your connected accounts:
You can also add images and videos, and preview your post on each social network.
Additionally, you can schedule updates to go out only once, at a specific time, or you can set an expiration date if you’re going to add a post to a queue and don’t want to have to remove it manually.
Once you’ve set your categories and added your content, all that’s left to do is plan your social media schedule:
In your schedule, you can see all of your planned updates for all social media accounts (or rather, the categories), or you can select to see only the schedule for a specific account.
What I love about it: Scheduling evergreen queues is super easy and very quick – if that’s all you need it for, it’s a great option.
What other features I’d like to see: Frankly, quite a lot. It’s great at what it does, but it only really does one thing. I’d love to see more supported networks, some analytics (at least a “best times to post” feature), and collaboration tools.
Buffer for Business
Supported networks: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+
Main features: Scheduling, evergreen content queue, analytics and best times to post, content curation, collaboration features, link shortening
Buffer is not a full-fledged social media management tool, but it does have all the tools needed to schedule and publish updates to your social accounts.
Like with the previous tools, you can start by setting up your posting schedule - one of the things I really like here is that you can add time slots for every day very quickly, and you don’t have to schedule for each day manually:
Before you start scheduling anything, you can also set up link shortening - you can use their shortener, connect with your bit.ly account or choose no shortening (which also means no tracking of clicks). I like this feature but at the same time, I’d like to be able to use shortened links for some posts, and not use any for others.
In terms of adding posts, you can add them first as drafts if you want (then, members of your team can edit them, managers can approve them, and so on), or schedule them directly.
You can draft and schedule posts for one social network at a time and uploading images, videos, or GIFs. However, you don’t get the preview you get with the previous tools.
To schedule updates in your queue, you can use the list or calendar view to see all of your available time slots and start scheduling:
One of the standout features with Buffer is that you can add RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and online publications, so that you can easily curate and share content with your audience:
What I love about it: It has a very clean, easy to use interface. I also love the fact that you can curate content without having to use a different tool, and that there are social media content analytics to help you optimize your campaigns. Another plus is that you can pause your queue with one click, just in case something happens.
What other features I’d like to see: The main drawback to me is that it’s not as useful when you want to republish a lot - I can set and forget for a few days/a week, but I can’t really do what I can with Agorapulse and MeetEdgar (set and forget for months, if I want to) and most importantly, I can’t add content categories. Another feature that would be very useful is if you could upload updates in bulk – currently, you have to use third-party apps to do so.
The “best” tool is going to be quite subjective - it depends on a few different factors, such as the networks supported, your usual posting frequency, whether you work with a team, and so on. Personally, though, as much as I love trying out all kinds of different tools, when it comes to managing my social media, because it’s so busy I need one tool that can do it all. And most importantly, I need a tool that can be used to queue up multiple updates and republish them automatically, and one that enables me to add content categories to my queue, so that I can set the frequency as I want, with minimum effort.
Hopefully these insights have helped better inform you as you go about searching for the best social media scheduling tool for your purposes.