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It’s About Time: Social Media Automation Tools

March 21, 2013

Today’s post is courtesy of Suzan Czajkowski, M.A., founder and owner of the online marketing and communication firm MyCommCoach. You can reach Suzan at SuzanCz@MyCommCoach.com or follow her on Twitter at @MyCommCoach.

gearYou’ve chosen your social media.

You’ve got it set up, branded, and integrated with all of your other online accounts.

You’ve decided how often you want to post.

So… how will you keep that schedule?

The key word here is: Automate

There are some specific online tools can enable you to schedule your posts, so you can decide ahead of time what you are going to say over the next days or weeks or even for the next month, and get it all set up.

Here are three free social media automation systems:

Hootsuite:

Probably the most cited app for scheduling social media posts, Hootsuite can be used for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – plus other popular social media sites including Foursquare and Google+. The sweet spot here is the ability to post the same message to multiple accounts simultaneously, and you can work with up to five social media accounts before you have to begin paying for the service.

Facebook:

One of the many benefits of using a Facebook business page to market your business is the relatively new ability to schedule your posts ahead of time. If Facebook is your primary online marketing tool, this can be an incredible help with staying consistent in your messaging without needing to be online quite so often. That being said, it’s still a good idea to stay tuned in to the activity on your page. If readers respond to your initial message, you can take advantage of the opportunity to engage with them and make the experience real and personal… and that is the whole reason you posted in the first place.

IFTTT:

If This Then That is a newcomer on the social media block. Launched in 2010, IFTTT is designed specifically to help you create automated connections between the social media channels you’ve chosen to work with. It establishes combinations or “recipes” between the channels so that an action in one place generates a reaction in another. As an example, we can look at the Facebook case above, where it is still important to monitor your business page for activity. Using IFTTT, you could automate this monitoring so that when activity happens on your Facebook business page, you get an SMS. If you have a busy workday that rarely allows you the time to stop and check Facebook manually, this could be a lifesaver!

In addition to the free services listed above, there are a number of paid services available that may meet your automation needs. They often bring a few extra features that can be very helpful, including analytics to measure your impact, and live support to help you implement your online marketing tools correctly. Common players in this arena include Hubspot and Marketo.

With all of these wonderful automation tools, there is one caveat! Don’t let your automated systems do all of the work! If you let your marketing rely solely on scheduled posts, you take away from the “personal” feel of your online presence. Automation helps you keep a schedule, but it can’t – and should not – maintain the page altogether.

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