Have you ever looked at your competitors’ Twitter or Facebook pages and thought, “Who has time to log in every few hours to post and respond to comments?”
We know that with everything that goes into running a restaurant, you certainly don’t. But the truth is, most of those social media mavens out there don’t necessarily have the time either — they’ve just learned how to develop and schedule their social media material in advance.
The good news? No matter your experience level or the desired results, there’s a tool to help you plan social media on your time. And you can still be sure that each post, picture, and tweet goes out at the optimal time for your audience.
Below, we give you everything you need to know to start optimizing social media for your schedule.
There’s an App for That
No matter how much of our day we spend on social media, many of us don’t realize just how much functionality is already included in many of these programs.
For instance, some social media platforms — like Facebook and Twitter — have integrated tools that allow you to schedule your posts in advance. It can be as easy as writing and posting content in real time.
TweetDeck, formerly an independent program that was purchased and integrated by Twitter in 2011, allows you to preschedule tweets; view your activity, messages, and notifications in easily read column format; and manage multiple accounts simultaneously.
Twitter Ads, a pay-for-use service designed primarily for corporate users, also allows you to preschedule and manage your tweets, but its functionality goes well beyond that. The program allows users to specify their target audience, manage objective-based campaigns, and view analytics for each tweet’s performance.
The downside? Neither option is available for mobile, meaning you’ll have to be at your computer to monitor and adjust your scheduled content.
Currently, users are only able to pre-schedule posts for their pages, not from their personal profiles. Other content, including photo albums, events, questions, offers, and milestones, also can’t be prescheduled.
Facebook does offer a mobile app, the Pages Manager, to help users manage their content on the go. And with the ability to schedule up to six months of content in five-minute intervals, this program ensures that no long vacation or unexpected Internet outage will keep you from connecting with friends and followers.
Although they do have limitations, Facebook and Twitter are actually setting the pace when it comes to scheduling content. Many other social media sites do not have integrated programs for managing your posts — and a few prohibit it altogether.
Despite this, many apps have been designed to help make managing your Instagram posts a little easier. Latergramme allows you to prepare your image on your smartphone or computer, comment ahead of time, and select the time period you would like it to post. The program then pushes a reminder to your smartphone at the designated time, prompting you to manually post the image with the preloaded content through Instagram.
While the basic Latergramme is free, it limits your account to 30 uploads a month. Users can also subscribe to paid premium plans with up to 250 posts a month or business packages with unlimited posts.
Other programs may advertise the ability to schedule your Instagram posts without the need for reminders or manual posting, but many work through the type of API reverse engineering prohibited by Instagram.
What about users who want a way to manage all of their social media profiles in one place? Well, there’s a solution for that, too.
Between Sprout, Cyfe, Sendible, and the seemingly endless variety of other solutions, we could probably spend an entire article on each of the dashboards available for managing most of your social media profiles in one place. But there are two notable standouts that any savvy social media manger should know: Hootsuite and Buffer.
The Great Debate
Both Hootsuite and Buffer offer analytical data about your posts; customizable, easy-to-use interfaces that track activity on several profiles simultaneously; and mobile apps, ensuring you can adjust and plan your social media strategy anytime, anywhere.
The social media profiles you can manage, however, depend on which program you choose.
Hootsuite offers one of the most comprehensive dashboards available, allowing users to manage:
- Twitter profiles
- Personal timelines and Facebook pages
- LinkedIn profiles, company pages, and groups
- Google+ pages
- Other programs such as WordPress, MySpace, Foursquare, and popular Japanese network Mixi in one easy-to-use interface.
Hootsuite also features a unique “auto-schedule” feature that automatically selects the best time to post the content you have provided, based on your audience.
Buffer supports fewer social media platforms, namely:
- Facebook profiles and pages
- LinkedIn profiles, company pages, and groups
- Google+ profiles and pages.
Despite this, Buffer is widely considered a simpler, and easier-to-use, interface.
Returns on Social Investment
Whether you choose a dashboard, site-specific app, or just a desktop calendar (with a lot of time on social media!) developing a strong social media strategy is essential to reaching and engaging with potential customers everywhere to increase sales.
To learn more about simplifying your social media, understanding the return on your social investment, or integrating new social media into your strategy, check out what our other experts have to say about marketing your restaurant online.