Buffer: My Favorite Scheduling Tool for Small Business Social Media
For a small business, social media is a critical piece of your marketing strategy that requires time, effort, and resources. It doesn’t stop with posting — an effective social media program includes time budgeted to create conversation and engage on each social network. To make it work, you’re going to need to use a scheduling tool to create posts on a regular schedule if you’re going to have a consistent presence.
My favorite tool for this is Buffer. I use it constantly (no paid endorsement here, it just works for me) to schedule social updates on multiple Facebook pages, LinkedIn (both my profile and company page), Instagram, and more than one Twitter account.
This post will show you how to schedule your social media posts with Buffer to create a posting schedule that will help you build your a solid online presence. You’ll also get analytics so you see which posts are most successful.
To get started, go to Buffer.com and set up an account if you don’t already have one. You can use Buffer free for up to three social profiles, but you can only add 10 posts at a time. The Pro plan gets you one user, eight social accounts, and 100 scheduled posts for $15/month — this is the plan I use.
Your Buffer Dashboard
Once your account is set up, you’ll start at the Dashboard. On the left are your connected social networks. Click the one you want to select and you’ll see the queue for that profile.
Get the Browser Extension
The next thing you need to do is install the Buffer browser extension. Before you start posting, go to Buffer.com/extensions in your browser and click the button to install it. This will make it easy to add content to your Buffer queue.
Once you’ve installed the browser extension, you’re good to go — you only have to do it once for each browser you use. Now when you’re on a page you’d like to share to Buffer, all you have to do is click icon (it looks lie three sheets of paper) at the top of your browser window — see the pink shaded area.
Set Up Your Posting Schedule
Buffer allows you to set up a separate posting schedule for each social network. Below is the schedule for my Twitter account. You’ll notice I’ve got six daily posting times on this schedule and I turn it off on weekends. Twitter moves so quickly, if you don’t tweet a few times a day, your followers may miss your updates. It’s also OK to repeat a tweet — you can use ICYMI (in case you missed it) if you like.
To set the schedule, click a profile in the left column, then click posting schedule at right and choose the times of day you want your posts to be published. Use your analytics for each network as a guide and select the times that most of your followers are online.
Once I set the schedule, Buffer will fill it automatically. I can also schedule posts for specific times, but the posting schedule will determine when the posts in the queue are published.
The dashboard shows you all of your connected social profiles and the queue for each of them. You can drag and drop to rearrange posts in your queue if you like. You can also see your updates by day, week, or month views.
There’s a button at the top of the posting schedule that allows you to pause your entire queue so that no social media updates will be published. This is useful if there is a national or international emergency or tragedy and you want to temporarily stop posting.
Once you click the Buffer icon at the top right of your browser window, this dialog box (below) will pop up. You can click each social network to select the ones you want to post the update to. In the space provided, you can add introductory text, hashtags and anything else you want to add to your post. It’s a great idea to include why you think it’s worth sharing, or a little about the post.
Notice that for each social network, there’s a separate place for you to add text — this is so that you can tailor your content for each profile. You’ll want to vary it a bit so you’re not posting the identical copy on each network. Adapt your text to where you’re posting it so it will draw the most engagement.
You can also click to add the preview image, which will show up in the feed of the networks you post to. Images help attract clicks, so don’t forget this step.
When you’re finish adding text and hashtags, the “Add to Queue” button will turn blue, which means your post is ready.
Buffer also has analytics, which allow you to see how your posts are doing. For a post that gets good engagement, you can use the share again button to add it back to your queue and repeat the tweet.
Buffer Mobile App
Buffer’s mobile app makes it easy to share content when you’re on the go. It works seamlessly and gives you the same posting functionality as the desktop version.
On the page you want to share to Buffer, tap the share icon at the bottom of the screen, shaded pink.
You’ll see this screen, which allow you to select which app on your phone you want to use to share the post.
If Buffer doesn’t appear in your sharing list, you’ll have to add it, but that’s easy. Tap the word More with the three dots, shaded here in pink.
You’ll see this screen — tap Edit and add Buffer to your list. Now you’ll have it as an option any time you want to share from your phone.
After you select Buffer to share your post, you’ll see this dialog, which is much like the window on the desktop where you’ll add any text, images, or hashtags you want to add to your post.
Tap Add Media from camera roll or link. If there’s a preview image associated with the post you’re sharing, Buffer will place it in your photos. Select it and add to your post.
Select the profiles you want to post your update to.
From here, you can either schedule the post for a specific day and time or add it to the queue.
More Small Business Social Media Posts
If you regularly curate content, Buffer will help you keep your updates going even when you’re busy elsewhere. When I started using the mobile app more regularly, I realized how much time I save by taking advantage of a few minutes in line at the grocery store to schedule a post.