It’s Monday, you know what that means, I’m back with another Monday Marketing(ish) post.
Today I want to talk about a program that can help make things so much easier for you. I’m a big fan of anything that can make a process more streamlined and efficient.
What Is Buffer?
Buffer is a Scheduling program.
This is where you link your social media accounts in one location, and can then create and schedule posts that will be uploaded automatically.
Do I Need A Scheduling Program?
Honestly, that’s up to you. But since, as writers, we are expected to be nice and active on social media, it can give you a boost.
How much time can you seriously give to pimping yourself on social media? Personally, I’d rather spend more of my time writing.
While some manual time on social media is needed, removing the excess by implementing a scheduler is well worth it.
EDITED IN 2021: Facebook and Instagram now penalise posts that are uploaded via a third-party. You could still use them, but it might be better using Facebook Business Suite option to schedule. For the other social media platforms, I’ve never noticed an issue using a third-party scheduler.
Why I use Buffer
There are numerous scheduling programs available. So why did I choose Buffer?
First off, it was easy to use. Got to love cutting down on more time waste, by having something nice and simple.
Second, it was cheap – Buffer has a free version and I love me some free. Whereas most schedules either have no free option or just a free trial that expires after a short amount of time, Buffer gives you time to get to grips with it completely free. Then if you decide you need a paid version, you can move to that.
Third, when I did move to the paid version, it was one of the cheapest ones. I don’t mind paying for things, but there’s no need to throw around good money if it’s not going to give you anything more than you need.
How to use Buffer
The free version allows you to link up to three social media accounts. So I tried this with my Facebook Author page, my Facebook Business page, and my Twitter account.
You can schedule up to 10 posts per account on the free version which is good as a start to get a feel for it.
After I had got used to the free version and found it useful I decided to take the plunge and get the paid version (The Awesome Plan…seriously, that’s its name) were you can link ten social media accounts. This is definitely beneficial if you have several social media accounts.
It can link to the following accounts
- Facebook page
- Facebook profile
- Facebook group
- LinkedIn profile
- LinkedIn page
- Google+ profile
- Google+ page
Now at the time of writing this, Instagram is not yet set up for direct scheduling but it’s currently being worked on. At the moment, you set up the content and it sends you a reminder to launch it to Instagram.
Set up is easy enough, select the Add a Social Account, select the type you want then authorise Buffer to connect to that account. As you add them, they will list on the left-hand side.
In the main screen, you have Content, Analytics, and Settings.
The first thing you want to do is set up your posting schedule. Now unlike some of the more expensive schedulers, Buffer doesn’t really give you the same flexibility with scheduling takes/times.
What Buffer gives you is an option to choose the days. So it can be Everyday, as shown below, weekdays, weekends or individual days.
Next, you choose the time. Buffer actually fills in several times as default but you can delete these and add your own. Select a time, click Add Posting Time and Buffer will add that time to the days you have selected.
Once you have them all listed, you can then go through and delete individual times from specific dates. So say your best time to post is 2pm weekdays and 5pm weekends. You could delete the 2pms from the weekends and the 5pms from the weekdays.
You can also have as many times per day as you want and each social media account has its own scheduling calendar.
Next, you can start adding in your content. Under Content, select Queue. It will give you a box to place your content. All your accounts will be listed at the top of this box. You can highlight more than one to have your content appear on multiple accounts.
Or you can just make sure one is highlighted, as per the below example. There is a button for adding images and permits only 4 images per post.
Any URLs that you include are automatically shorted to the buff.ly links. Buffer also pulls the images from the URL and if there is more than one, usually lets you select the image you want (this does not seem to work well for Facebook posts, at least for me).
Then simply click “Add to Queue” and the content gets dropped into your queue for the next available date/time you arranged in your posting schedule.
With the paid version, you can select the arrow beside this button which gives the options of Share Next, Share Now or Schedule. The first two are self-explanatory, the Schedule option allows you to pick a different time/date rather than using your own posting scheduler.
There is also a Contents Inbox option where you can add multiple feeds. This allows you to save time discovering content to share by connecting your favourite blogs/twitter accounts to Buffer.
Since sharing is caring and we should all be sharing each others content (hint hint, 😉 ) then this feature makes it easier to share content from those locations you love to follow.
As with everything, there’s an Analytics page so you can see how well or how badly your posts are doing.
To be honest, I usually only glance at this every now and then, but if you really like keeping an eye on what works and what doesn’t, this page allows you to see the past 30 days (more so on the business plan).
It shows the least popular posts, most popular posts as well as a deeper breakdown per post such as (for example) retweets, likes, mentions, clicks and potential.
As well as the posting schedule, under settings, you can pause your queue and empty your queue as need be. I don’t personally mess around with the settings much.
Some of the points per plan. For more details check out this FAQ page
3 accounts, 10 posts per account per queue, good to test out the system or if you only have a few accounts anyway. No analytics and no option to include Pinterest as one of your 3.
10 accounts, 100 posts per account per queue, able to include all social media accounts that Buffer accepts. Content Inbox. Rebuffer published posts etc.
10 accounts, 2,000 posts per account per queue, able to include all social media accounts that Buffer accepts. Full analytics. Add team members and include approval processes. There are several business plan options – Small, Medium, Large and Enterprise.
I recommend trying it with the Free but definitely consider using Awesome plan if you have more than three social media accounts. I haven’t tried the Business plan so can’t say one way or the other about that.
The Awesome plan is currently at $10 a month, though if you pay for the whole year upfront you get a 15% discount dropping it to around $8.50 a month.
Business plans start at $99 a month for the Small Business plan.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of social media, and while it has its benefits (made some awesome friends!) it can be one giant time suck. Having a scheduler to help plan your posts, organise launches, work around special upcoming events/dates – can really take the pressure off.
I highly recommend using a scheduler. I like Buffer because it’s cheap, simple to use and works for my needs.
There are others such as Later, Hootsuite, PostPlanner, TailWind, Social Pilot – just to name a few.
My advice is to check around, try some free versions, see what works for you.
Do you already use a scheduler?