Most businesses now have an online social media presence. They’re a great way to interact with your existing and potential clients, as well as gaining support and starting new friendships. But they can also be a massive drain on your time – and this can leave you struggling to keep up with the different platforms and wondering how an earth you can find the time to even interact with your clients.

This is why there are now so many different social media scheduling tools out there. They’re designed to save you time and effort, as they enable you to organise and plan your social media posts in advance. Many of the paid options also allow you to reuse your old content – meaning maximum exposure with minimum effort.

But should you use one for your business – and are there any disadvantages to using a scheduling tool?

What you need to remember, prior to using a scheduling tool

A tool is only as good as the person wielding it – and the same goes for scheduling tools! You need to take the time to understand a) how it works and b) update the content on it.

Some scheduling tools will integrate with your WordPress site. They automatically update whenever you publish a new blog. Others however, need you to upload the blog link to them manually.

Using a scheduling tool means you need to be able to plan ahead. This can be a simple case of working out a schedule that suits you – such as blogs on Tuesday, quotes on Thursday and interesting links on Friday – but you need to know the type of content you want to share.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that sometimes, you will still need to post manually – and you will definitely need to put aside time to interact with your audience. There’ll be questions and comments you’ll want to respond to, on both your pages, profiles and groups – so allocate a daily slot to be present on your social media accounts.

The benefits and disadvantage of using scheduling tools

As mentioned above, scheduling tools are a great way to save time and effort – you load in your selection and the scheduling tool will post, as and when you tell it to. This gives you the chance to really maximise each piece of content you produce, as well as reaching your audience at different points throughout the day – all with minimum effort on your part. Most scheduling tools will also have an analytics section. You can use this to see what is and isn’t working for you, along with what’s popular, where your best audiences are and when’s the best time to post.

The main disadvantages? Well, some tools are designed for use with specific platforms only. You need to ensure the tool you use, is right for the platforms you’re using. Another disadvantage is the best scheduling tools tend to have a monthly or annual fee – meaning another (albeit, necessary!) business expense.

It’s also important to check the limits on the different tools. Some will have limits on how many items you can have in your content library, whilst others will limit the amount of scheduling you can do or the number of platforms you can connect into.

Scheduling tools – suggestions to get you started

If you’re ready to see what scheduling tools are available for you, here’s a list of the more popular ones. At their core, they all enable you to schedule content for future dates, but the additional main benefits of each, are summarised below:

Hootsuite – allows you to interact with your different platforms, all from within the Hootsuite dashboard.

Meet Edgar – allows you to organise your content by category, as well as recycling old content (so you have an endless queue of content).

Smarter Queue – allows you to organise your content by category, as well as recycling old content (so you have an endless queue of content).

Buffer – can create unlimited schedules for different profiles, plus it has an easy drag and drop facility to reorganise posts.

Post Planner – allows you to recycle old posts and easily share website pages of interest.

Do you use a social media scheduling tool in your business? What would you say was the most important feature you look for, in a social media scheduling tool? Why not share your recommendations and opinions, in the comments box below!

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