Using social media for your business is a necessity, but doing it effectively takes up a great deal of time and effort – not easy if you’re a “one-man-band” or owner of a small business. Could advance scheduling of social media posts be the answer?
As any experienced digital marketer or social media manager will tell you, there are pros and cons to pre-scheduling posts. Let’s weigh them up:
- It saves time and improves productivity if you don’t have to spend ages browsing around looking for likely topics, probably becoming distracted as you do so. You can instead set aside regular time slots for monitoring, creating and preparing your social media posts, schedule them in advance (using your choice of social media management tool), then focus on running your business.
- By advance scheduling you can make sure your posts fit your pre-determined social media strategy and consistent brand identity; they can be carefully crafted and considered, rather than constructed in a hurry while you’re on the run.
- If you run your scheduling according to the optimum times for reaching your target audience (which you’ve identified from studying your social media insights and analytics) you won’t have to panic if you’re too busy to log in at that time. Your pre-scheduled posts will be put out there to capitalise on peak periods.
- If you have an international social media audience, scheduling will ensure that you can catch attention across different time zones.
- Social media is just that … social! If your social media account robotically spews out automated posts without engaging in any interaction there is the risk of your followers becoming “turned off” when they realise there is no human face behind your social media presence.
- Social media is extremely reactive; as soon as something newsworthy happens – locally or globally – there is a flurry of comment and reaction from hundreds of thousands of people. If you don’t have your finger on the button to join in – expressing shock, empathy or sympathy with a national tragedy for example – your business will look out of touch at best, and downright insensitive at worst. It could be a complete PR disaster if one of your pre-scheduled posts appears in the wake of a big event and proves to be totally inappropriate or offensive in the light of what’s happened. To illustrate this point, PC Mag has an interesting list of corporate social media “fails” and faux pas!
- The different algorithms and audiences found across different social media platforms means that if you schedule the same – or very similar – post to appear on different platforms you are likely to lose out on reach. Different platforms appeal to very different sorts of people and age groups, and posts need to be crafted to suit. The algorithms – particularly on Facebook – will also limit your reach if your post is detected as being scheduled by a third-party app.
- By using the “schedule and forget” method for your business social media, you’re missing out on the real point of social media marketing, which is to engage with people, build a relationship and thereby obtain conversions.
SO, SHOULD YOU PRE-SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA?
The short answer is: “Yes”! But not exclusively.
For best results, and to maintain a positive presence on the platforms, use scheduling in combination with real-time posting. This way you can achieve consistency but still let your audience know you are there to supply relevant up-to-date content, share interesting content and indulge in valuable engagement. A couple of sessions of around 10 minutes a day should be sufficient for real-time activity.
We’d recommend not scheduling too far ahead – a week at most – because things change rapidly in the fast-paced world of digital media. Don’t set up your schedule then forget it, because you should be ready to react to any major events and be able to pause or adapt your schedule if it becomes necessary.