The point of social media is that people participate and connect on these platforms to engage in conversation with each other. To do that, you have to be around – as in physically present – so yes, you could argue that social media is supposed to be a live thing. It might seem that there’s no need to schedule posts and you should just post whatever comes to mind when you feel like posting, and if this works for you, then great, carry on. However, if you have a larger brand presence online or have a strategic purpose with multiple strands and outcomes that you need from your social media, then you will need to look at planning ahead.
The main advantage of scheduling posts is that it frees up time for you to get on with the rest of your job. You can sit for a couple of hours and post 3-4 weeks’ worth of posts in one session, meaning you don’t always have to think about what you are going to post on a day-by-day basis.
It also allows you to look at the posts you are putting out more strategically. For example, if you have a sale coming up where everything is going to be 50% off in a certain range, you don’t want to be pushing the full price product the day before. You might have a special for Mother’s Day that you would like to promote, or every Monday you have a new blog post that goes out. By scheduling in advance, you can see how these messages run alongside each other and you can also shuffle things about if necessary.
If you know what you need to say over the coming few weeks, scheduling helps you manage your time better. This then frees you up to only need to check in on social media for ‘live action’, such as answering people’s questions or responding to something that happens last minute in real life that you also need to respond to on social media.
Scheduling posts is the smart thing to do both strategically from the point of view of the messaging you need to push out, as well as from a time-management perspective. There are lots of scheduling tools out there to help you and we recently compiled a list of neat features of Hootsuite and Buffer on our blog. If you aren’t prepared to commit to a licence fee to use these tools though, there are alternative ways that are free to use, so we outline these below.
It is possible to schedule posts without using paid for platforms like Sprout Social, Falcon, Later, Hootsuite and Buffer. Using native scheduling tools available on some social media platforms is a way of getting the same job done at no cost to you.
Scheduling natively is also a way of accessing features that only exist on those platforms, so it might be that you mix this into use alongside a paid for third-party scheduler just so that you can access these features.
This is quite straightforward on Facebook and Instagram (if your Instagram page is also connected to your Facebook page) where you use the Creator Studio feature. You can access Creator Studio on desktop from the left-hand column, either from your personal Facebook homepage or from your business page. If you have access to more than one Facebook business page, then be sure that you’re scheduling your post for the right page.
You might also see something called Publishing Tools available to your page. This is a simpler version of Creator Studio that appears to be being phased out in favour of Creator Studio, however from Publishing Tools you can still easily draft and schedule posts too.
Once you’re in Creator Studio, click ‘create post’ and draft up your post. Once you’ve drafted your post, you can schedule it by clicking the grey ‘Share now’ button that features a small clock face and an arrow – don’t press the big blue ‘Share now’ button on the far right as that will share your post straight away. Clicking the grey ‘Share now’ button will give you four options – now, schedule, backdate or save draft. Select ‘Schedule’ and select a date and time in the future to publish your post.
Once you’ve scheduled your post, you’ll be able to access it by clicking ‘Content library’ on the left-hand side of the Creator Studio homepage and selecting the ‘Scheduled’ tab. If you need to reschedule a post for a different date or time for whatever reason, you can do so by finding the scheduled post you want to reassign and clicking the ‘…’ that will appear if you hover your cursor over the post preview. From there, click ‘Reschedule’ and you’ll be able to edit the date and time you want your post to go live. If you simply want to edit the copy, then click the post preview.
One of the key advantages of native scheduling in Facebook and Instagram is that you can tag products in images on posts at the point at which you schedule them, which you can’t do in a third-party scheduling tool.
If you are an e-commerce business then setting up a Facebook Shop or Instagram Shop is a really smart thing to do. It enables your followers to make purchases straight from the platform by clicking on the tags products and offering them a checkout basket right there and then.
Anything that makes it easier to look for a customer to make a purchase from you has got to be a good thing, right?
Twitter allows you to schedule natively via the Twitter website, both on desktop and on mobile. Simply write your post in the same way you would if creating a live tweet and then click the ‘Schedule’ button to select a date and time. You can also click the ‘Schedule’ button to view your previously scheduled tweets and make any edits if necessary.
There are, however, drawbacks to native scheduling on Twitter, such as:
So, it’s great to be able to schedule natively in Twitter for the time-saving aspects we have already talked about, but it would be even better if you had full access to ‘on-platform’ features like you do on Facebook and Instagram.
We’ve covered off the three main consumer social media channels here, because there is a very, very large list of social media platforms, and we don’t want an article that goes on and on and on!
We hope that you found this article useful. Take a look at the other social media help articles we’ve put together:
We’re sure there will be additions to this list, so maybe bookmark this page if you found it helpful.
If you’d like help with digital marketing, ads management, SEO, copywriting, websites, branding or social media management… or anything else related to the internet and digital, then get in touch with us. We’re a friendly bunch.