First of all, let me say that in general, when it comes to social media marketing, I am not a fan of automating social media. However, if you must automate some tweets or Facebook posts here and there, Buffer and Timely are two great tools you can use to make your job a bit easier.
But before I start, here is my $.02 words of advice: When I say “easier”, I do not mean it makes social media marketing “easy”. If you want to use a tool to automate tweets etc, make sure you are around to answer feedback, questions, RTs etc. These tools should not be used to replace the human efforts behind your social media marketing campaign. Social media is about relationships, not automatically spewing content for the world to see (or not see).
How To Use These Types Of Tools:
If you have not heard of these tools, basically they are a service that lets you easily queue up posts to go out at predetermined times during the day… automatically. It could be a standard status update, or you can install an easy to use browser plugin that lets you queue up a post with one click. That’s pretty easy cheesy, no?
I like to use platforms like Buffer and Timely to share great content I find online. I read a lot of great posts every day here at SEO.com, and the last thing I want to do is slam Twitter or Facebook with 10-30 posts in one hour as I am reading them, so I will use these tools to share that content throughout the entire day, or week. Note: I only share content if I think it is of value to the people kind enough to follow me personally, as well as the audience of SEO.com.
ProTip: Make sure your alerts are set up so you can join in on the conversation as they happen. There is nothing worse than scheduling posts and getting feedback, replies, RT’s etc, and not acknowledging the person who mentioned you. As one of my favorite people on Twitter, Mr.”@UnMarketing”, Scott Stratten says:
Automating tweets is like sending a mannequin to a networking event. Stick a post-it note on it, and roll it in to multiple events around the world! Think of all the Chamber of Commerce mixers you could cover! Different time zones! Let the relationships winfall begin!!! Boooyaa!!!”
On To The Tools:
Buffer & Timely - Features In Common:
- Both offer the ability to post to both Twitter and Facebook
- Both have free versions of the platform
- Both have performance/analytics of your posts, tracking clicks, reach, and re-tweets
- Both have browser plugins
Distinctive to Buffer: http://bufferapp.com
- Free Version: You can only have 10 posts in the queue up at any given time
- Free Version: 1 Twitter account, 1 Facebook account and 1 LinkedIn account
- Mobile App: Cool for iPhone etc
- $10 Mo – The Awesome Plan: Unlimited posts in your buffer, 12 social profile accounts and 2 team members
- Bit.ly Integration: This is cool if you already use bit.ly
- Scheduling is Free – Kind of: Advanced scheduling is a paid feature
- Apps and Extensions: A lot of great extensions and Apps including ifttt, chrome, SocialBro, Twitter and WordPress
Distinctive to Timely: http://timely.is
- 100% FREE: There are no costs for this service
- 100 Posts in your queue at any given time
- Does not use bit.ly, uses awe.sm shortening from Timely
- Tweet analyses for best times to tweet (based on last 199 Tweets) but no set schedule
- Reporting: Only the last 50 posts
- Twitter and Facebook Only: No LinkedIn
What Is My Favorite Tool?:
Overall I like Buffer the best… the UI is more slick, less clunky, and sometimes Timely freezes up on me. I have yet to upgrade to a paid account in Buffer, so I find myself using two browsers, one for a personal account, and one for SEO.com. The ability to only add 10 posts at a time can sometimes be a drag, so if you manage multiple accounts, the added value you get for $10 a month is well worth it for Buffer. You probably have $10 in your couch cushions or under your chair in your car... so, now you have the money to get Buffer! #Winning
Another thing I like about Buffer is drag-and-drop rescheduling… whereas Timely just has a feature “Move to Top”. I also prefer the bit.ly integration over awe.sm.
With that being said, I have been using Timely quite a bit as well. I do like having multiple accounts under one login and being able to select what account I want to post from in one browser. And the scheduling may be a bit better as well, since it auto calculates the best times to tweet. Plus, you cannot beat the price of FREE!
BUT, if you happen to use SocialBro, you can link SocialBro to Buffer and run "the best time to tweet" report, and import that into Buffer. BOOM! DONE!
Final Conclusion: You should test both platforms and see what one you like best, based on your needs. Both have many pros and very few cons. So with that being said, the FREE service winner for me is Timely. If you have the $10 a month, I say rock with Buffer!
Five Key Takeaways From This Post:
- Remember to build on the relationships your content helps you create, whether the content is yours, or someone else’s
- Share relevant content to your audience that they will appreciate, find interesting, re-share and interact with
- Whenever possible, If sharing someone else's post, customize it a bit. Use the characters you have available to put your spin on it! And do not forget to give credit to the original author or site.
- Automation is not Social Media (Sorry peeps looking for the easy button). Using one of these tools should not be your social media marketing plan. Use these services as a compliment to your overall social media strategy
- Do not send a mannequin in to do your day job! (Hence the creepy mannequin in the header) If you use these and other tools to help you complement your social media, make sure you have a human ready to respond as needed
Have you tried either of these services? What one do you prefer, and why? Do you have others that you would recommend? If so, share ‘em in the comments below.
Until next time…