Is a social publishing tool the right investment for your business?
Social publishing tools seem to be a must for any company that is serious about distributing its content on social networks. There is no denying that automation makes life much easier for social media managers and executives, but what about the downsides? Let’s look at the pros and cons of using a social publishing tool and review some of the most popular ones on the market.
THE ADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL PUBLISHING TOOLS
– Managing all your social media accounts in one place
With the help of a social publishing tool, you can publish content on your various social media channels from a single platform. This makes it much more practical than having to log onto each individual website, and also allows you to see your different feeds, notifications and statistics in a single location.
– Scheduling posts to go out at the best time
This means that you can publish content at the best possible time – when your audience is online and scrolling through their feed – without having to be at your desk or even logged in to your account, and easily reach out to audiences on a different time zone. Many applications even suggest the best time to post based on when your followers are most engaged. It makes your life easier, and your posts more effective.
– Organizing and scheduling content
Publishing tools make it simple to organize and schedule content to make sure that you’re posting regularly and have enough posts scheduled to keep you going for a few days (or weeks). Regularly publishing quality content will help establish your reputation as an expert and generate more trust in your business.
But as great as these benefits are, there can be some downsides to using social publishing tools, especially as marketers tend to rely on them too heavily.
THE DOWNSIDES OF SOCIAL PUBLISHING TOOLS
– It might not be the most cost-effective solution for your business
If you run a small business, you might not actually publish that much content every day, have a presence on twelve different social networks or an international audience to talk to. If that’s the case, you can probably handle posting from each site individually. You can organize your upcoming content just as well by creating a content calendar in a Google spreadsheet, and that will not cost you a dime. Sophisticated publishing tools can cost up to $500 a month for a small team so it’s worth considering whether you actually need one before committing.
– You could be missing out on real time conversation opportunities and trending topics
If you’re happy to have all your content automatically published and aren’t actually following the conversations on social networks, you’re missing out on opportunities to engage with your audience and community in a more genuine way. Providing quality content to your customers is good, responding to what they are saying is better. You might also be missing trending topics that you could take advantage of by sharing relevant content and using a popular hashtag, allowing you to widen your potential audience.
– Your scheduled post might end up not being appropriate
If you’re using a publishing tool, you’ll have to keep up with the news to make sure your scheduled content isn’t going to sound inappropriate. After a dramatic news event, for instance, it may not be appropriate to promote your webinar, or your “inspirational quote” may appear to be in bad taste. You’ll need to be quick to react to delete your automated posts if you don’t want to sound insensitive.
Take, for example, Foursquare’s famous faux pas after the 2013 Boston Marathon: they had queued up a post to be automatically published after the race, asking users how the event was. When the bombing happened, they were not quick enough to pull down the message, and it was pushed out to Foursquare users who had checked in at the marathon. Although companies can always apologize for communications mistakes, in situations like this, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
REVIEWING THE MAIN SOCIAL PUBLISHING TOOLS
If you decide to use a paid publishing tool, here’s what you should know about the most popular social publishing platforms.
Buffer lets you schedule and monitor your content across various platforms (including Instagram and Pinterest) and boasts a very user-friendly interface. With premium plans starting at $10/month for one or $99 for a team of five, it’s a very solid standard publishing platform but doesn’t provide many extra features.
Hootsuite’s layout can be a bit difficult to navigate at times, but it offers a wealth of features, especially in terms of analytics. Paid plans start at $19.99/month for single professionals, $49.99 for a team of three or $99.99 for five.
Edgar is a very useful tool, allowing you to organize your content by category (blog posts, quotes, etc.) and recycling your “old” content when you run out, making sure that your social channels never go silent, and saving you precious time. However, Edgar only works with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and is pricier than some of its competitors, with plans starting at $49.99 a month. A good solution for mid-size or larger businesses with high volumes of evergreen content looking to save a lot of time.
Recently released SmarterQueue lets you categorize and recycle your content, like MeetEdgar, and offers an impressive list of features, including analytics, visual calendar and bitly link shortening. They offer a Solo plan at $19.99, a Business plan at $39.99 and an agency plan at $79.99, but you can also choose the Custom plan (starting at $19.99) and decide how many daily posts, categories and queued posts you need.
Finally, SproutSocial has a very user-friendly interface and allows you to schedule, monitor and analyze your activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. SproutSocial also boasts a great reporting dashboard with colorful charts and graphs to help you track your progress, and is a fantastic platform for teams. The main downside is its price – the Team plan for 3 users is $500 a month – but the Deluxe version at $59 per user offers all of the standard features.