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Manage multiple social media platforms with third-party posting apps

For those running a small business, the pressure to maintain a presence on several social media platforms is real and growing. Keeping these platforms updated can generate leads, but try to keep up with too many and you’ll likely get overwhelmed.

Thankfully, there are programs to help automate posts and organize your efforts. Laura Murphy, marketing manager for Artesian Spas in Las Vegas, uses Hootsuite to manage the company’s social media accounts, which includes everything but Yelp and Houzz. “Hootsuite has been a huge time saver for us,” she says, “and it helps us stay organized. We set up streams for all our scheduled posts and even custom streams that show us when people tag us and when they hashtag our brands and certain keywords.”

Kristy Verity, director of sales and marketing for Ocean Spray Hot Tubs and Saunas in New York, posts to the company’s social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn — three to five times per week and says a scheduling program helps maintain those accounts in one place. “You can schedule your posts in advance, see your content across multiple platforms in one glance, and respond to engagement all on the same screen,” she says. “Your time and content are still a required investment, but once you designate a time for scheduling, the program will grow and maintain your social media presence, even when you’re not online.”

Signing Up
It’s easy for business owners to believe they need to be on all the social media platforms, but that’s not always the case, says Monina Wagner, community manager for Content Marketing Institute. Wagner suggests you ask a few questions to help pick the right ones for your company:

  • What resources can you put toward social media?
  • What platforms are your customers actively on?
  • What are your goals and objectives?

“It would be smart to concentrate efforts on [the platforms your customers use],” Wagner says. “It’s different for each business, so don’t compare yours to others. Automation is great — it can save you time and money. There are many tools that can streamline social media management like Hootsuite, Buffer, MeetEdgar and Sprout Social. These apps boast different features, but what they do have in common is their ability to increase productivity.”

Once you decide on a third-party posting program and sync your social media platforms, you’ll need to figure out what to post. “I coordinate the content of the posts so that our campaign or relative information is consistent across every platform,” Verity says. “I believe in the power of threes, and I use it to post the same content across three platforms. Slight variations in wording, but posting an image with related content is key to building consumer confidence and maintaining their attention.”

A monthly content calendar will keep you on track, says Harley Lever, president of We Sprout Solutions in Seattle, which manages social media for Olympic Hot Tub. He advises to stick with interesting and compelling posts. “If you’re out delivering a hot tub and you think that your followers are going to like the yard design or how you installed the hot tub, be willing to share that,” he says, adding that you should be pulling from local events and news that will engage your followers rather than saturating a feed with only hot tub information.

Also, determine how often you want to post. Chet Thornberry, co-founder of Collective Inbound, a marketing service in Cape Canaveral, Florida, recommends posting 15 times a month for businesses with a smaller demographic, and every day for businesses in larger cities, making sure not to overwhelm your followers.

“Use moderation in your selling,” Thornberry says. “You want to bring your customers on a journey and introduce them to you so you can establish that trust.”

Stay Connected
Automating social media can have downsides, however. “I often see business owners scheduling these post updates, but then they forget to engage with the audience they worked so hard to grow,” Wagner says. “So when using these [third-party posting] apps to schedule content, remember that free time can be used for engaging with your customers.”

Verity says organic reach for third-party scheduling apps can be lower than posting to the social media platform directly; Facebook, for example, recently changed its algorithm so that third-party posts don’t see the same post reach as organic ones. “I use the scheduling app as a support tool but it’s not my primary way of posting to social media,” she says. “I log into each account and post in real time as well.” A great opportunity to do so is in the middle of a hot tub installation, as Lever suggests.

“Don’t get in too far over your head,” Thornberry advises when it comes to third-party posting. “It’s like setting any goals — you want to feel like you’re accomplishing something and don’t give up halfway through. [Third-party posting sites] are something that will help you digest this whole social-media world.” N


Social Media Services

Hootsuite.com
Synced Platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest
Post Scheduling: yes
Content Calendar: yes
Monitoring Trends: yes
Mobile App: yes
Cost: $29/month for 10 social media accounts and one user, $129/month for 20 accounts and three users, $600/month for 35 accounts and 5+ users

BufferApp.com
Synced Platforms: Twitter, Facebook Pages and Groups, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest (for Pro and Business Plans only), Instagram
Post Scheduling: yes
Content Calendar: no
Monitoring Trends: yes
Mobile App: yes
Cost: free for three social media accounts and up to 10 scheduled posts, $15/month for eight accounts and 100 scheduled posts, $99/month for 25 accounts and 2000 schedule posts (additional upgrade options available)

SproutSocial.com
Synced Platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+
Post Scheduling: yes
Content Calendar: yes
Monitoring Trends: not included with first package
Mobile App: yes
Cost: $99/month per user for five social media accounts, $149/month per user for 10 accounts, $249/month per use for 10 accounts and additional monitoring and keyword features

MeetEdgar.com
Synced Platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (Instagram and Pinterest are said to be “coming soon”)
Post Scheduling: yes
Content Calendar: yes
Monitoring Trends: no, but has a smart composer that auto generates content and a free image library
Mobile App: no, but an extension that can be added to the browser on a mobile device
Cost: $49/month for 25 social media accounts