Top Social Media Management Tools – An In Depth Guide

An In-Depth Guide to My Favorite Social Media Management Tools

This Week: Buffer, Pocket, and Feedly

I’ll be reviewing a few of my favorite social media management tools in depth for this next blog post series.  There’s a huge array of them out there, and sifting through them all to find the best one for your situation can be truly difficult.  I’ve tried many, and only a few have been good enough that I stick with them for the long haul.  The ones that have been useful enough to trim down hours off of my work day and make managing social media for myself and for clients easier are the ones I’ll be featuring here.

The first tool that I will recommend will be a combination of tool and content curation source.  I highly recommend Buffer as a scheduling tool for the small business or social media manager with a small number of clients, and even more, I recommend it in combination with either more tips here Pocket or Feedly. 

For pure scheduling ease, Buffer really makes it easy.  You set the general schedule, and start plopping your content into the queue and viola, you always have a ‘buffer’ of content ready to go.  The free option is extremely limited, and from the experience of friends and colleagues who have tried it, it can feel fairly worthless.  You’re limited to only 10 posts in your buffer per account, and you can only hook up 2 accounts.  If you’re trying to build a new habit around content curation, this makes it pretty hard to build up an extensive buffer that will keep you covered for more than a day or two.   Buffer is well worth the $10 a month to get the next level of options, which is up to 10 accounts, and 250 statuses queued.

the Best Social Media Management tools

the Best Social Media Management tools

While Buffer offers a selection of curated content that their editors have picked out (and it’s great to start if you want an easy source of good content), if you’re not in social media or marketing, it is typically quite limited in content relevant to your niche.  Towards that end, you can and should set up a Pocket account, as well as a Feedly account.

Pocket works extremely well as a way to collect interesting content from the blogs you subscribe to, or just see around the internet.  The way it works is it saves an easy to read copy of the content you save to pocket into the app, letting you read articles on your phone wherever you are (even without internet access), and acts as a platform for moving articles to buffer.  Whenever I see a headline that interests me, I save the article to Pocket, and review all my pocket articles every day or two.   If you’re managing on behalf of a client, a shared Pocket account can be an excellent way to review curated content before scheduling it – or allow them to contribute content they like and set up the habit of saving things to share again.  When they save to Pocket, you can also review what they are thinking is worth sharing, and ensure that what they want to share is in line with what you’ve agreed is the brand’s image. What is personally interesting is not always relevant to what the brand or business should share for fans.

Pocket syncs up easily with Buffer, and you can buffer articles via the mobile app straight from Pocket, creating a very easy process (even easier with the tool I’ll discuss next week, which is If This Then That) for curating content.  However, if you’re using other tools, such as Sprout Social, or you want to set up an easier RSS feed, Feedly is the tool that lets you do that.  RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, or as I’ve also seen it referred to, as a Really Simple Site.  Basically, it turns blog posts or updates into a simple article format you can read in one place, which you can then sort by topic.   Feedly syncs up with your other tools, allowing you to share straight to your queue from within Feedly.

Other similar options include Flipboard, which comes with most Android operating systems, and can be downloaded to your iOS device as well.  The downside to Flipboard is that it adds a step – you save the articles that seem interesting to Pocket, then schedule them to Buffer.  If you’re reading them within Flipboard, you could just schedule them straight to Buffer, but again, Flipboard will not sync with the higher level tools you might use.

The simple timeline for setting up your content curation loop is this:
RSS Reader > Buffer > Posted
RSS Reader > Pocket > Buffer > Posted

You will always want to put things into Buffer, as the schedule you set up can and should be based on your research into what works and when.  You can view your Facebook page’s insights to see when the most of your fans are online, and you should time your posts accordingly.  Through the use of other tools (which will be discussed in later posts), you can also find your best time to tweet, which in most tools, will sync automatically to Buffer.  Buffer tracks link clicks as well, which is why you want to ensure all posts are shared through Buffer.  When Buffer shortens the link, it tracks clicks on that link, letting you know how interesting your fans genuinely found content (and letting you know if your timing is working).

Keep in mind that you want to schedule each status for each platform, and you do NOT want to set up an automatic cascade of posts to other channels.  Buffer will shorten links but otherwise ensure a status is shared in the way that looks best on each channel; having a tweet autopost to Facebook, or vice versa, does not work as well and does not get the same engagement rates as a “native” post in the app.

Use Buffer in combination with Pocket (and/or Feedly) to get into the habit of always curating content.  Your next step is to begin utilizing automation to gather relevant content into Pocket or Buffer and make it even easier to find new and interesting content…and that’s with If This Then That, or IFTTT for short.  Next week I’ll review the tool and some easy to use “recipes” to get you started.

I will be developing these blog posts further to turn them into chapters for the book I’ll be working on.  If you have suggestions, questions, or advice, please feel free to comment below!

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