Using social media for ecommerce takes time. Running campaigns across several different networks is a challenge. And just when you seem to have it mastered, along comes a new network or a change in functionality to make you rethink your entire strategy.
This is where smart social scheduling comes into play. The concept is not new. Post Planner was created to schedule Facebook posts. Then came TweetDeck and HootSuite, which streamline the process across many networks in one social media dashboard.
In fact, there are many social scheduling apps. Which one should you choose for your ecommerce business? In this article, I’ll review the main players, covering the four key networks of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. I’ll then offer suggestions for scheduling posts to Pinterest and Instagram.
Buffer began as an app focused on sending or “buffering” your tweets at the optimum time. It has expanded to include Facebook, Google+ company pages, and LinkedIn. Buffer also has a suite of apps that integrate with other services, including browsers, feed readers, and IFTTT.
The free version will cover one user with one account on each network and limited scheduling. The $10 per month “Awesome Plan” upgrades to three users, with 12 social profiles, custom scheduling, and unlimited space to buffer your updates. Business plans start at $50 per month that include 25 social media accounts and 5 users.
Sprout Social covers Twitter, Facebook, Google+ pages, and LinkedIn. Its plans start at $39 per month, which includes unlimited reporting, keyword monitoring and client management tools. The “Deluxe Plan” at $59 per month includes Google Analytics integration.
HootSuite is the original cross network scheduling tool. It integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ company pages, and LinkedIn. It also integrates with Pinterest via the Viraltag app, but that app isn’t ideal (as noted in this review) and it costs an additional $4.99 per month.
The free plan allows for 5 profiles. The “Pro” plans starts at $8.99 per month and includes up to 100 profiles, among other benefits.
Dlvr.it covers the four main networks of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. The feature that makes it stand out is its RSS feeds integration, which helps you to format and deliver RSS updates to your social networks.
Plans start at $9.99 per month, which facilitates 1 user with 15 social profiles and up to 50 RSS feeds.
Sendible is a cross-network app that is billed as a complete online marketing platform rather than as a social media tool. It’s focused on large companies and agencies with some plans costing upwards to $499.99 per month that include many branded features.
A “Solo” plan is $9.99 per month for 1 user with 8 social profiles and limited reporting. All plans also include brand monitoring.
If you use Pinterest, you know how irritating it can be when one of the people you follow goes on a pinning spree. Suddenly you need to scroll to see anything but, say, the 101 pairs of shoes she has her eye on. A friend you can forgive. But imagine that’s a business. That’s just one of the reasons why scheduling your Pinterest activity is becoming ever more important. It is no longer enough to set aside a couple of hours to pin. You need to be consistent and hit users at peak times for maximum visibility. Enter Pinterest scheduling tools.
The main tools haven’t tackled Pinterest scheduling well, or at all. You will likely need a separate app. If you own a small business that doesn’t mind reciprocal promotion, consider Pinwoot. It’s free and works on a credit-based system. It’s well worth a look. The alternative is to pay a small monthly fee of $4.99 for ViralTag (mentioned above). The standalone app has much more functionality than the HootSuite’s version. It’s an essential tool for brands looking to build a Pinterest presence.
Scheduling tools for Instagram are still relatively primitive. ScheduGram and Postso are the two main services and with prices starting at $13 for ScheduGram and $14.95 for Postso, it can be a relatively costly addition to your toolbox. However, Postso also includes limited scheduling for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Postso offers a hidden free option. To find it, sign up for a free trial and then select the upgrade option to see a page that includes a free option with a monthly limit of just 5 posts per social network.
Which Apps to Use?
I suggest Buffer for the four main networks and Viraltag and ScheduGram for Pinterest and Instagram. The total monthly cost would come to $27.99 per month, or $335.88 per year, which is low compared to the gain in functionality and time saved.