The Best Social Media Tools for Online Business Owners
Tailwind for Pinterest
Do you wonder how online business owners are able to post dozens of useful, engaging content on Pinterest on a regular basis? No, they don't spend hours upon hours browsing specific keywords and repinning everything that comes across their feed. They use Tailwind.
Tailwind has completely changed how I use Pinterest.
You can easily choose how often you'd like to post to Pinterest and Tailwind will create a schedule based on the most popular times people are online. Bonus: This changes every day of the week and Tailwind adjusts the schedule accordingly.
For instance, I prefer to post 15-25 times per day. So for my audience, Tailwind schedules NO morning pins for several days of the week - like Mondays, when people are most likely to be catching up on work - and splits up the morning, afternoon and evening pins on other days of the week. They're constantly updating their algorithms, so it is always automatically varying when your content is posting daily and weekly based on what works best for your audience.
Another cool thing about Tailwind is its ability to easily share content. You can download the Tailwind extension for Chrome and if you're on a blog that you'd like to pin, rather than copying the URL, uploading a photo, or logging into Pinterest, you just click the Tailwind button on your toolbar, choose the board you want it to appear on and boom, scheduled.
Another favorite of mine is the ability to visit boards or profiles on Pinterest, clicking the Tailwind's extension button and a window will pop up to allow you to click and choose multiple pins on a board or profile to schedule at once. While I don't recommend pinning/scheduling more than 3-4 pins from a person's profile or board at a time, it's a great resource if you see several pins at once you'd like to add to your queue.
You can also discover new content through Tailwind as well. They're always showing recommendations that similar to content you've already posted if you use the Chrome extension; however, you can visit the drafts folder and if you have no content in your drafts folder, you'll find tons of suggestions that are similar to things you've already pinned.
What if you've already pinned something? Tailwind takes care of that, too. There will be a little notification if you attempt to pin something that has already appeared on your board. You can choose to pick another board or keep moving with scheduling the pin to the board again.
They have several plans based on the size of your business, how often you'd like to pin and what analytics you'd like access to. Personally, I use the Plus account for myself and clients. It offers up to 400 pins to be scheduled per month, seven days of analytics that far exceed Pinterest's native analytics, plus the ability to submit your content and website to be featured (and more than likely, it will be approved).
Also, their customer service is by far the best of any online service I've used for my business. They're quick to reply to messages and emails and if there are ever any issues or questions, they're typically on it within an hour or two.
They offer a free account, but it is limited to 100 scheduled pins total - with no time limit. After you've scheduled 100 pins, your trial is complete.
Click here to receive a $15 credit toward your first month of Tailwind, plus a free trial for your first 100 pins. Pssst - it's only $15 a month, so you'll receive your first month of a Plus account for free!
Buffer for Twitter
I've tried many, many different schedulers for Twitter. Some free-but-very-limited, some used-to-be-free (cough, cough, Hootsuite) and some that are budget-busters. Even after I had tried Buffer's free version and paid version and jumped around to a few other platforms to "see what's out there," I always came crawling back to the ease of Buffer for scheduling and publishing content for Twitter. In my opinion and after almost a year of use, it is the most easy-to-use, comprehensive scheduling tool for anyone who may not have a full-on love relationship with Twitter OR anyone who feels overwhelmed when trying to find dozens of pieces of content every week for their online business.
Like Tailwind's scheduling tool, Buffer offers a similar solution: Tell them how many times per day you'd like to post and they'll choose the best times based on your audience. Buffer's works a little differently than Tailwind's and it's for the better: You can choose how many times per day of the week you'd like to post. This works wonderfully, especially for those who prefer to keep their content light on weekends or certain days of the week.
I'm a visual person, so Buffer's calendar view is heavenly for me. If every social media scheduler could do this, I would be SO happy. I can easily see how many posts, what content is scheduled and a quick hover to see the full post in one place. You can also view your scheduled content weekly or with the list view, showing your upcoming Tweets in chronological order. I'm the biggest fan of the calendar view.
I can also click on older posts and "Re-Buffer," meaning schedule it again for a future time and date. This is an especially great feature paired with Buffer's featuring of your Top Tweets, signified by a lovely little star. This is presented when your Tweets perform above average in terms of likes, retweets or replies and make it easy for you to repurpose your most popular (and engaging!) content. Yay for social media hacks!
Buffer's Content Inbox makes it suuuuuper easy for me to find content to fill in the blanks on Twitter, especially since compared to other platforms where you may post only 1-5x a day like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter's daily quota may be much higher! For the Content Inbox, you submit the sites and blogs that you prefer to source your content from and it produces a handy little RSS feed of everyone's most recent content. Click on the content and ta-da! You have a ready-to-go Tweet that just needs to be scheduled.
Much like Tailwind, Buffer also offers an simple Chrome Extension where you can click a simple button on your toolbar and instantly schedule content and add it to your queue to be published.
Buffer offers scheduling for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest; however, I've found that for me, it works best for scheduling Twitter for my clients. I recommend not using it for Facebook due to Facebook "punishing" outside publishers. You've probably seen studies that either confirm or deny the hit posts can take in reach and engagements when a non-Facebook publisher is used. Me? I can definitely confirm that. Case study is coming soon!
Buffer's free version has a limit of 10 scheduled Tweets at one time and only allows one account per platform - a bit of a bummer if you have more than one client other than yourself. However! Buffer's Awesome Plan is a much better deal than Hootsuite's new lowest plan (yep, Hootsuite now has MAJOR limits on its "free" accounts) at $10/month.
The Awesome Plan allows up to 10 social accounts on any mix of their offered platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest with a max of 100 posts in your queue at any one time per social account. The Awesome Plan allows access to the RSS feed (Content Inbox) and calendar view, which isn't available on the free plan - and those by themselves are worth it!
Buffer used to be a better deal with a higher max of posts, but as the competition and demand rise in social media management solutions... so do the prices, as we've seen across the board in the last few months.
Buffer is still the best bang for your buck for easy social media scheduling - and I'm even saying that without there even being an affiliate or referral program! That's just how awesome Buffer is.
Sure, you have all of your tools to schedule content... but how are you going to create the content? With such visual social media platforms, it's hard to get noticed without branded, eye-catching graphics! Here's where Canva comes in.
Whether you have never even heard of Photoshop or InDesign or you have a degree in design but no budget for professional tools, Canva has you covered.
You can created branded, custom graphics - complete with your logo - for free with Canva. They make it easy to customize graphics to your heart's desire... or you can work with the dozens (or more) of templates designed to make it quick and easy to create graphics for all social platforms. Yes, even Pinterest templates at the ideal size!
I typically create several Canva templates for my graphic design and social media clients - it helps them save money on a on-demand graphic designer and gives them the skills to design! I highly recommend creating a few templates of your own to match your brand identity, whether you create them from scratch or start with a pre-made template.
How do you save something as a template in the free plan? When you're working on a graphic, before you make any changes to your template, click File > Make a copy. A new window will open and the new graphic will be called "Copy of [Whatever you originally named it]." You can then work away and save it as a new image and your template will remain the same!
Canva's free plan is incredibly comprehensive; however they offer FREE Canva for Work plans to registered non-profits. How cool is that? If you plan on using Canva on a regular basis, it's also worth the $10-13 per month to access the ability to save your brand colors and fonts, resize a design for use on all social platforms, an advanced way to save templates, upload your own fonts, transparent backgrounds (great for .png files!), more folders and an advanced search.
Facebook Publishing Tools
No, it's not pretty, flashy or premium, but Facebook's native scheduler with analytics is powerful. If you're relying on Facebook to share major information about your online business or blog, stick with Facebook over a scheduler. Why? Well, if you manage a Facebook Page (not a personal profile) you're probably aware of all of the changes in algorithms and the "pay to play" changes that have occurred over the years.
While some haven't seen it happen to them, time after time, I've seen my clients' posts get minimal reach and engagement when using an outside scheduler, which means that essentially, Facebook is rewarding those who stay on their platform. Hey, I don't blame 'em.
It was a huge leap in technology when Facebook announced the ability to schedule posts in 2013. It has come leaps and bounds since then, especially with the ability to upload videos to your video library, create drafts of posts, set expirations for posts and share your content ahead of time with other Pages (great for collaboration and marketing campaigns!).
Facebook's native Insights continue to be the most powerful, easy-to-use and translate analytics for the platform. Sure, it's lacking aspects of audiences and how they interact with posts, but for the small business owner, it's great information that's easy to track and see progress.