Stop spending endless hours scheduling your social media posts! Here's how to create an automated social media plan that WORKS.

You know that having a social media plan for pushing fresh content out to your channels is important.  In fact, it’s just as important (if not more so) than creating content on your website in the first place.

The problem is, with so many different social channels, you could easily spend your entire week working on social media alone. I struggle with this, and so does every other business owner I know.

So how do you craft an effective social media plan without spending every waking hour staring at a screen? With automation tools.

I like to use these three tools in tandem to help me find, create and schedule a steady stream of killer content to my social channels.

 

Google Alerts

An effective social media plan isn’t about shouting your own content from the rooftops; that would just be spammy. You’ve got to also share the content of others to avoid becoming like a broken record.

Google Alerts makes it easy to stay on top of the latest content in your niche from publishers across the web.

First, set up alerts for topics that matter to you.

Go to google.com/alerts and sign in with your Gmail account, or create a new account with whatever email provider you use (what’s up, Hotmail?!).

automate your social media plan

 

Set up your first Google alert by entering any keyword or phrase that’s of interest to you. For example, I might choose ‘content marketing’ or ‘small business.’ You can also enter names of companies, people and products.

By selecting ‘Show Options,’ you can choose how often you’ll receive the alerts (instantly, once a day or once a week) and what type of content you’ll be shown (strictly blog posts, videos, breaking news, etc.).

Click Create Alert. You’ll begin to receive the latest content on your keywords directly to your inbox.

When you see something that catches your eye and makes you want to click on it, chances are it’s a great piece of content your social media audience will like as well.

 

Buffer

Now that you’ve got a steady stream of content being delivered directly to you, it’s time to sift through and share it.

Buffer is a free service that lets you drag and drop social media posts that will be scheduled in the future–by hours, days, weeks or more.

First, go to Buffer.com and register for a free account. Then, download the Buffer browser extension for your internet browser here.

When you click on one of your Google Alerts that you’re interested in, simply use your Buffer extension to drop it into your Buffer queue immediately.

create a social media plan

 

You can set up a regular timetable of posts–say, noon, 5 pm and 10 pm daily. When put a new post in the queue, it’ll drop immediately into the next open slot.

Alternatively, you can set a custom day and time for when you want your post to publish.

Buffer is free for one account per platform (so you could add your own Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles and still pay $0). If you want to schedule Pinterest posts, or add more than one profile per platform, you’ll need to upgrade.

I’m cheap, and I think my monthly Buffer subscription is the best $10 I spend all month. It’s so worth it.

 

Edgar

If you execute only the first two steps above, you’ll be well on your way to a full social calendar with minimal time commitment. If you want to take things one step further and shave hours of planning off your schedule each month, this next tool is for you.

Edgar is a social media scheduling tool that helps you share your best content over and over again, which is key for growing your traffic.

It works by organizing your content into buckets: quotes, blog posts, fun facts, external content, etc. You tell Edgar which type of content to share at what times; for example, send a motivational quote every Monday at 10 am.

automated social plan edgar

 

In this way, your engaging content is recycled over and over again for maximum exposure. As you add new posts each week, your pool of content in each bucket grows, making for even more shareable material.

Edgar is currently available for a monthly fee. Request an invitation to begin using it here.

By combining these strategies, you’ll have an evergreen social media plan that’s constantly growing with fresh new content—with just an hour or two of time commitment each week.

Do you use tools to automate your social media strategy? Which are your favorites?

 

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Tami Brehse

Tami Brehse

Tami is a television news anchor turned digital marketing consultant who helps small businesses achieve their PR and marketing goals.
Tami Brehse
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