If you have been writing and blogging for a while now, you have probably started to accumulate a nice collection of articles on various topics. These articles can and should be shared and re-shared across your social networks. One of the best tools we’ve found for that purpose is Buffer. With Buffer, you can share your content regularly, make sure you don’t share too much, and make sure that every post you do share is posted in the correct, optimum format for each specific social network.
According to TheFreeDictionary.com, a Buffer in Computer Science is a device or area used to store data temporarily. According to Buffer, with the app you can “be awesome on social media. Easily add great articles, pictures and videos to your Buffer and we automagically share them for you through the day!”
What is Buffer, Really?
Buffer simply provides a convenient way for users to schedule their social media content and posts. Links, images and text can be added to your buffer whenever you want. You will connect one or more social networks and then set up posting schedules that can be different for each. As you add new content to your buffer and assign it to one or more of your connected networks, that content will be shared in the next available time slot.
To get started, go to http://bufferapp.com/ and either connect with one of the social network plug-ins or sign up through the Buffer sign in. Once you have an account created, be sure to connect all of your social networks. Buffer currently supports Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and App.net. Your free account will let you send ten updates and connect one Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account. The paid version is just $10/month and well worth the expense, allowing unlimited updates and up to 12 connected accounts.
UPDATE: Buffer now also supports Google+ Pages, which means you can use Buffer to maintain activity for branded profiles on all major networks.
UPDATE: Buffer now also supports Pinterest Boards, which means you can use Buffer to maintain and schedule pin activity.
One of the greatest features now included in Buffer is the ability to not only post to LinkedIn, but also to specific LinkedIn groups with which you are a member. We’ve mentioned before how important it is to join the maximum 50 groups and be active in starting and participating in discussions. While it’s a time-consuming process to connect groups – you must choose and authorize each group individually – it’s well worth the time and effort.
Once you have your account started, you can also allow additional team members who can add to your buffers. Probably the best part of Buffer is that it integrates with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as your favorite browser, making it extremely easy to add content to your buffer from anywhere. You will also be able to view detailed metrics showing you how often content was retweeted, liked and shared.
Check out http://bufferapp.com/extras for iPhone and Android mobile apps, as well as extensions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox, plus WordPress and others.
One of the issues that small business owners face when considering the use of social media for marketing is how to make their online presence regular and consistent. Most business owners do not have the time to be posting and checking Facebook and Twitter every hour thought the day.
This is where your old content comes into play. You can set up your Buffer account and add your old posts to your buffer, ensuring that your networks will have regular updates and activity. I recommend using a Messaging Calendar to sort and schedule your posts for the coming month.
Sharing Too Much
A corollary problem is that some business owners will have a little time and may stumble on a lot of different articles they’d like to share. I’m guilty of this myself. One of my favorite apps is MacHash which shows me the latest news and articles about Apple products from a variety of sources. I will usually check it once a day and will share items I think are interesting. Sometimes I’ll be so interested in what I’m reading that it won’t occur to me until later that I just tweeted 10 or more links. That’s way too many! The current consensus is that small businesses should be sharing no more than 2 – 4 times per hour.
If you use your Buffer than you’ll know that your links are being shared along your predetermined schedule and you’re not spamming your followers. Just make sure that each time you connect a new social network to your Buffer account you adjust the posting schedule to one that meets your needs and your community.
There is a correct way to share posts to Facebook and Twitter. Facebook posts must have a Title, Description, Link and Image. Twitter posts must have a Title and Shortened Link. Twitter posts should include hashtags and a request to ReTweet as well.
The problem with most social media automation tools is that in order to schedule and automate your activity, you give up control over these important posting details.
When you add a link to your Buffer you will see and be able to change what gets posted. As you choose each network the preview will change accordingly. So, for example, when you choose to post to Facebook, you will be able to confirm the image on your blog post is included and correct.
Take Control of your Social Media Activity
Small Business owners need to leverage social media to market themselves and their products, but few have the time to invest in making sure all their social networks are updated and active. With tools like Buffer, you can spend less time managing your online activity and still have an active presence. Of course, an effective social media marketing campaign still requires time and if you want additional help getting started or managing your online presence, please feel free to contact us.
Have you tried Buffer before? How about some of the other social media management tools like HootSuite or perhaps HubSpot? Do you have a favorite?