Use Buffer’s Extension For Powerful Visual Shares
How many times have you been told that you must include an image with your shares to social media? A dozen? A hundred?
Yet most tools for sharing content to any of the social networks require that you upload an image from your computer. For your own content, that might be OK since you may already have an image handy, but what about other people's content?
How often have you found a great article that you want to pin and tweet and share, but want to do so as an image share and not a link preview? You might be able to right-mouse click and download the image to your desktop, and then share that image.
But what if there was an easier way?
Buffer recently added support for Pinterest to their social sharing arsenal, including an upgraded Buffer Extension for your browser. The extension inserts a Buffer button into your browser toolbar that allows you to add any website you're on to your Buffer queue.
Now, thanks to the hard work of the Buffer team, that extension also includes the ability to select from the available images on that article or website and attach that image to your social share.
I've been beta testing this for Buffer for a couple weeks now and can't tell you how excited I am to be able to share it with you. It's made scheduling content to Pinterest easier, and brought more visual interest to my tweets.
How To Attach Images To Scheduled Social Media Posts
First things first. Make sure that you have installed Buffer's extension and have a Buffer account configured with connected social profiles and schedules for your social media sharing. If you haven't, you can dig into The Entrepreneur's Guide to Using Buffer for Social Media Management.
Next, find an article that you wish to share. I chose to schedule a share of that guide and pulled it up in a browser tab.
When you click on the Buffer extension, a sharing dialogue box will come up which allows you to pick and choose which social networks you want to schedule the share to, as well as edit the content of the share. Like this:
As you can see, I have a number of both personal and branded social profiles connected. You can select which ones will be selected by default within the Buffer dashboard.
Note that my Pinterest account is already a default selection, and that there is a drop-down box below it. That's my list of available Pinterest Boards. I need to select one in order to save to Pinterest. It's also necessary in order to grab an image.
So, the next step is to select a Pinterest Board from your account. If you don't want to queue this article for share to Pinterest, that's OK. You can deselect Pinterest later and still retain your attached image.
Once you've selected a Pinterest Board, Buffer will automatically retrieve thumbnails of as many of the images on that article as it can, and display them in a carousel below the text of the social share, like this:
You can left-mouse click to select an image. You can also scroll to the right to reveal additional images which might be available. This is particularly helpful if you're using a plugin like Social Warfare [aff link], like we are on the SiteSell Blog, since there might be additional images created and uploaded specifically for social media sharing. This article, for instance, has a square image as well as a landscape image later in the list which can be chosen.
Once you've selected the image you wish to share, note that below the selected image you can verify your Pinterest Board selection, as well as the Source URL for the article. Pinterest requires that the full, un-shortened URL be used on all shares so if you get an error about the URL, make sure that this field has been populated.
At this point, you can edit the text, as well as decide if you want to adjust which networks are going to receive this post. Since you're attaching an image, you must make sure that the text of the share includes the URL of the article - and Buffer will automatically shorten it according to your preferences at the time of the share.
If you want to use different text for different social networks, you'll need to repeat this process for each different share.
Your options for sharing a post at this point are unchanged, but let's review them just to make sure you're aware of them all.
Share Now - While Buffer is famous for its superior scheduling capability, what's often overlooked is that the extension gives you the option to share a post immediately. But, um, why, you ask?
- Take advantage of the custom branded link shortening you've set up within Buffer.
- Take advantage of the image attaching capability we just outlined.
- Take advantage of the built-in tracking and analytics within Buffer.
Add To Queue - Queue'ing up social media activity is, of course, what Buffer was intended to do and it's most powerful function. Each social profile that you connect can have a different schedule and frequency of sharing, and each time you schedule a post to be shared it gets added to the queue for that particular network. With different schedules, and the ability to shuffle your queue any time you want, it's easy to craft a unique set of scheduled posts for any network.
Share Next - While the default Add To Queue places your new update at the back of the line, this option simply puts your share at the front of the line. It will still be shared according to your predetermined schedule at the next available slot.
Schedule - Rather than add a post to your queue, you can always pick a specific date and time for the share. This is particularly effective when spreading the word about an event, as you can schedule regular updates as the event approaches.
Power Scheduler - For posts that you know you want to share repeatedly over the course of the next few days, like one of your own new blog posts, this option is amazing. For each connected social profile, you can specify additional shares of your post after, say, 7 hours, or 24, or whatever you wish. You can edit each individual share to use different text, and the schedule can vary from profile to profile.
Regardless of which option you choose, you can include hashtags and other links, and even use Google+ formatting if you're sharing to a Google+ Page, like this:
Of course, any time you want, you can choose to use your own image or a different image, rather than one that's embedded on the article you're sharing. To do that, simply drag an image from your desktop onto the Buffer sharing box and drop it into the attach field.
Do note that whenever you're attaching an image, particularly on Twitter, you'll need to be aware of your total character count. Fortunately, Buffer won't allow you to schedule a tweet that exceeds Twitter's 140 character limit. But that image does count against your total character usage as it is considered a link.
Armed with Buffer's updated extension, bloggers and businesses can far more easily and quickly make their social media updates beautiful and interesting. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."