social media automation

Do you know how much time your business spends on social media? According to a survey from Vertical Response, nearly half of small businesses (43%) are spending six or more hours a week on social. That’s almost an entire workday every week – or 312 hours over the course of a year at the low end.

Let’s say you’re a startup on a tight budget, so you’re focusing on all the social media yourself. Now, let’s pretend you’re paying a social media manager (yourself) the national median hourly rate of $15 an hour. That means you’re “spending” $4,680 a year if you’re only spending six hours a week. And once you grow to the point where you can easily afford that expense, no problem. But right now, you’re wearing 54 hats, juggling 78 balls in the air, trying to do it all.

Use these tools to automate your social media workflow so you can get the results you want and need in less time. Put those time savings into other areas of your business to help it grow.

Schedule Your Posts in Advance with Buffer

Using Buffer, you can post social media content across the majority of your social platforms with a single tool. You can set up a posting schedule for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and most recently Instagram, from one place. You can create your own unique schedule for each platform, or you can choose to let Buffer generate a schedule for you, based on the number of times per day you want to post. Buffer will optimize the schedule to post at times when you are most likely to get the most engagement.

Call this a bonus tool, but Quuu offers a wide selection of hand-curated content for a number of niches. It connects directly to your Buffer account, so you can keep a steady stream of content running, without having to curate it yourself. Of course, you’ll still need to login and add your other content yourself, and then actively participate on the social networks so it doesn’t seem like you’re completely on autopilot, but it will definitely save time. There’s a free plan available, which allows you to curate up to two posts per day, from up to five interest categories. You can earn additional posts per day by referring your friends. The $10/month plan includes up to 10 posts per month across unlimited interest categories. Some of the categories you can choose from include: Blogging Tips (segmented by niche), Boxing, Big Data, Beer, Branding, Coding, Conversion Rate Optimization, Dogs, Dieting, and more…

When you publish something new, it’s common for your traffic to spike as your audience rushes to read it, and then once it gets “old” it’s normal for your traffic to taper off. With Edgar, all your content is categorized. It’s possible to save even more time by connecting “him” directly to your RSS feed.

You’ll be able to schedule content by category, so Edgar knows when to publish from each one. This way he learns the types of updates to post at which times, to create a variety of content on your profiles at all times. When Edgar runs out of new content, that’s when he’ll begin to recycle your old posts. When this happens, the posts are exposed to a new audience, bringing additional traffic to your website, and more engagement on your social channels as fresh eyes see the content. The posts aren’t recycled to the point where your audience will get tired of seeing the same stuff over and over again, though, which is nice.

At this time, you must enter your email address to request an invitation to use the platform. The email you receive after requesting indicates that you’ve been added to the queue, and the typical wait time is less than 24 hours. Pricing information isn’t provided until after you’ve accepted your invitation and assigned up for your account, but it is expensive compared to other platforms, at $50/month for 10 accounts. While time is money, and this tool is unique and useful – it’s not an ideal option for all businesses out there.

The drawback to this tool is that you can only post on Facebook pages and groups, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn profiles or company pages. So, if you want to automate other social platforms, you’ll need another tool. Plus, there’s no interaction or management, so you’ll still need to use another tool to manage retweets, comments, and sharing.

Monitor Analytics in One Place with Cyfe

With Cyfe, you can see all your analytics data for each social media platform, and from a number of other sources such as: PayPal, Klout, WordPress, Alexa, MailChimp, and others. With everything in a central location, and data presented, and updated in real-time, you don’t have to waste time logging in and out of multiple accounts to get the information you need. Plus, with the use of custom widgets, you can place your company’s internal data, like finances, in Cyfe, too.

With the analytics data you have in front of you, you can make better informed business decisions, more efficiently than before. You can create multiple dashboards, one for your social media, one for web analytics, one for marketing, and one for business operations. The way you set it up is entirely up to you.

There is a free plan that limits you to five widgets, which is enough to manage your social media. If you decide you want to centralize all your business data, you can sign up for a paid plan, with unlimited everything, including data exports, for $19/month. If you go with an annual plan, you’ll save five dollars per month. The paid plan also includes the ability to customize your account to use your own domain, so you can see your data at

Automate Social Listening with Social Clout

Social Clout is a social media analytics and monitoring tool that allows you to listen to what’s happening across social networks. You’ll see who’s talking about you, and what they are saying. These insights will help you identify your most satisfied customers, as well as those who are unhappy, so you can take the necessary action to amplify your brand ambassadors and make attempts to improve your image in the eyes of dissatisfied customers.

The analytics information can help you make improvements to your social strategy, and see if and when you need to completely overhaul it – and see the results of any adjustments you make.

Manage Your Followers with Crowdfire

Though this tool only works for Twitter and Instagram, this is a tool that makes it easy to clean up your accounts. Find people who’ve unfollowed you, people you follow, but don’t follow you back, and more. You’ll see who your best followers are, so you can target and engage them, and stop wasting time on those who are inactive. The platform also allows you to schedule posts for Instagram, or send automated direct messages on Twitter. If you choose to send automated messages, be careful, since this annoys many users. Connect and engage your new followers live, as soon as possible, rather than setting everything on autopilot.

If you’re just building a following, Crowdfire can be useful because it allows you to look at your competition’s following and copy it. You can build a targeted audience based on what the competition already has started. Or, you can search keywords and hashtags to find people to follow based on the target audience you’re trying to reach.

The free account has a daily unfollow limit of 100 users, and only allows for a single account to be connected. You can either come back the next day and unfollow more users, or send out a tweet to increase your limit. Paid plans start at $9.99/month, allow an additional account, and remove limitations on following and unfollowing. If you want to remove the via @crowdfire from your tweets and DMs, you’ll have to pay for the Earth plan, priced at $19.99/month.

Monitor Your Team with SecureMySocial

If you have a group of contractors or employees working for your company, it’s important to go beyond what your customers are saying and look to see what the people who work for you are saying. It’s essential that whatever they say about your company online reflects your brand image, and SecureMySocial allows you to keep track of what’s being said.

With this tool, you get a real-time alert if anyone makes a post that violates either your company social media policy or the law. You can also use it to notify the person they’ve posted something that’s a violation, and have the offending post automatically deleted. This helps manage your online reputation, since as you company grows, you definitely won’t have time to look over every single post.

Curate Content with Ease Using Post Planner

If you have trouble planning and finding the content you want to share on your social channels, consider investing in a content curation tool. Social media is a place to connect with customers not only about your products, but to provide additional information and entertainment. There are many curation tools available, but I’m going to highlight Post Planner – one of the easiest and most affordable.

Post Planner works on Facebook and Twitter, and goes beyond finding articles for you to share. It even shares funny memes, and has a variety of questions you can use to spur engagement with your fans.

Content is organized so it’s easy for you to find what you need, and you can search for keywords relevant to your industry, to make it easy to find the content your audience will enjoy the most. Plus, you can schedule everything from right within the platform, and add your own content where necessary.

Pricing starts at $11/month ($9/month on annual billing), and allows for 10 profiles, 100 posts per day, and 1,000 planned posts.

Create an Entire Automated Workflow with Zapier

Zapier is a platform that allows you to automate a lot of tasks, not just those related to social media. It connects with hundreds of apps, and though you’ll need to spend a bit of time setting up the task automation with “zaps” so they’ll run automatically in the future, it will be worth it in the long run.

Here’s just a sampling of what you can do with it:

  • Post items from an RSS feed to your Facebook Page
  • Share your new blog posts on LinkedIn
  • Connect your calendar to your social channels to remind followers of events you’re hosting.
  • Save Twitter mentions to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, so you can track the people who share your content.
  • Use Zapier’s Twitter search feature to find specific keywords when mentioning your brand
  • Get push notifications for a specific user’s tweets
  • Get push notifications from Twitter search mentions
  • Get text message alerts for anything you want to be notified about.
  • Get email alerts for anything you want to be notified about.
  • Save LinkedIn connections to Google Contacts
  • Use it to automate YouTube – when you post to YouTube, have it sent to your Buffer account.
  • Use it to send your WordPress and Tumblr posts to your Buffer queue.
  • Curate content from Feedly and have it automatically added to your Buffer queue.
  • Create a native Twitter image post from an Instagram photo.
  • Send LinkedIn invitations to anyone who sends you an email.
  • Send LinkedIn invitations to anyone who subscribes to your Mailchimp list.

The free version allows for five zaps, with 100 tasks a month. Paid plans start at $20/month and include access to premium apps, with more zaps and tasks every month. Premium apps include: PayPal, Quickbooks Online, Infusionsoft, GetResponse, Shopify, and Facebook Lead Ads, to name a few.

Save Time – Work Smarter, Not Harder

Using one or more of these tools could shave hours off your social media plan over the course of the week and month. It’s a great way to ensure your company appears larger than it really is, to help build customer trust. Give them a try and compare it to your old routine – and I promise you won’t go back.

What are your favorite social media automation tools? Do you have any time-saving tips to share? Share them with me in the comments below.

Photo credit: iStock

Read more: How to Automatically Send Your Newsletter To Your Social Media Followers