The key to any successful social media content strategy is good content — and lots of it. But posting your various social media pages without rhyme or reason can lead to chaotic and unpredictable analytics, rather than real-time data you can apply toward a successful long-term strategy.
A social media planner is a tool, often in the form of an interactive content calendar, that allows you to pre-load, organize, and schedule posts across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube. A social media planner helps you stay on top of your various social media platforms, diversify your posts, see what types of content work (and which don’t), and allows collaboration and coordination across your social media team.
Pros of having a social media planner
Using a social media planner will do more than just help you keep your content calendar organized. You’ll also get other benefits, like the ability to collaborate across functions and improved efficiency for your team.
- Organization. Managing content for a single account, let alone across several social media accounts, can get messy. Images and videos may need to be customized to fit specific platform specifications. Instagram has different requirements than TikTok, for example. A social media manager allows you to organize all of your posts in one place, which gives you, and any of your team members, a bird’s eye view of your content strategy and implementation.
- Collaboration. Social media planners provide structure to any content venture. For instance, some tools let you set deadlines for publication, which keeps you and your team accountable to a strategic schedule. If you have a larger team, a planner also provides a medium for collaboration, so everyone can get involved. Multiple team members can access the planner at once, and add input, notes, and editorial oversight up to the point of publication.
- Efficiency. Posting on social probably isn’t the only thing on your to-do list. Social media planners that allow you to pre-schedule posts or time publication at regular intervals can help expedite the process and free up your time for other tasks. Many tools let you instantly publish across multiple platforms or publish a large amount of content at once, which takes much less time and effort than doing all of that manually.
- Engagement. As the quality of your content strategy improves, so does your follower engagement. Plus, posting on a regular schedule keeps your content fresh and at the top of the feed, which can help get you more followers, shares, likes, views, and comments.
Best social media management tools
There are a number of great social media management tools on the market. Some are simple and free DIY options, while others are multi-feature software products often used by larger companies to implement a social media strategy. Here are a few tools to consider depending on your needs:
- Later. An Instagram post scheduler app, Later is now one of the most popular post-planning tools for a variety of platforms, including Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Features that users like include an easy-to-navigate, drag-and-drop interface for scheduling posts, a content research tool (through which you can find the best images to reuse across accounts), and in-depth analytics and personalized insights to help you improve your content and boost overall engagement. Unfortunately Later doesn’t work with all social media platforms, most notably, Facebook and YouTube. And because it’s designed specifically for Instagram, not all of the features work for TikTok or Pinterest.
Price: There’s a free option with limited features; paid plans start at $15/month
- Post Planner. Post Planner was originally designed for Facebook pages, but now also works with Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. The big plus of using Post Planner is its built-in graphics integration and content-creation studio, which lets you create, schedule, and publish posts within the same app. It also has a built-in social listening feature, which allows you to find trending content for posts, a content recycling feature for your best posts, a competitive analysis feature that searches audience-tested content against other accounts, and a clean and simple interface. The main drawback is that it’s not ideal for video-first platforms like TikTok or YouTube.
Price: Plans start at $6/month
- Hootsuite. Hootsuite was one of the first social media management tools. It lets you to publish and schedule social media content in advance, research trending content, and see engagement insights and other analytics. Another main selling point is that it allows users to reply to comments on their posts directly from the Hootsuite dashboard. The downside is it’s mainly optimized for Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and other text-based social media platforms. If your social media content strategy is image- or video-heavy, you might want to consider another product.
Price: Plans start at $49/month
- Buffer. Thanks to its simple design and user experience, Buffer is known for making scheduling content, publishing, and collaboration really easy compared to other apps. Compatible social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. With a built-in review and approval process that keeps everyone on track, team members with access to your account can easily collaborate on drafting posts. However, Buffer doesn’t offer much in the way of researching and identifying trending or competitor content.
Price: There’s a free option with limited features to manage up to three channels; paid plans start at $5/month
Pro tips for a successful social media planner
Implementing a social media planner is only the first step in optimizing your content strategy. There are other best practices that can help you get the most out of your preferred social media management method. Here are a three to keep in mind:
- Change up your content. This applies not just to types of content (photos, videos, blog posts) but to the content of the content. For example, a page that only posts selfies probably won’t gain a dedicated or broad following, whereas a feed with more diverse posts will keep followers on their toes.
- Recycle winners. Repost content that does well, or that isn’t tied to a specific event or season, i.e. evergreen content. Note what works about successful posts, and apply it to your other posts. But you probably don’t want to go overboard with this strategy (see our previous point about variety). It’s all about balance.
- Use analytics and study your competitors. Keep an eye on your platform’s various metrics, such as follower counts and engagement metrics. To determine what works, use in-app features that allow you to identify trends and successful competitors. This can save you time and energy, and can sometimes provide much-needed inspiration.
Choosing the right social media planner largely depends on your content strategy goals, the scope of growth you’re aiming for, as well as what you hope to get out of your social media presence. It also depends on context: Are you leading a team of people who give input on what goes up on your or large or small businesses’ pages? Or are you working alone? Are you a diligent self-organizer, or do you need tools and features to keep you on track? These broader considerations are not only essential parts of choosing the right kind of planner, but also of developing a dynamic social media presence in general.
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