The past two years, I wrote posts comparing and contrasting social media scheduling apps (like Buffer and Meet Edgar). This year, I am going in a different direction for Skill Space webpreneurs. Here's my conclusion: don't spend money on any of them.
Reason #1 - You Can Do It For Free.
Schedule Content for Free In-App
Facebook and Twitter currently allow you to schedule content in advance natively:
- Schedule posts on Twitter using your Twitter ads dashboard located at ads.twitter.com.
- Schedule posts on your Facebook Page and your Facebook Group
Schedule Content for Free Using These Programs
You currently cannot schedule content for your profile or page in LinkedIn, on Instagram, or on Pinterest. However, I'm confident this will be possible in the future just like Facebook has added the feature. Here are some hacks until then:
- Tailwind and BoardBooster have 100 free pins.
- Later offers 30 free pins per month
- Use IFTTT and Zapier to automate content from elsewhere to get published on Pinterest
- Hootsuite and Buffer both can schedule to LinkedIn and both apps have limited free accounts
- Postfity allows you to schedule to LinkedIn with their limited free account
- Use IFTTT and Zapier to automate content to get published on LinkedIn
- Later and Planoly both have great free limited accounts
- Buffer's and Hootsuite's free account syncs with Instagram now
- Use IFTTT and Zapier to automate content to get published on Instagram
Ok, now go save some money to reinvest in your business elsewhere.
Reason #2 - You Really Should Be Doing It In-App for Facebook Anyways.
Facebook prefers you use their own scheduler... which is why they created it for you!
Facebook and Twitter both allow you to schedule posts. Facebook allows this for Personal Pages, Fan/Business Pages, and Groups. You have a lot of ability to do what you need to within the Facebook scheduler.
Using a third-party app has considerations:
- Engagement can go down because you aren't necessarily around in real-time (this is true for any time you schedule posts).
Facebook notifies you when a scheduled post goes live, but not every third-party app does that as a possible reminder that hey, you just posted something to the world.
- Third-party plugins aren't as quick to update as Facebook's in-house scheduler is each time Facebook makes changes.
In addition, sometimes content created in a scheduler like Hootsuite, Edgar, and SmarterQueue might not directly translate to what is posted on Facebook. This happens with the image, links, and when content is compressed.
- Facebook mistakes link-shorteners as spam.
Link-shortening programs like Bitly, Owly (Hootsuite's native link-shortner), and vanity URLs are seen as a black-hat method (ergo a no-no for SEO and Facebook) called cloaking. Basically, when you post a shortened link and someone clicks on it, the process to get from shortened link A to real link B is a redirection to get to the final webpage. This is a sneaky trick many spammers do and Facebook sees it as tricking the users. It then will down-rank the pages and persons who are using cloaking, even unknowingly.
- Your audience might perceive you as "lazy" or "unavailable."
Like I said, posting in-app is perceived you being present, online, posting in real-time, etc. It may not really be, but if it says "Posted from Meet Edgar", it's clear that it is, in fact, a scheduled post, most likely on rotation, and not really custom-tailored for your audience on that day. Edgar's doing the work, not you.
- Not every scheduler can post content to your Facebook Groups.
Though, more and more will probably be able to do this in the future.
**Keep in mind:
Facebook used to penalize content that was posted from third-party apps. This was fixed in 2011. However, Facebook changes all the time to benefit their users and themselves. Facebook is a BUSINESS. They want to keep everyone using Facebook to remain on Facebook but they put preference to everyone but the people who can pay (e.g. brands, business, pages, content creators). This was made even more evident with Facebook's newest update announced January 11, 2018.
The more you do things that Facebook likes (including stay in-app), the more Facebook rewards you. Today might not have penalizations, it's guaranteed that at some point in the future Facebook (even inadvertently) penalizing those that can pay and third-party apps will circle back around.
Using Facebook gives you additional bonuses:
- Facebook Pages Manager, a smartphone app for on-the-go management... fo'free. Not all third-parties have smartphone apps.
- Seamlessly add photos and videos to your posts
- Reach more people by boosting your posts, only done within Facebook
- Translate your posts into different languages
- Facebook offers free customer support and training for their scheduler (or anything really)
Honestly, though, at the end of the day. I'm a proponent of spending money. There are many advantages to using social media schedulers (in fact, I quite love Social Pilot and SmarterQueue, Hootsuite is pretty much a powerhouse, and I do use Later for Instagram). However, saving money can outweigh all those advantages for some small business owners. Because, if you think about it, you're scheduling the content anyways, why not do it for free and put the money you saved into a better investment?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!