As a small business owner, you wear many hats and juggle all aspects of your operation every day. Making the commitment to engagement on social media can be a bit overwhelming. I can help you get organized, and you also may be looking at some other tools to assist you in the process.

I believe in authentic engagement. This means that you are the absolute best person to represent your business on Social Media sites. However, time is an issue and in today’s world of technology there are some short cuts. One short cut to consider is a service that will help you schedule your posts and will release them throughout the day and/or week for you. Some examples of these services are Hootsuite, Buffer, Later…just to name a few.

The pros of social media management sites are simple, they help you manage multiple accounts, you can automate your posts to be released over a period of time, and they have some ability to help you track conversations related to your content and core business. But, while using a service is an attractive option, great caution should be taken in evaluating and then integrating it into your marketing plan.

You may have seen others using the service and the posts come through as “Via Service Name.” As a consumer, this tells me a shortcut is being taken, it isn’t authentic. The social media site knows you are using a service – for instance, a platform like Google My Business wants you to engage authentically. You still need go onto the sites and engage with your customers to read through their posts and respond. I think the biggest caution is that you may load up a series of posts that might then not be appropriate when they are set to launch. A good example of this would be a link to a funny song or joke as the news is reporting an unfolding tragedy. And you may load up a service to launch posts, but then wind up posting authentically and then you are posting too much.

So, when do I recommend it? It is great for setting up a series of tweets to launch throughout the week just so you are out there – small snippets of information. Let’s say you are a business coach and you want to make sure you are tweeting several times throughout the day reminding people to take a moment to breathe, or a meditation mantra. A service can be very helpful if you want to unplug for a weekend (oh the luxury) or go on vacation.

So how do I manage my own social media using automation:

  1. I schedule tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook posts in in Hootsuite
  2. I also use Hootsuite to retweet (create a list in Twitter and then import it into Hootsuite) and to manage mentions and comments.
  3. Later is my go-to for Instagram posts and stories.
  4. I use Buffer to schedule content on the fly for all social media accounts.

The most important part of sharing on social media is to be authentic. If you can use a tool to still maintain that goal then it is well worth the price and time to get it up and running.  Of course, the most important part of using automation is to never just set it and forget it.  Automation can save time but also can have some problems with rogue characters and strange looking “things” popping up from time to time.