In this third instalment of my social media scheduling series, we’ve got another well-known contender. We’ve covered SocialPilot and Social Booster. Next up is TweetDeck. This review is being done with authors in mind.
Focused purely on Twitter, this site allows you to schedule, monitor, and analyse your social media presence. It offers a clean, easy to navigate UI and just enough features to be useful without a lot of clutter you don’t need.
What fired me up:
I love the UI, and the ability to search hashtags and set up columns to monitor them. It’s not quite as organised or broad in scope as Hootsuite (for example, you can’t have different tabs to organise your streams) but it provides more oversight than either SocialPilot or Social Booster. It was also quite easy to schedule several
The obvious initial hurdle is that it’s only for Twitter. If you wanted something to juggle multiple platforms, this isn’t the site for you. Additionally, with their hashtag monitoring, the stream updates in real time, which means you can be reading content and it’ll suddenly jump down the feed, buried by an avalanche of new tweets. A minor annoyance, but if you already have any sort of difficulty scrolling content, this isn’t going to win you over.
I also wish it was a bit tidier and organisable. But that’s probably more down to personal preference than anything else.
If you only use Twitter, this is a great way to corral everything you need. Excellent for someone that’s just beginning to dive into the world of social media marketing, and needs a little help staying on top of things. However I feel it would be easy to outgrow TweetDeck and need something meatier.
This is the second instalment of my series about social media scheduling. My first candidate was SocialPilot. And now we’re moving on to Social Booster. I’ll be exploring the free options, as well as trialling their entry-level paid account. This review is being done with authors in mind.
Although to a lesser extent than SocialPilot, Social Booster is still set up for someone working in an agency managing social media for clients. You get this feel from the emphasis on teams and analytics, as well as the less than robust free version. The design is minimalist and uninspired and not terribly intuitive.
The lowest level paid version is very affordable at $86 a year billed annually, slightly more if you’re month to month.
What fired me up
SocialBooster has a greater ability to let you monitor your feeds for content and responses. It’s not as comprehensive as Hootsuite’s, but it’s significantly better than SocialPilot in this regard. You have an inbox of Twitter mentions, posts, and replies. This makes it easy to see at a glance what you need to respond to. However, it still doesn’t seem to have Hootsuite’s hashtag monitoring features. Their paid versions do offer keyword tracking.
You can also set up a schedule that automatically slots posts into the next available time slot. this makes it faster to do a daily post, for instance.
I also liked that it would occasionally email me with new responses to my posts.
The free version only allows ten (!) scheduled posts. This limitation is exactly what I was looking to avoid in shopping around, so it’s a huge black mark against an otherwise decent piece of competition. The lower ranks of the paid versions only allow 50 scheduled posts, which still feels limited for a paid service.
The UI can also feel a bit labyrinthine to navigate, and it isn’t always obvious how to access various bits, especially if you’re just starting out with it. It isn’t as clean as SocialPilot, but it also has more to show. And it doesn’t give you the unnecessary or hide what you’re working on based on your mouse location, like Hootsuite.
There is one thing I found aggravating about the auto schedule feature. If you delete an autoscheduled post, it will bump them all up. This resulted in several posts going out a day too early.
It’s pulling ahead of SocialPilot quite easily, at least in terms of a personal account. The same features that give it an edge in this realm probably also make more sense in a professional environment. However it still falls short of replacing Hootsuite.
Social media scheduling is a life saver. HootSuite drastically limited the amount of scheduled posts a free account can have at any given time. I’ve previously talked about how HootSuite was my personal saviour, but unfortunately their pricing levels are a bit steep for me to pay to continue using it as I’d previously been for free.
Now, this isn’t to say that I’m not happy to pay to play. But when the free option gives you three social profiles and 30 scheduled posts across all three profiles, and the next level up is ten profiles for $20USD per month, along with plenty of other features which I feel to be unnecessary for where I am personally, it does sting a bit. I could happily stay with HootSuite if they introduced a cheaper, more entry-level option. But they haven’t, so I’m shopping around, to the benefit of my poor, poor readers.
My first candidate is SocialPilot. I’ll be exploring the free options, as well as trialling their entry-level paid account.
First and foremost, SocialPilot is for B2B social media scheduling. Most of its features, while seemingly robust and well-implemented, will be fairly useless for an individual trying to build an author platform. It has helpful tools like account grouping and team/client support, bulk scheduling, and at the higher end, some analytical tools.
What fired me up:
Not a lot, if I’m honest.
The user interface for creating posts is far superior to Hootsuite’s:
It’s clean, intuitive, and doesn’t vanish if you dare to hover your mouse elsewhere on the screen. That last part in particular really irritates me about Hootsuite.
You also have the ability to browse curated content, and select from popular articles on certain topics. This is similar to Crowdfire’s suggested posts, except you have a little more to choose from. Hootsuite, as far as I can tell, does not have this feature.
RSS feeds are another option, but admittedly one I never really got into and thus don’t know much about and don’t use. If you have any suggestions on using RSS feeds, feel free to pop them in the comments below.
I did notice a tendency for SocialPilot to delay posts by up to fifteen minutes. For many people, this may not matter, but I’m of the opinion that if I wanted it to go out fifteen minutes later that’s when I would have scheduled it.
Additionally, even when trialling the entry-level paid version I didn’t get access to analytics. And it lacks the one thing I like about Hootsuite the most: the monitoring feature. I couldn’t see any way to replicate the hashtag monitoring feature I use to keep abreast of the frankly exhausting number of writing related Twitter tags, as well as a few Instagram ones I like to watch.
SocialPilot is a very easy to use social media scheduling tool. It has a pleasantly straight-forward UI and has been very well developed. However, for my personal use, I find it works better as a supplement to a free Hootsuite account rather than a replacement.
Keep an eye on this site, as this will be the first in a series of posts examining the pros and cons of more of Hootsuite’s competition.
I’m tired. Frequently, mentally, insurmountably…tired. My theme song is that burlesque number from Blazing Saddles.
And that’s why I’m here to talk about post scheduling. There’s a deluge of articles about author platform and marketing. There’s also a glut of articles and guides on social media. And the message is consistent: engage, engage, engage.
So what about people working jobs where they can’t manage their social media on the fly? Where a visible mobile device is a write up? What about people with mental illness, or other chronic conditions that throttle their emotional, mental, or physical bandwidth? That’s where post scheduling is a godsend. It lets you remain on people’s radars, continue to share your passions with the world, and if life rears its uglier head once in awhile, you don’t need to worry about losing traction with your fan base. It also means you can spread your content out evenly instead of busting out 5-10 tweets, posts, or blogs in the hour after you get home from work. This is important for hitting multiple time zones (Hello, GMT!) and not flooding followers’ feeds.
There does seem to be some push back about post scheduling, mainly citing lack of authenticity behind scheduled content. That’s great, I’m really happy for them that they’re able to organically maintain a highly active social media presence. I, for one, am not currently there. I still have days where I don’t even make the bed (and I’m usually pretty good about this–I have the habit trackers to prove it!), or come home, land on the couch, and barely budge from it until it’s bed time, or later. I’m working on letting these transgressions slide (albeit while trying to prevent them in the future), and that’s easier knowing that at least my Twitter and Instagram are still ticking over from that high energy day a few weeks ago where I busted out a month’s worth of scheduled content.
So what does that look like for me? It looks like a very busy Hootsuite dashboard:
The first three tabs are my own content: my content streams; my scheduled content; and any messages, mentions, etc. The next three tabs are all about that essential engagement. They’re Instagram, Twitter photography and travel, and Twitter writing tags I want to monitor, curated into an easy to browse interface. It’s easy for me to take a few moments on my phone to scroll through these streams, commenting and liking posts that catch my attention rather than trying to always keep an eye on my feeds.
The rest are the tags I schedule for. A tab for every day’s regular writing tags, plus the recurring Twitter contests, and each tab contains all the relevant hashtags I’m aware of for that category. In the morning, I use the day’s tags as a checklist, making sure I’m participating in all the ones that make sense for me. At my leisure, it becomes a browsable curator, much like my more general monitoring tabs.
It’s not a perfect system, and my engagement isn’t perfect. I still have lulls and missed opportunities. But progress is progress and it’s better than the radio silence of the latter half of last year and first part of this year. It helps me overcome some of my personal stumbling blocks and that makes it A+ in my book.
I’m building a personal reference sheet of Twitter tags related to writing and editing, which you can find here. Is your favourite tag missing? Let me know! I’d also love to hear how you work around life and mood swings to maintain a constant presence online. Do you schedule, or use a different set of tools?
I did it. Part of me probably knew it was coming, but I still didn’t see it coming. I hit The Wall.
It started as a headache on Friday after an evening out with people from work. So that nixed Friday’s writing. Saturday I still had the headache. And now we’re at Sunday and I’m struggling to reclaim that momentum I built up over the previous week.
I’m currently sitting at 13126 words, and by Day 9 I should be on 14516. 1390 words to go. I’m struggling to make it to 750.
What have I been relying on to maintain any sort of a habit?
1. The Extreme Harry Potter Word Crawls
This is the number one tool in my kit. Any time I’ve really seriously dedicated myself to writing, it’s been with this. You can find it here (requires a log in to NaNoWriMo’s website) and I highly recommend it. It makes things fun, and gives you small, achievable goals. Things like ‘write 250 words’ or ‘write for five minutes’. And it follows everyone’s favourite wizard! There’s even stuff for multiplayer (the ‘word wars’). What’s not to like?
2. 750 Words
We’ve all heard about the morning pages. For those who somehow are writers but haven’t ever googled ‘how to be a writer’, the morning pages are a recommended prescription for a busy brain. You write (by hand, if possible) at least three pages of whatever comes to mind.
This website allows you to write that, and provides some nice analytics tools as well as badges to incentivise maintaining writing streaks. It’s pretty addictive, especially if you’re like me and metrics are your kink. They can tell you how long you spent writing, what you accomplished while you were doing it, tone, POV, and most commonly used words.
3. Accountability Buddies
Guilt and embarrassment are probably the biggest motivators in human history, outside of the usual (carnal) suspects. So I decided to load up on those.
I post about it as close to daily as possible on my Twitter and Facebook, to keep me accountable to both my close friends and family as well as the stellar writing community on Twitter. I also exchange emails with a friend who is studying for a license exam and we check in on each other that way. Lastly, I’ve instructed a colleague (and friend!) to bung sweets across the divider between our desks if I’m able to provide proof of progress to her each morning. I’m grateful for the support. (P.S. The aforementioned colleague is a talented artist! You can find her here.)
4. Heavy Pre-Planning
I’ll return once more to the tropes littering every website that touches on the topic of writing: pantsers vs. plotters.
I fall heavily into the realm of plotters. Some people don’t need to do this, and they write beautiful organic stories and everything’s neatly filed away in their brains. I am not one of those people. I take plotting to its cold, functional extreme. I used the worksheets on Annie Neugebauer’s website, which you can find here.
They’ve totally become my crutch, because once I find something I like that produces even mediocre results out of my usual sludge, dammit I’m going to use it until it’s unhealthy.
I go through highs and lows with my mood, and with it my productivity and creativity peaks and troughs as well. If I’m not careful, one day I’m going to end up with a diagnosis. But the important point is that I go through periods where I do a ton of research on boosting productivity and tracking goals and building habits. This leads to a flurry of apps to go with it and notebooks that are painstakingly designed and will most assuredly sit empty (RIP bullet journals).
The latest success story from one of these is Habitica. It’s a basic sort of RPG where you grind by completing tasks and goals IRL. You can set daily tasks, habits, and long term projects/goals, and even break these down into their individual component actions. There are pets, and quests, and equipment for your avatar, so the appeal is fairly obvious for most, as are the addictive elements. I’ll have to check back in with a later post about the long term results of Habitica, but so far, so good. It’s kept me on track with Camp NaNo, as well as the myriad other things I’m attempting.
So that’s what I’m using to try and tackle this behemoth of a project. What have you found useful in keeping the words flowing, come what may?
I’ve decided to give Habitica a try. I love the interface so far, because it lets me keep everything together. It has the functionality of smart diary or whatever that program was, but makes it fun and more interesting to use. I’m hoping I can find some other people to use it with. I think that that’s a huge hurdle for me. So if you use Habitica, let me know?
Today also saw me venturing back into the realm of actually writing things. I worked on Bootstraps a little bit this morning, and updated The Survible for the first time in months.
All of this, combined with increasing my participation in the frankly amazing Twitter-based writing community and no less than three batches of stellar photos in one month has truly felt like climbing out of a deep hole. Like that one from Milo & Otis. You know the one.