If you’re trying to grow a business, you know how important it is to be active on social media. But that means searching for content to share, thinking of interesting things to say, interacting with customers, keeping up with replies and mentions … before you know it, social media can eat up a big chunk of your time each day. I know what you’re thinking.
Do you ever see people on Twitter who seem like they tweet hundreds of times a day, and wonder how they possibly find time to do this alongside their other job responsibilities? The good news is that it is possible to stay very active on social media without spending hours on it each day or hiring a team of people to run your Twitter account for you. How, you ask? With the help of an amazing little tool called Buffer.
How to Use Buffer: Getting Started
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool. You can add content from around the web to your Buffer queue, and it will automatically be shared on your Twitter account or other connected social media accounts at the times you’ve set. Let’s dive in and look a little closer at how to use Buffer to stay highly active on Twitter without eating up all your time.
Buffer is available for web, iOS and Android. You can sign up for an account using your existing Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn login information. You’ll have the choice between three account levels:
- The Free Plan, which allows you to connect just one Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account
- The ‘Awesome Plan’ – connect up to 10 social media profiles and schedule up to 100 posts, $10/month or $102/year
- Buffer for Business – unlimited social media profiles and more robust analytics, starting from $50/month
After you choose your plan and sign in, you can connect your other social media profiles by clicking on the ‘Accounts’ section along the left side of the dashboard.
Creating a Tweeting Schedule
The first step to using Buffer is to set up your schedule. Think about how often you want to tweet each day. Five times? Twenty times? Click on the “Schedule” tab and you can set the times when you want Buffer to share content for you. The schedule can be the same for every day of the week, or you can customize it to share at different times on different days.
Now, when you add content to your queue, Buffer will automatically tweet it for you at the predetermined times. How cool is that? This is where Buffer differs from Hootsuite, one of the other most popular social media management tools. With Hootsuite, you have to choose a specific time for every post you schedule (or share it immediately). Buffer, on the other hand, will automatically schedule content for the next available time slot on your schedule as you add more content to your queue. If there is nothing in your queue, then nothing will get tweeted.
Tip: Here’s a great article on the differences between Buffer and Hootsuite, if you’d like to read more on that.
Adding Content to the Queue
Now let’s look at how to add content to your queue. One way is to click on the ‘Content’ tab, type your tweet or update into the box, and click Add to Queue. (Note: You can also opt to skip the queue and click “Share Now” or schedule the tweet for a specific date and time.)
But the real magic happens when you install and use the Buffer extension for your browser. Then, you can share content directly from any website you visit – even if you don’t have the Buffer dashboard open on your computer.
Let’s say you’re reading a great article about the impending zombie apocalypse and you decide you’d like to share it on Twitter. Just click the buffer icon in your browser toolbar, add your comment and click Add to Queue. Easy as pie!
Similarly, you can browse headlines and blog posts from your favorite sources using a news aggregator (we recommend Feedly), and add items to your Buffer queue with a click of the mouse. Buffer is integrated with tons of other content applications as well, including Pocket, Evernote and UberSocial.
You can even tweet images with Buffer by simply right-clicking on any image on the web and selecting “Buffer this Image.” Sidenote: One MAJOR benefit of Buffer which some other social media management tools don’t offer is the ability to tweet images inline instead of as a link. In other words, if you tweet an image via Buffer, your followers will see the image in their Twitter feeds, rather than having to click on a link to view the image. Major points to Buffer for that feature!
Using the Buffer app to schedule your tweets makes it much easier to stay consistently active on Twitter and share content that you find from around the web. If you want to look like you spend all day on social media, but not actually spend all day on social media, this is a must-have tool.
How do you manage your time spent on social media? Do you prefer Hootsuite or Buffer (or use both)? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below, or give us a shout on Twitter.