How consistent are your social media posts? Do you find yourself under pressure to think of something relevant and engaging to post? Have you ever checked out another business profile and wondered how they post so regularly and get such good engagement? If this sounds familiar, you could be missing a key step in your social media marketing strategy – social media scheduling software.

Post scheduling software logs into all your socials and allows you to create, schedule and monitor all your posts from one platform. You can create content in advance and decide when it gets posted so that all you need to do is keep an eye on comments and feedback on your posts and respond. This saves you a lot of time and energy in content creation and sharing. Sounds simple? It really is!

What we love most about social media scheduling is that it allows you to tap into your most creative time of the week or month to make content. It encourages you to plan in advance which then spans across the other parts of your business. For example, if you have an event on the horizon, you can curate posts in the weeks prior to that, building interest and getting the word out there in a prepared way. This kind of pre-planning is a big step in the right direction for streamlining your productivity and having a clear direction for your business. Think of it like batching cookies – it takes a little work initially for a ton of great benefit!

There are literally hundreds of online scheduling tools on the market, with levels of services from the individual user all the way up to large businesses with multiple team members and many social accounts. And there are some really good free plans out there for individual users, which can service your small business perfectly for zero financial investment. Of course, along with all free plans comes the option to upgrade for more features at any time, but having access to the free plan first gives you a really good sense of whether you are using the right software for your business. 

In this post, we’ve summarized a few of the best plans for your small business, giving you food for thought and room for exploration.

HootSuite

Cost: Basic level is free. 

Analytics: Only available in the paid plan.

Upgrade to Paid Plan: starts at $29 per month.

Hootsuite has a great free plan that includes up to three social accounts for one user and 30 scheduled messages per month. It has an intuitive interface with ‘streams’ that categorize your scheduled posts, mentions and posts. 

Summary: Hootsuite has been around a long time and is one of the most reliable and well-known brands for scheduling tools. It has a visual calendar and the interface is easy to use. 

Buffer 

Cost: Basic level is free.

Analytics: Access to basic analytics and engagement as part of the free account. 

Upgrade to Paid Plan: starts at $15 per month

Buffer offers a simple free plan, with a monthly limit of 10 posts across three social accounts. Access to extras like the visual planner, Instagram first comment and lots of other functions requires an upgrade to the paid plan.

Summary: Buffer’s capabilities improve dramatically once you opt for a paid plan with much more flexibility on creating and posting schedules; the free plan has the basics and is easy to use but lacks the visual planner which is very useful in planning ahead.

Later

Cost: Basic level is free.

Analytics: Free plan includes basic analytics.

Upgrade to Paid Plan: starts at $12.50 per month.

The free plan on Later includes one set of social accounts, one user log in and up to 30 posts per month. It also includes a visual planner for posting and a simple analytics tool for Instagram, as well as access to a stock image library for some content creation. 

Summary – Later is very good value for the free plan, and the upgrade to the Starter Plan is reasonably priced with lots of extra options.

Everypost

Cost: Basic level is free.

Analytics: Analytics will soon be included in the free plan.

Upgrade to Paid Plan: starts at $9.99 per month.

Everypost offers a free plan with 1 set of social accounts and up to 10 posts per month plus social analytics. Everypost makes it simple for a user to construct, schedule, customize and post content on all the popular social media platforms and also goes a step further into the simple integration of platforms such as YouTube so that you can include your videos and images in an easy format.

Summary: Everypost has a lot of bells and whistles in the free plan, and even committing the paid plan is great value at just $9.99 a month. This platform is worth trying out. 

Facebook and Instagram Creator Studio

Cost: Free

Analytics: Soon to be included in free plan 

Upgrade to Paid Plan: None

Facebook and Instagram now offer an integrated creator studio that enables you to post to both these platforms from multiple accounts, for no cost. You can create and schedule posts, track engagement analytics and create social media ads as well as manage multiple accounts and all their messages, comments and notifications.

It lacks a visual planner and can feel clunky, but includes all the analytics of your posts and allows you to see inbox messages, comments and notifications for all accounts in one single place, which is very handy.

Summary: Facebook is constantly updating and improving their integrated features, and it is always free. If you only use Instagram and Facebook, it is definitely worth keeping this feature in mind for a free way to schedule your content. 

Other Scheduling Tools

If you want to research more deeply and have the budget to pay for a scheduling tool, you might want to check out a few of these brands – Sprout Social, Loomly, Tailwind (for Instagram only), Sendible, and SocialBee

Social media can be time-consuming, and getting engagement on your posts can be an art form all of its own, but using a scheduling tool to prepare posts in advance is a savvy time-saving tip and your business will reap the benefits in the long term.

As well as using social media to stay in touch with our clients, OfferingTree also provides its users with an easy-to-use email builder which includes the ability to segment your audience, set up nurturing campaigns, and analytics so you can make more data-driven decisions for your growing business. Visit offeringtree.com and see how we can help you stay connected with your audience and grow your business!

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