One of the main reasons for being on social media should be to engage regularly with your subscribers. This is an accepted tenet for the majority of digital marketers at this point, and is why the idea of automating your social media posts is frowned upon by many.
However, as an entrepreneur it can be easy to get sidetracked from more important thing (such as keeping your clients happy) by the ego-boosting stats of how many new follows you’re accruing. I am not advocating ditching personal interaction completely in favour of automation, but I do think that if social media automation is approached respectfully and placed within the overall context of your engagement strategy, it can be a powerful tool for keeping a healthy presence on multiple sites without wasting hours every day. By making the best use of the available tools, you will end up with a social content sharing system that takes less than 10 minutes a day to manage, with the added benefit of scheduling and tracking your audience’s reaction.
There are a few steps required to achieve this:
Step 1 – Find content relevant to your audience
You need a fast and flexible way to find quality content that centers around the topics your audience is interested in. I advice against relying solely on social feeds to discover content, but to build your own system using a mix of your own RSS subscriptions with trending content search services:
- Feedly hundreds of feeds organised around topic. Amazingly flexible, allowing me to also receive my YouTube subscriptions in a separate folder.
- Topsy and News-Ox: the ability to find the most post stories relating to a particular topic at a given time
- Twitter: Checking the trending topics and typing in a few keywords always allows for a clearer picture
- YouTube: We can’t really avoid the largest video archive on the planet can we?
Step 2: Find a hub for saving articles
Next, we need a system to keep track of all the links shared on various platforms as a complete, searchable archive in the cloud for future reference or re-posting. The links in the archive should be shareable and easy to organise by topic.
Solution: Instapaper is a great tool which integrates with several services. The best feature is the easy bookmarklet creation, allowing me to create a save button for different topics/folders. This is probably why I’ve made Instapaper the “heart” of my automated content discovery/curation system. Everything I find from my sources goes into it, ready to be scheduled for sharing.
Step 3: Schedule your articles to post
A huge part of successfully automating your content sharing is finding the right balance between when and how much you post. To achieve this, I use Buffer. It’s great for scheduling posts at different times in many different accounts on multiple networks, while allowing teams to collaborate. The simplicity of Buffer’s UI and their multi-device, multi-browser approach made it a winning solution for me. The pro version is also affordable for early stage entrepreneurs.
Step 4: Track and optimize your sharing
You cannot learn about what your audience likes and improve on your sharing unless you track engagement. In order to do this effectively, find a simple tool that gives you must-know information at a glance. While you can be tempted to track a million things, the three key metrics that matter the most in this case are (a) what links are clicked or shared (b) how many unique people did so and (c) at what time of day most people did this. When you are starting out Buffer’s inbuilt link Analytics are more than enough to get the job done.
Fifth: Connect all the different parts of the system
Finally, you need a way to connect all the above into one seamless process. There is really only one contender for this: IFTT.com. I friggin’ LOVE this service! IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and is the secret sauce that makes it all work. By setting up a number of “recipes” you can tell different tools to play nicely together. Here’s the ones I’ve set up:
- Youtube Watch Later to Feedly Saved For Later
- Feedly Saved For Later to Instapaper
- Instapaper Liked to Buffer
As you can see, the aim of these automation recipes is to send everything to the Instapaper hub in an organised, topic-oriented manner.
So there you go folks: my personal automation system that helps me stay sane while keeping all my 20+ social media profiles active and healthy. What do you think of this system? Let me know how I can improve it!