Schedule Social Media with These Free Apps and Services

What are the best tools to schedule social media with?

There are a lot of apps in this world so it makes sense that people aren’t sure which ones are worth the trouble of figuring out…connecting to all their social media accounts…troubleshooting…. It also makes sense to ask around about what others are using to schedule social media posts. If something is working, why not cut out the trial and error and get on with scheduling already!? I get it!

best tools to schedule social media posts

Last year I wrote up my roundup of 15 best apps for writers and some of those apps are social media schedulers but today I’ll expand a bit and list a few more of my favourites. And I’ll also note all the apps and services I’m mentioning have free plans, which is great when you’re not 100 per cent sure you’ll want to stick with it for the long term. A great get-to-know you, no strings attached, coffee date kind of relationship.

Schedule Social Media with These Free Apps and Services

HOOTSUITE

There’s a lot to love about Hootsuite. I used to use it for all my social media but now the free plan limits your scheduled posts to 30 so I’m limited in my working ahead. Although I’m disappointed with the recent change I’m still team Hootsuite for all of my Twitter management. I schedule posts, track analytics, and keep an eye on the Twitter lists I follow. It’s easy to organize and keeps me sharp. I’m also testing it for my Instagram posting but it’s too soon to say how I feel about it.

I have used Hootsuite teams (paid account) for working with clients and I’m impressed with the analytics capabilities and the ability to co-ordinate with team members.

RECURPOST

This is one of the newer schedulers in my arsenal but I think it’s a keeper. This is a “productivity enhancement tool,” which is a fancy way of saying you can manage your social media for multiple platforms from its dashboard. In this way it’s a lot like Hootsuite but where it has a leg up is the content library. Here, I can add evergreen posts and create a schedule around the different libraries. What does this mean? I can not only schedule my social media but I can have it repeat on whatever schedule I desire. I have all my evergreen blogs set up in Recurpost and they now drip out to my chosen social networks on the schedule I set. It is awesome!

You are limited to 100 posts in your content library in the free account, which means you’ll have to upgrade if you’re a content behemoth. And with the stricter Twitter regulations of no identical Twitter posts you now have to create “variations” of your Tweets before the app will schedule them. This does put a damper on my enthusiasm, as I was using this for Twitter the most. And I haven’t sat with these new restrictions long enough to know how I feel about my content strategy or how to deal with it yet.

LATER

Like Hootsuite, this is a social scheduling and planning tool. Unlike Hootsuite, it’s a visual planner. What does this mean? You can plug in your social media posts for the next week, month, whatever, and see how it looks as a collection—this is especially powerful for Instagram. You can also save images, captions, and hashtags in the tool for easy re-use. Once your post is scheduled it either publishes it for you sends a push notification (on Instagram) when it’s time. The visual plan helps me see how each image works together and helps me stay on brand.

The free plan limits users to 30 scheduled posts and I’ve found I’m quite capable of maxing it out on Instagram. Also, you’re limited to only the past two weeks of analytics with the free account so if you’re relying on Later for your IG metrics it’s something to keep in mind.

BUFFER

Buffer is a great all-around social media scheduler. You can schedule posts across your social media accounts from this one hub as well as manage Twitter (likes, retweets, etc.) and set up optimal scheduling, which analyzes and suggests the best times to post on each platforms. I use Buffer for a few client accounts and also for my personal Twitter account (more on that in the next tool) and find it straightforward and streamlined. There are also analtyics, but only for the posts published through Buffer.

The free account limits your scheduling activity to 10 posts per social network. It’s because of this teeny tiny amount I can’t recommend it higher. Also the paid plan limits your scheduled posts to 100, so although I like Buffer I wouldn’t go all-in.

Quuu

This is the craziest app in your schedule social media toolkit. I heard about it a while ago but couldn’t wrap my head around how I could use it. However, a friend re-introduced it to my last autumn and I decided I’d try it out. And you know what? I love it! Quuu is a hand-curated content service, which means they line up your social media content for you and schedule it on your chosen social media platforms. Curating content is a big part of social media marketing, although it’s tough for many people to get on board with (and I get it!). They wonder how promoting other people’s content is going to help them. And I know it’s a mind warp but this upside-down approach of promoting others to grow your platform IS legit. But curating content takes forever. That’s where Quuu comes in.

You are limited to two posts per platform per day and you cannot change the posts with the free plan. In the paid accounts you have more flexibility and say, so if that’s important to you then pay attention. My biggest concern was the curated content wouldn’t match my brand or interests but I’ve been quite pleased with how spot on Quuu has been, even to the point of writing the Tweets how I would. Now that…is freaky.

Boardbooster

BoardBooster is a Pinterest scheduler and allows you to loop your pins, which means repinning older posts to the top of your boards and deleting duplicate posts. It’s a great way to keep your Pinterest activity constant even if you don’t have new content. You can also schedule new content to post on boards and set up auto posting to group boards. Other features I haven’t tried yet (I’m still working on understanding Pinterest) are tribe management tools, test pins for broken links, duplicates, etc., split boards and remove unwanted pins from the platform, and optimize your strategy through analyzing the best time to pin.

With the free account you’re limited to 100 pins although I’m not certain how firm they are since I’m over 100 and still on the free account. The paid account is $5 btw so…not a bank breaker.

IFTTT

This tool helps you automate your social media marketing with triggers (called Applets and Services), which are amazing and yet overwhelming since the options and combinations are endless. It works like this: IF an action happens on your service (say, on Facebook) THEN the applet runs and does your desired action (say, posts what happened on Facebook to your Pinterest board). It’s tricky to explain but I can tell you, it’s a time saver because it takes out the mundane repetitive tasks and automates them for you. You just need to know what you need.

I like all the different options IFTTT offers but I’m limited by my imagination—which recipes will work best for me? Which combinations of services and applets will move my marketing forward? How much should I schedule social media and how much should I be in the moment, live and authentic? These are the questions. I learned about IFTTT from a friend and has a better explanation of its power so if you’re curious, check it out.

There are a lot of apps in this world so it makes sense that people aren't sure which ones are worth the trouble of figuring out...connecting to all their social media accounts...troubleshooting.... It also makes sense to ask around about what others are using to schedule social media posts. If something is working, why not cut out the trial and error and get on with scheduling already!? I get it! Here are my favourite social media scheduling tools.

This list isn’t comprehensive but it is what I enjoy using these days. If you have any favourites I haven’t mentioned please enlighten me! I’m always looking for tools to help schedule social media and would love to try something new.

Tips for Spreading the Love on Social Media

Spreading the love on social media. We could all use more love, couldn’t we?

spread the love on social media

This year, I’m resolving to do less of the mindless scroll and more adding goodness to the social landscape. Care to join me? Here are eight ideas for spreading the love on social media. They’re not invasive, they’re not difficult, and they’re not rocket science. But sometimes they’re tough to remember.

If we let it, social media can make us feel horrible. We all know it but still allow people’s picture-perfect feeds to get us down. It’s why we’re so focused (borderline obsessed?) on authenticity and honesty—we understand what we see on social media feeds isn’t reality, but it’s difficult to stop comparing.

I wrote about four ways to overcome social media comparison over on Faith Strong Today if you’re interested in changing your self-talk but need a bit of a push.

8 Tips for Spreading the Love on Social Media

  1. Be generous with your likes
  2. This is something I’m trying to do more of. What does it cost me to “like” someone’s status or post? Not much. But what can it add to someone else’s day? Maybe a lot. I don’t go through and “like” everything I see, but if something makes me pause, think, or smile, I make sure to (at least) like it.

  3. Leave kind, genuine comments
  4. One of the communities I’m in started practicing this and I realized how encouraging it is to receive comments on social media posts. So much more than I thought. Now that I’m aware I make sure to leave comments as often as I can, and as nice as I can.

  5. Tell someone something nice
  6. This launches from my last point. Doesn’t it feel good when someone notices something you’re working hard on and compliments you? Or tells you you’re doing a great job? I have decided to be more intentional about doing this for others. When I notice something awesome, mention it. And now that I’m trying to notice what others are doing I’m seeing a lot more to mention! I love how it helps me keep my eyes on others rather than on myself.

    Here’s a great tip.

  7. Try to make someone laugh
  8. Yes I do mean post hilarious memes, GIFs, and videos. Why not? Maybe even post an epic Throwback Thursday photo and make someone smile. Who says we need to be serious all the time? Life is serious enough.

  9. Post something beautiful
  10. Along the lines of posting something fun, what about posting something beautiful? An amazing landscape, a cute animal, or a stunning piece of art…think about what would bring joy or awe to someone else’s day and add it to your feed.

  11. Post something encouraging
  12. In my new and improved approach to social media I’ve started asking what would be helpful and uplifting to the people who I’m connected with on social media. When I approach my posting strategy from this viewpoint I find I have a lot to say—and I find in trying to be encouraging it’s filling me up as well. How cool!

  13. Highlight someone you look up to
  14. If someone is doing a great job why not give them a shout out? A friend of mine is doing this on her Instagram feed and I’m finding it so awesome. If someone has helped you out in you life or career why WOULDN’T you honour them in this way? Love this so much.

  15. Follow people who inspire you

One of the best ways I’ve found to stay positive on social media is by following people with the same agenda—following those already spreading the love on social media and inspiring me to do the same. Why not fill your feed with the change you want to see?

Spreading the love on social media. We could all use more love, couldn't we? This year, I'm resolving to do less of the mindless scroll and more of the adding goodness to the social landscape. Care to join me? Here are eight ideas for spreading the love on social media. They're not invasive, they're not difficult, and they're not rocket science. But sometimes they're tough to remember.

These are my top tips for spreading the love on social media but I’ve love to hear your ideas. Let me know in the comments…or on social media.

Want more about social media?

What is a Flat Lay and How to Style One

What is a flat lay? I hear this all the time and up until a few months ago it was me asking the Internet. Here’s the quick answer: it’s a photograph shot from above, flat.

What is a flat lay and how to style one for Instagram

What is a Flat Lay and How to Style One

Although this term is kind of sort of new (the earliest reference I can find is 2015) the style is not. It just went by different names.

Other names for flat lay

  • Flatlay (OK, that’s just a different spelling)
  • Collage
  • Bird’s-eye view
  • Top shot
  • God’s-eye view
  • Knolling (from the 80s, and the original flat lay)

If you’re styling your photo using a light background, natural light, and shooting it from above…then you already know what a flay lay photo is. You just didn’t have the vocabulary.

So. That was easy. How do I style a flat lay?

What is a flat lay? It's when you take a photo from above, parallel to the styled objects you're shooting. It's a great way to do #bookstagrams and showcase your products in an interesting and engaging light. Try different props, backgrounds, and textures to tell a story and involve your audience.

Now you have to figure out what you’re going to take photos of. When figuring out what you want to showcase you also need to think about why. Why are you showing this to your audience? What makes it special? Why do you want them to see it? Whatever product or prop you land on, this becomes your “hero” or the focus of your composition.

But let’s break the flat lay down a bit using a personal example

I love taking flay lay photos of books and movies because it makes them so much more interesting. The book or movie is the hero—none of the props should take attention away from the hero!—and everything else adds to the story.

If you look at the above examples, you can see I’ve achieved the storytelling angle better in some than others using props, background, and composition. The more flat lays you do, the better you get at them (trust me). I shot these over a period of months using different techniques, camera angles, and lighting.

What is a flat lay? The simple answer is a photo taken from above. It used to be called knolling or bird's-eye view (borrowing from magazines and movies). Now it's used on Instagram and blgos to showcase products in an organized, clean, and engaging way. Showing knitting as a flat lay is a popular way to make your products stand out from the rest.

I also wanted to include my knitting flat lays so you can see a more minimalist approach. The easiest way to get consistent light and look is to shoot everything on the same day using similar props and the same background. I did this because I wanted a consistent look on my Instagram feed while showcasing my hand knit products.

Here are a few tips for styling and shooting flat lays

Use a light background. In most cases, a piece of cardboard or a sheet will work great. A flat surface is ideal.

Try and style your flat lay. This can be difficult if you’re not artistic or confident with what looks good. Here are a few questions to ask as you style: Is my hero product the focus? Do I like this composition? What will make this more interesting? What will my audience like? Take a few shots and then re-style your flat lay and take a few more shots. The more you tweak the better you’ll get at it.

If possible, use natural lighting. After MUCH trial and error I found a window in my house that lets in a consistent amount of natural light from day to day. I created a nice little setup with a card table by the window so I can take advantage of the great light.

Try to be parallel to your flat lay when shooting. This is where things get interesting. You’ll need to be above the shot in order to get it right. Try a stool, chair, step ladder, or whatever you need to get in the correct position. I use a combination of a chair and a tripod but I’m always trying to get my shots more parallel.

Remember to take lots of photos and to move your flat lay composition around a bit so when you get to the photo editing you have a few options. This may take a while at first but you will get better, I promise! If I can figure it out…then you’ll be just fine.

Pin for later

What is a flat lay? It is when you take a photo from above, parallel to the styled objects you are shooting. It is a great way to showcase your products in an interesting and engaging light. Try different props, backgrounds, and textures to tell a story and involve your audience.

More social media tricks and tips

Check out these posts on the blogging prompt “light”

How to Create a Social Media Portfolio

Portfolios. In general I understand them—a collection of your work assembled to demonstrate your experience and expertise in an area. But I’ve struggled with social media and figuring out how to create a social media portfolio.

Because although it’s my work it’s not for me. Most of my social media experience is creating content and strategies for other people or brands. It’s like ghostwriting. It’s ghostsocialing. (I sure hope that’s a hashtag.) My mission is to figure out how to present my social media portfolio in a way that demonstrates my experience and expertise but doesn’t break client confidentiality.

How to Create a Social Media Portfolio

How to Create a Social Media Portfolio

As I searched the Internet I didn’t find a lot. Most how-to create a portfolio advice is for writing clips, marketing, or how to display your personal social media stats. All of this is good and useful, but off topic. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because it’s a tricky balance. So I started asking writing friends how they add ghostwriting credits to their portfolio. Short answer, they don’t. They leave it out and just refer to “ghostwriting services” or “x amount of books/blogs ghostwritten for x amount of clients.” Vague but what else can you do?

But I want to do more for my social media portfolio.

The golden rule when you create a social media portfolio: show don’t tell

You know you need to do it in your writing but it also is important in your portfolios. But how do you show (or even create a social media portfolio) when your clients don’t love the idea of admitting they don’t run their own accounts? Or what if you did strategy work with a client, how do you display that? And what if you worked with a client at one point and their feed looked amazing but now they manage their own and it isn’t so awesome? How do you show that?

Here are my best three ideas for building an awesome social media portfolio

First, showcase the services you offer

Create a social media portfolio by starting with your services and expertise.

The best social media portfolio’s I’ve seen break the services down into bite-sized pieces.

Here are a few tips for creating this section of your social media portfolio.

  • Images are your friend. Find generic stock images representing the services you offer and the types of clients you serve
  • Highlight the services you offer
  • Make it interesting

You can expand on and explain the services you offer, or not. It depends on your target client and what will speak to him/her.

Second, list your clients

Gulp.

I know, we’ve been talking about the situation where you can’t name your clients or you aren’t sure how to talk about them. We’ll just do our best here.

Remember how you listed your services a few minutes ago? These are now our categories for organizing our clients. So, in my case it’s Consulting, Social Media, Blogging, and Platform Strategy. Divide your clients into categories (they can be in more than one) and make them look pretty.

If you can’t name your client then describe them. You can list them as a Wellness Company in Vancouver, BC for example. If you can’t show their logo or brand then find a nice stock image that represents the type of business they are. Now list how you worked with them according to your categories. Bing, bang, boom.

When you create a social media portfolio you can't always showcase your clients. If you can't, find an image representing their brand/business and describe how you served them.

Here are a few tips for creating this section of your social media portfolio.

  • Describe the types of clients you’ve worked with and the types of services you provided
  • Include links to client websites if you can
  • Include client testimonials where you can

In my mock-up example I haven’t expanded to this point but you can see how more is more here. However, if you can’t say more due to client confidentiality then a beautiful image and a short description of the work you did will suffice.

Third, make sure your personal social media profiles are optimized

I’m listing this third but your social media profiles are the first and best part of your social media portfolio. You don’t need them optimized to create a social media portfolio, but this is where many of your future clients will find you for the first time. You want to make a positive, memorable impression here. Wherever they find you.

In a previous training I outlined how to optimize your social media profiles but here are the highlights.

  • Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
  • Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
  • Link to your website
  • Include keywords about your services
  • Be clear on your location/contact info

A few other things to consider when you create a social media portfolio

  • Think about what you want to be hired for. Is it social media management? What about content creation, content curation, platform development, strategy, etc. Curate your portfolio to display that—you don’t need to list EVERY client or every freelance job you’ve ever performed (I mean, you can, but put some thought into it)
  • Things to cover: who you are (about), your mission, what you do, and who you serve (aka who you want to work with)
  • Is there an area you’d like more work in? Highlight this throughout your services, experience, expertise, and even which clients you mention

While I’m still building my social media portfolio, here’s what I’m doing with my writing portfolio on social media.

How do you create a social media portfolio in a way that demonstrates your experience and expertise but doesn't break client confidentiality?

By the way, the best way to let people know you’re available is by saying you’re available. It’s easy to look at your social media profiles as places where friends and family connect with you, so there’s no reason to talk about your business (don’t they already know what you do?) but what better place to find referrals than your friends and family list?

Optimizing your social media profiles is important! You want to ensure potential clients know who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you. I’ve put together five tips for optimizing your social media profiles in this free download. Just plug in your email address below and I’ll send it to you.

How to Add Captions to Facebook Videos

How do people add captions to Facebook videos?

How to add captions to Facebook videos

Subtitles. Words. Closed captions. How do you add them?

I wondered the same thing, is adding captions to Facebook videos some sort of magic I wasn’t privy to, or perhaps a paid feature for rich people? Well, it turns out there’s one easy way to add captions and I’m here to blow your mind. Maybe.

Do I need to make an argument for adding captions? You scroll through Facebook with your phone/computer on silent like I do, right? So even though “everything’s all about video” people still need a hook to draw them in. I believe the hook is captions. Tell people what they’re watching. Don’t make them work too hard.

How to add captions to Facebook videos

  1. If you’re on a page, click in the “write something” box and then on the camera icon like you’re going to add a new post (because you are). If you’re on a personal profile click on the Photo/Video link in the “what’s on your mind?” box. You’ll find this at the top of your timeline or news feed
  2. Upload your video, add your description and screenshot and then click post
  3. Once the video is ready to view, hover over the video and click the three dots in the top right-hand corner, then click on Edit Post
  4. Your default view is on the first tab, Basic. Navigate to the second tab, Captions
  5. Here you’ll see two choices: Upload SRT File or Generate. Let’s choose Generate
  6. Here’s where things get magical. You’ll see Facebook auto-populate your captions and now all you need to do is tweak them (their voice recognition is good, but it’s fallible)
  7. Once you’re happy with the captions, click Save to Video and you’re done! You have just added captions to Facebook videos you genius you!

If you’re wondering about the SRT File option, this is a SubRip file you have to set up ahead of time in Notepad or TextEdit. You’ll need to understand the formatting and know your caption time spans so if you aren’t following this sentence just stick with the Facebook-generated captions, alright?

Top tip: I schedule video posts for my clients and was dismayed when this didn’t work. When your post is scheduled you can’t generate captions to Facebook videos but you can still upload a SRT file. So don’t worry if you can’t generate captions—just create a reminder to add them once your video posts/publishes on Facebook.

Subtitles. Words. Closed captions. How do people add captions to Facebook videos? I wondered the same thing, is adding captions to Facebook videos some sort of magic I wasn't privy to, or perhaps a paid feature for rich people? Well, it turns out there's one easy way to add captions and I'm here to blow your mind. Maybe.

Other helpful resources