Imagine taking a week off at the beach while your social media profiles hummed along without missing a beat.

One of the greatest social media superpowers you hold—as an individual, a brand, or an agency—is the ability to control time. With the right tool, you can post into the future so that the next two days, two weeks, or even two months are taken care of, no matter where you happen to be.

Social media automation makes it possible to save time, stay flexible, and plan your online marketing strategy down to the very minute.

It works for folks managing a single profile. It works for folks running 363 profiles.

Marketeering Group happens to fall into the latter category with—yes!—363 connected profiles for nearly 200 individual clients (and that number increases every week). Their online marketing agency, based in Seattle, Washington, helps local small businesses create and manage a full online presence with web design, content creation, SEO, multimedia, and—at the heart of the strategy—social media.

The job of scheduling content for the 363 profiles falls to two people, Jessica Dringman and David Parker.

Without the ability to work ahead on evergreen content and future planning, sharing such a high volume of social media updates simply wouldn’t be possible.

automate save time social media

How to manage your time on social media

Inside the strategy of an agency that shares to 100s of profiles each day

The foundation of Marketeering Group’s strategy is a simple and brilliant two-step process.

  1. Create high-quality, evergreen content
  2. Schedule this content on social media

For the first part, Marketeering Group enlists the help of staff bloggers who create articles that address the needs, problems, and solutions for each client’s audience and customers specifically. To supplement the written content, Marketeering Group also has an in-house videographer and photographer who help create professional multimedia. The content then gets scheduled and published to a client’s blog and scheduled and published for social media.

When it comes to social media scheduling, Jessica and David think far in advance.

They schedule enough posts to fill the next two months for each client profile.

All this scheduling happens in Buffer, where Jessica and David automate social sharing by combining the different elements of the client’s content (blogpost, video, photo) into unique updates.

David says the ease-of-use for scheduling with Buffer saves him a half-days’ work, every day. Jessica agrees:

I don’t even think what we do would be possible without Buffer.

The challenges of social media automation

One of the built-in risks in scheduling content is losing the personal, relatable aspect of social media. It’s a risk and challenge that Jessica and David are eager to solve.

Our biggest challenge is finding a balance between being personable and relatable and using our time effectively. It’s a battle between time management and a focus on relationship-building, being genuine, and interacting with the community. When you have so many accounts to manage, it’s hard to balance it all.

Working at the scale they do—363 profiles and on pace for 500 by the end of the year—leads to big pressures on time and efficiency. And they’re the same pressures for everyone—whether you manage profiles in the hundreds or handfuls.

How do you balance getting work done fast and also taking things slow to engage?

It’s a great question.

And one that so many social media marketers are looking to solve.

The answers are likely to look different for each agency, brand, and individual. Engagement can be a personal topic, which is what makes it such an investment of time and also such a meaningful interaction.

Still, if it’s answers you’re looking for, here are a few quick ways to add a bit of a personal touch to your efficient social media strategy.

Thank those who reshare your content.

A simple thank you can go a long way—and it’s a quick gesture to make. You can thank by replying to the person who shared, favoriting their update, or following their account. A super fast way to find these folks is to click into the details of any individual post. You can do this directly from Twitter, Facebook, and the other social media channels; you can also find this info in Buffer by clicking into your analytics.

buffer view retweets

Share content from those who follow you.

Add retweets and reshares to your social media strategy, and be purposeful about highlighting your followers as part of this reshare effort. You can track VIP followers in a Twitter list or by following on Facebook. Then, when a relevant tweet or update comes across, pay forward a bit of happiness by sharing the post on your profile.

Use direct mentions, hat tips, and vias as often as possible.

Whenever possible, address others directly on social media, linking to their profile so they receive a notification.

  • On Twitter, type a username beginning with @. (If you try this in a Buffer update, you get a smooth autocomplete option.)
  • On Facebook, start typing a name and then choose the profile from the dropdown that appears. To tag a page, place an @ before the page name.
  • On LinkedIn, simply start typing the name of a person or brand.
  • On Google+, type a person’s name beginning with +.

The 5 best automation and reporting tools for agencies

Having the right tools has been key for Jessica and David to accomplish the high volume posting and management they do. Here are five of their most-used tools.

1. Buffer

Buffer lets you manage multiple social media accounts from one dashboard, whether it be your personal profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, or the 363 profiles of 100 small businesses as Marketeering Group does.

Having everything in one place is a huge time saver. Here’s the difference it makes for Jessica:

Buffer keeps you organized, keeps you sane. Otherwise we would have a million things active. This way, we can go leave for the weekend and know things are still gonna be posted.

Buffer allows us to put out better content and not be so hasty, and that drives traffic eventually.

Some of Jessica and David’s favorite Buffer tips are the draggable content, both in the way you can move content up and down the queue and the way you can drag an update from one queue into the queue of another profile.

The extension is key to their sharing as well. No matter where you are, you can click the extension to save and share the link and add straight to Buffer.

2. MavenLink

MavenLink’s project management tools help Marketeering Group stay connected with their clients. With MavenLink, Jessica and David can record what they’re doing for each client account and send the client an updated feed and report of what they’ve been working on.

3. Raven Tools

Known for its SEO services, Raven Tools has been a helpful tool for Jessica and David to track the response to social media marketing, following up on campaigns by noting the traffic and referrals from social.

4. Latergramme

Latergramme is a type of Instagram scheduler, with a twist. Since Instagram does not allow third-party scheduling, Latergramme sends you a push notification at scheduled times; opening the notification opens your image in Instagram for you to manually post.

You can set up a full schedule in Latergramme, via their iPhone app or via the web app, and get reminded when it’s time to post.

5. ViralWoot

Like Latergramme is for Instagram, ViralWoot is for Pinterest. You can schedule pins to Pinterest via ViralWoot (and follow up on all sorts of neat stats through the tool as well).

viralwoot

Over to you

Whether sharing to a huge number of profiles or a small number, there remain some common strategies and challenges. Automation can be a key component to a well-planned social media strategy, not to mention a huge time saver and stress reliever.

How far out do you schedule your social media posts?

Is automation part of your online marketing strategy?

It’d be great to hear your take in the comments!

Interested in sharing at scale like Marketeering Group? We’d love to help! Start a free 30-day trial of Buffer for Business today!

Image sources: Blurgrounds, IconFinder, Leshaines123

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Written by Kevan Lee

Director of marketing at Buffer, the social media publishing tool for brands, agencies, and marketers. We’ve got a new podcast! 🍟

  • Huggy Bear

    another great tool that you introduced to me sometime ago is IFTTT. Set it and forget it. Keep up the great work

    • Great to hear, thanks!

  • Karen McCamy

    Great information, Kevan…as usual!

    I’m wondering what you (or anyone) recommends for handling the vast time-expenditure of social media…for a solo (freelancer).

    I use Buffer and can’t imagine having any degree of social media presence without it! I limit my presence to the optimal four profiles for my demographic (WordPress for beginners), but still feel I’m not able to stay on top of it on a regular basis. I also use CoSchedule…but have the same time-management issues…

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Karen; I would use HootSuite to set up my social media profiles so that you can manage and maintain your social media channels and engage any time effective manner. It also contains a scheduling tool and you can cross a lot of ground every day in the short amount time

      • Karen McCamy

        Thanks, Ana Lucia… Before I disovered Buffer I tried HootSuite and NEVER got it to work! I had issues with connecting to Facebook, and it was one technical problem after the other…I tried for months and I’m sorry to say their technical support was seriously unsupportive! I finally gave up, since it was taking far too long just to trouble-shoot the problems… When I discovered Buffer, I never had those problems! It worked perfectly from the outset… I was under the impression that HootSuite was the same type of service as Buffer… Perhaps they have expanded…

        • Hi Karen! Yes, Hootsuite provides a similar service to Buffer. I think they might have expanded into a few new areas, too. At the core, we both offer social media scheduling, which I know makes a huge difference for me! 🙂

          I wrote a bit about social media time management in this post, if it’d be helpful at all to you. Or maybe you’ve seen it already? 🙂 https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-time-management

          • Karen McCamy

            Hi Kevan,
            Thanks for clarifying (confirming) about HootSuite…

            I DID read your article about SocMed Time Management! It was a great article, but at this point in my niche, I’d be hardpressed to be able to do the “finding” in 5 minutes / day! I’m needing “time” to implement it! (LOL!) It’s really a balancing act to handle all the different tasks for a freelancer/solo…

            I’m hearing about IFTTT from several sources lately so I’ll have to really dig into it.

            Thanks for all your efforts! Buffer’s articles are the few I always read from start to finish! They are always that good! 🙂

  • It does cut sharing time in half but it also reduces reach on Facebook by 90% (I’ve tested for this) so how is that useful?

    • Your fans may have turned off third party tools – BUT its Facebook not Buffer as to why your posts arent seen.

    • Very interesting results! Sounds like one we can dig into on our end, too. Thanks for the heads up! Definitely want to help you reach as many fans as possible, on any network! 🙂

      • I’d like to know what your finding was here. This is a major concern for one of my large clients that I recommended buffer to. Thanks.

  • TheMikeBal

    I was expecting a little more on automation tools and recipes like Zapier or IFTTT. I love everything you guys have in place to automate the busy work of social but I’d love to see you take it to the next level and automate some integrations between the channels and also highlight the downside to certain types of automations.

    • Hey there! Really great points and suggestions there, thanks so much for sharing that insight with us. I wonder if this post about automation might add a little more depth for you? https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-automation-guide

    • Used to work with them

      They use plenty of IFTTT. 🙂 recipes to help take in notifications mostly, and to publish to tumblr.

  • Jess

    Just a quick correction: ViralRoot as you have it is actually Viralwoot (with a w).

    • Whoops! Thanks so much for the heads up on that! It’s all fixed up now. 🙂

  • Hi Kevan! Excellent informative post! I did not see anywhere in your blog post about the content curaration section of Buffer. This has helped me in so many ways! I do have a tip regarding how to balance between curating content and spending time engaging. If you take one day a week where you can focus on scheduling great content across the board using buffer, then you can schedule in time each day to engage in Rich manner. Its a balance and a habit but realisitic.

    • Hi Ana Lucia! Yes, that’s an excellent point! I love how you’ve found a schedule that balances the automation with the engagement. 🙂

  • I forgot to mention ViralTag is an amazing Pinterest scheduler and Onlywire.com allows automation of RSS feeds (3) and your blog posts into top social media sites including delicious, StumbleUpon, Google plus business page, your LinkedIn company page, and Pinterest and you can select a specific board.

    • dianne9836

      upto I looked at the bank draft of $5625 , I accept that my sister woz actualie making money in there spare time from their laptop. . there great aunt has done this 4 less than seventeen months and a short time ago paid for the loans on their villa and bought a brand new Car . go to this website…..>> -> START MAKING ONLINE EARNINGS EASILY!!! <-

  • Surprised Edgar isn’t on here… automation AND strategic recycling of content.

    Link –> meetedgar.com

    • Karen McCamy

      Todd,
      thanks for the info on “Edgar!” I’d never heard of it, so checked it out. It seems like an interesting model, however the initial configuration seems quite time-intensive (setting up categories, scheduling, etc.), and the price points seem to be geared more for businesses than freelancers/solopreneurs. It would no doubt be great for social media companies and agencies, and the costs and time would then be justified, and could be offset by client billing.

      • It is definitely way more up front time from what I hear as opposed to a different tool (say… Buffer??).

        I think it’s fairly new, and was probably created with the people you mentioned in mind. The unique selling point is the algorithm it uses to repeat content over certain amounts of time.

    • Thanks for the tip, Todd! Excited to check this one out. 🙂

  • Loving the Analytics/follow back trick! Thanks for that one!

    Do you guys use the new scheduler? I think it’s an awesome addition to Buffer. Now when I add a new blog post I can post now, in a few hours, days or decide and add lots of new times in one go and send them all. Love that!

    • That’s really great to hear, Todd! Personally, I’ve been using the new scheduler (via the browser extension), and I find it to be super handy. Glad you’re having a similar experience!

      • ooh… via the browser extension – nice move! (me too!)

  • milad heydari
  • Yuvrajsinh Vaghela

    Before 2 days, I have visited, https://tiempy.com/ – for scheduling post in almost all social media sites.

    I was not sure, whether it is genuine and secure to use or not !

    Please let me know if you have any idea about it.

  • Latergramme is a tool that I’ve come to really appreciate. I love the concept and the team has been really great in terms of responding to feedback and constructive criticism. They just keep making their product better and better.

    I don’t know if it can be called automation, but the program JustUnfollow offers a lot of high valuable Twitter content in very easy to access screens and allows for you to accomplish a lot of organizing and house cleaning in one interface… so yeah, not automated, but streamlined maybe? Yeah, that sounds right… streamlined 🙂

    • Hi Dave! Thanks for the comment! So glad to hear you’re getting value out of Latergramme. And I’d love to dig deeper into JustUnfollow! Sounds like there’s a lot more to the tool than simply follow/unfollow features. Excited to see what it offers!

  • 363 profiles to manage?! Wow!! I am currently managing about 5, and I have to say, ever since I signed up with Buffer, it has been beyond helpful (and for those of you reading, no, I am not affiliated with Buffer in anyway, I just love it!). I typically schedule my posts about 2 days before, and it makes my life so much easier. I will definitely look into some of the other tools mentioned above.

    • Yay, Lindsay, I am so happy to hear that! Let us know if we can help make your Buffer experience better in any way at all!

  • Thanks for sharing, I use Buffer and IFTTT.

  • Johno Ormond

    HI there, I have a problem with Buffer which hopefully can be resolved.

    I do not know how to share a post from someone else’s social media – on my buffer queue.

    In other words, someone makes a post to their facebook page. I wish to share that post as part of my twice daily buffer auto-posting. How do I add that persons social media post to my buffer queue.

    Thanks for any help. Sorry if answer was in article, I skimmed and did not see it – TL;DR. Johno

  • Great tips. Follow most of them. I would just add that we created Hiplayapp.com to automate evergreen posts re-buffering 🙂 Saves a lot of time. I use it a lot myself.