There are days when I spend loads of enjoyable time writing new blogposts, creating images to share, and checking analytics, and then when I’m just nearly ready to close the laptop and sign off, I remember: I need to schedule social media posts for the next day.

Or, I need to follow-up with mentions. Or, I need to curate some content. Or, I need to do one of the myriad tasks of a social media manager, and wouldn’t you know it I’m just about out of time.

Saving time on social media is a big goal of ours at Buffer. We want to make it as simple as possible to share content and engage with your followers and fans. The simpler we can make things, the more time you’re likely to have left over.

Are saving time and finding time the same thing?

You can get a lot out of social media in as little as 30 minutes per day. The trick might be in finding those half-hours to work with. I’ve put together some thoughts on this, including what we’ve learned from experience and from the inspiration of others. I’d love to hear your social media time-saving tips and advice, too!

blog images

3 Ways to Create More Time

Is it possible to create more time in your day?

We often work to maximize the time that we do have. If I have 15 minutes to research a blogpost, then I can find the absolute fastest and best ways to maximize those 15 minutes. But what if I had 30 minutes? What if I had an hour?

Instead of maximizing the way we spend our time, is it possible to create more time to spend?

Garrett Moon of CoSchedule has one of my favorite ways of looking at this concept of “created time.” He’s identified three ways to improve overall team productivity:

  1. Add more tools (or in some cases people).
  2. Eliminate something, and hone in on what matters.
  3. Put in more time (or use it better).

Inspired by Garrett’s view on productivity, I’m happy to share some of our views on each of these three productivity areas in terms of how it relates to the way we share on social media.

The 15 time-saving tools we use at Buffer

Adding tools helps you spend your time more efficiently, creating extra time in your day. Not only are you saving time with the work that you do, you’re also adding those saved minutes back into your day, to reinvest and spend on the activities you deem best.

Here’re 15 of our favorite time-saving social media tools:

  1. Buffer – scheduling social media content and analyzing its key stats
  2. Canva – creating images to share on social and in blogposts
  3. Followerwonk – figuring out our ideal schedule for when to share on Twitter
  4. SumAll – tracking our social media stat growth via a daily email
  5. Pocket – saving and reading content to share
  6. Nuzzel – find the stories that our fans and followers are sharing on social
  7. Feedly – RSS feed management for our favorite blogs
  8. Swayy – personalized content recommendations
  9. Mention – tracking our Buffer mentions across social and blogs
  10. IFTTT – automating simple tasks like adding tweets to spreadsheets
  11. Zapier – additional automation options
  12. News.me – finds great content from those we follow
  13. Unroll.me – newsletter aggregation and management
  14. Bulk Buffer – adds batches of updates to our Buffer via a spreadsheet
  15. Bufferti.me – helper app for creating a simple Buffer schedule

Using your time better and eliminating something from your day go hand-in-hand. In my experience, a better use of time often means finding and removing any non-essential tasks.

The best areas to eliminate to create more time

Social media holds a unique spot when it comes to our time. It is a leisure and entertainment source, and it is meaningful for many individuals and businesses to share, sell, and engage.

Previously on the Buffer blog, Neil Patel shared his tips for saving up to six hours on social media, which—put another way—would mean adding six hours back into your day.

  1. Use a social media management system for posting.
  2. Budget a half hour each day for social media scoping.
  3. Have a customer service team member respond to questions and inquiries.
  4. Use a social media reporting system for analyzing metrics and measuring ROI.

Save time on Social Media

One of the keys to these tips from Neil is eliminating excess tasks and honing in on what matters. To find the excess, he dug into some of the areas where we often spend the most time on social media.

  • We spend about 1.5 hours each week wondering what social media actions to take or what has the highest ROI.
  • We spend 1.3 hours finding content to share.
  • We spend 1.25 hours trying to figure out what our competitors are doing.
  • We spend an hour on distractions, strolling through non-essential discussions or visiting clickbait.
  • We spend 45 minutes on inquiries and questions rather than using social media for true marketing.
  • We spend half an hour trying to learn the social media platform, rather than expertly using it.
  • We spend half an hour monitoring followups/likes/retweets, even though this has little ROI.

If we were to eliminate these tasks entirely, we would save nearly seven hours each week. Were we just to scale back a bit on these activities, we could find an extra three or four hours to spend more wisely with the meaningful parts of our social media marketing.

Which activities on social media could you eliminate or reduce?

I found a couple areas of excess that I was able to shore up a bit.

  • I used to spend a lot of time creating images to share on social. These images are now part of our blog post process, and we use Canva to make the process as quick and simple as can be.
  • I used to spend time going back to our recently published posts to reshare them. Now I schedule a new post multiple times over several queue slots as soon as it’s published. (Tools like CoSchedule make this type of scheduling quite easy).
  • I used to spend a lot of time sorting through the email notifications from social networks each time someone engaged with my updates or my profile. I’ve turned many of these email notifications off (turning off favorites was a good place to start).

What we’ve done to use our time better

The third element of creating more time—using time better—is another one we’ve given a lot of thought. Through experimentation and necessity, I’ve found some neat ways to share to social on the days when I really don’t have time to do so. These tips include:

  1. Scheduling your social media posts a week in advance
  2. Creating a list of go-to articles to reshare
  3. Finding a trusted source for content suggestions

I’d be happy to dig a bit deeper into each of these.

3 Ways to Schedule a Week in Advance

Previously, when I ran out of time to share to social media on a given day, I wished that I had scheduled updates ahead of time. My solution, therefore, was to schedule updates a week ahead. That way, if I did run out of time on a given day, I was covered.

Here are three ways you could go about this.

1. Batch the process.

Pick a day of the week for scheduling, and spend that time adding updates to your social media queue. Batching an activity in this way should make it a bit more efficient than dipping in and out of scheduling at random times throughout the week.

2. Upload a series of tweets using a tool like Bulk Buffer.

Add top-performing tweets to a spreadsheet, then upload the file to Bulk Buffer, which will add all the tweets right into your queue. Bulk Buffer does not yet support images, so you’ll need to go into the Buffer app itself to add images later on.

3. Create a content calendar for your social media sharing.

Twitter posted a neat interpretation of what this calendar might look like, identifying different types of tweets that could be scheduled on different days.

social media content calendar

Having scheduled these updates one week in advance, you can then hop in and out during the week to engage with your followers and fans, to share timely articles and new blog posts, and to perform the active, engaged elements of a social media strategy.

How to create a list of go-to articles to reshare

We’re big fans of resharing to social media. Sharing a post more than once helps it reach an audience that might not have seen it the first time (and with impressions hovering near 10% or less for most accounts, chances are that a minority of your followers saw it the first time around).

You can create this go-to list in a number of ways.

1. Use a separate account in Buffer to save your best-performing updates.

Drag them from your analytics into the queue of the separate account. Turn off the schedule for this second account so that the updates site in a sort of holding pattern. Then, in a pinch, you can re-buffer any of these posts to your main account.

2. Export your analytics from Buffer, Twitter, or Facebook, and mark the posts that performed well.

Add them into a separate spreadsheet or worksheet, and pull from this list when you need a new update – or upload your greatest hits using the Bulk Buffer method mentioned above.

How to find a trusted source for content

Curating great content requires a couple of steps.

  1. Find the content
  2. Read the content to make sure it’ll be a hit with your followers

We’ve found some great resources to help with the first element of this (reading the content remains a happy part of the way we spend a good portion of our time).

Find great content via …

  • Buffer’s content suggestions. The stories here are hand-curated by our Buffer team, led by Courtney. We’re eager to make suggestions an even more useful part of the app as well, so stay tuned for where these might go next!
  • Nuzzel, News.me, Swayy. These tools highlight the posts that are being shared by those you follow on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Twitter lists. You can create a go-to list of your favorite curators by adding them to a Twitter list. Browse the Twitter list to see all the stories they share .
  • Email newsletters. So much of the content we love comes via our inbox. We subscribe to newsletters of people who inspire us and websites we admire. Some of our favorites include Digg, 5 Intriguing Things, and The Next Draft.

Final thoughts

Having more time to spend on social media is an amazing gift.

  • Find some great tools to help you work a bit quicker, leaving more time at the end of the day to reinvest in social.
  • Eliminate some of the non-essential elements of your time online. Use the added time to work on what makes the biggest impact.
  • Spend your time wisely, and seek out some highly productive workflows to make things all the easier for you.

I’d love to hear any tips you’ve picked up on how to create more time to spend on social media! Please do leave any thoughts or ideas in the comments!

Image sources: Twitter, IconFinder, Blurgrounds, the Noun Project

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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! 🍟

  • Pandian

    Awesome list Kevan.. As mentioned if you are scheduling posts prior to a week.. Wont you be looking into the current happenings and share some tweets or posts about current events?? What tool are you using to skim through all the blogs everyday for contents.. Will Alltop help here?? or any other suggestion from you..

    Happy day.. Thanks:)

    • Hi! That’s a really great question. For the real-time, current happenings, I like to keep an eye on social media streams at scheduled times each day, then I’ll retweet or reshare posts that seem interesting. I’ll also share right away any content that catches my eye in Buffer’s content suggestions or in Feedly. Buffer has a nice option to “Share Now” or “Share Next,” which bumps the post to the top of the queue. Hope this helps!

      • Pandian

        Thanks Kevan. Any suggestions for the other question??

  • Hey Kevan! Excellent post per usual. As I was reading, I was thinking of questions I had – and low and behold, you answer them later in the post. 🙂 I didn’t know about Bulk Buffer and am excited to give it a try.

    Regarding the using another account – what exactly do you mean? Put them in buffer for your personal account, then switch them later? I’m probably missing something there…

    And of course, as always – thanks for the Mention shoutout!

    • Hi Shannon! Thanks for the great comment! Yes, I could have been a bit clearer on how to use another account. I’ve created a second Twitter account (@fakekevan) and linked this to Buffer. I add content to this buffer; I’ve removed the schedule from @fakekevan’s buffer so that all the updates I add sit in the queue, never posting. Then I drag-and-drop the content from the @fakekevan queue to my personal Twitter profile and the Buffer profile. How does that sound?

  • Jennifer Kesler

    Swayy is a huge time saver, and outperforms similar tools at choosing articles in my sites. I do a lot of selective reBuffering now that I’ve been on Awesome for 10 months and have a ton of good content. I also have some trusted sources.

    One recent change: I’m one person doing all the work on several sites. I was doing different images for Pinterest and the networks that prefer landscape, but then Facebook changed the size for link photos and all my images looked wrong the way they cropped. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I have redone some of these photos dozens of times in the past 5 years. Plus, visitors pin/share the “wrong” photos to their chosen networks. This decided me: forget the ever-changing standards of networks. What looks best on my site is square photos. Now I shoot perfect squares so the middle of the photo looks good, which hopefully is where every network will always crop, and that’s what every body gets. I don’t find square imaged do badly in Pinterest. People really share share what appeals to them – my best shares come from some old, very popular content with truly lousy photos by today’s standards.

    Sometimes getting over the idea you have to meet everyone else’s standards is a time saver. I’m devoting that left over time to social media and content production, which are where I get a better ROI on time spent.

    I a,so need to check stats less often.

    • Hi Jennifer! Awesome stuff! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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    • We also do squares for the most part (our blog layout’s feature image calls for something different, but it is hosted off-site). As long as the photo conveys interesting content and looks nice, people seem to be willing to share. Having to change your photos for every social media revamp is indeed a frustrating experience!

  • Jon

    Timely article Kevan. As a social media manager for a niche agency I’m solely responsible for posting to approximately 60+ accounts on a daily/weekly basis. Always having fresh and professionally crafted posts can at times be a big challenge so I’m always in search of tips and tricks to automate different parts of the process. I’m intrigued by platforms like IFTTT and Zapier but haven’t employed them heavily as of yet. Problem is that I kinda just don’t know where to start honestly. Love the suggestions in this post. Will definitely be analyzing my process more and checking out tools like Bulk Buffer.

  • David Butler

    Another amazingly helpful article that saves us time. Thanks Kevan! I’d like to suggest people consider the application iPositioning as a time saver. iPositioning saves time creating and ideating original social stories. So once you think of a story idea; scout or scoop some supporting media; ask a friend to fill in some helpful details; plan a series of post; the result is a better story and a lot faster. I find having a dashboard app that captures all the original content from everyone quickly and then scheduling using all these tools and Buffer to publish is wicked fast.

    • Thanks so much, David!

  • Anna

    I have to remind myself to use Buffer more…that’s my issue! Because I’m just a blogger and not a business and my income does not depend on views I get lazy and I use Buffer whenever it dawns on me. What I found really useful in this article is all those tools you shared…I started using Pocket, because my No2 issue is find content to share that is not mine!

    • Hi there Anna! Thank you for the comment! It’s really useful to hear your workflow and perspective. If there’s anything we can do to help here, please feel free to let me know!

      • Anna

        if only buffer had a way to remind me to load my feed!! but I’ll have to just write it down on my weekly diary in order to actually DO it! the engagement is always higher (even marginally) when I do use Buffer!

        • Hi Anna! I can definitely see how that would be really handy! Are you signed up to get our “empty Buffer” reminders? To get an email nudge when your queue is empty, you can go to “My Account” on the top right and then click email settings. There you’ll see an option to turn on the email. 🙂

          • Anna

            ah thanks just did that! Question, on a free account for how many days can I load content to share?

          • You can queue up to 10 posts, so it depends a bit on how frequently you like to post. 🙂

  • Killer post Kevan! ( I just turned down the volume on my Twitter notifications – thanks)

    p.s. here’s a great timesaver for Google Analytics >>

    https://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-analytics-dashboards/

    cheers
    PaulMBoyce

    • Thanks so much for sharing the timesaver, Paul! Awesome stuff!

      How do your new notifications feel?

      • Hey Kevan – honestly, the “someone favorited your tweet” messages were a “feel good”, but having turned them off my inbox is much cleaner… 🙂

  • TakeActionWAHM

    I’m sad because the amount of time you were wasting per week is about what I waste every day… or at least it seems like it sometimes!

  • Awesome post Kevin!
    Thanks so much for the Swayy shout-out 😉

  • Rimsha Saleem

    My friend at seo training in lahore has asked me some days later that what is the method to find out a new and impressive topic for blog writing? I replied him, simply read others, try to explore new blogs daily, while reading them, your mind will blink and suggest you a charming and unique topic to write on.

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  • Lili Gyor

    i’d add http://tweio.com/ as a time saving app, as well 🙂