Three Free To Use Tools That Stop Social Media Stealing Your Precious Time

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vector birdSince the beginning of Facebook back in 2004, it seems Social Media has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, the list continues and appears to be growing longer by the day.

As an increasingly important method of interacting with customers, marketing your products and keeping abreast of the latest trends, you may be wondering how on earth you are going to possibly find time to maintain all those profiles (in which case you certainly aren’t alone).

It’s true, social media can easily take up a vast amount of your time if you allow it (particularly if you easily fall into the social media black hole of procrastination – yep, we’ve all been there!) However by using a few, user-friendly tools, you can soon be developing a strong online presence without the need to be glued to your newsfeeds all day.

Today I’m going to introduce you to three tools that I use regularly for social media management – Hootsuite, Buffer and Feedly.

1.  Hootsuite

Hootsuite is perfect for managing all your social media profiles in one place. Here’s why:

Only login once to access all your profiles

Forget the days of having to login separately to each individual account. With HootSuite you can link Twitter, Facebook and any others you may be signed up to, so that you can see everything in one place. Just think of it as a filing cabinet containing all your accounts for which you only need one key. Not only that, but if you have a message that you’d like to share with all your profiles, simply type your message into HootSuite, select the accounts you’d like it to be sent to, then click ‘send message’. Easy.

Organise your profiles so that information is easy to find

With so much incoming news it can be difficult to keep track of the people or companies you are most interested in. With HootSuite you can organise your profiles into folders and lists so that you can quickly and easily scan your newsfeeds and zoom in on the most relevant information.

Schedule messages

Scheduling is a fantastic feature of Hootsuite. You can’t always be in the right place at the right time, so if you need messages to go out at a time when you’re busy doing other things, try scheduling your messages. You can set the exact time and date that you’d like the message to be released so that you can focus on other things.

How to get started…

Hootsuite is free to use for up to 5 social media accounts, which for most micro business owners is going to be plenty. Simply sign up for an account on the Hootsuite website, connect it to your social media profiles and you’re good to go!

2.  Buffer

Buffer enables you to give the appearance of a constant online presence without logging in every 5 minutes. Here’s why it’s a sensible tool to use in your micro business.

Spread your messages out throughout the day

If you’ve ever logged in and found your whole newsfeed to be taken up almost entirely by one person, it’s likely they are simply logging in and putting all their messages online in one go. Using social media in this way is quite common – however it’s certainly not the most effective and it can reduce the likelihood of your messages being read.

Buffer is a fantastic tool that enables you to spread your messages out through the day. As well as “drip feeding” your communication, it also allows you to reach more people who login at alternative times (especially useful if you target internationally). You can set the times that you’d like the tool to release your messages, then all you have to do is figure out your posting strategy, create your content and queue it up.

Easily share interesting content with your followers

One of the most useful features of Buffer is the Buffer Button. Download the button onto your browser and whenever you come across a useful article, blog post or video that you’d like to share with your network, simply hit the Buffer Button and it will be instantly added to your queue. This is a highly effective way to add variety to your content strategy (so it’s not always stuff from you). What’s more, sharing other people’s content is a great way for building relationships and adding value to the people who follow you.

How to get started…

Buffer is a free tool to use and you can be up and running in 5 minutes. Simply sign up for an account on their website and get connected to your social media accounts. Remember to download the Buffer Button onto your browser too. Then once set up, you can begin queuing your content and using the Buffer button whenever you come across interesting articles.

3.  Feedly

Feedly is an RSS reader that’s easy on the eye and great for finding content to share. Here are some reasons I like this tool:

Find inspiration, news and events to share

Social media is not just about telling people what your latest news is. To be successful on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform, you need to be engaging with other users and providing interesting content that’s going to help you attract followers and stimulate two-way conversation. THAT is where Feedly comes in.

Feedly is a lovely and very easy to use RSS feed reader that brings together all your favourite websites in one place and updated with their latest news and posts. Designed to look like a magazine spread, it is easy on the eye as well as being simple to set up.

You can use it as a source of inspiration, information as well as a way to keep up to date with the industry you’re concerned with.

Link your social media accounts for quick instant messaging

A great feature of Feedly that makes it particularly handy for using alongside social media, is that you can connect it to your various profiles for instant messaging to your followers. Any article you read within your Feedly browser will have buttons next to it, allowing you to share directly to your social media profiles. You can also save the article in a folder which you can return to at a later date – great for collecting your favourite articles.

How to get started…

Feedly is a free service that works through Google, so if you don’t have a Google account you’ll need to set one up first. Sign up for a Feedly account using your Google login details on the Feedly website. Once set up, you can begin adding your favourite websites and organising them into folders for easy browsing.

What do you use?

What tricks do you have for saving time on social media? Please let me know in the comments below.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

There’s no question that social media is a highly effective micro business marketing and networking tool. If you’re not using it to stimulate conversations and build an audience you’re seriously missing out. However, if you’re not careful, social media can quickly turn into a time drain. If you know your time on social media could be better managed, explore some of these tools today. It could help you get more done in less time.