Is there a dependency on scheduling tools? The importance and focus that many agencies, businesses and individuals are putting on scheduling tools when using social media concerns me. I am of course referring to the likes of Buffer and Hootsuite; other scheduling tools are available :)
I've been meaning to write this article for a while and was prompted to after witnessing last month’s social media posts, and felt that, enough was enough!
1. Be aware
I was looking at the many posts where the respective agencies and individuals had forgotten about the bank holiday Monday and had scheduled tweets and posts, as if it was a normal Monday. Yes, I'm sure these are honest mistakes, but it just underscores the reliance people have on scheduling tools and the unsocial way that they are being used.
2. Use the Channels
When talking about social media or referring to social media, it feels like the focus is on making sure the scheduling platforms have been updated, rather the social media channels. It seems like they are being perceived as the way to use social media.
3. Yes and No.
Do we need scheduling tools for social media? … Yes of course, many social media platforms themselves have schedulers built into them.
Is that the only way that we should be using social media? No, it's not.
4. Using Schedulers.
Here’s what I mean… You might have the best scheduling tools and software out there, that allow you to:
- Receive questions
- Allocate tasks
- Follow your fans
- Post on your channels
Plus, many more activities that the user, scheduling company or the platform deem useful. However, for me social media is so much more than this.
5. It's called SOCIAL media
The clue lies within the title… it's called SOCIAL media. So basically, that tells us, we should be social; and what is being social? In the simplest of terms, it's about having a conversation and listening to what others say. For me the latter is the most important… It's about LISTENING to what people say, and in the case of a business, it's listening to what your customers are saying.
Think about it this way… If you were at an event having a conversation with a few people and during this conversation one-person asked another, if they know anyone who works in a particular field (that field being yours). Even though they are not directly asking you that question, you can still join the conversation, by saying that you work in that field and offering assistance.
It is the same with social media, if people are discussing a topic, even if they do not @mention you… If you're following the conversation you can still join in.
6. A Two-way street
Social media is about being part of the conversation. It's a two-way street and not just about making sure you select the busiest time to post. It's about understanding what your customers are talking about and being part of their conversation, answering questions, solving problems and pre-empting their needs and wants. It's also about following conversations, they might not necessarily include your brand name, but are important in helping you understand your customer.
7. Because it's easier!
For me, scheduling doesn't give you this. In many cases, it feels like scheduling is simply becoming a routine. Something that people do as part of a checklist and then give themselves a pat on the back once it's complete. Why? Probably because it's easier.
8. You can use scheduling.
I am not saying that we shouldn't use scheduling. Of course, it has a place and use. You might have a New Year message that needs to go out at midnight or have time sensitive launches and campaigns.
9. Who needs to use schedulers.
There are other examples too… Big organisations and businesses often deal with customer complaints/enquiries through social media and need scheduling tools to allocate tasks and make sure they respond within set times.
Hard-working individuals; who are trying to run businesses, put in a day’s work and do social media, all at the same time, need assistance. So, using scheduling tools allow them to do this and rightly so! However, this is more of a short-term fix for the individual, rather than a long-term social media strategy. In the long term, if the opportunity cost of them doing it themselves is too much, they should delegate/outsource their social media.
Furthermore, each social media platform has its own unique language and an audience who want to be social in different ways... eg. even if the message is the same, the way a post is curated and shared on Facebook is different from twitter. This is not simply about word count, but the way in which the audience wants to read and process the information.
In summary, I believe there is an over reliance on scheduling tools and there is a disconnect in the way that they are being used. We should not forget the social element of social media and how it is important to be part of the conversation...
After all, people buy people.
Kaz Laljee, @mrkazlaljee