Market your writing with regular updates on social media. Here are free tools authors can use to schedule posts.
There is no doubt that social media can be a time suck. How often have you gone in to do a quick check and 30 minutes later you are still there scrolling your feed? While you do need to go in regularly to check for comments and messages, you need to limit your time so you can get back to your writing.
With your content master list, your microcontent posts, and scheduling tools, you can create a system to provide regular updates. Using tools that have a free plan will save you money as you grow your following.
There are many scheduling tools out there and most offer a free trial period. What I want to focus on are tools that offer a free plan. This lets you use it for as long as you want and see if it works. If you like the tool but need more, you can then upgrade to a paid version.
The list below are the tools that I use, and I’ll compare what each one offers. Take your own needs into consideration when choosing, but since they are all free, it is worth trying them.
Please note: the information about each product is accurate as of July 2020. While I will do my best to keep this post updated, realize that each provider can and likely will make changes to what is available. If you notice a change I have not recorded, please leave a comment or send me a message.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you choose to make a purchase, I may be compensated at no cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used.
Hootsuite lets you set up multiple streams such as your feed, your scheduled posts, your posted posts, your comments, messages, and Twitter lists. You can reply to Tweets and retweet from within Hootsuite. You can see as many or as few as you want.
To schedule posts, go into Hootsuite, either desktop or app, write the post, and add an image if needed. Hootsuite uses their own link shortener, although you may want to use one link shortener that lets you track the results.
Your have several scheduling options to choose from: post now, select the time you want it to post, or select auto-schedule. Auto-schedule will go at the next open slot from the scheduled times you previously set up.
Probably my favorite feature is the Hootlet extension. When I find a webpage I want to share, I click on the extension in Chrome, and a pop-up opens. It is prefilled with some basic information and a link. You can edit and add hashtags then schedule it to post.
The free plan allows 3 social media profiles and 30 scheduled posts at one time. You can schedule to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and an Instagram business account. (Edit – as of April 5, 2021, Hootsuite’s free plan has changed to 2 social media profiles and 5 scheduled posts at one time. While I still like Hootsuite and will likely continue to use it in some fashion, this reduction in free posts has me looking at other options as well. Their paid plans begin at $49/month.)
I have used Hootsuite for 7-8 years and continue to find it an easy way to share links to other people’s content on Twitter.
Later was originally developed, and continues to focus on, scheduling to Instagram. This means that all posts must have an image attached. That isn’t a bad thing, however. Even if you are posting your content to Twitter, attaching an image helps your post to stand out.
With Later, you upload images and store them in your Library. When you want to use that image in a post, you drag it from the library to the time you want to schedule the post. Then fill in the text you want to go with it. You will need to shorten your link as Later doesn’t automatically do that.
After your post is scheduled, you can see it in your calendar. You can move posts around to different times by dragging it to a new time slot.
Available on your computer or by app on your mobile device.
The free plan allows one profile per platform and 30 posts a month on each platform.
You can schedule to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Later also has a feature called Linkin.bio which turns your feed into a landing page. If someone goes there looking for a link you mentioned in a post, they look for the image from that post, then click on it.
I use Later to post my content to Twitter and to Instagram.
Buffer lets you upload images and schedule posts. You can auto-schedule, post now or schedule it at the time you wish. Buffer will shorten your links.
Buffer is available both online and as an app on your mobile device.
There is also an extension that lets you create a post from the webpage you are on. Like the Hootsuite Hootlet extension, this makes it easy to share content from others.
Buffer has a free plan that you can switch to after you do a 14-day trial. So for two weeks you can take advantage of more features that they hope you will find you need and be willing to pay for.
Their free plan is for 3 social media profiles and 10 scheduled posts at a time. You can schedule to Twitter, Instagram (business and personal accounts), Facebook (page or group), and LinkedIn (Page or profile). (Edit: As of June 30, 2021, Buffer now allows scheduling to Pinterest business accounts on the free plan.)
I use Buffer to post content to LinkedIn.
As you may guess from the name, this is for scheduling to Twitter only. Tweetdeck is now owned by Twitter, and you have to be signed in to Twitter to use it for your account. If you have multiple Twitter accounts, you will need to sign in to each one separately.
As with Hootsuite, you can set Tweetdeck up to view your scheduled posts, your feed, comments, messages and other views.
Tweetdeck is a good tool for scheduling. There is no limit on how many tweets you can schedule. You can set up feeds for scheduled tweets, messages, posted tweets, etc. It does not offer link shortening.
Best of all, TweetDeck is completely free to use. If it works good for you, you never need to worry about needing to upgrade.
I use Tweetdeck to schedule tweets for a client. Be sure you are logged in to Twitter then give Tweetdeck a look.
You can learn more about using Tweetdeck from this video.
Facebook has always wanted users to post through their platform Since you can schedule posts through the Publishing Tool and Business Suite, and it is free to use, there is no reason not to.
Please note: this is for Facebook Pages, not personal profiles.
I schedule to my Facebook pages with the Business Suite scheduler.
Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can use Facebook’s Business Suite to create and schedule posts for Instagram as well. While you don’t want to always post the same thing in both places, it is nice to be able to schedule them from one place when you do. Note: This scheduling is for your feed only, not for Stories.
Log in to Facebook, go to your page, then click on the Business Suite in the left sidebar to get started.
Pinterest isn’t a social media site. It functions more as a visual search engine and can be very powerful in helping your content be seen which is why I’m including it here.
If you have a personal Pinterest account, convert it to a Business one. This allows you to schedule pins within Pinterest and gives you access to your analytics.
Scheduling on Pinterest only works if you upload the image; you cannot schedule a pin from a website. I still believe it is a good way to drip your content out to different boards over time.
You can schedule 30 pins up to 2 weeks out.
Go to Pinterest, click to create a pin and see what the scheduling options are.
In order to take advantage of the free plans, you will need to use different tools for different sites. It will take time to develope a plan that works for you, and it will take time a bit moe time to switch between them for scheduling. When you are starting your author marketing journey, it may make sense to use these free options. You can switch to a paid plan on the tool that works best for you when your author business grows.
I’ll address ways to set up your posting plan using free tools in a later post.
Which of these will you try? Which tools are you already using?
Do you know of any other social media scheduling tools with a free option? If you do, please leave a comment. I’m always looking for other options to try and will have another post with new ones I find.
Struggling to develop a plan to promote your writing on social media? I can help! Schedule a consultation and let me help you plan your posting schedule and select the free tools that work for you. Fill out the form on the Contact page, including your email address, what social media platforms you are on, and any scheduling tools you currently use. Together we can do this!
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