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How social media scheduling tools could work against you..

Diane Hall


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For small business owners, tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social can save them time and stress. When entrepreneurs produce their social media content, they don’t have to set an alarm to post it at the required time; after uploading their content onto a scheduling platform, they can choose when it goes live. Different audiences ‘tune in’ at different times of the day, and a scheduling app can ensure your post hits the mark whilst you get on with your work.

They definitely make things more convenient; however, social media platforms may not be as excited about them.

Some people believe that posts via third party scheduling tools are penalised, i.e. that the social media platform’s algorithms place less priority on such content, compared to posts that are entered directly into the user’s feed.

Other people believe this is a myth.

There have been tests carried out, pertaining to this idea; however, most have been conducted by the companies behind the various scheduling tools—you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know which side of the argument they’d be on.

Linked in on a phone

Linked in on a phone

According to sources at LinkedIn, there are drawbacks from scheduled posting. If a new post goes out at the same time every day, the platform’s algorithm will not treat it as favourably as ‘natural’ posts, which are likely to be unpredictable and sporadic. Perhaps they believe that most businesses would have peaks and troughs and days when they have more to say than others, which would lead to varying degrees of activity on the site. This would suggest a human is behind the posting (rather than a bot or an automated application); as a social media platform, it does sound like something LinkedIn would champion.

The nature of an algorithm is typically kept under wraps by social media companies, guarded like a national secret. There are many reasons why a user’s engagement may dip, and the use of scheduling tools seems to be a common assumption.

When you think of it logically, if you’re posting your content into a scheduling app and programming when it should send the information over to the social media platform in question, you’re not actually on the social site itself. For example, if you’re using Hootsuite and adding your weekly batch of Tweets, you don’t need to set foot on Twitter. Why would any social media platform—which thrives, the more users it has at any one time—reward such behaviour? If everyone scheduled their posts, who would actually be on the site to read them?! As well as this, your post is going to be more formal and laboured in nature, rather than if you posted directly on to the platform; when posting there and then, you’re likely to share how you’re feeling at that moment or discuss things happening at the time. With the latter, you’ll sound more ‘present’ and in the moment, which is usually better for engagement.

Plus, if you were to use a scheduling tool, how would you deal with people’s reactions to what you’ve posted? If you’re too busy to post at the time, you’re likely to be doing something else when a contact responds to your post, perhaps in the hope of having a conversation. The connection is somewhat diluted when there are many hours in-between your responses. It doesn’t exactly scream ‘social’, does it?

Scheduled posts tend to stick out a mile, because they’re clearly rehearsed and without the same depth of feeling spontaneous posts have. There is the flipside, of course: a scheduled post is unlikely to be inflammatory or derogatory, as the poster has had time to think about what to write—when you say the first thing that comes into your mind, you’re more prone to gaffes and inaccuracies.

There are arguments on both sides as to whether scheduling tools are worth using, regardless of the algorithms. They offer convenience and consistency to people who are often time-starved, but they don’t really align with what social media as a whole aims to achieve. A scheduled post is better than no post at all, but it will never be as good as engaging with your audience/connections in the moment.

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