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Counterpoint: Social Media Scheduling Doesn’t Have To Eliminate Authenticity

Last week, I was shocked to find a story in one of my email newsletter round-ups that boldly railed against scheduling posts on social media.It’s inauthentic,” the author opines. “It’s lazy and it’s a terrible use of social platforms.

I’ve resisted the urge to be incredibly snarky about this advice, despite the fact that I think small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere could read this and think, “See? This lady is a professional social media expert! And she thinks it’s fine if I only post when I want to — I’m more authentic that way.

As they continue to invest time, effort, and money into social media that continues to do nothing for their business.

I’m a big proponent of social media for businesses. I’ve written about it as a non-negotiable for business owners in this age. I also think that if you’re not going to do it right, you just shouldn’t do it at all. Half-measures not only mean little in the digital sphere, they can sometimes hurt more than they help. Which is why I am going to attempt to limit the snark welling up inside me and instead try to offer a constructive counterpoint, one professional opinion weighed against another: scheduling social media posts is not a bad thing.

Did you know that people who smoke cigars live longer? Now you do. But it’s actually because of random things, like the type of people who smoke cigars are the type of people who also a) have disposable income, and b) believe in taking leisure time for themselves. It is not because the act of smoking cigars will prolong someone’s life. Correlation =/ causation.

If someone’s social media posts are inauthentic, and they use a social media scheduler to post them, the posts are not inauthentic because of the social media scheduler. They are inauthentic because the person who is penning the posts is not being authentic.

It is possible to schedule your standard two Facebook posts a day or four Twitter posts a day and still be honest, transparent, and authentic. How, you may ask? Great question. BE honest, transparent, and authentic.

Chances are that you got into a business because the product or service that you are offering is something that matters to you — it’s something that you believe in. So share content that is important to you and your customers. Create content that shows your experience and authority and that will be valuable to your customers. Post photos and videos of things that your customers will find interesting, amusing, and delightful. Then, schedule for that photo to be posted on Tuesday at 1 PM, when your customers are online and will see it. If the content is authentic, transparent, and honest, it should not matter that it’s scheduled.

There is a caveat here: let’s say (and this is a real-life experience from a customer I work with that happened last week,) that you have a beautiful customer-generated photo you’ve got scheduled…one that depicts a sunny day on a patio with champagne glasses and easy living. And then, the day it’s scheduled to post, it dumps 17 inches of snow on your city and the customer has to close for a snow day. Your sun and patio and champagne glasses would look a little silly being posted just then. WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?

Easy. Reschedule the post for another day when it makes sense. Then, go take a picture of the crazy blizzard or post a meme that depicts your feelings about being stuck inside and make sure to let the customers know you’ll be closed that day. Another option: run the photo, change the copy. “This is what our patio looks like in our dreams,” or “Dreaming of a world where there’s no blizzard and only day drinking.” That wasn’t hard. You can be relevant, current, authentic, honest, and transparent AND STILL SCHEDULE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS. You just have to make authenticity and honesty your first priority — but if it’s not, it doesn’t mean shit if you schedule posts or not. You just won’t be authentic in general.

There’s this pervasive idea among certain groups of people that that which is more efficient or which saves us time is also lazy. This is preposterous.

Is it lazy to drive three blocks to the store when you could walk? Maybe. But maybe not. Things to consider: Is it snowing? Is it raining? Are you on your way to another location directly after your stop at the store? Are you getting so many things that it would be an undue burden to try and carry them all back in one load? Are you able to lift heavy things? These will all be factors that you weigh when you think about whether you should drive or walk the three blocks to the store.

As with your trip to the store, scheduling social media posts is not inherently a lazy task. You have to consider all of your tasks and outside factors that would affect your decision and a judgment on whether or not it is lazy. Do you have eleventy-billion meetings that week and will not have time to give your social media audience “in the moment”? Maybe you have a blog published but you did it at 4 AM when NO ONE IS AWAKE AND ON SOCIAL MEDIA so it’s likely that no one will see it if you post it RIGHT THEN. Perhaps you run forty-five thousand different social media accounts and to sit down and post to each one “in the moment” would mean that you eventually become fused to your keyboard and permanently think only in 140 characters or less. Do you see why scheduling out your social media posts could be efficient, hell…even beneficial for your business and your audience, as opposed to trying to live your-best-in-the-moment-social-media-maven-self day in and day out?

Scheduling social media posts is not lazy…sometimes it’s downright necessary to free up your time for other things: other business objectives and tasks, other accounts, or even your friends, family, and personal leisure time.

This bugs me to no end.

Social media is an art, yes. But it is also a science. And to do it well, you must understand that there is a governing algorithm on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn that dictates how well you will or will not do with your social media efforts. You have to understand the algorithm well enough to know that the following affects the success of your posts: timing, length, frequency, content type, engagement, extraneous copy, cross-scheduling (sharing from Instagram to Facebook, for instance), duplicate copy/posts, and posting exact duplicate copy to different platforms that have different audiences. These things affect the will-or-won’t success of your social media posts. (It should be noted that Twitter and Instagram will soon be moving to algorithms as well, so this will be imperative advice for these platforms, too.)

If scheduling social media posts were a terrible use of the platform, Facebook wouldn’t have created a native scheduling option themselves. Now, here’s another caveat: scheduling posts from an external scheduler (such as HootSuite) to Facebook is a poor use of the platform — it will affect your algorithm. But that’s because Facebook has their own native scheduling tool — they want you to use their tool for their platform. That’s all.

Scheduling your posts helps you hit key points in the algorithm: post at times when your audience is actually online as opposed to 5 AM when you wake up and have a free moment. Scheduling a certain amount of posts per day so that you don’t piss off the frequency gods by posting too much because you were just too “in the moment.” Making sure that you don’t share between content platforms (sharing from Twitter to Facebook, for instance.) These are all important benefits of scheduling content.

When it comes to your personal social media use, it’s silly to schedule content…but not for your business social media use. Overall, social media scheduling is not the enemy. The enemy is not having a strategy for connecting with your audience. The enemy is not giving a shit about the content you push out to your audience. The enemy is thinking that you are better than the playground and refusing to play by their rules. The enemy is thinking that social media is a free-for-all that doesn’t even have rules. These things are your enemy when it comes to connecting in a meaningful way to your current and potential customers.

So develop a strategy, be authentic in your content, and schedule away — you’ll maximize your outcome if you can do it well.

(And thanks for dealing with some of my snark.)

Danielle is an Inbound Marketing Consultant specializing in content & social media strategy and development. Her clients include agencies, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small to mid-sized businesses. She makes her home in Denver, CO, where she can be found lamenting rising rent prices, reading, watching too much TV, and drinking too many mimosas/glasses of wine (dependent on time of day.) Follow her on Twitter @dtothemoney or on Instagram @donnie2chooch.

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Inbound Marketing Consultant + Writer/Public Speaker/Volunteer/Entrepreneur. Also, I watch a lot of TV. Opinions are my own. #inboundlife

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