What actually is social media scheduling? Well, I can tell you it’s a lot simpler than writing time slots in your diary to remind you to open Twitter and post that very important tweet at exactly 6.15pm. Social media scheduling, rather, does all that hard work for you. Using an external website or app – for example Hootsuite or Buffer – you can set up a queue of posts, give them a date and time to be published, and the site does the rest for you.

It goes without saying what a huge amount of time this saves, but what else can be said for scheduling? Well, not only does it help you manage your time better, it arguably helps with workflow as well. Though it depends entirely on how an individual works, creating content one post at a time has some clear downsides versus creating content for a whole week in a single sitting. The content can become more interlinked, with a clearer thought process and consistent voice than the bitty process of making posts here and there.

The other great thing about scheduling is the ability to cross-post your content with a single click of a button. Hootsuite, for example, allows up to three social profiles on their free plan, so you can send the same post out to Twitter, Facebook and Google+ (or Instagram, WordPress, LinkedIn…) on the same day and time, while only actually creating said post once. The free plan also offers some other nice perks, like basic analytics for tracking follower growth and to see what posts do well. For a more in-depth guide on the intricacies of Hootsuite and how to use it, check out this video guide!

As much of a god-send scheduling software is, it’s important that it doesn’t take over. People need to know they’re engaging with other people, and not a bot, which is an instant put off for many. Posts queued in a schedule should still have an air of ‘in the moment’ about them, be relevant and up-to-date, to give the impression that there’s a real person behind the keyboard. Engagement should never be left solely down to scheduling, and the social profiles utilising the scheduling should still be posted on in person as well, to let followers and potential followers know that they will be interacting with an active and available person that will be able to reply to them if necessary.

So, becoming schedule savvy is going to be a great boon to those who use social media across various platforms, and it’s definitely worth reading into. As long as you remember to still keep your finger on the pulse, or rather on each social media platform, and don’t sound like a robot, social media scheduling might just become your new best friend.

We invited our great friend Jo Booth the Social Media Training Expert in Manchester from Social Media Makes Sense to write this article. You can find her here on LinkedIn.