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There was a point about a year into my blogging career where I felt like the most stressful part of running my website was finding time to regularly keep up with all my social media accounts.
I felt like I could barely stay afloat and that it was keeping me from more important tasks. I wondered if maintaining all my social media accounts was worth it, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to have a strong social media presence in order to reach and connect with my audience wherever they were.
So I decided to make it my goal to figure out a way to reclaim my time and put my social media mostly on autopilot, so it could keep delivering content to my followers, bringing me clicks, and building my following without requiring my constant attention.
In this article, I’ll share with you the exact tools and methods I use to run my own social media accounts. I’ll also give you a short-term “keep your head above water” action to take for each of the major social media platforms that can buy you time until you’re able to identify the best social media strategy for your business and put long-term systems into place.
Note on Automating vs. Engaging on Social Media
Before I jump into ways to automate your social media accounts, I want to talk for just a minute about why I would want to do that, and whether or not it’s a good idea for you.
One of the most important things to know as a blogger is where your audience is online and how people discover and engage with your blog.
As a general rule, the more you personally engage on any social media platform, the more successful you’ll be there–your posts will be of higher quality, your audience will be more loyal and more responsive, and your content will be shown to a wider audience. But it’s not humanly possible to be fully engaged everywhere online at the same time. Therefore, I believe the most important thing is to figure out where your audience primarily “hangs out” online. That’s where you’ll want to focus the majority of your time and energy, and in order free your time to do that, you may want to find ways to reduce your time on less important platforms (without letting them die altogether), which is what I’ll tell you how to do in this blog post.
Before you begin: Optimize your blog posts for social sharing.
It’s important that before you start sending your blog content out into the world of social media, you get it ready to be shared. That way, when someone shares a link to your blog, it will show up with a nice picture (not one that is blurry or cropped weirdly) and an intriguing description.
If your links are shared on social media without being optimized first, then later even if you go back and add nice images and descriptions later, they will already be stored in Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest the old ugly way, and you’ll have to go through and “debug” them one by one.
Also, if people are sharing your blog posts on social media without a visually appealing image and a crafted description, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity for free advertising.
To learn about how to optimize your blog posts for social media (and to learn how to debug your links if needed), read my article about how to make your blog posts shareable.
With that said, let’s dive in….
If you’re not a Twitter user yourself, you may wonder if it’s even necessary to have a Twitter account these days. I believe it is a good idea though, and here’s why:
- It gives people who do use Twitter (especially other bloggers) a way to promote you. I myself look for articles from other bloggers in my niche to share on my own Twitter account, and I always tag them if they are on Twitter.
- It can help improve your blog’s SEO. The more links back to your blog you can spread around the Internet (in a non-spammy way, of course) the better.
- It’s the easiest social media platform to automate. If you choose, you can use Twitter without spending any time on it and just have it out there working for you.
- Create an account for your blog if you don’t already have one. If you have a personal account you use regularly, you can just stick with it as long as it’s professional and something you wouldn’t mind your followers seeing, but if you want to go the more hands-off route, I would suggest creating a new account for just your blog.
- Make it look professional. Change the background color to match your brand colors, add your logo or headshot to the profile page, and most importantly, write a description with a link to your blog in the profile section. You could even include a link to a free download.
- Connect it to your blog. Tweet all your new blog posts, preferably automatically. If you use the Jetpack plugin, under Settings > Sharing you can toggle a switch that says “Automatically share your posts to social networks” that will do this automatically. Personally I don’t like my new posts shared automatically, because I sometimes hit publish before I remember something important (like a featured image), and the Tweet is already out there looking ugly with a big gray placeholder image. So for a bit more control about exactly what’s tweeted and when, you can use a plugin like WP to Twitter, which will let you create a custom tweet for each blog post that you can manually post straight from your WordPress post editor.
- Link it from your social icons. If you have social follow icons on your blog (which you should), don’t forget to add the URL to your Twitter account.
- Use Buffer.com to share content you come across. If you find a good article, share it using Buffer. The free version will let you queue up to 5 posts to drip out to your social media accounts on your preferred schedule.
If you do those things, you can totally ignore your account for a while and in the meantime you’ll be filling your feed, perhaps gaining followers, and giving your fans an account to tag if they Tweet your posts.
This is the strategy I have used for my own RV Inspiration Twitter account, after first implementing the short-term steps above.
- I built a small following. To do this, I followed all the other bloggers in my niche, and every time I logged in for a few days, I would follow all of the accounts Twitter suggested to me that had usernames related to RVing, so that way Twitter would hopefully start suggesting me to other RVers on Twitter.
- I started automatically sharing new blog posts from a few other trusted bloggers in my niche. This helped my account start tweeting relevant content on a regular basis. To do this, I used a free website called IFTTT.com to create an RSS to Twitter “applet”. (The RSS feed URL for any WordPress blog is simply TheBlogsName.com/feed.)
- I started sharing (and recycling) my own content on a regular basis. Once my account was regularly posting relevant content, it was time to start mixing in some of my own content. My first attempt at doing this was through a plugin called Revive Old Post, a WordPress plugin that automatically recycles your blog posts by sharing them on Facebook or Twitter on a regular basis. I used this plugin for several months before deciding to replace it with SmarterQueue, which I’ll explain next. If you’re looking for a free way to automatically recycle your content, this article explains a way to use IFTTT.com in combination with Google Calendar to repost your existing content to Twitter and/or Facebook.
- I started using SmarterQueue to share curated posts. My IFTTT.com and Revive Old Post combo was imperfect. Sometimes I would log in to my Twitter account and see posts that had been tweeted automatically that looked ugly and robotic. I really wanted a better solution that would allow me to automate my social media posting without it looking like it was automated. For me, an online software called SmarterQueue solved that problem. It’s a social media scheduling tool that lets you add content (or bulk import it through RSS) to specific custom categories which are posted from and recycled (if you choose) on a regular basis. I use it for both my Twitter and Facebook posting, and it can also be used for Instagram and Pinterest.
- Important: I use hashtags in all my posts. I always include 3-4 relevant hashtags in each Tweet I schedule. This helps my Tweets come up in search results for those hashtags and get in front of new users. I also tag any bloggers whose content I share, because often they will retweet my post.
It took some time to get it set up the way I wanted it (and most of that time was spent figuring out what worked and what didn’t), but I’m pretty happy with my Twitter feed at this point. I’ve gradually gathered a few hundred followers, I don’t have to spend any more time on it than I want, and most of my posts get a couple of retweets, which is the exact result I was hoping for.
As much as I sometimes wish I could leave Facebook forever, unfortunately I find it to be one of the most consistent places to connect with people on social media. The nice thing is, over time Facebook has made it easier for admins to manage their Facebook Page.
- Create a Facebook page, if you haven’t already. Make it look professional, and get rid of any extra features you don’t need, such as reviews or the ability for followers to create posts.
- Create a pinned post that directs visitors to your blog. This would be a great opportunity to link to a free download you offer.
- Set up your blog to automatically or easily share new posts on Facebook. You can do this in a variety of ways, including using the Jetpack plugin like I mentioned earlier, or using IFTTT.com, or a specific plugin.
- Create a few month’s worth of posts using the Facebook scheduler. I suggest batching this process to make it faster. For example, first grab the URL’s of 12 of your old blog posts and schedule one to share each Sunday for the next 3 months. Then go find 12 blog posts from other bloggers in your niche and schedule one to share each Friday for the next 3 months. Then go to Canva and create 12 images with quotes you like and schedule one to share each Tuesday for the next 3 months. You get the idea….
- Use Buffer.com to share great content you find. When you discover a good article you want to share on your Facebook page, save it to your (free) Buffer queue. Not only will this let you post to both Facebook and Twitter, but it will make sure your posts are spread out instead of posting 5 great articles on one day and nothing the next day.
- If you want, create personal posts in the meantime. Sporadically post on your Facebook page whenever you want, knowing that even if you forget to post for a while, your account will still be posting regularly at least a few times per week.
If Facebook is an important part of your social media strategy, I recommend paying for a social media scheduling tool. I’ve done free trials of several of these tools, and SmarterQueue is the one that I like the best, mainly because of the post recycling feature, although you don’t have to use that feature, or you can set certain posts to only post once or to stop being recycled after a certain date (this is useful for when you’re promoting something time sensitive like a product launch or an event).
If you don’t want to recycle posts at all, Buffer offers a similar posting system (the ability to fill a queue with content that will post at regular times instead of having to choose a specific date for each post) at a cheaper price per month. If it’s important to you to schedule posts for specific days, then Later.com is great because you can see all your posts laid out on a calendar.
The great thing about all of these tools is they let you create a post one time and share it to multiple platforms, saving you the time it would take to post to each platform one by one.
Ah, Instagram. I have such a love-hate relationship with this Instagram. Hate because I am not a frequent Instagram user myself, but love because it’s been such a great way to connect with a lot of people in my blog’s niche.
My Keys to Instagram Success
Through the process of building my Instagram following to over 50k, I discovered these to be the most important elements of building a following on Instagram:
- Aesthetics. Since Instagram is all about sharing images, you have to make sure that the images you share are attractive and will grab people’s attention and hopefully make them pause. Otherwise they’ll just scroll on past.
- Consistency. This means not just posting on a regular basis, but that all of your posts need to be similar, so when someone scrolls through your feed, they see that they’re going to get more of the thing that brought them there to begin with. “Similar” doesn’t have to mean just visually similar, although it can. It just means there needs to be some common thread linking all your posts together. To get a feel for what I mean, I recommend looking through some of the feeds of Instagram accounts recommended on the main page of Instagram.
- Hashtags. Just like on Twitter, adding relevant hashtags to your Instagram posts is the way to get your posts in front of new eyes.
- Personal interaction. The more you follow new people, comment on people’s pictures, write meaningful captions, and respond to comments (i.e. engage), especially early on, the more successful you’ll be on Instagram, because Instagram rewards posts with high engagement with increased exposure. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is really true on all social media platforms.
If you don’t intend to focus on Instagram as a major component in your business, I suggest simply creating a professional looking account that will let people who are looking for you find you, which then directs people to click the link in your bio to visit your blog, perhaps by offering some sort of freebie.
That’s what I decided to do with my Instagram account for The Blogging About Blogging Blog, because I already have a personal account I prefer to use for connecting with other bloggers.
Borrowing an idea from another business Instagram account I saw one time, I created a square image in Canva, used a free photo collage tool to cut it into four separate images, and uploaded these images one by one so that when you view this account on a phone you see a large image in the feed. (Here’s an article with more information about how to do this.)
Decide what kind of Instagram account you want to have. If your goal is to make money with Instagram, you need to come up with a solution that helps you achieve the criteria I outlined above. If you just want a place to connect with your audience, then personal is the key.
Either way, I suggest using a scheduling tool like Later.com or Planoly to schedule your Instagram posts in advance. For your main feed, stick to posts that are visually appealing. Use Instagram stories for sharing your most personal and vulnerable content.
If your goal is to build a huge Instagram following and start attracting sponsors, let me tell you, it is a lot of work and very time-consuming. If you enjoy posting to Instagram constantly, you’re in luck. If not, you might end up needing to do what I and many larger bloggers and brands do, and hire a social media manager or virtual assistant to run your social media accounts.
There is no way I could have (or would have) built my RV Inspiration Instagram account on my own. Instead, I laid out the criteria, created a system, and hired a VA to do it for me. @RVinspiration is not the Instagram account I used when I was just starting out; it is a newer Instagram account I created after my blog was already established and profitable. @OurRVAdventure my first RV-related Instagram account, a personal account I tried using for my business which I later pretty much abandoned.
The thing about Pinterest is this: it’s not actually a social media. I know you can follow people and add friends, but its purpose isn’t really to connect with and engage with people; it’s to find and save content.
In order to determine whether Pinterest is something you should focus on in your business, try searching on Pinterest.com for topics related to your blog content and see what comes up. You should be able to tell pretty quickly whether your type of content is popular on Pinterest. If it is, you’ll definitely want to have a Pinterest account. If not, it might not be worth spending too much time on your own account; you’ll just want to make sure your blog posts all contain at least one nice vertical image with a good description of the blog post as the alt text so those who do want to save your articles to their Pinterest boards can.
If you do plan to use Pinterest, here’s the formula I suggest:
- Create a Pinterest account specifically for your blog if you haven’t already. It’s important for a Pinterest account to stick to one topic, so don’t try to convert a personal account to a business account. If you have a bunch of content already saved to a personal account that you want to move to your business account, you can do this by making your business account a collaborator on those boards, then moving the pins to a new board once you’re logged into your business account.
- Create a few topic-specific boards based on your blog categories. I would suggest maybe six boards. Then go pin a bunch of content to those boards – maybe 15-20 pins each. For example, if you blog about fitness, you might have a board titled “Inspiration”, and you could search Pinterest for “Fitness Quotes” and pin a bunch of inspirational quotes to that board. This will start training Pinterest what your boards are about, so later when you add your own related content to these boards, Pinterest will show your content to people searching for those topics.
- Enable Rich Pins. Learn what rich pins are here, and learn how to easily apply for and enable them using the Yoast SEO plugin here.
- Create a board with the same name as your blog. Or you could call it something like “Best of [Your Blog Name]”. Pin all of your existing blog posts to this board, and add any future blog posts here as well. Before you do this, make sure your rich pins are working and your blog posts are optimized for Pinterest.
Without a doubt, I recommend paying for scheduling software if you intend to try to use Pinterest to attract people to your blog. My personal choice is Tailwind; it’s the most indispensable software I use, and the first one I paid for as soon as I could afford it. I believe the volume of traffic it has brought me would not have been possible for me to achieve with manual pinning, at least not without severely delaying my success due to the sacrifice of my time.
If you can’t afford Tailwind or are needing the biggest bang for your buck, you could start out by using SmarterQueue to schedule pins for Pinterest as well as scheduling content for your other social media platforms. SmarterQueue’s post recycling and category options make it an attractive choice for managing Pinterest posting, though you will want to carefully monitor the frequency with which you’re posting (especially if you’re recycling content) to avoid accidentally spamming your account or group boards you’re on.
However, Tailwind is really ahead of the game, and since Pinterest is really its specialty, it offers many features that you can’t find anywhere else.
Here is the basic long-term strategy I follow for Pinterest:
- About once per month, I fill up my posting schedule with content relevant to my boards, all sourced from other bloggers in my niche and/or my Tailwind Tribes (which are niche-specific groups you can join within Tailwind). I try to have my account pinning between 10-15 times per day, but I take care not to pin the same URL more than once per day (this is something you can adjust when you add a pin to your queue).
- Whenever I publish a new blog post, I always add a nice vertical image optimized for Pinterest with a keyword-rich description, and then I schedule the new post to be shared to all my relevant boards, setting it so that it’s only pinned from my account once per day at most (usually I set it to pin every other day).
- I am part of several niche-specific group boards, and I also own a few myself. Joining other active, high-quality, niche-specific group boards is a good way to extend your reach on Pinterest, and owning a few active, high-quality group boards of your own helps your account stay active without you having to be the sole person maintaining it.
- I regularly recycle my own content to all relevant boards, taking care not to publish the same URL or image to the same board more than once every few months (Tailwind’s post recycling feature “SmartLoop” allows you to set rules that automatically prevent this to avoid looking spammy to Pinterest).
Free Social Media Checklists!
For a simple to follow list of actions to take to set up and automate your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, fill out the form below to have my free Social Media Setup and Automation Checklists emailed to you.