This blog post looks to outline a number of platforms currently available to users to help them with their specific needs.
There are now a number of social media content planning tools available to organisations that can help organisations both plan their content and schedule posting. Dialogue Consulting has recently done a round up of some of the more popular tools available (this is not a complete list) on the market as well as conducting a short survey with a number of people working in different areas of social media content management (PR, in-house, freelance, etc.)*. The survey looked at their actual use of social media content planning tools and the current processes in place for content approval. The survey did not ask about the organisations publishing methods.
The survey revealed that the majority of people working in the social media field (94%) plan their social media content in advance. This planning takes place between 1 – 4 weeks before content is due to be posted, with one organisation scheduling their content up to one year in advance. This is a positive response, as planning is an important part of social media content management. A more concerning finding was the lack of content management systems (CMS) that these organisations used to manage their content. Rather, excel was the most popular tool (51%), closely followed by team meetings (47%), Google Docs/Spreadsheets (43%), and emails (41%) to organise and manage content. A few organisations used Google Calendar and even fewer used any kind of CMS, for example, Asana, Trello, or HootSuite (some organisations used multiple tools). In addition, many of the participants indicated that their business had some sort of approval process (67%), most of which were conducted over email (63% of those that obtain approval).
CMS give organisations the ability to track changes from idea to approval, keep users to a deadline, encourage real-time collaboration, have all information pertaining to a particular task in the one place, and schedule posts for the time of their choosing. There are two main types of platform: those than help with content workflow, and tools for scheduling and publishing. HootSuite Publishing was the only platform found to do both adequately. That said there is scope for a CMS with the combined function of approving content and then scheduling it for social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Tools that help with workflow
Trello is an organizational tool that can be used to increase workflow efficiency on a professional and personal level. It allows for collaborative discussions, task delegations/nominations, and workflow tracking. The platform works using a series of “cards” that can be moved from one status “pitch” to another “approved”. On each of these “cards” users can attach files, add people to each task, have real-time discussions on each item and all of this information remains attached to the “card” as it progresses through the content planning process so that it is easily tracked. Although Trello doesn’t appear on a calendar, but rather a dashboard, due dates can be set for each item, with items turning yellow as a reminder that the due date is approaching. Trello is compatible with mobile (android and iPhone) devices well as iPad, Mac and PC. Trello is a free platform with an open API so that developers can create their own plugins and extensions.
DivvyHQ is similar to Trello in that it runs on a dashboard display. However, unlike Trello, DivvyHQ is more professionally focused with a more comprehensive shared calendar system. The calendar system allows for a number of calendars to be built (all appearing in a single thread on the users dashboard) for each content type, department, topic, and so on. These calendars are then colour coded on users personal calendars/to do list so that they can easily see how busy their coming week is going to be and what areas require their attention most. DivvyHQ also allows for progress tracking and content approval (similar to Trello), so that users do not need to seek approval using email discussions and spread sheets, which can be inefficient. DivvyHQ also has a “Parking Lot” feature where new ideas for content can be stored until the next team meeting. DivvyHQ costs between $60 and$200+ per month depending on team size.
Asana’s editorial calendar can also be used to improve workflow, track content changes and due dates, attach documents to items, real-time collaboration and idea generation. Projects can be created with individual tasks within each. These tasks can be assigned to specific people and tracked by changing the task status. In addition to real-time collaboration, users can privately inbox colleagues if necessary. Unlike DivvyHQ and Trello, Asana does not have an approval process integrated into the platform. Asana costs $50-$800+ per month depending on team size.
Prepare.IO is an online editorial calendar built specifically for social media marketers. The online planning tool works in the same way that emailed spreadsheets and Google calendars do. However, everything is in the same place and there is the ability to attach additional information to each task. The editorial calendar also has status tracking abilities and the ability to attach a priority tag. Unlike other platforms, Prepare.IO allows for client access, so that they can track project tasks and have real-time collaboration more easily with your brand. Like other platforms, Prepare.IO has an ideas/inspiration feature where new ideas can be stored for later use. Unlike other platforms, Prepare.IO has the ability for companies to give outside marketers their social network passwords and account information to be kept safe. This means that in the situation that a team member leaves, the passwords are still accessible to the new employee. Unlike other platforms, the subscription is based on projects rather than members. Prices range from $19-$99 per month.
Google Docs allow for the sharing and collaborative editing of content and content spreadsheets. Although the Google Docs system is free, it is very basic compared to other available platforms. Also, as members are required to use their Gmail account a number of government departments cannot access them
Tools that help with content publishing and scheduling
ScheduGram is a simple way for organisations to manage their Instagram accounts. It helps save time by allowing organisations to upload and schedule images to be posted on Instagram at a later time. ScheduGram does not have collaboration and editing capabilities of the other platforms, rather it represents the final step in content management: publication. In general, content management systems (CMS) only consider the process of content creation and approval and make publication a separate task. ScheduGram completes this process for Instagram content, but is yet to move into publication for other platforms. Prices range from $13 – $100+ per month and are dependent on the number of Instagram accounts an organisation has as well as the number of followers.
Note: Schedugram was created by the Dialogue Consulting team.
Buffer is similar to ScheduGram, except used for the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net platforms. Its purpose is to schedule and then publish posts on these platforms at the users nominated time. In addition to scheduling, Buffer also has an analytics and insights feature where users can get detailed analytics about the reach and engagement with their posts. Similarly to ScheduGram, the platform is not designed to manage the content creation process from idea to approval; rather it only handles the publishing and post-publishing side of things. Prices start range from $50 -$250 per month depending on the number of accounts and team members.
SocialFlow is another publishing platform for content and advertising publishing. However, unlike Buffer and ScheduGram, the user does not choose when the content is posted, rather the SocialFlow algorithm posts the users content when their followers are online and/or talking about a relevant topic. Social Flow works on both Facebook and Twitter. Similar to Buffer, users have access to the analytics and insights so that they can see how their content is performing. Prices were unavailable on their site.
Tools that can do both
HootSuite publishing is just one feature of Message Management and the wider HootSuite platform. The publishing feature allows for content to be written, drafted, approved, and scheduled for publishing. Other platform tools include team creation, which is best used in larger businesses, and custom analytics that can review Facebook insights, Google Analytics, Twitter Profile Stats and so on all in the one place for a particular topic. HootSuite is free for individuals (up to 5 accounts), $10.79 per month for 50-100 accounts and then quote based for organisations larger than 100 people.
Employee Advocacy Tools
Apart from the various tools available, organisations can work to increase employee advocacy as a way of improving their brand content spread and quality. This can be achieved in two easy steps.
- Allow employees to submit content that they think should be featured.This is referred to as the “Parking Lot” on DivvyHQ and there are similar tools available on other platforms. The idea behind letting your employees have a voice in what the organisation publishes helps to increase their sense of ownership and through that, pride in their work.
- Encourage employees to share content and let them become brand ambassadors.This is made easier by achieving step one. If employees are willing to be brand ambassadors/advocates, it gives a human quality to the larger organisation as well as exhibiting a sense of pride and faith in the organisations. However, if employees are going to be brand advocates a social media risk management policy needs to be in place. This policy will outline how employees should use social media in both a professional and personal setting, as well as outlining the various consequences for failing to follow the policy in place.
There is an abundance of social media content planning tools currently available to organisations of all sizes. However, a number of organisations are still using email and excel spreadsheets to organize their content. Although these methods might work, it takes a considerable amount of time to link all communication about a piece of content together, making it very difficult for the team to get a full understanding of the project, or for a new member to join the team. Rather, organisations should consider using a content management platform. They are an affordable option that will help to streamline workflow. As the current survey did not ask participants why they did/did not use a content management system, there is scope for further study that reviews the reasons for and against moving to such a system.
*NOTE: 49 participants took part in the survey.