Why I Ditched My Social Media Scheduler (and How I Survive Without It)
For years now, I’ve used one social media scheduler or another, planning my posts in advance. I don’t plan for any particular campaign strategy, but rather to gain flexibility in my schedule. But just this week, I ditched my provider, and I have no regrets.
Added features, rising prices
In the past, not all social media platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn offered scheduling options. So, if you wanted to set up posts in advance, your only option was to use a third-party scheduling tool that would bypass the issue by posting on your behalf at the time you set. There wasn’t anything particularly complicated about this. All you had to do was give the social media scheduler permissions to your social media accounts and you were good to go.
But two things now smack me in the face. First, a social media scheduler can be hecka expensive if you’re working with quite a few accounts (i.e., 10+). The one I used was about $1,200 a year. If you’re a social media manager working for a company, that’s a drop in the bucket of a typical marketing allowance. But if you freelance like so many creatives and I do, that’s quite a few hard-earned pennies. So, I became hyperaware of cost increases and resolved not to spend more than necessary.
As social media scheduling companies upped their prices, social media platforms added the ability to schedule. They also began providing internal analytics capability so users could see how their posts were performing. This shift meant that, with a little copy and paste, I could cross-post just about as quickly within the native apps as I could within a scheduler. My subscription to Canva easily allows me to customize my images and videos according to the requirements for each platform, as well.
Tracking and analytics? Still not a problem without a social media scheduler
I know what you’re thinking. But how do you see all of your analytics and keep track of what’s scheduled in one place?
Ah, the glory of the traditional spreadsheet. To track what I’ve scheduled on which platform, I put three time slots for each account as rows, with a little color coding making the platforms easy to differentiate at a glance. The days of the week are columns. Each week gets its own sheet. When a sheet is older than two weeks, I generally don’t have a use for it anymore and delete it. Two template sheets that accommodate alternations in my weekly schedules mean I never have to rebuild the setup. BUT, if you prefer the look of a traditional calendar, you always can try this spreadsheet setup from Hubspot–simply make multiple sheets for different months and you’re all set.
As far as analytics, there’s this little thing called export. Just about all of the major platforms now offer the ability to export your data, and if you combine that with tools like Zapier that can automate, boom — you can pull your data into your spreadsheets in real-time.
So what is the point of paying $1,200 a year for a social media scheduler? For me, there isn’t any anymore.
Now, this isn’t to say this approach will work for everybody. But once I got into a flow with it, it felt easy — certainly no more difficult than using the schedulers, which often had their own constraints that caused problems. One scheduler I used wouldn’t allow me to post videos or GIFs to Pinterest, so I ended up needing to post natively to that platform anyway.
Reinvesting your social media scheduler money
So, the question becomes, what might you then do with the $1,200?
My suggestion? Boost your posts. As it gets harder to maintain visibility on platforms due to algorithmic changes, paid posts are becoming one of the only ways to get a significant number of eyes on your content. So if you’re going to play that game, you might as well put social media money into social media, just in a different path.