Social Media Dashboards for Authors: Free Apps May Not Be Your Best Option

by | Apr 29, 2015

By Frances Caballo

Who has time to sit at the computer all day scheduling tweets and LinkedIn posts? Not you, right?

That’s why a key to efficiency on social media is to schedule your posts throughout the day using one or more social media dashboards.

An ideal way to start the day is to curate your information. Once you find information to retweet and craft your tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn posts, etc., you can use one or more applications to schedule everything.

Notice the words one or more. It can be difficult to schedule all of your images and updates using just one.

Can One Social Media Dashboard Fit All Your Needs? Not Likely

As you begin to investigate social media dashboards, a problem can arise. It seems that no one social media dashboard can take care of all your needs.

For example, a client wanted me to schedule tweets using her HootSuite account. But I noticed a problem right away. All the images that I scheduled for the week appeared as links in her followers’ news feeds.

Not good.

You see, depending on which article you read, images increase retweets by 35% to 150%. (In my case, images increase retweets closer to the 35% to 50% mark.)

When those images appear as links, there’s no point in even scheduling them.

You see, you don’t want to use a social media dashboard that turns an image into a link because it takes quite a bit of incentive for someone to click a link in a tweet – especially one that may only have one or two hashtags and that doesn’t clarify what the link will lead to.

For all your followers know, that link may lead them to a virus.

So what’s an Indie author to do? That’s not an easy question to answer. What I can tell you is that there are numerous options for you to consider. You just need to realize that one social media dashboard may not meet all your needs, especially if you are looking for a free application.

And who doesn’t love free?

Social Media Dashboards for Most of Your Updates


Hootsuite logo

HootSuite
Writers new to social media tend to gravitate to the free version of HootSuite. It’s fairly easy to set up and will allow you to post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a limited number of LinkedIn groups. You can even aggregate your social media news feeds so that you never have to visit the social media networks if you don’t want to.

The paid version – starting at $10/month – allows you to post to Google+ pages (not profiles) as well as a variety of applications. To have access to analytics, you have to sign up for a paid version or pay per report.


Tweetdeck logoTweetDeck
The beauty of this application is that it downloads to your desktop, so you don’t have to be on the Internet to check your timeline. Once you download the program, you can check your Twitter account and respond to Mentions, Direct Messages, and Retweets as they occur. Owned by Twitter, it’s easy to setup and use, but you can only use it for Twitter.


SocialCast

SocialCast
Formally known as MarketMeSuite.com, with this application you can connect your RSS feed (blog), Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. You can also manage your brand and conversations about you, and follow and unfollow users. In addition, you can connect your Constant Contact or MailChamp accounts, receive Google News items, and have access to analytics. You get all of this for $20 a month. SocialCast offers a 14-day free trial.


pluggiologo

Pluggio
The tagline for this application is Tame Twitter: Get your life back with time-saving tools! You can use it to schedule your tweets, find friends and review analytics. This application also has a drip feed feature that allows users to randomize tweets at different hours of the day on different days. The free plan is perfect for Indie authors. However, because this application is just for Twitter, you will need to use another application for your other social media networks.


MediaFunnelMediaFunnel
The starting price point for this application is $5.95 a month, and you can use it for your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr accounts as well as for your WordPress.com blogs. This application will also monitor mentions of you on a 24/seven basis. And you can integrate this application with bit.ly to track click through rates.


Socialoomphlogo

SocialOomph
I like to describe this social media dashboard as having superpowers. You can manage your social media networks from a combined newsfeed for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn (LinkedIn groups, pages and profiles), Foursquare,
Flickr, and Picasa. It also allows you to post to a myriad of social media networks as well as reply and retweet messages directly from your inbox. And you can send email messages from a variety of programs including Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and other accounts.

This application tracks click through rates and growth in tweets and followers. If you’d like, you can also integrate bit.ly to track your click through rates through SocialOomph. And, you can randomize your tweets by rotating them at a variety of intervals from hourly (I do not recommend repeating tweets on an hourly basis) to once a year. When you schedule images on the social media dashboard, your images will not appear as links.

Integrating Facebook is tricky. So you won’t be able to schedule easily updates to your Facebook profile. Personally, I use Facebook’s built-in scheduling feature on my Facebook page. If you want to schedule updates to your Facebook profile, without the hassle, you’ll need to use the free version of an app such as Hootsuite or Buffer.

You can test SocialOomph with a free account.


Buffer logo

Buffer
Using the free account, you can schedule your posts to Twitter, Facebook (one profile, one page, one group), LinkedIn, a Google+ page, app.net, an ad-free microblogging service that restricts users to 256 characters. However, you are limited in the number of updates you can send each day.

For example, you’re only allowed to schedule 3 tweets a day, and you are not allowed to add updates to your Google+ profile. Buffer has done a good job of collaborating with other applications such as SocialBro, which determines your optimal tweeting times. When these applications work together, your tweets on buffer will automatically be sent at times of the day when your followers are most likely to see them.


Scheduling Pins to Pinterest

Since its inception, every social media expert online has referred to Pinterest as a social media network. Surprise! The founders refer to it as a browser. More precisely, a visual browser.

However you want to classify this application; its power lies in its ability to refer traffic to your website. According to the 2014 edition of the Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Report, Facebook and Pinterest are the king and queen of social referrals.

social-media-report-Apr-14-stats1

As we move closer to a visual social web, it makes sense that a visual browser would appear on the scene.

This is why being active on Pinterest is so important.


PicMonkey logo

PicMonkey
Once you use this app to resize or create an image, you can share it directly to Pinterest.


ShareAsImage logo

ShareAsImage
A Chrome extension, you can use this app to create text overlays on images and share them on Pinterest.


Tailwind logo

Tailwind
You can use this app to schedule your “pins” based on audience engagement and traffic, as well as track pins, comments, likes and traffic. Plans start at $10/month.


Apps to Schedule Images to Instagram


Schedugram logo

ScheduGram
With this application, you can upload an image from the web and the crop it, add filters or text or even rotate the image. Then you can post it immediately or schedule it. You can even manage multiple accounts with this app. Pricing starts at $20/month. You can upload an unlimited number of images, and you won’t be bothered by push notifications.


Lattergram logo

Latergramme
This application is similar to Schedugram. You can use it from a browser or as a mobile iOS app (such as on an iPhone). However, Latergramme will not post the images for you. You can load images and tell the app when to remind you to post them.


 
Which social media dashboards do you like to use?

social mediaFrances Caballo is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is also an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. Click here to receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers.

You can learn more about Frances and how to connect with her here.

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

20 Comments

  1. Ronald Hall

    Actually, if you know where to look, free tools can be as good as any paid ones (even better!!)
    I personally use www [dot] PinPinterest [dot] com to automate and manage my pinterest account. I’m using it myself for more than 7 months now, and I’ve gained unparalleled results both in the form of followers and revenue. Some features of PinPinterest:
    – Sophisticated Algorithms, pin relevant images to my profile
    – Pin Scheduler, schedule as many pins as you want to
    – Speed control, decide whether you want to play it safe or go on a pinteresting spree
    – Free to use
    – Runs on the cloud, no need to download anything to your computer
    – Mobile optimised, access your account any time, anywhere . .
    – Sets up via the 5-minute easy setup
    – Pin, Repin, Like, Comment, Follow, Unfollow..all on Auto Pilot

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Ronald: Thanks so much for information about the app you use. And I agree, free tools can work as well as paid tools.

      Reply
  2. Kate Tilton

    Buffer now offers Pinterest scheduling too :)

    Also last I checked on the Free plan you are allowed to schedule ten updates per profile on Buffer. Has that changed?

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Kate: Good to see you here! As I said in my reply to Francis, I believe the 10 tweets are spread over the course of several days and I believe free accounts are limited to 4 tweets daily.

      Reply
      • Kate Tilton

        Hi Frances,

        With the free account you get 10 slots per account. So if you have a Twitter account you can tweet 10 times a day or 5 times a day over two days, etc. You are limited to having only ten things scheduled at a time. The amount per day it controlled by your schedule, so you could pick to do one tweet for ten days or ten tweets per day. You just can’t schedule more than ten at a time.

        And then you could add a Facebook page and add ten updates to that following the same pattern as above.

        I find the free account is great for trying Buffer out. But the Awesome Plan is the way to go if you like the system. With the awesome plan you can have up to ten accounts and almost unlimited room to schedule. I hope that helps!

        Reply
  3. Francis

    I believe with buffer, you’re allowed 10 queues for a free account, not just 3. I’m able to buffer up to 6 tweets in a day.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Francis: When Buffer started, the free account allowed 4 tweets a day. Although you can queue up 10 tweets, I don’t believe they publish in one day but over several days. Buffer’s Tumblr page says this, “On the free plan you get 10 spaces in your Buffer to start with and you can extend this to as many as you wish by inviting people.” So I think they still limit free accounts to four tweets daily.

      Reply
      • Kate Tilton

        Francis you should be able to schedule up to ten tweets a day (as you get those ten free slots). It just depends on how many time slots you have added to your schedule :)

        Reply
  4. Joel Friedlander

    This is a great roundup Frances, there are a number of programs that I’ve never heard of. In the social space, it seems more important than ever to keep up with new apps to make the most of our efforts, and I’m sure many readers will agree.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Joel, Thanks for the lovely comment. Yes, this landscape of social media dashboards is quite fluid!

      Reply
  5. Indy

    Great article, Joel. I love Buffer for scheduling my Tweets (and now Pinterest) because it lets me add images. Hootsuite works for scheduling my other Social Media and monitoring. Will check out some of these others you listed. Appreciate the information!

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Indy: Yes, I was excited to see that Buffer can now integrate with Pinterest. It’s a great reason to upgrade to their Awesome Plan.

      Reply
      • Indy

        I owe you the Thanks for the article – so sorry I didn’t realize. I was able to integrate Pinterest on Buffer without the upgrade to the Awesome Plan. Right now the free version does what I need (I schedule 8 tweets a day) – but I’ll look into the upgrade for the future.
        Thanks Again ~

        Reply
  6. Gina Drayer

    I’ve used most of those at one time or another. I love the idea of using Pintrest more, so I’m definitely going to check out some of newer apps.

    I’d also like to offer another app for your list:

    Currently, I’ve been relying on Friends plus Me (https://friendsplus.me/)

    I love Google+ but I realize that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. with this app, I can still do the bulk of my social media activity on G+ and it cross posts to Twitter and Facebook. (It also does LinkedIn and Tumblr which I don’t actively use). I’ll admit, it’s not as great for Twitter, due to the character limit, but I feel like it’s helping me grow my platform.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Gina: Thanks for letting us know about Friends Plus Me. That isn’t a social scheduler I’d heard about yet. I personally don’t like to cross-post from one platform to another but doing so will save you time. I’m glad you found an app that performs well for you.

      Reply
  7. Anma Natsu

    Minor correction on HootSuite, you can post to Google+ pages using their free version, no problem. It’s what I’m using :-)

    Reply
    • Gina Drayer

      Yeah, but a lot of people started with G+ using personal profiles…and it doesn’t work that way. I considered (and have set up) moving to a PAGE, but I’ve got too big a following for my profile to actually make the move.

      Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Anma: That’s good to know. I appreciate the correction!

      Reply
  8. Chris Syme

    Thanks for all the great tips Joel. Free is definitely a big draw. I was interested to see that you didn’t include Sprout Social in your piece–I have used it for years and don’t use any other dashboard to post. It has the best analytics for the price,and I think data is an important concern with a dashboard. Only drawback: Sprout Social is not one of the platforms incorporating the new Pinterest marketing tools–a big platform for authors. I am going to take a look at Buffer now, just for that reason. I use HootSuuite just for monitoring–I keep it open all the time so I can glance at updates on lists. Thanks again for all that great info.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Chris: Yes, SproutSocial is a great option. I used to use it solely for analytics. Then I discovered SocialReport, which I liked even better than SproutSocial for analytics and scheduling posts. If you liked SproutSocial, I think you’ll love SocialReport and the cost is about the same. I agree that Hootsuite’s dashboard is a great one for monitoring your news feeds. Thanks for your input.

      Reply

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