Social media in one of the best ways you can use in order to build your business and your reputation online.
But, you’ll need to be on there consistently in order to see any real results from it.
Luckily there are some great social media management tools out there that can help you schedule and automate your social media posts.
Which is great for people like me.
If you know me, you know that I don’t have the greatest memory (I’d forget my own head if it wasn’t attached to my body), and sometimes I may even forget to place updates consistently.
Or perhaps, you’ve got somewhere you absolutely have to go and you’re not in a position to Tweet or update your Facebook statues.
Which is where social media automation comes in.
The tool that I personally use to schedule most of my updates on social media is a neat little tool called Buffer.
Video: How to use Buffer to boost your social media marketing
How to use Buffer, step by step
Before you can automate your social media posting with Buffer you’re going to have to set up your account, and connect the social networks that you would like Buffer to post to.
You should see a screen that looks like this:
From here click on the buttons below each of the social media logos to connect your Twitter, Facebook profile or page, your Google +, LinkedIn or Pinterest account to Buffer. Doing this will allow Buffer to post your status updates at the times you set it to.
If you’re using the free plan for Buffer, you can only have 1 account for each of the networks connected. So if you want to connect let’s say your Facebook fan page and your personal profile, you will have to upgrade to the Awesome plan.
But, if you only have a few accounts that you want to connect, the free plan will do in most instances.
Understanding the Buffer Interface
If you first log into Buffer, it may seem like there is a lot of stuff going on (and there are quite a few awesome features), but don’t worry as I’ll walk you through each of them.
After this section you’ll know exactly where to find all your favorite features, schedule your updates and how how to get actionable insights into your social media marketing.
Take a look at the screenshot below.
You’ll see I have highlighted three areas. Firstly inside the red box you’ll find a list with all of the accounts that you have connected to your profile. Using the plus button at the top of it or the “Connect More” tab will bring you to the page where you can connect more profiles.
That’s the page I showed you earlier.
Since we have already connected the profiles we want to, you won’t really be using that section a lot. What’s more interesting are the options you have with each of the social media accounts that you have connected.
As you can see I have my Facebook page selected at the moment.
The thing I want you to take a look at next is the small green highlight. This is the main menu that gives you access to each of the main features of Buffer:
- Content: This is where you can schedule your status updates and see what update you already have scheduled. We’ll go into detail on how to do this later.
- Analytics: An important aspect of your social media marketing. You’ll be able to see all kinds of stats on your status updates.
- Schedule: This is where you set the amount of times per day you want to post and select the exact times that you like to post at.
- Settings: This allows you access to a couple of additional settings.
Finally there’s the blue highlight:
This obviously is the area you’ll be actively using. In the screenshot above I’m in the “Queue” section under the “Content” tab. What we’ll do next is explore what each of the sections is all about.
The Content Tab
This is by far the most exciting tab of all. This is the place where we can see our scheduled post and actually schedule new ones! :)
It consists of 3 things:
- Queue: This is where you can see your posts and create new ones.
- Contributions: This is where you can work together with a team (paid function). Haven’t used it since I’m just one dude writing content and stuff. ;)
- Feeds: Want to easily share content from your favorite sites? Then this is for you!
Before we get into actually creating a new post I’d like to show you what your queue actually looks like.
Have a look:
Here you can see two examples of a post that I have scheduled.
One thing that I’d like to point out are the times. What Buffer will do is the message I have created and post it to my Facebook page at the time that’s highlighted here (you can set these times yourself).
When posted it looks just like if you’d have posted manually through Facebook:
A few things to notice here:
You may notice the low reach and interaction. I don’t really have that large of a following yet, but you’re welcome to come like my fan page here. ;)
Yep, shameless self plug!
As you can see it’s the exact same post that you see above. And taking a look at the times you can see that it was indeed posted at the right time. No need to worry about a thing!
You’ll see a little thing that says: “Published by Buffer”. Don’t worry though as your audience won’t see this. It’s only available to people who manage the page.
Feeds and how to Use them
I’ve skipped the contributions area, since there’s nothing that I can show you there. As an individual I don’t really need the Awesome package, and don’t have access to it.
If this is the first time coming to the feeds section you’ll see this:
As you can see, I’m not the only one who uses shamelessly promotes their own stuff. But, they really do produce awesome content over at the Buffer Blog! So, we’re going to add their feed.
Here’s what you need to do:
Just enter the URL of the website or the URL of the RSS-feed of the website and press enter.
There you have yourself a feed of all the latest posts on their blog. As you can see in the screenshot below you can share this content easily from here. Which we’ll do later on in this Buffer tutorial.
The one caveat is that you can only have one feed active if you’re using the “individual” plan.
The Analytics Tab
If you’re not tracking your results you’re really missing out on a lot of actionable insights that can help you grow faster. This isn’t just limited to your social media posting either but business in general.
That being said, let’s see the analytics tab.
On the posts section of the Analytics tab you will be able to see all the posts that you have made with their statistics. Here you see one from my Twitter account.
Note that the statistics shown vary depending on the social media platform.
If you’re using a link in any of your posts, then Buffer will automatically shorten the link and then track all clicks to it automatically. It also shows all of the relevant engagement metrics depending on the platform.
Using this interface you’ll be able to find out what kind of posts are resonating well with your audience and which ones aren’t. And there’s another pretty sweet feature here as well!
What if you find a post that did incredibly well?
Well, that’s where the “Re-Buffer” button comes into play. When you click this button you’ll be able to add the very same post to your queue again. This can be incredibly helpful, especially on Twitter as many of your followers may not have seen it the first time.
Analytics & Insights
There are two more sections to the Analytics tab that offer way more detailed information about your profile and your posts.
Both of these functions are only available if you have business account with Buffer. If you want to see this feature in action, I’d recommend you take their free 30 day trial.
This is the third and last of the main sections.
You’ll need to configure these settings before you start to automate your social media marketing using Buffer. What you’ll do here is set the exact times and amount of times a day you want to post your updates.
As you can see in this screenshot for my Facebook fan page you can see that I’ve set it up to post 4 times per day.
For me, it used to be just 2 times per day. But I’ve had a change of heart after going through a training with Brendon Burchard. You can read my notes and find out why I’ve chosen to post 4 times per day, as well as more powerful training on becoming a thought leader.
In this window you can update your posting times.
Or, if you want to take things to the next level, you can use the Optimal Timing Tool. This tool will analyze your profile and followers and give you a graph of the best times to post and make that your schedule.
Here’s how to do it:
Firstly you will want to click on the link on the bottom of the schedule screen, as I’ve marked with the arrow in the screenshot above.
You’ll be sent to this page:
What you need to do here is to first select which account you want to optimize your schedule for and decide how many posts per day you want to make. Then click on the “Calculate times” button.
You’ll now see a graph that highlights your fans’ / followers’ engagement by the time of day. In addition to that you’ll see the exact times when they’re the most active.
If you’re happy with the schedule just press the “Replace Existing Schedule” button to set these times as your new schedule.
You can change things later manually as well.
If you take a look at the graph for my fan page, you’ll see that 3 of the 4 times are awfully close to each other. Which is why I have chosen to mix up the times myself to spread my posts out throughout the day (while I kept 10 am and 4 pm).
We’ve now gone through most of the features and functions you’ll be using.
How to use Buffer to automate your social media posts
If you’ve gotten this far you will know everything you need to know in order to use Buffer effectively and you’re all good to go! Next I’ll show you how to actually schedule posts in a few different ways.
But first: Let’s do a little “Buffer Dance” to celebrate getting this far!
Awesome, that means my poor dancing didn’t scare you away. ;)
As far as I know there are 6 different ways to share status updates, content and images to all of your social profiles (not counting third party services and tools). I’ll go over each of these methods so you can boost your social media marketing.
1. Share content directly through Buffer
This is the most straightforward way of sharing content through Buffer.
What we’re going to do is go over to our queue (under Content) and create our new status update through there directly. Firstly, click on the empty box to open up the sharing interface, as highlighted below:
After that a window will pop up.
Inside of this window there are a few things you can do. First you can select which profile(s) you want to post to, and yes you can post to multiple simultaneously. Then at the bottom you can upload an image to be included or create an image yourself (more on that later).
Once you’re done with your post, click on the “Add to Queue” button.
Here you can see my status update.
Do you see how the LinkedIn button is grayed out? Buffer won’t post to any profile that’s grayed out, so in this case it’s going to post to my Twitter and Facebook. Simply click any icon to switch sharing on or off.
2. How to use Buffer’s tool “Pablo” to create images
Buffer has it’s own tool that you can use to create your own images.
It’s one of my favorite tools!
Let’s face it, most of us aren’t graphic designed. I would go as far as to say I may be graphically retarded lol.
But even I can create images with Pablo. ;)
What I personally use this tool for is to create great looking images with quotes.
Take a look at the interface:
Hold on just one second…
I know the screenshot above may seem complicated, because there’s quite a lot going on. Don’t worry though, I’ll walk you through everything.
On the left you can select the image you want to have as your background. If you don’t see an image you like in there you can use the search box to search for something specific.
At the very top you see a few options to customize the image. I usually leave all of these settings alone, but feel free to play around with them. :)
Then at the top right, that’s where you’ll input the actual quotes. If you click on the arrows it will give you another quote, just find one you like. Of course, you can use your own text as well by clicking on the text itself.
Then there are some extra features:
If you want to brand yourself or your company you can add your logo to your image. You can also add a smaller second headline if you want to (Haven’t used it myself, but you may love it).
Below that, there are 3 options to choose from: Tall, Square and Wide.
In my experience either the Square or Wide look pretty good on Twitter and Facebook (which I primarily use). Most of the time I’m using the Square size. Again, this is not a one size fits all, so feel free to experiment with Pablo.
Then there’s only one thing to do, actually scheduling the post.
I couldn’t fit the entire page on the screenshot unfortunately. At the bottom of the page you’ll see two buttons: “Share Your Image” and “Download Your Image”. Of course it’s not a coincidence one of the sharing options is Buffer.
Let’s share an image right now:
You’ll see this looks a little bit different.
When you’re sharing through Pablo, you’ll have a separate box to input a message for Facebook. The reason being has something to do with Facebook’s terms with sharing content. This post goes into more detail if you’re curious about it.
3. Share through RSS Feed
Remember earlier when we connected an RSS feed to Buffer?
That feed is a great way to share awesome content from your favorite blog(s) with your audience, so let’s give it a shot.
Again, this is what it looks like.
To share a post simply click on the add button and then we add our thoughts to the link, just like we did with the image from Pablo.
Here’s what it’ll look like:
Again, you’ll see the different fields for the Book of Faces and other platforms.
Besides that, you just input your message and use the arrows to select which image you want to share with the post. You could edit the title and description of the link if you want to, but that’s something I leave alone for the most part.
4. Share articles through somebody’s blog
Take a look at the left of this blog post.
If you take a quick look at the sharing plugin I’m using, you will see that I have Buffer available as one of the sharing options.
Feel free to click that button to share this post! ;)
For blogs that have Buffer enabled you’ll be able to simply click on the button and share the blog post easily. Pretty much just like we did on Pablo and through the RSS feeds.
Again it’s “click, type, schedule” simple!
But, what if the blog you want to share content from doesn’t have Buffer available as one of the sharing methods?
That’s when the 5th way comes into play!
5. How to use the Buffer Chrome extension
I’m a huge fan of Google Chrome.
One thing that it enables you to do is install add-ons to your browser. These are called extensions, and it just so happened that Buffer has it’s own extension! :)
This makes sharing content a breeze!
In order to use it, you have to download it first of course (duh). In order to get the extension, go to your Buffer account and select “Browser Extensions” from the “My Account” drop-down menu.
There you’ll be able to get the extension.
If you check the top right corner of the screenshot, you’ll see that I have also circled what the browser extension is going to look like once you have installed it.
Let’s go test this baby out shall we?
Let’s say I wanted to share this article from Neil Patel (if you don’t know him check him out, he’s got awesome marketing training). I’d simply click on the little Buffer icon in the top of my browser and this will pop up:
As always, go ahead and create the message you want to use to share the content and then you’d proceed by finding the featured image (or image you want to share), because Neil uses a gazillion images and screenshots in his posts. Which provide great value by the way! :)
Funny thing now that I mention it…
As I’m typing this, I just scrolled all the way back to the top. Turns out I’ve used 19 screenshots so far in this Buffer Tutorial. To be honest, I knew I’ve used quite a few but I’d never had thought I used this many until I counted just now.
And I’m not even done yet! :)
6. Bufferin’ on the Fly
Yep it’s true: Everyday I’m Buffering.
Something that I’ve recently discovered is the Buffer App, which means I can use Buffer and share updates on the go wherever I am!
Waiting for the train (which by the way are almost always late here in the Netherlands, thank you NS)? Buffer!
Notice an ex down the street? Pull out your phone, pretend you don’t see him/her and Buffer!
Too lazy to get out of your chair to reach the computer? Doesn’t matter: Buffer!
To download the app for Android simply go to the Google Play Store and search for Buffer. The app should be the first one that shows up and should look like this:
I’ve got it on my Galaxy S6, and it works pretty well.
But, what if you got an iPhone?
If that’s the case, visit this link to get yourself a real phone. Then follow the instructions above. ;)
Of course there’s a version of the app for iOS as well. It’s just that I’m not really a fan of Apple’s products (big fan of their marketing though).
You’ll be able to get it in the App store.
What I’m going to show you next is how to use Buffer from your smartphone. This will be the Android version of the app, but I’m pretty sure things will work very much alike on an iPhone.
Here’s what it looks like when you open the app:
The Buffer app has pretty much all of the same functionality as the browser version does. In order to access all of the functions, simply click on the 3 horizontal lines at the top left to bring up the main menu.
At the top you can see which profile you’re in at the moment and you’ll have the ability to switch to a different account.
Below that are the 3 main tabs as well as some of the other options.
We already went over most of them and I won’t be going over them again, since that would be a bit redundant. I do like to quickly go through the two you haven’t yet seen.
Help and Feedback is where you can go if you don’t know what to do (which isn’t for you since you’ll know after reading this Buffer tutorial) or offer your feedback to the Buffer team.
It’s pretty much a chat function.
On the settings page you have a few more options for the app. Like whether or not you want to get any push notifications.
Now onto the more exciting part.
How to post to Buffer from the app
When you’re inside the Buffer app, you can create a new post by clicking on the pencil icon on the bottom right of the screen.
Don’t see it?
Then simply scroll up a little bit and you should be able to see it appear.
It’s going to look like this:
At the top you’ll see the account you’re going to be posting to, in this case my Twitter.
To share to your other account, simply tap on your username to bring up this window:
Then select which accounts to post to.
When you select two or more accounts you will see your current profile and it will tell you it’ll post to “+ 1 more” or another number if posting to more than 2 accounts.
Of course you’ll just type in your message as always and when you’re done you click on Buffer to add it to your queue right away.
You can use tap schedule to manually select the date and the time you want your post to go live. It’s located just above the keyboard, or at the bottom if you don’t have it up.
Now, let’s go ahead and try an image.
When you click on “Add Photo” you will be given 3 options: Use your camera to make a photo, pick one on your phone or grab an image from a specific url.
I personally find it most convenient to find and download an image and then use it.
Take a look at this message:
You can see the image was added in there.
If I added this page to my Buffer queue, it would be kinda weird. After all it would be schedule for some other time and it’ll make me look weird.
That’s why I have the share menu open:
It’s located right next to Buffer and allows me to either share the post right now, or add it as the first post in the queue.
From the looks of it the Buffer app doesn’t shorten any urls you paste in, although it may be possible I overlooked something.
Personally, I’d always share content from my compute, since I find it a lot more convenient anyway.
And that’s pretty much how to use the Buffer app.
Bonus: How to use the Power Scheduler
If you’ve been closely reading this Buffer tutorial so far, you may have noticed something we haven’t covered when we were sharing stuff.
I’m talking about the Power Scheduler.
Did you just post a new epic blog post and want to ensure it gets maximum exposure on social media? Or do you love this blog post you’re reading so much you want to tell the world?
Then this is the option for you!
With the power scheduler you can share your piece of content various times at certain times all in one go,
Let’s fire this baby up shall we?
In the screenshot above I simply fired up the Buffer browser extension like I normally would.
But, we’re not using this sharing mode this time.
Next to the simple composer, there’s an option to go into “Ultimate Full Berserk Rage Share Mode” by entering the power scheduler.
Here’s what it looks like:
There’s so many plusses that it’s almost like Google.
Although this may look a bit different than what we’re used to, posting a message works pretty much the same way.
What I did above was simply click on the + button beneath my Twitter profile. As you can see on the left, this means Buffer will share this post in exactly 8 hours (from the time I click the blue “Add All Updates to Queue” button).
If you want to you can click on any of the times to change them.
Once you’re done with scheduling all your updates it might look something like this:
Just to clarify what I did here:
The checkmarks indicate that I’ve scheduled a post at these times.
In this case it’ll send a tweet right when I click the buttons, one more in 8 hours, then a week from now and finally one more on the 22th.
In addition to that it will post to my fanpage in 8 hours and to my LinkedIn profile one day from now.
When you’re finished with creating all the posts that you want, go ahead and click the blue button to push them all the way to your queue!
Note that it will take a few seconds. ;)
There is one fair warning that I’d like to give you in regards to the power scheduler, and that is the fact that your queue might fill up pretty quickly this way.
If you’re on the free plan, you’re limited to 10 updates per connected profile. Either upgrade, or use this “Beast Mode” with moderation, that’s my advice!
As a final little story about Buffer I’d like to add this:
Not too long ago (a month or so) there was a Dutch holiday called “Carnaval”. Which is pretty much just 5 straight days of dressing up, drinking beer and partying!
Whoop Whoop! :)
Anyway, during those days I was away from home most of the time. Either that or incapable of proper thinking.
But thanks to Buffer:
My social media profiles were still being updated and my audience was getting new posts and content from me.
Which brings me to this:
Are you using Buffer already in your business, or are you going to use it in the future?
Let me know in the comments below.
Also, this seems like a pretty good time to do a little “Buffer Dance” and share this blog post with your friends, audience, and even your dog/cat if you have one!
To your social media success!
Ps. Huge shoutout to the entire Buffer team for creating such an awesome tool, love you guys (#nohomo)!