Sure, you could keep doing social media the hard way

Cell phone on a table

I’m thinking of subtitling this week’s news, “kinda boring but really useful.” If you read last week’s Must Read, you know we’re talking about improving your Instagram systems, especially now that businesses can finally schedule auto-posts. If you’re just catching up, this month Instagram rolled out the ability to pre-schedule automated posts. This is super exciting for non-hipsters who cringe at that crazy 2am optimal post time.

Alas, this new ability isn’t as easy to implement as you’d hope…and it doesn’t come cheap. In order to use the new automated posting, you must use one of a select group of social media apps. They all cost money, do different things, and have their own learning curves. And yet, they lessen the nuisance and save time, making you more likely to plan and implement an effective social media campaign. And, they’re waaay cheaper than hiring someone to do your social for you.

Does this apply to you?

If your only social media efforts are Instagram, my advice is don’t bother with paid services, and forget auto-posting. You’ll need to maximize every post and the update won’t allow autoposting of the following:

  • Stories
  • Multi-Image Posts
  • Videos
  • Drafts
  • Locations
  • User Tags
  • Shopping Tags
  • Branded Content Tag
  • Filters

Later is a terrific option for you, as are Plann and Planoly.


For the many folks who embrace multiple social platforms, bad news: when it comes to social media apps, you get what you pay for.

(Big ol’ statement: I don’t get paid for this and there are no affiliate links. My team has spent HUNDREDS of dollars testing these, so puh-lease let me save you the hassle.)

If you’re gonna spend cash, you need a solution that is simplifies your life, and the cheap  options don’t cut it. Too few services, lousy analytics. Don’t bother. To do it right, you’re looking at a minimum of US$99 per month. Of these, the ones which have already added Insta auto-posting are: HootsuiteSprout SocialSendible, and AgoraPulse.

<here is where I deleted reviews of each and even bored myself>


  • Hootsuite is crap.
  • Sprout Social is meh.
  • AgoraPulse is good with awesome customer service.
  • Sendible blows everyone else out of the water.

I’m gonna assume that you are a rational actor and will therefore make a decision that maximizes your benefit. Let’s look at what a good social media mgmt app does and why it’s a sound investment.

1) Unified calendar – the ability to see your social media messaging as a unified, coherent narrative, instead of a series of random “what’s happening now” posts, can transform your social media into a brand-building powerhouse. Sure, there will always be a place for impromptu posting; but good social is as reliant on strategy as any other marketing campaign. Just imagine writing a whole series of blog posts, pre-loading their publication dates across several months, scheduling the supporting promotional posts across your social, and even creating the repeat schedule set to best post times. Yeah, pretty friggin’ awesome.

2) Connect to anything. Look for an app that will connect to social platforms, as well as your favorite blog/article space. I recommend Sendible because it lets you connect Medium, Foursquare, Tumblr, WordPress; you can even comment on Yelp reviews. Every other app we’ve used is limited, meaning that we are asking our people to interrupt their productivity to schedule/post across necessary platforms.

3) Easily engage with your fans from one desktop space. Seriously, a sanity-saver. Instead of opening each app, tapping away on your phone keyboard (am I the only one with fat thumbs?), you can open one desktop dashboard and search, stream, reply, comment, like. You can even repost from the desktop, meaning no more “copy, open Repost, copy, open Insta, etc etc etc.”

But wait, there’s more

4) Content suggestions. Oh yeah, baby, now we’re getting into the good stuff. You want to check out all the posts about “New Zealand Wine”? Create that content search and you’ll not only see posts, but influencers and even related topics….from which you can schedule new posts!

5) Comprehensive reporting. Engagement needs to be seen as a whole, but most folks I talk to are still looking up analytics in each platform separately. A good social media mgmt app can provide not only account-specific data, but a holistic engagement report that allows you to track the growth of your entireaudience. Remember, these channels don’t exist in their own bubbles! And I hate to mention it, but global analytics are immensely important for identifying downward trends 😟

6) Best for last: integrated CRM. This is what finally dragged me away from my beloved old-fave to a new product. In Sendible, you can create an embeddable contact form to collect email addresses and then run your entire email newsletter from within the dashboard. If you’re paying for a separate newsletter service, this is an immediate ROI and easily offsets a percentage of the monthly fees. Moreover, this service allows you to turn social media or blog posts into emails. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much time this has saved me on client work.

Look, social media management takes either time or money. My feeling is that, while money doesn’t grow on trees, neither does my sanity. Having to piecemeal every article and post, especially if sticking to an optimum posting schedule, intrudes on my joy and productivity. Plus, $100 per month is cheaper than the dinner bill I’ll get stuck with when I lose the Phone Stack with friends.

[Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash]

Portrait of Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond is the Founder and CEO of 5forests, which means every buck stops with her. As the public face of 5forests, she splits her time between Barcelona, Auckland, and California, consulting, writing, and speaking about the trends that impact today’s lifestyle businesses.