Most of us already have the staple social media apps — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc — so this post is not really about those. This post is for anyone who wants to create great content for sharing on those social media platforms. Gone are the days when you had to bookmark everything interesting on the Internet and figure your way around the million and one features in Adobe Photoshop. If you want to curate, create, and automate your social media posts, but don’t know where to start, this post was written just for you!
Below is a handy list of the apps I’ll be sharing in this article. Please feel free to jump around:
Discover & Curate:
Discover & Curate
One of my all-time favorite apps is Pocket. Ever come across a really interesting article but you just have no time to read it? Pocket allows you to save those for later! Not only does it have a web version, there are also Android and iOS apps available. This means that you may save an article on your work computer and read it on your iPad on the commute home.
Recently, Pocket launched its Recommended tab, which is a pretty self-evident feature. It’s a great way to discover articles that you are likely to find interesting. As they wrote in the blog:
“Recommendations takes the absolute best content being saved across Pocket and tailors it to your own saving and reading habits. The result is a feed that’s completely unique and personalized to you, and is filled with the most interesting articles and videos you might have missed otherwise.” (emphasis mine)
The browser extension is one of my favorite Pocket tools. I’m one of those people who used to have 40 tabs open at the same time because there’s just so much to absorb! With the extension, you can save the article later (no copying and pasting of the URL) and tag it too.
Tagging is probably one of the best Pocket features for content curation. Aside from its usual use for classification, you could also hack it (by adding a specific tag, say, ‘blog this’) to sieve out the great stuff you want to share on social media. You can favorite and archive stuff you want to keep too.
Pocket also plays well with other apps and it’s unspeakably easy to send articles from your browser (mobile or desktop) to the app. You could also set up an IFTTT recipe to send articles to your blog drafts or an Evernote note.
There are just too many blogs to follow and it’d be incredibly time-consuming if I had to manually visit them every single day, so pulling RSS feeds is one of my favorite ways to receive great content. RSS feeds basically pull all the great content from all over the internet and shove the into a place just for you. Feedly is one such magical place. It’s a great one-stop check-in for all your RSS feeds, and the interface is strangely soothing. Pulling so much information into one space can be overwhelming, but Feedly’s designers clearly know how to make your life easier in more ways than one.
The setup of your account is probably the toughest part and it takes about 7 minutes. (Not super fast, like 5, if you’re particular like I am, but not really long, like 10.) After adding your favorite feeds and categorising them into their appropriate categories — I have ‘Business’, ‘Comics’, ‘Content & Social Media Marketing’, ‘Education’, ‘Philosophy’ and ‘Tech’ — all the recent unread articles mysteriously appear under the right topics. It’s really easy.
There’s also a Save Later function (if you aren’t saving them to Pocket) and a Shared Collections feature if you want to curate the articles right there in Feedly and share them with your friends.
One of my favorite Feedly features, that is remarkably easy to miss, is the Recently Read section. This contains a history of the articles you came across but perhaps forgot to save. (That happened to me with a Cyanide & Happiness comic strip and I was bummed for about 5 minutes till I discovered this feature.)
Would you love Feedly? I think so! If you want to organize your RSS feeds, or consolidate them in one easy-to-use space on the internet.
Gone are the days when you need to be Photoshop-savvy to produce social media-worthy graphics. Today, with drag-and-drop tools like Pablo and Canva, anyone can create great, shareable images. Best of all: both of these are free!
If you are looking for an incredibly simple tool to create simple images with text, Pablo by Buffer was created for you. (It’s free too!) Images do exceptionally well on social media so it’s really helpful to have an image or two ready for your content when you share it. (Read this Buffer blog post for more!)
With Pablo, all you have to do is type or paste the text you want into its editing field and it automatically places it in an image for you.
Customisation options include: a great selection of web fonts, font styles like bold, italics, etc, stock images that seem appropriate for a huge range of contexts, and the option to blur the background image or switch it to monochrome. You also have the option of customizing your image to different social networks with dimension options for Twitter/Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The Pablo experience is even better if you have the Buffer browser extension installed (more on Buffer later). With this, you can simply highlight text from any page you are reading and send it straight to Pablo. Its super super easy to use.
If you’re looking for the ability to manage layers (like in Photoshop) but don’t want to deal with the complexity of the Photoshop interface, then Canva is probably right up your alley. It’s a powerful free tool that was created for people who want to design eye-catching graphics for any purpose — they have pre-set dimensions for any social media platform you can think of as well as any marketing collateral you may need to design, and you also have the option for setting custom dimensions.
There’s a wide selection of icons, stock photos, and graphics, and incorporating them is as simple as dragging and dropping them into the canvas. Some of these elements are paid elements, which are clearly marked out. There is the option of uploading your own images if that’s what you’re up for.
You may also like that Canva saves your previous projects and collections for easy reference and you can copy these projects if you want to quickly replicate the settings from those. This is great for creating content marketing campaigns that are consistent with your brand.
Speaking of consistent brand imaging, Canva also has a wonderful resource, called Design School, where you can find blog posts, tutorials, and teaching materials to help anyone learn how to craft impactful visuals! Their instagram account is also a wonderful and quick way to pick up these tips. I love how they bring such value to the community.
With a plethora of design options and guidance on how to craft visuals, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating great graphics of social media!
Now that you’ve curated all the great content for sharing and created eye-catching graphics to go with your posts, the final step in the process is sharing all this content! You probably don’t want to inundate your audience with a barrage of posts and neither is it a great state of affairs if you were tethered to your computer all day manually publishing posts at their optimal posting times on social media. You may be on the market for a social media scheduling tool.
After trying out a couple of options, Buffer is my absolute favorite tool for this purpose. It integrates with Twitter, Facebook (Pages, Profiles, Groups), Google+ Pages, LinkedIn (Profiles, Page), and Pinterest, and the great people at Buffer are always working to meet all our social media posting needs so there may be more platforms available in future!
On the Individual plan, you can link 1 profile for each social account, and there’s always the option of upgrading to the Awesome plan for up to 10 profiles. The Awesome Plan also has the option to add RSS Feeds so you can Buffer them quickly! (Find out more here.)
With user’s convenience and experience at the top of their mind always, Buffer also plays very well with several popular apps. One of my favorites is the integration with Followerwonk, which analyzes the usage patterns of your followers and/or the people you are following in order to recommend the best times for you to post. With one click, your Followerwonk recommendations can be used to update your Buffer Twitter schedule to optimize your posting times to encourage engagement! Buffer also has its own Optimal Scheduling function, if that’s what you’re up for. The Power Scheduler tool also lets you repost the same content multiple times (based on a schedule) so that your message will definitely reach your audience. With these features, you know your post will reach your followers when they’re most likely to see it!
With the Analytics function in Buffer, it’s also really easy to identify your best performing posts, which you can then ‘re-buffer’ (send it back to your Buffer queue) with the simple click of a button. This is a wonderful way to maintain engagement with your popular content over time.
The browser extensions also make it easy to send great content straight to your profiles and you can share the same content to multiple profiles simultaneously. In case you forget to select more than one profile, a simple drag-and-drop to copy the post is also possible within your Dashboard! These functions are great if you have multiple networks in your social media strategy.
With the browser extension, you can easily pull images from the page you want to schedule into the post you’re crafting. All you need to do is hover over the image and a ‘Share Image’ option pops up. It now also possible to schedule video posts, which are even better at promoting engagement than images!
If I may be honest, though, it’s really the user interface that made me fall in love with the Buffer product. It’s truly an experience. Every step, from crafting posts, to reordering them, is incredibly intuitive and learning how to use Buffer takes a matter of minutes. There’s a huge community of users and fans on Twitter and Slack, which is testament to how wonderful the product is.
Would you love Buffer? Absolutely. This is a versatile product that works well for social media beginners as well as experts. Moreover, Buffer (the company) has the user in mind all the time, so you know the product will just keep getting better. Beside the amazing features mentioned (that’s not all of it, by the way!), the Happiness Heroes and Community Champions also do a fantastic job of supporting users through any queries or challenges. Win, win, win!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about what works for you! There are so many amazing apps out there and if you’d love another post on the other apps I have in mind, please drop me a tweet at @stephe_lee!