How to automate your Facebook and Twitter posts with Buffer
So you've got "a friend" who is a social media addict. They check in to every location, Instagram every meal, even use "hashtag" in conversation. Well, Buffer can help them keep their social media feeds flowing with content without chaining them to a phone or laptop.
The way Buffer works is simple: Instead of posting directly to your social media service, you create a post in Buffer that's added to a queue and published according to a schedule you specify. That means you can prepare those funny cat videos all at once but post them to your profiles over time so you don't overwhelm your friends and followers with cuddly cuteness. And you can have a real life, as well.
Buffer is super easy to use, and a basic account is free, so let’s get started.
Setting up Buffer
Once you sign up with Buffer, you can start adding social media accounts. If you joined by logging in with your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter credentials, that account will be automatically added. Click Accounts and the appropriate button underneath the logo of each additional service you’d like to add.
The free Buffer account allows you to add one account of each type: a Facebook group, page, or profile; a Twitter profile; a LinkedIn profile or page; a Google+ page (Profiles aren’t supported due to limitations of the Google+ API.), and an App.net account.
Using the Buffer queue
To add a post, select an account in the left column and click Content. A text box will appear in the center column. Any posts already in your queue will appear in order, with the post that’s scheduled to be published next at the top.
Enter the text for your new post in the text box. You can also add an image by clicking the camera icon in the lower-left corner of the box.
To add a link, paste it into the text box. By default, the link is shortened using Buffer’s buff.ly service, but you can opt to use bit.ly, j.mp or no shortener at all by clicking Settings > Link Shortening.
If you want the post to be published to more than one account, click the icon corresponding to each additional account in the upper-left of the text box.
When you’re finished composing your post, click Add to Queue. Posts in your Buffer queue will be posted one at a time according to your schedule. (I'll show you how to set that further down.)
There are also a few ways to have a more time-sensitive post jump the queue. For these, click the down arrow to the right of the Add to Buffer button, and you’ll get a list of three other posting options.
Clicking Share Next will place the post at the front of the Buffer queue. This is useful if you don’t want to share the post immediately but want to prioritize it over your other queued posts.
Clicking Share Now does exactly what it says: It shares the post without regard to the queue. While this doesn’t seem immediately useful, this option makes Buffer a convenient way to cross-post to different social media sites at once. Gone are the days of posting an update to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn separately, on different apps.
By clicking the last option, Schedule Post, you can set individual posts to publish at a specific time. Scheduled posts don't affect other posts in the queue.
Once content is added to your queue, you can re-order your posts as needed. Hover over the post icon (a picture for images or a chain for links) and it will change to a move icon. Click this and drag and drop the post where you want it. You can even copy posts to another account’s queue by dragging and dropping it over the intended account in the left column.
All according to schedule
You can set different posting schedules for each account queue in Buffer. To do this, click on the account you want to edit and click Schedule.
The first thing you want to do is set the timezone for the account. Type in the name of your city (or the closest big city in your timezone), and select it from the list of suggestions that appear below the text box.
In the middle of the page, you’ll see the posting schedule. Each profile gets one schedule, and if you upgrade to a paid account, you’ll be able to add additional schedules for each profile. This allows you to have different schedules on weekends or other days. For example, if your Twitter account posts hourly on weekdays, you can set a separate schedule to post every four hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Posting times are editable within a minute of precision, so if you want to post at 4:37 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, no problem.