How to Craft and Schedule Social Media Posts using HootSuite

By Mike Allton • 7 months ago • 0 Comments

MikeAllton
Mike Allton

Mike Allton is an Internet Marketing Consultant and certified HootSuite Solution Partner. This article, on how to schedule social media posts, is the third in a series on making the most of your HootSuite account and was originally published on The Social Media Hat. View the original here.

Creating a Post

The HootSuite Dashboard includes a powerful Compose Message tool that allows you to craft a message and share it with selected social networks. You’ll find it in the upper left corner of the dashboard on the web, or by tapping the compose icon at the top of the mobile app.

You’ll typically begin by typing in or pasting the text that you want to share. If you have a link, copy and paste it into the URL field on the web and click the Shrink button to turn the full link into a shortened link. Or, on mobile, paste the link into the compose field and then tap the Shrink Links button under the Menu. This will not only shorten your link to use fewer characters, but also use the ow.ly shortened link format which will allow you to track link clicks via HootSuite’s analytics. I’ll often use HootSuite shortened links even if I’m putting the links somewhere other than a social media post.

You can include multiple links if you want to, but it’s recommended that you include no more than one link per post. You can and should make good use of hashtags, since Twitter, Google+ and Facebook all support tags. And while LinkedIn does not, I believe it’s only a matter of time before they do, so I don’t worry if one of my posts to LinkedIn includes hashtags. Some day they may work!

An example of how it might look to compose a message from the dashboard.
An example of how it might look to compose a message from the dashboard.

To the right of the Compose Message box is the Social Network Selector. Using the drop down list, you can choose from any social networks that you’ve set up. As you select networks, their individual icons will appear in the selected network area. You can click on any of the selected thumbnails to deselect that network. Also, as you select networks, you will see a character count at the bottom of the Compose Message box, letting you know if you’re reaching character limits for Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook posts.

If you have a link in your post and select to share that to Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, HootSuite will automatically bring up the Preview box. The Preview will show you the rich snippet that can appear on those networks, and includes a Title, Description and Image, if the linked article provides them. If more than one image is detected, you can scroll through the results to choose the best one. You can also edit the Title and Description as needed, prior to posting. If the preview doesn’t look good at all, you can X it closed and share the update without a preview. Whatever text and link is in the Compose Message box is all that will be shared.

Scheduling a Post

When you’ve created a post and selected one or more social networks, you can either send it immediately, or schedule it to be shared later. When scheduling, you have three options: Select Date, Auto Schedule and Bulk Schedule.

Select Date

Click on the calendar icon to open the Scheduling dialogue box. Here, you can select a specific date on the calendar, followed by a specific time. That’s straightforward enough, but there are a couple of added features HootSuite provides.

First, if you’re not sure what else you might have scheduled to post around the time you want to share this new post, click on the “View date in Publisher” button. This will switch the background from whatever you were looking at (presumably streams) to the Publisher view. It keeps your post intact, and allows you to look at your HootSuite calendar and see what else you have scheduled to be shared. You can then adjust the share date and time as needed and schedule it.
ScheduleEnglish
Second, if you need or want confirmation that a post has gone out, you can check the “Email me when message is sent” box, and receive an email confirmation after the post goes out.

AutoSchedule

One of the more powerful options within HootSuite is AutoSchedule. AutoSchedule is activated by clicking on the Scheduler icon and turning AutoSchedule on. From that point forward, until you turn it off, any post you share will automatically be AutoScheduled. AutoSchedule does two things for you really well.

First, when you’ve finished crafting your post, you can allow HootSuite to share it at the most optimum time. According to HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes, “It’s really quite simple–instead of our users manually selecting what time they want to schedule or post their social media messages using our Scheduling feature, they can opt to use our new AutoSchedule technology to optimize and automate the scheduling process. We want our users spending more time finding and sharing content and less time worrying about the best time of day to share it.” The tool uses algorithms to determine the best time to post, per network, and schedules your post to take advantage of that timeframe.

Second, when you AutoSchedule a post to more than one network, HootSuite will stagger the posts at least 15 minutes apart, making sure that you don’t spam the same post to multiple networks at the same time if you don’t need to.

When you want to share a post immediately, or schedule it for a specific time, turn AutoSchedule off and then proceed to share your post.

Bulk Schedule

The final scheduling option is to Bulk Schedule posts. This feature allows you to create a spreadsheet offline and then upload it, creating up to 50 posts at a time. The spreadsheet can indicate the date and time of each post, the text to share, and a link to be shortened. When you upload your spreadsheet, you can choose multiple networks just as when crafting an individual post.

The bulk scheduler is a great way to make sure that you’re regularly sharing key business information or evergreen articles. Due to the fact that the method only supports text and link posts, it’s best suited for Twitter accounts. I will be digging into the details and techniques of bulk scheduling in a future post.

Regardless of which method you use to schedule your posts, you can always go to the Publisher tab to view your upcoming posts. Keep this in mind if you ever need to edit or cancel a scheduled post. Just go to Publisher, find the post, and click on the Edit button, which you can use to change the content of the post or the date it’s scheduled.

Additional Posting Information

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When posting to Facebook or Twitter, you can attach full images to your posts. Begin crafting your post as usual, and when you’re ready, drag an image from your desktop into the Compose Message tool. The image will be attached and you will see a new shortened URL in the message box. If you simply want the image displayed on the post, leave the box checked which will hide the image URL and not include it in the text of your update. For more information on sharing images, click here.

If you regularly share posts from HootSuite to the same social networks, you can “pin” them so that they’ll be selected by default each time you start a new message. While in the Compose Message box, open the social network selector, mouseover the network you want to choose, and click on the pin button, all the way to right, just to the left of the social network icon. To unselect, just repeat and click on pin again.

If you’re regularly choosing from a select number of accounts to share to, try marking them as favorites and changing your social network selector to only show favorites. You will see the Favorite toggle on each accounts entry, right next to the Pin toggle. If, like me, you’ve connected quite a few LinkedIn Groups and other Pages that you may not regularly post to, this can make it far easier to get to the brand accounts you use more regularly.

The network selector also includes All and Clear buttons which are used to select every social network you have set up, or clear out all that you’ve chosen. Note that you cannot share a post to more than 5 networks at a time unless it is scheduled. You can also start typing a network profile name in the selector box and HootSuite will attempt to auto complete the account for you.

If you’re crafting a post to share and you realize that you want to share it to a social network that you have not yet connected, you can click the + button right on the network selector tool to add a new network on the fly, keeping your in progress message completely intact.

If you want to include your location on supported status updates, you can do so easily. While crafting your status update, click the Location button along the bottom of the Compose Message box. You will be prompted to allow HootSuite to detect your location, and then your current location will appear at the bottom of the Compose Message box.

If you find that you’re sharing the same update on a regular basis, you can save it as a template! Compose the update once, and then click on the floppy disk icon at the bottom of the Compose Message box. You’ll need to have one social network selected, though you’ll be able to pick and choose different networks when you recall the template. Then, later, you can click the arrow next to the disk icon to select from your saved templates and edit / share as needed.

If you’d like to restrict a post to a specific Facebook List, Google+ Circle or other privacy options, you can! Start composing your post and choose the appropriate social network. Then click on the padlock icon to open the privacy selector where you can choose from your available options. For instance, if you have different circles set up within your Google+ Page, you can choose to share a post only with a specific circle.

This covers all of the basics you’ll want to know to begin creating and scheduling posts. We will cover the different URL shorteners, parameters, and other advanced options at a later date.

Next time, we’re going to cover how to use HootSuite to manage and participate in Twitter Chats.

Author: Mike Allton

Mike Allton has written 10 posts for the HootSource blog..

I am an Internet Marketing Consultant. I help businesses understand how to use Social Media, Blogging, Marketing, SEO, Mobile Apps and Technology to help grow and promote their business. I am an editor for The Social Media Hat and regularly write articles and stories on these topics.

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11 comments
Katy
Katy

hi there - can you tell me if FB posts scheduled through Hootsuite look like they've been posted by me, or are they identifiable as Hootsuite generated?


cheers


katy

chrisbacke
chrisbacke

There's an issue I'm really hoping you have an answer to...

I'm using Hootsuit to schedule posts on a WordPress blog. The issue is that since I'm scheduling posts that aren't published yet, the link preview can't be generated.


I know this is probably a WordPress issue, but with it being a huge platform, is there a workaround?

sheilaaverbuch
sheilaaverbuch

Thanks Mike - privacy option doesn't work for me - I selected Family only and tested, but FB posts still went to Public. Any ideas?

Helen
Helen

"If you’d like to restrict a post to a specific Facebook List, Google+ Circle or other privacy options, you can! Start composing your post and choose the appropriate social network. Then click on the padlock icon to open the privacy selector where you can choose from your available options. For instance, if you have different circles set up within your Google+ Page, you can choose to share a post only with a specific circle." 


Hi Mike,


Thanks for your incredibly helpful and informative article.  I was wondering whether you may be able to advise me if the privacy option above is also available via the Bulk Scheduling method of posting updates. I would like to be able to restrict some of my posts to appropriate groups within, for example, my LinkedIn network.


Kind Regards,


User
User

When using the Bulk Scheduler to post one's private google+ circle, what is the minimum interval allowed between 2 posts? Can 350 posts be set to go out in 350 seconds?

HootBulk
HootBulk

Great article Mike! There is a small error in the bulk schedule part. It says "This feature allows you to create a spreadsheet offline and then upload it, creating up to 50 posts at a time." That's no longer true. 

Now you can bulk schedule up to 350 messages at once with one csv file. That's also the maximum of message to bulk schedule so users need to be aware of how many messages they had already scheduled. 

User
User

What is the embedded desktop video above? A GIF? 

HootSuite_Help_Desk
HootSuite_Help_Desk moderator

@Katy  Hi Katy! It depends. When you post to Facebook using a third-party app like HootSuite, Facebook adds a little "posted via" note to the messages posted to profiles, but not if you're posting to pages.


Hope that helps!


Maria | Customer Advocate | @HootSuite_Help

HootSuite_Help_Desk
HootSuite_Help_Desk moderator

@chrisbacke  Hi Chris,
We've had users in similar situations attach an image to the scheduled post as well as the link, which should override any link preview. This also gives you the ability to choose what image is displayed.

I hope that helps but if you have any further questions, you can always reach us on Twitter @HootSuite_Help.
Best,
Nicole @HootSuite_Help - http://hootsuite.com/help

HootSuite_Help_Desk
HootSuite_Help_Desk moderator

@chrisbacke  

Hi Chris,

Thank you for reaching out to us!

Currently there is not a work around for this through the dashboard.  I suggest you use WordPress's own tools to promote the posts once they get published. Once you have set it up through WordPress, it will be automatic. 

I hope this helps, Chris! If you have any further questions please contact us on Twitter @HootSuite_Help. 

Kind regards,

Amy @HootSuite_Help - http://hootsuite.com/help

jordanbehan
jordanbehan moderator

@User Yes, it's an animated GIF. Our Design team thought it would be a handy way to demonstrate simple actions. Do you like it? 

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