Monday, October 8, 2012

Timing is Everything - Using Facebook's Scheduling Tool Can Help

There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. 
William Shakespeare

Companies like Hootsuite and Sprout Social have made a big business out of scheduling tweets and Facebook posts, and for good reason. Scheduling posts in advance allows admins to better manage their workflows and take advantage of high-traffic and high-engagement times of day. There are plenty of arguments out there why you should or shouldn't sign on with scheduling services like these, and what times of day and days of the week are best. The consistent thread through all these arguments is that carefully timing your posts is crucial to maximizing potential impressions and engagement. 

Earlier this year, Facebook took some of the power back from the scheduling services by launching its own post scheduling tool. If you manage a Facebook Page, congratulations! You already have access to it. This post will cover how to use Facebook's scheduling tool, and some of its pros and cons.

In order to use Facebook's post scheduling tool, your Page must first have a Start Date (this is different than the Joined Facebook date.) You can edit your Start Date in the Basic Information section of your Page, or by scrolling to the very bottom of your Timeline. You'll be asked to identify at least the year of your Start, and the type of start: Born, Founded, Started, Opened, Created, Launched. You also can fill out the Timeline story of your Start Date with photos and text.

Once you have designated a Start Date, you're ready to jump in and start scheduling your posts. You can backdate or preschedule posts by clicking the little clock at the bottom left corner of the sharing tool.

Write your post as you usually would, including adding photos or links and even tagging other Pages. The ability to tag and to more seamlessly upload photos are two main reasons why I prefer scheduling posts straight through the Facebook platform. Once you have everything set to go (if you're posting a link, remember to clean up the header and body text in your link preview box, select a thumbnail if one is available, and then remove the URL from your post text,) select a date and time for your post to go out, and click schedule. The post will be added to your Activity Log.

If you are backdating a post, clicking Post will automatically generate a News Feed story and add the post to your Timeline. If you would like to add the post to your Timeline without generating a story, click the box next to "Hide from news feed."
Prescheduled posts will appear in your Activity Log. From there, hover over the top right corner and click the arrow to change the time, publish the post now, or cancel the post. One of the current disadvantages of using Facebook's scheduling tool is that posts can't be edited - they can only be cancelled and prescheduled again. So if I wanted to change the post below and correct it to reflect the correct highest engagement time from the study, which is 3pm, I would have to cancel and repost it.

So there you have it - prescheduling and backdating posts in a nutshell. Once you give it a try, let me know what you think! If you've already been using this tool, or if you use other scheduling platforms, which do you prefer and why? What are some advantages or disadvantages? What are your Page's highest-engagement dates/times? As always, if you have questions or need help, leave a comment or send me an email. Happy posting!