Most small business owners don’t have time to manually send out every link to every piece of content we write for them, so automatic posting is tempting.
On the flipside, too much automation will quickly become tiresome for your followers.
Finding the balance is difficult, and the sheer number of WordPress plugins and other services can be overwhelming.
If you do want to automate some of your social media administration, there are three really good services which allow you to achieve that balance. I thought it would be useful to post a review of our top three: Dlvr.it, IFTTT and Buffer.
Dlvr.it is a flexible tool that helps users to partially automate social feeds. The service monitors your blog’s RSS feed (the Source) at scheduled intervals and re-posts anything new to your social pages (Destinations). To create a posting schedule, you add a Source, then create a Route to your Destination.
Dlvr.it has a free account that’s limited to five feeds and three social profiles. For $9.99 a month, you can go Pro and raise those limits. For $19.99 a month, you can subscribe to Ultimate and remove them completely.
- Dlvr.it is pretty flexible and provides plenty of customisation options. You can add standard wording before a tweet, for example.
- Dlvr.it makes good use of your blog’s category tags; you can optionally convert them into hashtags.
- The free service is enough to get started.
- Delivery isn’t instant. Free users can only update their social media accounts every 30 minutes. With paid accounts, this can be reduced to 15 minutes (Pro) or 5 minutes (Ultimate).
- Free accounts don’t have scheduling. That means means updates could be posted in the middle of the night when none of your followers are watching.
IFTTT stands for ‘if this, then that’. It’s built around similar principles to Dlvr.it, but instead of Routes, you create Recipes. A recipe is a trigger: when this happens on one site (or Channel), do that on another one. For example, you might want to copy all the photos you’re tagged in on Facebook to your Dropbox account.
Unlike Dlvr.it, IFTTT isn’t wholly reliant on RSS feeds. It does cover the same things as Dlvr.it, but the extra integrations and APIs give you far more options. Actions can be triggered by weather reports, calendar feeds, Google Talk chats and even phone calls, and it supports posting to things like Evernote. You can even switch off devices through IFTTT if you have a Belkin WeMo, or send notifications to your iPhone or iPad.
- IFTTT is free with no restrictions.
- The service supports all kinds of Channels in addition to social media accounts.
- The interface is fantastic.
- IFTTT is very easy to use, once you understand the concept.
- The recipe system can be a little overwhelming at first; there are so many options and recipes to play with. It pays to have a plan and start with the basics.
- There’s a temptation to over-automate social media automation, which may not be a great idea.
Buffer is a time-saving tool that links social media accounts together under one interface. When you post a link in Buffer, you can choose which social accounts it’ll be delivered to.
In addition, Buffer queues up your updates and spaces them out. Users can alter the schedule so that stored posts are sent out automatically through the day. Browser extensions integrate Buffer buttons into other websites and add shortcuts to browser toolbars. The basic version is free; the Awesome version is $10/month.
- Buffer tracks analytics, so you can easily see which posts are working on which platforms. (The stats are pretty basic, but they’re better than nothing.)
- You can avoid posting irrelevant or unsuitable updates by switching accounts off at the time of posting, so there’s less temptation to blanket post everything.
- Buffer effectively takes care of your social media presence while you’re not online. We stack up plenty of updates before we go on holiday.
- The free version is quite limited; if you need to stack up lots of posts or use lots of accounts, you’ll need the paid version.
- There’s no desktop app, although there are various Buffer-compatible RSS readers for Windows, Mac and mobile.
- Buffer doesn’t support as many services as IFTTT.
So which one’s best?
Dlvr.it, IFTTT and Buffer are all very useful, and they all do slightly different things. Dlvr.it is great for the basics, but it does look a little dated compared to IFTTT, and the introduction of paid upgrades has made it less useful.
If you only have time for one service and your budget isn’t huge, IFTTT is a fantastic, free automation tool. The possibilities are near-endless, and new Recipes are being added all the time. If you want to go a stage further and introduce scheduling, adding Buffer to the mix will give you everything you need to automate your social media accounts.
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