Stop boring your social media followers

Running a social media account for a business is hard. It’s difficult to get into the habit of putting the time in and even if you are posting on a regular basis it can be tough not to just churn out a stream of boring promotional messages. Saying ‘We are the best X in the region contact us to find out more’ over and over won’t get you anywhere.

There are a few things you can do to avoid this kind of corporate banality and they range from quick and easy to time-consuming and hard. The most effective thing you could be doing, and probably the most difficult, would be creating regular high quality content on your website which will be interesting and valuable to your audience. But let’s be realistic, you probably don’t have time for that right now. Enter Buffer.

Buffer is a fantastic tool that is best known as a social media scheduler. It allows you to line up Tweets and Facebook posts (it also works with LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+) in advance so that they’ll go out automatically over the next few hours or days. You tell it how many times a day and what time to post. After that it’s just a case of keeping your Buffer topped up. If that’s where it ended that’d be good enough but Buffer has a fantastic feature called Feeds which allows you to pull in content from almost any website of your choice and add it to your scheduled list of posts. This feature uses RSS which stands for Really Simple Syndication. The reason it’s so useful is because it allows you to log in to a single place, quickly scan articles from several sources and share them with your followers very simply. With a few clicks you can have enough content lined up for a few days meaning you get to avoid that nagging feeling that you need to ‘do something about the Twitter’. Aside from the time this will save you this has the added benefit that your company social pages will become much more diverse and interesting to potential followers. You’ll also likely get noticed and retweeted by some of the authors of the content you’re sharing which is a great bonus.

I’m gonna assume you’re sold on this plan because it’s great. So, if you don’t already have one, go and sign up for a Buffer account now. There’s a free option but you’ll need to be on the Awesome Plan to take advantage of the Feeds tool but at $10 a month (about £7) it’s well worth the money. And there’s no minimum contract. All set? Ok, let’s do this.

After logging in to Buffer you’ll want to click your profile icon on the left, then choose the Content tab and finally click RSS Feeds.

Now you have two options. First you can type a search term into the box and Buffer will display a list of suggested sites. If any of these take your fancy just click the name. If you already have a website in mind to add to your list you can copy and paste its URL in the search box. As long as the website uses RSS, which virtually all blogs and news sites do, Buffer should now display the name of the site under the search box. Click that and a few seconds later you should see a list of the latest posts from your chosen feed fill the screen.

From here you can click through to the article to give it a read, click Add to place the article in your list of upcoming posts or dismiss the article if it’s not right for your followers.

When you want to add another feed simply click the Add & Remove Feeds button and repeat the process above. To get the most out of this feature you should aim to have a few different sources in your Feeds list. Think about your audience on social media, or the kind of audience you want to build, and figure out the kind of sites that will be of interest to them. You can experiment with your chosen Feeds too as Buffer lets you know which of your shares are the most popular. Over time you’ll be able to tailor your Feeds for maximum value.

And that’s it! You now have the facility to keep your Facebook, Twitter and other social media topped up with interesting content for minimal effort on your part.

Pete Clark

Pete Clark has been working with websites since the 1990s, which seems like a very very long time ago now. You can follow him on Twitter @ClarkCX