Managing one social media account can seem daunting, let alone trying to keep up with multiple accounts. Marketing your business through social media is absolutely fundamental to getting new customers, more engagement, and more sales. The problem is finding the time to create meaningful content and get your messaging out there on a consistent basis. I personally struggled a lot in the past trying to find enough time to get new content up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. It can feel like a full-time job just making your social media posts. I knew there had to be a better way.

There are social media management companies that will take all of this on for you and that is certainly a great option if it’s in your budget, but hat kind of service usually comes at a premium that is out of reach for most small business owners. I did a lot of research and one day came across “Buffer“. Buffer is an extremely powerful platform that allows you to take command of your social media management. It streamlines everything about making social media posts. The beauty of it’s publishing system is that you can connect all of your social media accounts to this single platform. That means you won’t be visiting Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the others separately to make your posts. Instead, you will do everything from one location, one time. This saves an immense amount of time.

The next key publishing feature is the ability to schedule your posts. You can literally sit down on a weekend when you have some free time, and pre-write all of your social media posts for the entire upcoming week. Insert your links, images, videos etc. and then schedule your posts for any day or time that you choose. Buffer will take it from there and you will be notified as soon as your posts have been shared. This allows you to plan out your posts on a day and time that is most convenient to you, rather than trying to quickly whip something up every day.

But wait, there’s more! (Seriously, I’m not getting a kickback from Buffer on this, we just love them that much) You can also setup a social media “team” and invite others within your organization to make posts to your account. Every user has a single login to access all of the social media accounts you’ve granted permission to. Spreading out the workload presents additional time saving benefits.

So how does this social media magic happen? Let’s check out some screenshots below:

When you first visit Buffer you’ll be presented with this screen. Click “Get started now” and you’ll be walked through the signup process. All of the different packages have a free-trial period so you can “try before you buy”. If you’re just getting started we recommend the “Pro” publishing package. If you love that you can consider adding on the other features like “Reply” and “Analyze” which add additional power.

Once you’re into the “publish” window you’ll be presented with a screen similar to this one. All of your connected social media accounts will be listed down the left-hand side. As you can see from my own Buffer page, you can have multiple social media accounts from the same platform. This is great because switching accounts inside phone applications can often be cumbersome. Doing this inside Buffer is much more streamlined. When you’re ready to start a post simply click in the “What would you like to share” text field.

Next, a window will pop up and you can start forming your post. Insert links, images, videos or smilies (don’t forget the hashtags!). Click the icons for the accounts you want to share to and they will all highlight. Anything faded out will not be posted to. Above you can see I’ve selected the first three accounts and the rest are faded out. Once your post is assembled, click the “Customize for each network” button.

Now you will be able to tailor your posts for each different social media platform. There are some specific features for each type of account. For example; Twitter only allows 280 characters per Tweet. Buffer gives you a character count inside the application so you know exactly how much space you have left. It will also highlight red anything that goes over the limit. Insert your hashtags right inside Buffer and it will even give you a drop-down showing how many tweets have used that same hashtag so you know if it’s popular.

Instagram allows you to tag a location and also insert a first comment. Again, insert all your hashtags right inside Buffer. Buffer can handle automatically posting a single image, however, if you’re making a gallery post (multiple images at once) it will instead push a notification to your phone and you’ll have to make the post using the Buffer app. The nice thing is the Buffer phone app will save your images to your phone and copy your written post. Buffer will open up the Instagram app on your phone for you, you select the images you want to use in your gallery and then paste the post content in. Buffer will send the reminder to you whenever you had your post scheduled for. Once your posts are tailored for each platform hit the “Add to Queue” button.

At this point you can pretty much put your feet up on the desk. You’ll see all your posts in the queue along with what day and time they are scheduled for. If you want to change when a post is scheduled for simply click on it and change the time. If you want to share immediately click the “Share Now” button. If you notice a spelling mistake click the “Edit” button and update your post (just remember to update your posts on the other platforms as well). It’s rinse and repeat now. Make some more posts and fill up that queue!

Every publish account also comes with some basic analytics. You can see likes, shares, comments, post reach and more all from Buffer’s control panel. You can also use the “Share Again” button to re-post old content. This is great for “Throwback Thursdays”, repeat events etc. If you want much more in depth analytics you can signup for Buffer’s “Analyze” add on which has a ton of additional features including Instagram story analytics, strategy recommendations and more.

That’s how to use Buffer in a nutshell. For most small business owners the “Pro” package will be sufficient with the ability to connect up to 8 unique social media accounts. At present, Buffer can post to all of the following: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

You can see three Buffer packages above for publishing. The Pro package is what I use as I have 8 different social media accounts connected. Here is the proverbial cherry on top; if you only have 3 social media accounts to manage (i.e: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) Buffer also has a FREE plan you can downgrade to after your free-trial has expired. No strings attached. This is a great option for anyone just wanting to streamline posts for a single business. The prices shown above are also based on monthly payments. If you choose to pre-pay for a year you’ll save a few bucks per month. Everything listed is in USD.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to Buffer and start streamlining your social media management!