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3 Steps to Saving Time by Writing Social Media Updates in Batches

Posted By Guest Blogger 12th of June 2015 General 38

fashion-man-person-handThis is a guest contribution from Tom Van Buren.

Scheduling updates in advance solves a number of social media’s most frustrating problems. It gives your routine newfound flexibility, and it can even make you a better blogger. But there’s one hurdle that scheduling alone doesn’t take care of for you: those updates still have to come from somewhere, and that means you have to write them.

Part of the appeal of scheduling is that it stops social media from interrupting your life every time you want to post an update, but without a sound strategy for actually writing those updates, you might just be trading one type of frustration for another. This post will show you how to write social media updates by the batch, so you can more easily grow your fanbase and drive more reliable traffic to your blog.

Think about more than just your own traffic

Social media is an invaluable resource for driving traffic to your own website, but getting carried away can do more harm than good. Forty-five percent of users cite excessive self-promotion as a reason why they would unfollow a brand on social, which means your strategy has to be a lot more refined than just sharing your own links.

Break down your typical updates into categories by type, so there’s variety to the content you share. In addition to posting links to your own blog posts, for example, you might also use social media for posting tips, linking to useful content on other websites, sharing inspirational or funny quotes, and so on. (Quotes and tips in particular are useful for getting shares, which can help you grow your audience.) These categories will guide you through the next step of the batching process: actually writing your updates.

Save time by writing in blocks

If you regularly schedule your social media updates, you might already be writing them in batches – just very small ones. For example, you might set aside time every morning to write and schedule your updates for that day. While this works in theory, it prevents you from developing a big-picture strategy, and it isn’t saving you as much time as it could.

Use the categories you defined to write as many updates you can within a certain time frame (much like the longstanding Pomodoro Technique suggests). Take 20 minutes to write as many updates as you can promoting your various blog posts, then another 20 for tips, and so on. Writing as much as you can within a certain time period gives you the ammunition with which to load your schedule, and it helps you build and maintain creative momentum as you go.

Writing bigger batches like this may seem like a major time commitment, but think of it like making a weekly trip to the grocery store instead of going every day. It may feel like you’re spending more time at the store, but for as long as the groceries last, you’re not wasting time on things like planning meals, making your list, driving back and forth, unloading the car, and so on. Once the work is done, it’s done.

The amount of time these updates last will vary depending on how often you post, but there’s one final step you should take to make sure that you get as much out of them as possible.

Save your work and re-use your updates

Without the right plan, social media marketing can feel like a neverending zero-sum game – you work hard writing updates, but once you post them, they’re gone, and you start again from square one every time you run out.

This cycle of always starting over from nothing is a major waste of time and your work. If you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter five times a day each, you might be writing as many as 310 brand new updates every single month – more than 75 per week. That’s a lot of effort to put into a task that doesn’t add up to anything.

Instead, maintain a document that saves your status updates. (Spreadsheets are particularly useful, because they allow you to organize your updates by category.) Every time you write a new batch of updates, add it to your document, so that over time, you build up a library of updates from which you can choose ones to schedule. Eventually, you’ll be able to write batches less and less frequently, because you can choose from the updates you’ve already written.

Why post the same update more than once? In addition to saving time, there are two big reasons:

Most of your followers don’t see any given update

Every time you post an update to social media, you’re trying to hit a moving target – and no matter what network you’re posting on, that target is pretty small. Consider these statistics:

  • Most Twitter users don’t log on even once a day (and 40% log on less than once a week)
  • The average organic reach for a Facebook page is about 7%
  • 87% of LinkedIn users log on once a week or less

Only a very small segment of your audience is likely to see any given update you post on social media, so if you share the same thing more than once over time, it’s unlikely anyone will notice – and you never have to feel like you wasted time writing and scheduling a post that didn’t get any traction.

Evergreen blog content drives more traffic

New social media followers always have something in common: they’ve probably seen very few of your updates from before they started following you (if they’ve seen any at all). If they’re new to your blog audience, then they’ve probably been exposed to very little of your blog’s older content, too.

Your evergreen blog posts are literally as good as new to anyone who hasn’t seen them before. If you’re not continually promoting those posts on social media, they’re gathering dust in your archives and going to waste.

This is why it helps to categorize your updates and save them over time. Maintaining a growing stockpile means you never have to go back and write new updates promoting old posts – you can simply keep your existing updates that promote evergreen posts in rotation, so they’ll continue to drive new traffic. Neither your social updates nor your blog posts go to waste, and the work you put into writing both generates cumulative results over time.
If you schedule your social updates in advance, how often do you set aside time to write them? And if you haven’t tried scheduling before, what’s stopping you?

Tom VanBuren is the content and social media manager for MeetEdgar.com, where he writes about social media and online marketing.

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Comments
  1. Tom this is smart and a huge time saver at that.I do this more with Hootsuite and SocialOomph these days. I set it, mass create, drip out updates through these 2 tools and respond after I see engagement. Smart post and super strategies here.

    Ryan

    • Absolutely! We do the exact same thing using Edgar (but that part probably wasn’t too hard to guess). Saves us a ton of time, which we’re able to use for things like live engagement. So useful not just for saving time, but for posting with a sense of direction and purpose.

    • Do you write content ahead of time and auto-schedule to publish on it’s own?

    • Ryan, how much do you play a month for that service?

    • Ryan,

      Have you ever used Buffer.com before to autoshare content? And, how do you feel about YouTube disabling RSS feeds?

  2. I never thought of this. A simple idea, but so smart!I’m going to start doing this! Thanks!

  3. Thanks for this awesome articcle.I will definitely save some of my time on writing updates on Social mediaSocial Media

  4. I write updates in batches and schedule them using Hootsuite. The only drawback I find is that if a particular type of post doesn’t perform well I have to go in to Hootsuite and take all the similar ones I’ve scheduled out and write new ones.

  5. Your right, we live in a such fast paced digital world, that the lifespan of a post is less than a few hours!
    Just learned it the hard way publishing in google plus groups to promote my last post…lost in the flow in a few hours.Republishing is something I do naturally when facebook reminds me of an event published a year ago on my wall…. gonna do the same for my blog! thanks

  6. It’s really great information about these 3 Steps to Saving Time by Writing Social Media Updates in Batches. It’s very inspiring to read this kind of blog. Thanks and God Bless.

  7. I agree that it’s a good idea to reuse content from time to time to maximize exposure. But be careful. I’ve been seeing some Twitter accounts lately that just post the same tweets over and over again each day. I feel like I can safely unfollow after a day or two, having seen everything they have to say! I have trouble believing that strategy is effective in the long run.

  8. I’ve been considering adopting a strategy more like this, but it’s good to see some info from someone it’s actually worked for before putting in all the effort. I’d really not considered putting everything into a spreadsheet before, but, you’re totally right; only a tiny slice of the market sees any one update.

  9. writing content ahead of time is a great way to stay on top of your daily schedule especially when you have a WordPress blog with a content scheduling plug-in, whereas you can schedule the pre-written content to be posted multiple times throughout the day while unattended from your computer.

  10. I agree that evergreen posts do good but only when you’ve just started to create articles for new your blog.

    Rather than that, It’s almost useless to write them.

    I prefer to write some unique ones’, which hasn’t been conferred much and will be helpful to the readers. Trending topics are even better.

    If anyone thinks that he/she can write an article like, “How to write a good blog post” and overtake big sites like problogger or hubspot in a flick then that would be day dreaming. Instead targeting less conferred topics can get you new visitors.

    What;s your opinion, sir?

    • It’s definitely important to create content that’s not only evergreen, but unique. Like you said, there’s no shortage of generic “How to do X” articles out there. You have to find unexplored angles and offer different perspectives – otherwise you’ll have a hard time standing out, no matter how much you publish and share.

  11. Batching is key to prevent you from being constantly busy with work … great tips!

  12. Hey Tom,

    The one thing that I do to is take advantage of a plugin called Revive Old Post where I post articles I did within a year. Also, although it’s looked down upon, I linked my twitter account with my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts so whenever I post on twitter it’ll also automatically post in both of these sites. This makes it easier for me to kill three birds with one stone going this route. I also like to plan on resharing posts I’ve read, commented and found value on in Bufferapp. I use to share quotes some years back, and I do want to get back into the habit of this. May do this in Bufferapp also. Thanks for the clever ideas! Have a great weekend!

  13. Great article- I am going to start using a more systematic spreadsheet approach. I am currently using Hootsuite to schedule- what are a few of your fav features of Edgar?

    • One thing I love about Edgar is that he automatically saves every update for you in an online library, so you upload it once and it’s saved forever (unless you delete it, of course) — so no more messing with spreadsheets. Plus, when you save an update, you can categorize it based on what it is (so “Blog posts,” for example), and when you create your posting schedule, you tell Edgar which types of updates to post at which times (so instead of just telling him to post an update on Tuesday at noon, you can specify to post a blog post link on Tuesday at noon). Edgar automatically pulls the update from your online library to fill your queue (so no more empty queue), and after he posts it, he keeps it saved so he can pull it again at a later date and time. Essentially, he automates almost everything described in the article. (We actually created Edgar because we’d been using this strategy for years, but via saving updates in spreadsheets — we wanted something that would make the process faster and simpler, and so Edgar was born.)

  14. Hi Tom

    Really appreciate your post, I am shocked by those stats about people not seeing updates!

    As most of my posts are based on evergreen stuff, I will definitely share these more than once.

    I have also started to keep a log of what I shared and when and see how that relates to any spikes in traffic.

    Thanks again Tom.

  15. This is the best technics for Saving Time by Writing Social Media Updates in Batches
    3 Steps to Saving Time by Writing Social Media Updates in Batches.

    Thanks for shair

  16. Its good tips Tom. Keep ot up the nice work

  17. Hey Tom! Great article, I certainly use this tool for both my company and personal accounts. Don’t forget about the value of bins for various topics that can be a huge time saver for tweeting motivational quotes and funny jokes!

    • You’re exactly right! We actually built Edgar to do just that, so your updates are saved by category as you upload them and then scheduled according to when you want to share certain types of posts. It’s a huge part of our strategy — no matter how you do it, organizing your updates like this is really important to making sure you share the right things at the right times!

  18. Really good advice, especially about recycling older blog posts. I have tons that are just sitting there, gathering dust. I should be promoting them all the time. After all, as you said, its new inventory to many. Thanks.

  19. Does anyone know of an automated content scheduling plug that’s compatible with any CMS platform?

  20. What is a good rule of thumb for letting your content get aggregated? I don’t want to go over board and become to overbearing with my older content.

  21. Being an SEO myself gives me the liberty to say that time management is the key to success. When we’ve already made our work schedule beforehand, we tend to find better solutions to most of our intricate problems. Delaying everything till last minute complicates work rather than making it simple. Writing in batches improves the thinking process and always helps generate quality content. I am glad that you’ve shared this bit with us. I am sure many SEOs out there can relate to it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  22. Connie Schlosberg says: 06/19/2015 at 6:42 am

    Excellent advice on batching and writing in blocks. I save my posts in a Word document but I like the idea of creating categories and using a spreadsheet to keep it organized.I will definitely reuse my older content now that know it’s acceptable to do it. This will save me time. Thanks.

  23. Great article! I could use a little help though. I tried using a spreadsheet to write all my Twitter and Facebook posts, but found the character count for tweets was a little bit of a challenge for me. Is there some sort of tool out there that would tell me my character count as I type into a spreadsheet? This would be so incredibly helpful for creating my tweets.

    • Hey Bill! There’s actually a way to do this in Google Sheets, for sure. Say you write tweets in column A — your first tweet is in column A1. In B1, enter the formula =len(A1) and hit enter. When you click on B1, you’ll see a little blue box in the bottom-right corner that turns into a + when you hover over it. Click when the + shows up, and drag it down the length of the column — now that formula is in every cell, but relative to the cell to its immediate left. (So B2 corresponds to A2, B3 to A3, and so on.) When you enter a tweet in a cell in column A, hit enter, and the formula in the corresponding cell in column B will update with the character count. (It’s not perfect, because it doesn’t update quite in real time as you type, but it’s still a serious time-saver!)

      • Awesome Tom! Thanks so much! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do this for a while.

        You know have another HUGE fan :)

        Bill

  24. What is a good rule of thumb for letting your content get aggregated? I don’t want to go over board and become to overbearing with my older content

  25. Tanner Thomas says: 06/27/2015 at 2:34 pm

    Great article Tom! Lots of good advice. Thanks for sharing. I have a question though… Say you do republish old posts on Twitter, would you say it is a good idea to delete the older post that you are republishing so anyone who takes interest in your profile doesn’t notice the repeat if they continue scrolling? Or would you just leave both of the posts up even though they are exactly the same? What are your thoughts?

  26. GREAT reminders. I always worry about posting TOO much on social media – but the stats on how often people actually get on these sites is staggering.

    I have to remind myself that not everyone lives on social media all day!

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