Archive for category: Tools

4 Tips To Get More From Buffer

11 Dec
December 11, 2014

About 90% of what I share on social channels is done using Buffer.

Buffer is one of the tools I called out as invaluable for managing social throughput, and in that post I offered up a few tips for using it. I wanted to dive into the tool a little deeper here.

I’m not what you would call a power user (I run on their basic tier), but I do try and squeeze a whole lot out of it in terms of function.

My primary use is as a curation tool to bring together other people’s content into my feed. Given the amount of content I read each day, I generally end up queuing about two days worth of social posts each time . As far as my own content goes, I use CoSchedule to develop and schedule my messaging, but the great part is that it integrates with Buffer as well. I’ll be publishing a post on CoSchedule soon.

Here are my 4 tips for doing more with Buffer.

Add more timesTwitter posting times

When you sign up, there will be a number of times already picked to share content.

I highly recommend changing these up, and creating a sharing schedule for each platform.

Firstly make sure that your timezone is right (under the Schedule tab) – nothing worse than setting times only to find yourself hours ahead or behind.

Understand the consumption habits of each platform – Twitter should be higher frequency of content as an example, given how fast a feed can move, whereas LinkedIn may be a 2 or 3 updates a day platform for you.

Add new times to each platform. My Twitter schedule (right) is based on 6 scheduled times a day, every 2 an a half hours, whereas LinkedIn is timed for 3 times a day, at the start and end of the workday, and lunchtime.

Change up your messages and add context

Depending on what device I am using, I use the Chrome and Safari extensions and the iOS app to add to my queue when I like a story. I will often add the item to the queue looking the same across all the platforms I want to share to.

After you’ve added your item to the queue, don’t forget about it. Every platform has its optimum posting format, so you need to make sure you go into the Buffer and edit what you have saved there to suit.

I will typically add a source’s Twitter handle at the point of adding to the queue and Buffer will automatically parse that to a full name for LinkedIn. It’s important to check this as you want to make sure the source is credited correctly.

Also important is adding hashtags for Twitter, G+ and even Facebook if you want (although they’ve never really taken off on Facebook). This will help visibility when they are published.

Understanding platforms like Google+ allow for a longer message (it only supports pages, not individual profiles), use this opportunity to write your thoughts ahead of the link

Add a picture

Image uploadImages increase engagement with social posts exponentially, so where available (which is everywhere), you should be using them.

Buffer offers the opportunity to add an specific image to the posts you share. This is particularly handy for Twitter posts where there is no preview of the content, unless the site you are sharing supports Twitter cards, but you can’t see this from queue dialogue, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn and G+ shares where the tool will parse a preview that you can see in the queuing dialogue.

Don’t just share something once

There is research to suggest that the multiple sharing of the same piece of content can do wonders for engagement. CoSchedule has a great schedule framework that demonstrates this.

Scheduling toolUse the New Scheduler tool (second tab) to pick the frequency by which you share your content and again, make sure you vary your message by platform.

Add additional schedule times to it if you want as well, per my first point.

If you want to keep a track of all the links you share using the tool, I also recommend checking out this post on using IFTTT to achieve that.

This kind of tool shouldn’t be the only thing you use to share content. As I said, I schedule about 90% of my output using this, with the remaining being direct shares from social platforms as I find information, and others being my own content that I post on the blog.

So how about you? Any ways you are using it that you’d like to share?

How To Automatically Save Every Link You Share In One Place

04 Sep
September 4, 2014

Did you know that 1 million links are shared every 20 minutes on Facebook?

Add to that the millions of links shared across Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other networks, and that is an overwhelming amount of information that people are pushing.

I share a lot of content each day, and one of the challenges I have found in the past is being able to easily recall where and when I shared information if I want to refer back to it.

Last week I shared an IFTTT recipe I use to capture ideas for blog posts, and this week I wanted to share a few more that I use to bring together all of the links I share into one easy to use repository. It’s not complex, and it creates a searchable index of all links you share across all the platforms you use.

My main networks are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where I will reshare information I find in while browsing each platform. But I also use tools like Buffer to share links out.

You will need to be using Pocket to make it work (one of my favourite apps for managing throughput). It’s based on link posts shared to each network.

So what does the recipe look like?  Make sure you enable each platform in the IFTTT app, and make the trigger in each:

  • Facebook: New link post by you
  • LinkedIn: New shared link By you
  • Twitter: New link by you

In each case, the Action is the same:

  • Pocket: Save for later

The recipes should then look like this: facebooklinkrecipe twitterlinkrecipe

The Buffer recipe works in the same way, but is a little bit different. Because I always share to Twitter and the same link selectively to LinkedIn via Buffer, I have only set it up to capture a share to Twitter from here.

buffer

And that’s pretty much it. Now when you check back into your Pocket app, you will find the links you have shared socially, tagged with each platform they have been shared from.

PHOTO – C/N N/G via Flickr

A Handy IFTTT Recipe for Blog Ideas

18 Aug
August 18, 2014

I’m spending more time lately finding ways to make IFTTT work smarter for me to automate a whole bunch of tasks. For those not familiar with it, IFTTT allows you to create recipes – links between different channels that have a trigger and an action (hence the name IFTTT – If This Then That).

I often find stories online that I have a point of view on and want to write a post about. In the past, I have saved them to Pocket and come back to them at a later stage.

This takes me a step further. The recipe looks like this:

iftttrecipe

So the trigger for this is Pocket (you can also use Instapaper or any other Read Later service it supports), and you are going to link it to WordPress. If you haven’t previously activated these channels you will need to login to both via IFTTT to set them up and grant permissions.

recipeIn the recipe, you will want to designate a tag in Pocket to send posts to WordPress. Give it a tag of “blog” or “blog ideas”, or whatever is easiest and then add WordPress to the recipe and tell it to create a new post (this will be your only post option at this point).

The next piece is important.

You will need to make sure you edit the recipe once established – you want it to be a draft, otherwise you’re just publishing a post with the name and snippet of the article.

Click on the completed recipe in your list and then EDIT. Scroll down and there will be a “Post Status” box. Click on this and change to “Save As Draft”.draft

Now every time you add an article to Pocket with the tag ‘Blog’, it will automatically create a draft post in WordPress with reference to the original article so you can begin to build your posts around it.

Anyone else got some other great IFTTT recipes for blogging? Share them with me!

PHOTO – Casey Bisson

5 Tools and Tips for Managing Social Throughput

12 May
May 12, 2014

I was asked the other day how I manage to consume so much information via social and find things that I think are worth sharing back out across platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

The flood of information now coming via the web and social is something we all manage in our own way, so here are a few tools and methods I use to manage the flow of information both ways.

TweetDeck

It has its shortcomings for many people (layout challenges and no mobile app to name two), but for me Tweetdeck is one of the best ways to manage the Twitter content. Managing a number of accounts as I do, it’s easy to have them all in one place and the tools I need to manage them available in browser and on desktop.

A few tips:

  • Get your columns in order. In general, I have two for each account I manage – stream and mentions. Then a column for related search terms, indirect mentions (those that don’t use the @) and misspellings. Then some of my lists, and then an additional one for any hashtags I want to track use of.
  • Move your columns around using the settings diagloue in each one. One of the shortcomings is the layout (you’ll need to scroll left and right to see all columns, rather than tile them), so bring columns to the left that are the most important, or the ones you need to be watching closely at a point in time.
  • While you can manage multiple accounts, make sure your default account is set to the one you use the most. It sounds obvious, but that way any actions you perform, particularly as you favourite and RT content, come from the right account. Nothing worse than a tweet going from the wrong account.

Twitter Favourites

While not necessarily a tool, the Favourite function on Twitter seems to mean different things to different people using the platform. Personally I prefer to use them as a basic bookmark that allows me to capture someone’s 140 characters in my fast moving feed.

Once I have had a chance to come back and read them, I will often unfavourite them and move them into somewhere else if I find them worthwhile enough – maybe add the article to Pocket, Share it out via Buffer or make some notes on it in Evernote.

Pocket

Everything I find interesting from a site / article perspective and think could be useful later goes into Pocket. I use the browser plugin on both Safari and Chrome to capture and categorise anything I find.

One pitfall if not used to its full potential is that it’s very easy to clip and forget content, and before you know it, you have thousands of articles with no idea of why you captured them in the first place. So:

  • Make time regularly to clear out / tidy up your Pocket. I do it twice a week.
  • Use the tag function, and be consistent with the tags you use.
  • Set it up on your phone also. It takes some fiddling on an iPhone to get it done, but the amount of content I find while mobile browsing makes it worthwhile.

Evernote

Evernote has become something of an indispensable tool for me.

I use it across both desktop, web and mobile (depending on the situation) to capture pretty much everything – meeting notes, ideas, photos of things I think will be interesting to share or write about, blog thought starters, or article snapshots that I want to mark up with my own thoughts.

There’s plenty already written about this amazing tool, so here’s three tips to make it easy:

  • Make sure you use the notebooks – you can spend forever trawling your Random Notes, make it easy on your self.
  • Use tags to make it easy to search and group notes
  • Go Premium. I’ve been using it for years, and the additional features come in very handy when you reach a mass of content.

Buffer

Once I have found and captured interesting content via any of the above, Buffer has become an output tool I use pretty regularly. I’ve always been on the fence about scheduling of content (and if I was honest probably erring on the side of “don’t”), but Buffer has made it very easy to do, and with a greater degree of flexibility than most. There’s nothing more annoying to have a Twitter feed flooded with a dozen updates from the same person, wallpapering your feed. Buffer helps avoid that occurring when you share.

There are also decent anaytics attached to it to measure the performance of what you share.

A few tips for using Buffer:

  • Work on the times to share. Buffer will pick times by default, and will schedule your content accordingly. Experiment with adjusting these times to see what if any impact they can have.
  • Don’t add time sensitive content to your Buffer. For example, if I wanted to share an update about Twitter’s share price, adding it to my Buffer would put it in  queue and potentially make it irrelevant by the time it publishes. Try using the Share Now function within and only buffer evergreen content.
  • Make sure you also move your messaging around once you’ve buffered it. I have at times found that a number of updates I have queued up one after another are similar in tone / topic. Drag and drop them to mix it up.

These aren’t the only tools I use, but form the most common ways I consume the flood of information out there.

So what about you? Any tools you use to manage the flow of information?

PHOTO – Iain Browne