What's in this session?

  • Intro (0:40)
  • Buffer (2:02)
  • Sked Social (3:37)
  • Honorable Mention: Sprout Social (6:40)
  • Platforms we used to use (7:08)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Brady Shearer: Scheduling your church’s social media posts head of time is great way to save time and automate a tedious chore. But with so many scheduling tools available, how do you know which one is best?

And moreover, what about Instagram and it’s strict scheduling rules? In this podcast you’ll learn the only two social media scheduling tools I recommend for churches along with a host of other scheduling tools that I think are not worth your time. 

Speaker 3: Amen. 

Alex Mills: Well hey there and welcome to Pro Church Tools. The show where in ten minutes or less, you’ll get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years.

I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, Brady Sheerer. 

Brady Shearer: One of the keys to social media success is consistency. 

Alex Mills: Yes. 

Brady Shearer: Making sure that you’re showing up on a consistent day by day basis, and one of the best ways to improve upon your consistency is to schedule your social media posts ahead of time so that when something comes up, so that when you forget, the robots of the world are making sure that your social media platforms are still kept up to date. 

Alex Mills: Well and it’s the best of your time as well right? You don’t have to always be working from behind, I know we all know what that feels like, be working from behind, it’s Wednesday at 3:30, I didn’t post yet today, I’ve got to come up with something and I should have posted in the morning but it’s the afternoon and you got that feeling of always working from behind.

Carve out a day a week or one big day a month and schedule out all your posts. And if you have something special go ahead and supplement what you’re already going to post and add that to what you’re going to already post.

But you can just know and like you said for those unseen circumstances where oh, I didn’t know I was going to be away today or sick today or those unforeseen circumstances, you can be prepared and know that somethings going out on social today. 

Brady Shearer: Of course there’s no shortage of social media scheduling tools, we’ve used most of them and so we want to talk about the ones that we like, the best ones, the ones that we don’t like, the worst ones.

At least when it comes to churches, their budgets and what we’re trying to do with our ministry. So really there are only two scheduling tools that we use. And soon that could become only one. 

The first one that we recommend is Buffer. Buffer is a tool that allows you to schedule on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, so it covers all the social platforms, and it has a free forever plan, that allows you to link up to three accounts for free, and then schedule up to ten posts in advance.

If you need to add more social accounts, if you need to schedule let’s say a full month of 31 posts in advance, you’ll need to go up to their paid tier. 

But what I’ve always liked about Buffer is that for a free plan, it’s not one of those free plans that you use and it’s like a free plan that you’ll hate so much that it forces you to upgrade. Yeah, it’s free, but you’re making me hate it so much that I’m going to give you money. 

Alex Mills: It’s actually very useful. 

Brady Shearer: You could use that. It would require you if you’re going to try to do a full week in advance, ten posts is probably enough, and three social accounts, that’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for your church, and you’re good to go.

The one caveat here is that like most Instagram scheduling tools, it will only allow you to schedule images, and if you want to schedule a video it’s going to do that whole thing where it copies the caption and then notifies you on your phone through their app, and this is what most of the big social media scheduling tools do, whether that be Later or Buffer or Hoot Suit, to work around the very strict Instagram API that disallows from scheduling stories, carousels, or video posts. 

And for us we post a ton of videos on Instagram, a ton of slide show carousel posts and a ton of stories. So this is the huge downside of most social media scheduling tools. Except for the second scheduling tool on this list, Sched Social, formerly known as ScheduGram. 

Alex Mills: ScheduGram. 

Brady Shearer: So this social scheduling tool was invented for the specific problem of Instagram strict API. Now what makes this specific tool unique Alex? What makes them different? How can they work around these strict API? Well, they don’t use the API at all.

Alex Mills: Exactly. 

Brady Shearer: The way that ScheduGram works around these strict API scheduling policies of Instagram, is that they have this cloud network of Android phones, that essentially when you schedule a post, manually go in through their computer software and publish for you. 

The way that ScheduGram describes it, is they say we are a company who have provided a method to post to Instagram in a way similar to having a friend who sits on their phone 24/7 uploading images. 

Alex Mills: Your friend just happens to be a robot. 

Brady Shearer: I’m okay with that. More friends for me. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: Even if they are robots. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: And if they’re posting to Instagram, even better. 

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: So this is how ScheduGram, now known as Sched Social, works around this. The caveat for them is that it’s not free. There’s no way they could do this for free so it’s going to cost you 20 dollars a month to use ScheduGram to actually do that posting for you.

So the question you need to ask yourself is, okay, I know it’s only Instagram, though they have now become Sched Social and are going to be adding Facebook and Twitter, and so we may no longer use Buffer we could just use this one tool.

Is 20 dollars a month enough or affordable enough to make it worth my time? Because I’m going to save all this time, especially because Instagram makes it so difficult, but Sched Social solves that problem completely. 

Alex Mills: Yeah, and it should be noted that it’s not, it’s not Buffer’s fault that they can’t post videos to Instagram, like you said, it’s a limitation of the Instagram API and who knows what the future holds?

If they kind of pull back on those restrictions that they have for uploading videos, we don’t know, and we’ll see. But like you said, Buffer seems to be the bet tool for churches. My church is using Buffer on the free plan and it’s always been enough for us. 

Formally we were just scheduling posts in Facebook, the way you can manually schedule posts in Facebook and that was fine, but we started posting more to Instagram so we wanted to have all these things kind of working together in one place. 

And so Buffer’s been great for us and let’s just wait and see what the future holds for Sched, formally ScheduGram, and Buffer to see how they evolve and when Instagram video hits buffer or when Facebook and twitter hit ScheduGram, we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Brady Shearer: If you care about scheduling to Instagram, Sched Social is by far the best option. There’s another tool called Hopper HQ that also allows you to schedule Instagram posts directly from your desktop using their app, but it won’t let you schedule carousel or slide show posts but Sched Social will. It also allows you to schedule Instagram stories on schedule. 

Alex Mills: Yeah, which is crazy. 

Brady Shearer: Now it does, we were testing this today and it cropped our post a bit, probably because Android sucks, and it was like, this isn’t like an iPhone, let’s crop this. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: But it was a small crop, it wasn’t noticeable, it wasn’t enough for us to redo the post. We want to give an honorable mention also to Sprout Social, a scheduling tool that we use, it’s actually a lot more than a scheduling tool

Alex Mills: Yeah. 

Brady Shearer: So we use it to manage all of the back and forth discussions that are happening on social with our company, with our individual accounts, so that if someone sends a Facebook message or a Twitter DM or an Instagram comment, it’s all in there and we don’t miss anyone. So honorable mention to them. 

And then also we want to hit on the scheduling tools that we have used in the past that we have since abandoned. Because they suck and we hate them. Maybe not that intense, but we don’t use them anymore. Grum was the original Instagram scheduling tool-

Alex Mills: Mm-hmm (affirmative), we used it for a long time. 

Brady Shearer: For video. We loved this tool for the longest time, it has since become quite unreliable and we have since given up on it and moved on. 

Alex Mills: It’s pretty much garbage at this point. 

Brady Shearer: But it was there for us for a very long time, so thank you Grum though we do not recommend you anymore.

Also Hootsuite, Hootsuite is kind of the OG of social scheduling tools, it’s been around forever, it does all the things that you’d expect a social scheduler to do. I have given Hootsuite the chance to earn my business.

Alex Mills: Multiple times. 

Brady Shearer: On a number of occasions, and it doesn’t seem to do anything that is special, unique, that a regular other scheduling tool doesn’t already do. 

Alex Mills: Right. 

Brady Shearer: The reason I go to Buffer, the reason that I go to Sched Social is because they have unique selling points that are like, hey we’ve got a free plan that no one else does, or hey we can actually allow you to post to Instagram. Hoot suite’s like, we can help you post to Facebook. I don’t need your help with that. 

Alex Mills: Stuck in Facebook, Hootsuite. 

Brady Shearer: And then finally Edgar was a tool that I used to sued. Edgar was a social tool that allowed you to put in posts specifically for Twitter, at least that’s how I used it. 

And then it would allow you to recycle those posts which was amazing because Twitter is a platform where you’re going to be posting more each day than any other social platform likely aside from maybe a stories platform.

And so you could put in 300 tweets and then it would recycle those tweets every three months or so, and it felt like new content because it’s very unlikely that someones going to remember what you tweeted three months ago. And even if a couple people do, 95% of your audience won’t and that way you can keep reusing content that is valuable and not always feel like you have to come up with new content.

And then Twitter came out with a new rule that was like no, you can’t tweet the same thing twice, that’s bad. It’s not good for the consumer. And Edgar, I was like, so long. And similar Smarter Q was another platform that we used for this as well.

One of the big takeaways as I’m saying all of this aloud is that, these tools may be good for a while and then these social platforms as they tend to do, will make up new rules and we’ll have to adjust. We used to recommend Grum and Smarter Q, we no longer recommend either, right now it’s Buffer and Sched Social, maybe in six months it will be Sched Social only.

Alex Mills: Right, so these tools are for this week. 

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time. 

Speaker 3: Amen.

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