Ask Buffer: Will Scheduling My Social Media Posts Affect My Engagement?
There's a myth that using third-party scheduling tools will reduce your engagement. This article presents the existing research that debunks this and advice for boosting your engagement.
Content Writer @ Buffer
Question: I’m trying to grow the social media accounts for my small business, but I’ve heard that using scheduling tools can cause low engagement and reach. Is this true?
The short answer is: no. Consistency is more likely to raise your reach and audience engagement — which is the primary service offered by third-party scheduling tools. However, this myth persists for several reasons.
This article from Social Status posits that this belief is thanks to the idea that platforms like Twitter and Instagram purposely limit the reach of posts scheduled with third-party tools to get people to use their native scheduling capabilities – but there’s no evidence to support this. The article also mentions that influencers in the social media marketing industry might be influencing this idea.
Whatever the reason, we’re here to analyze this myth and, hopefully, debunk it for you!
How do we know scheduling tools are not the culprit of low engagement?
Organic reach is the number of eyes on your content without you paying to reach a specific audience. Unlike ads, organic posts aren’t targeted to specific audiences, so they rely on the social network’s algorithm.
While we don’t know all the details of how algorithms work, we do know that one of the main goals is to keep people scrolling on the platform so that they see more ads. What does this mean for you?
The algorithm rewards high engagement, which is directly linked to consistency for many social media users. This means that the more active you are, the more your engagement and reach increase. While the algorithm considers multiple factors, it doesn’t seem to disfavor scheduled posts.
In fact, we (along with other folks at Sendible and Agorapulse) have done the research, so we know that third-party scheduling tools help (not hurt) your reach. The most recent report (done in 2020) found that posts scheduled on Facebook via third-party tools achieved 10.3% more engagement than those posted natively, proving scheduling tools are a good investment.
This increase in engagement could be because of the many advantages that come with these tools. Buffer, for example, finds the best times to post, analyzes which kind of content is the best, and helps you easily respond to comments – all of which are important for growing your social accounts.
Of course, this doesn’t account for marketers who see lower reach and engagement from third-party scheduling but get better results when switching to native scheduling. So it’s essential to experiment with both approaches to see what works for you.
What does cause low engagement?
High-quality and engaging content will perform well on social media, whether posted via an app or natively through a platform. What impacts engagement is elements like poor quality content or a lack of interaction with your audience.
Once your post is scheduled, there’s still work to do. You can’t just leave a post and expect it to perform on its own. You must check in daily to see the responses, shares, and comments. If you don’t, your reach will nosedive as fewer of your posts appear to your followers and, in turn, your potential audience.
Scheduling doesn’t preclude you from being proactive with your content. If you schedule your posts, you need to block out time for when you can be active and present on your page to respond and engage with your followers.
If you engage frequently and still see low reach, consider experimenting with different content formats, trying out new platforms (Twitter instead of LinkedIn), or implementing one of the following tips.
How can you get the best out of your scheduled content?
As a general rule, content designed specifically for the platform it’s going on performs better. Learn the ins and outs of the different channels so that you can use social media features to their fullest potential.
- Publish at the best times for your audience: Using a third-party scheduling system means your content is going out at your profiles’ optimized times – whether that's 5 am or 5 pm.
Great content that increases engagement + a system that increases your reach = more business for you.
- Prepare in advance: Using a strategy that involves scheduling content in advance allows you to plan and leave time for creative ideas that might come up on the fly. And when you don’t have any new ideas, your scheduling tool is already cued up with all the content you’ve prepared.
- Give people a reason to stay and engage with your content: Instead of propping up your campaigns and products, turn the focus on your customers to increase engagement. It’s important to post about topics that are important to your audience and will resonate with them. Consider implementing UGC, conducting giveaways, or setting aside time to answer customer questions.
- Respond to your audience: After posting, keep an eye on your content for new comments that you can engage with. You can also pose a question matching your content and participate in the conversation. Research from Twitter shows that people are willing to spend up to 20% more with brands that respond to their tweets. Here’s an example of community engagement from our social media at Buffer.
Prioritize quality content and engagement over frequent posting for the best results
Many elements contribute to high reach and engagement, so merely keeping a consistent posting schedule without interacting with your followers will poorly impact your post performance. The quality of your content — and its relevance (or lack thereof) to your audience — could also cause low engagement. Instead, use the time saved by a scheduling tool to create great content and engage your followers.
💡Buffer’s scheduling allows you to save time and free up space for creating great content ideas. Get started today!
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