Heartsick is a regional DIY band from Lansing, MI. They have been a group for nearly 15 years and have built a large fanbase for their energetic, passion-filled shows and flavor of metal that appeals to a wide audience.
Heartsick is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Keeping up with daily social media tasks was becoming a time-sink and a disruption to their workflow as musicians.
The band needed a solution that would use all of the social media platforms with their full functionality in one place. The ability to schedule various types of content across the three different outlets was very important. Doing the work in one large batch would eliminate the frequent disruption of authoring content on the fly.
The next step was to establish what features we needed in our tool(s). We determined that these features were the most important for achieving our goals
- one central hub for all three social media outlets
- simple to use
- has both a desktop and mobile app
- allows scheduling of content
- has full platform-specific functionality (E.G. must be able to use hashtags and tag other users in the same fashion as the respective native platform)
- must be within the under $20 per month budget
Buffer is a tool designed to combine your social networks into one dashboard with the focus on content authoring and scheduling based on when your networks engage with you the most (a very valuable feature for the $10/month price point!). It has many additional analytic features in the higher priced tiers that are more useful for social media accounts that deal in regular viral campaigns.
One issue we ran into with Buffer was the lack of direct engagement functionality. You can't query a respective network for a username and have it populate a list of choices, which is a must for direct engagement.
Another issue was found as that while it does support Facebook and Twitter, it does not support Instagram; an extremely important outlet!
Is automation good for our audience?
The experiment with Buffer led us to a different way of thinking. We needed to consider if automating content publishing across multiple platforms was in the best interest of our audience. After all, each platform is different from the standpoints of culture and features. Enter: Instagram.
We realized that the direction to which posts could be created was more important than we had anticipated. Also important was how the API handles the parsing of the content. Instagram seemed to be a great centralized hub for us for a few reasons.
- Forces us to use imagery for storytelling
- Pushes to Twitter and Facebook gracefully
- 2200 character limit, which is more than enough for writing posts/captions
- The higher character limit allows us to tailor our content to audiences across all platforms
- The nature of how Instagram users interact with the platform allows for wider discovery than Twitter and Facebook. More specifically, users of Instagram utilize hashtag feeds to discover content more frequently than on Twitter and Facebook.
Taking it further
Upon deciding on Instagram as a central hub for content publishing, we expanded further on the goal of needing to schedule posts at once rather than having to think about posting every day. We tested out a few applications, but the one we found to be the best fit was Crowdfire.
Crowfire allows us to schedule posts within an intuitive calendar interface from either a desktop computer or a mobile device. (The extension for Chrome is also very handy!) We discovered that it is against Instagram's terms of service to completely automate posting, so as a way around that many (if not all) third party apps (including Crowdfire) send the user a notification on their mobile device when it's time to publish the post. Crowdfire gives the user the option to open the post in the official Instagram app. The image is populated into a new Instagram post and the content is stored in your clipboard and is pastable. This workflow, while not seamless, is still quite efficient. A couple of taps and your posts gets pushed to Instagram and other networks if you choose.
The other awesome benefit of Crowdfire is how it creates an "optimal" time to post based on your history of when people interact with your content the most. This is very important because in order for your content to stand a chance of being seen amongst the endless stream of other content in their feeds, you need to get in front of them at the right time.