My favorite social media tools - Finding and Sharing Content

My favorite social media tools
Finding and Sharing Content

One of the first keys to developing a healthy social media presence is to post interesting content. Without the help of the next two tools, it would take much more time from your week and require you to babysit your feed several times per day, every day. The two tools I will cover in Part 1 of this blog are Flipboard and Buffer.

Discovering Interesting Content

When you want to discover interesting content, without any special tools you can bookmark your favorite websites and read them on a regular basis. Over time, you will find something interesting and post - but this can be time consuming and unless you look through many different sites, you will miss something. Flipboard is a great content aggregator that uses your social circles and past reading habits to curate a personal "magazine" of posts from many different sources, including independent sources. When used regularly, you will easily find interesting articles to share.

Flipboard has a web interface but I have found the iPad interface to be most conducive to content discovery. Here is start page for my Flipboard account:

The Flipboard interface takes content designed for the Web and renders it in an easy-to-read visually-oriented magazine interface. For example, tapping on the Technology tile you get a series of articles to read over:

This is where the fun part comes in. Say my audience is interested in autonomous cars. I found an article from Fortune that might be cool. Note that the previous page offered four articles from four unique sources - a great timesaver compared to browsing all those sites. Let's look at the article on driverless cars:

Using a touch interface like a tablet makes browsing content in this way smooth and easy. Now let's talk about sharing content - that too can be made easy with the next tool - Buffer.

Sharing Content

Whether you use Flipboard or any other means of finding content, Buffer makes it easy to post to multiple social media networks at the times your audiences are most likely to be reading. Buffer literally buffers your posts and shares them on a schedule that you pre-define, so you don't have to. This allows you to spend an hour a finding interesting content, posting to Buffer, and Buffer will do the rest - sharing those buffered posts during the course of the week. Let's continue with the driverless car article. I am reading it now in my iPad Safari browser, but Buffer also has extensions for all the major desktop browsers and of course for Android too.

Using an iOS Share action, I have queued this article for sharing to my three networks (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) after adding a hashtag (#EV)

Within the Buffer iOS app, I can see for my Twitter profile that this post is ready to share.

You may notice that Buffer has changed the URL in the post that will be sent and scheduled it for Monday at 10:45am. (I am writing this on the previous Saturday afternoon). Buffer uses its own URL shortener which is perfect for dealing with those 140 character limitations of Twitter. But it has another benefit too: Buffer keeps basic analytics on all your tweets and link clickthroughs, which enables you to see how engaged your audience is with your content:

Note that each Tweet shows the reach (based on retweets) and clicks, based on the Buffer shortener

Summary

Tools like Flipboard and Buffer make it fun and easy to post engaging content and keep your social networks connected to you online. The grand total cost of these tools is exactly zero dollars and zero cents per month - not bad!

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