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As a social media consultant, I am often asked, “What should I use to manage my social media — Hootsuite or Buffer?”

Like most things in social media marketing, choosing a social media management tool comes down to what you want to use it for. And Hootsuite and Buffer are set up to help you do quite different things.

1. Conversations

Are you looking for a way to see what people are saying about your tweets, blog posts, competitors, or particular keywords? Then Hootsuite, a self-proclaimed “social media management dashboard” (emphasis mine), is what you’ll need.  

The word dashboard is instrumental here. At a glance, your car dashboard tells you how fast you’re driving, how much gas is in the tank, and how many miles you’ve driven. When set up properly, a Hootsuite dashboard can instantly tell you about all the different conversations you need to keep on top of.

Monitoring Burrito Chatter on Hootsuite

At this time, Buffer has no such monitoring capabilities.

2. Activity on Multiple Channels

Again, with the dashboard model, Hootsuite is your go-to for this. Through its “Add Social Networkl” feature, you can set up streams (columns) to watch your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts. But did you know that the Hootsuite App Directory also lets you add your channels on YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram? You can even add other online tools like Salesforce, Mailchimp, and Constant Contact.

3. Curation of Content

When Buffer says that it’s “the better way to share on social media,” it’s not boastful. It’s correct.

If you use news aggregators like Feedly, Instapaper, or Newsblur to source relevant content to post to your followers, you’ll love how easily you can add articles you read there to your Buffer queue. (A Buffer queue is the stream of posts that get sent out at designated times.)

While aggregators like Feedly, Instapaper, and Newsblur (among other news readers) seamlessly integrate with Buffer, they do not have any ability to integrate with Hootsuite.

Example of a Buffer Queue

The term “news aggregator” might give you a “Say What?” moment. Are RSS feeds more your thing? If so, you can feeds of your favorite go-to Websites to Buffer (see “Feeds” in the screenshot) and select articles you see there that would be of interest to your followers.

Or you can choose to tweet some of Buffer’s handcrafted selections. (see “Suggestions” in screenshot).

4. Timing of Posts

Buffer not only excels in terms of gathering and queueing content for posting, but it also shines in setting up these posts for maximum exposure. This tool integrates with “best time to tweet” tools like SocialBro, Followerwonk, and Tweriod. When connected, any of these three tools can tell Buffer when to schedule your tweets based on the activity of your followers.

Buffer also has its own built-in timing feature. Users have the ability to pace out posts on their own as well.

On Hootsuite, you can designate times for your posts or make use of its “AutoSchedule” timing function. Hootsuite does not allow third parties (ex. SocialBro) to schedule Hootsuite posts.

5. Sending Simultaneous Posts to Multiple Accounts

Both Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to type a message and, with a few clicks, send that message to as many social media accounts as your plan allows.

But do you really want to do that? Are the audiences of all those accounts the same? Are they online at the same time? Do they all respond to hashtags the same way?

Even though both tools are evenly matched on “blasting your accounts,” it’s something I rarely recommend as a “social” practice. Take the time to understand what your various audiences respond best to and post accordingly. Many times, your own hand (and intuition) can be your best social media management tool!

And in the same way you must understand the needs and desires of your audiences, you should take a moment to reflect on your needs for a social media management tool. A small time investment here will enable you to save tons of time with a tool that is best suited for your business.

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Are you in need of serious Instagram user data — but have a meager budget to obtain this information? Try these four free tools to catapult your Instagram analysis and strategy.


IFTTT (“IF Then, Then That”) allows you to automate over 120 apps through “recipes.” One of my favorite recipes? The one that populates a Google spreadsheet on my drive each time a particular user uploads a photo to Instagram. The beauty of this recipe is that unlike most other analytics tools, this one does not require you to log in to Instagram — which means you can get a nice data dump about other Instagram users.

So if you were Qdoba Mexican Grill and wanted to dive into what your competitor Chipotle is up to on Instagram, you could set up the following IFTTT recipe:

ifttt Instagram Recipe

(Of course, Qdoba would set up its recipe to populate a spreadsheet on its own Google Drive account.)

Why you need to try it: This is the easiest way to analyze your competitors’ Instagram activities. From this data, you can determine what’s working for them in terms of image types, descriptions, hashtags, timing, etc.

2. Zapier

Like IFTTT, Zapier automates processes between different apps. Recipes here are called “zaps.” And there’s one helpful zap that its competitor doesn’t have — the ability to send info about new Instagram followers to a Google spreadsheet.

Zapier Instagram Zap

Why you need to try it: You won’t find a better way to search your followers’ bios for key marketing information. Copy this spreadsheet elsewhere add additional information, and presto!, you’ve created a DIY Instagram CRM system or influencer tracker.

3. Simply Measured Free Instagram User Report

This report from Simply Measured gives you an extraordinary amount of data about your Instagram activities over the prior two months, including your best times to post, most engaged users, and top-performing hashtags.

Instagram Top Performing Tags on Simply Measured Report

Why you need to try it: This report is your best bet if you need to present Instagram data to a team. It has tons of raw data available for sorting and analyzing in Excel. If your team prefers visuals, you can pull the major takeaways in PowerPoint with the click of a button. Another nice feature: the report gives you engagement data from Facebook and Twitter if you’ve shared your Instagram posts to those social channels.

4. Iconosquare

Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) has data similar to Simply Measured, although not in downloadable form.

Instagram Post Like Analysis on Iconosquare

Why you need to try it: In addition to providing useful statistics about Instagram, Iconosquare is also a nice platform to respond to comments and monitor hashtags. I delve into Iconosquare in my upcoming online course, “Market Better with Instagram.” (Sign up at my online school to be notified when this course launches. I’m really excited about it!)

In a perfect world, it would be great to have all this Instagram analysis found in just one place. And for it to be offered free of charge forever. While we wait for that distant utopia to arrive on our screens, try to make the use of these four no-cost platforms. And let me know what you think about them!

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In just two short years, Passion Nails owner Kimberly Bo has managed to get her nail salon up and running — all while amassing over 20,000 followers on her business’ Instagram account (@passionnails781). These six master tips have helped fuel Passion Nails’ Instagram and *business* success.

Mastery Tip 1: Learn why people use Instagram.

Kimberly opened Passion Nails in Lynn, Massachusetts with a limited budget. She tried various “free” social media channels to get the word out about her budding business, but found Instagram was the best fit for getting people interested in her salon. “With Instagram, clients get to see what we do all day. And most customers like to see more than read!” she joked (with more than a kernel of truth).

Indeed, when a photo is worth a thousand words — something few people have time for these days — a visual medium like Instagram is a perfect fit for a visual business like Passion Nails.

Mastery Tip 2: Strike a balance between fun posts and strictly business posts. (But do both.)

When many marketers hear, “Don’t sell, sell, sell on social media,” they take that warning to heart. But then they don’t sell at all.

Kimberly has figured out how to balance this. She shares lots of #nailporn photos with her followers — something that they crave. But she also intersperses them with a list of her nail techs’ open booking times. For every open-booking time image she posts, she gets several questions and appointments.

two instagram posts from passionnails781

Mastery Tip 3: Get your employees involved.

If your team works together offline, it should also collaborate online. “This business grew with my crew,” Kimberly admits. “Without them, there would be no Passion Nails. So I want my followers to know who my employees are and that we all do the same work.”

All Kimberly’s nail techs are encouraged to post to their individual Instagram accounts to grow their own client loads. This approach has worked so far for her employees.


Mastery Tip 4: Maximize your toolset.

When your favorite social media channel “changes something” or adds a new feature, take a deep breath. Try it out. See what it might do for your business.

When Instagram launched its direct message function (called “Instagram Direct”) in December 2013, Kimberly saw this feature as a great way for clients to contact her. “I love Instagram Direct. It works wonders for pricing and questions,” she effused. For her business, Instagram Direct has become yet another way for customers to contact her on her mobile device. “My customers text, call, DM, everything. My devices run out of batteries pretty quickly!”

call out to Instagram Direct on passionnails781 post

Mastery Tip 5: Remember social media is a two-way street.

Don’t be the business that thinks social media is just a bullhorn for you to inform others. Flip the horn around and listen to what your target audience is saying — either through monitoring hashtags, reading your posts’ comments, or asking questions to solicit responses. “My followers are very supportive with great feedback,” Kimberly mentioned. “They always give me ideas, like the new ‘diamond ring’ design trend. You can’t run a nail salon with the same old designs, so they help me keep things as fresh as possible.”

Mastery Tip 6: Get over the “I don’t have time” mindset.

Small business owners are strapped for time. But somehow Kimberly has figured out how to effectively manage her business while keeping in touch with her Instagram followers throughout the day. So what would her response be to her fellow business owners who say they don’t have time for Instagram?

“Social media is here to stay. And it really helps. You need to get on it even if you don’t think you have the time.”


Kimberly Bo (top, center) with her Passion Nails crew. (They're all wearing blue for Memorial Day.)

Kimberly Bo (top, center) with her Passion Nails crew. (They’re all wearing blue for Memorial Day.)


Has your small business found success on Instagram? Let me know in the comments!

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Social media marketing continues to become more visual in nature. What tools do you have at your fingertips to make the most of your photos, images, and illustrations?

I’ll share with you my four favorite image editing tools.

Try Pixlr Express if you like to edit images on your desktop.

If you post often to Instagram, check out Pixlr Express’ collage feature. You can choose from almost 100 different ways to combine multiple images in just one square, shareable photo.

Here’s a fun one I made for a fictitious Throwback Thursday (better known as #TBT on Instagram). If I were a rock photographer or legendary night club owner, I might post this collage with a description like, “That’s @teganandsara in 2002 — moments before playing to a crowd of 200. #tbt”


Pixlr also offers vintage filters, image adjustments, cute stickers, and text overlays for you to add more visual oomph to your images.

PhotoGrid is a nice mobile alternative to Pixlr Express.* winter-filmstrip-photogridIt has a collage function that seems to sense the orientation of your photos and picks a great layout that best flatters them — at least that’s happened with the photos I’ve uploaded on this app. If you don’t like the way your collage is oriented, simply shake your phone for a random grid alternative or choose from the app’s other options.

The app easily integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so that posting to your accounts from PhotoGrid is just a click away.

If you’re not looking to create a square photo, try the app’s filmstrip function. The “high” filmstrip option, seen with my snow scenes from 2014, works well for Pinterest.  If you’re a jewelry designer, you can use the panels in the strip to show followers the various stages of making a jade necklace. (I bet you can think of other uses for a “high” filmstrip if you’re a chef, fitness instructor, or home repair expert.)

The “wide” filmstrip option is a handy option for posting photos geared for your Facebook fans’ newsfeed (including promoted posts). It’s also useful to use for the time being on Twitter until its “you can post four photos at once!” function goes beyond the iPhone and becomes available on other mobile devices and desktops.

Canva is a Web-based, desktop tool that I use on a daily basis. Currently in beta, Canva offers preset sizes for Pinterest pins, Facebook ads, and Facebook cover photos.

The tool also gives you tons of editable icons, shapes, and frames to choose from. I used Canva to create this image for an article I wrote about Facebook advertising.

Favorite Musical Artists of People on Facebook

Canva is also a repository of tens of thousands of photos to use in your images  – for just $1 a piece. Nice to have a photo bank and an editing tool in one location, don’t you think? (The polaroid-on-a-clothesline photo that starts this article comes from Canva.)

Shareroot Board Cover Creator is a great little tool if you’re looking to add consistency or branding to your Pinterest cover pins — as SK Skin Clinic and Day Spa has done here.

Simply choose which of your existing pins would make a great board cover, adjust the brightness of the photo, overlay text, and let the tool size your photo to make a perfectly sized cover pin. Here’s how I made a cover pin for my “Social Media Tips” Pinterest board.

There are heaps of other image editing tools on the market, but why not start with these four? If you do, let me know what you think about them!


*Pixlr Express is also available on iPhones and Android devices.

Photos of Tegan and Sara/Winter Montage: Lisa Kalner Williams

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Many Facebook fan page admins learned this week that their page layout will soon change. Did you?


Let me explain what this change will mean for your Facebook marketing strategy.

The Sky Is Not Falling

There is no reason to panic about the new structure of your fan page. It’s been two years since Facebook made significant changes to the look and feel of fan pages. Two years is nearly an eternity in the world of social media.

But it’s not just a matter of the time that has elapsed between fan page redesigns. These design changes shouldn’t create panic for a few other, undoubtedly more important reasons. Let me elaborate.

Your Cover Photo Will Probably Be Fine

Here’s what a new fan page cover photo looks like.


What’s nice is that the “Like” button is right on the cover photo — that’s the closest page admins have ever gotten to a clickable “call to action” button on a cover photo!

Having the “Like” button on the cover image should prompt you to examine your current cover photo. Is it too distracting for a potential fan to find the “Like” button, let alone click on it? If so, you might benefit from a simpler photo gives more prominence to the clickable button.

If your cover photo has text in the lower right-hand corner, there is a high probability that it will be hidden behind the row of new buttons.  Coca-Cola will have to move its hashtag, for example.


Text in the right-hand corner of existing fan page covers will have to move to accommodate the upcoming Facebook fan page redesign.

And because the name of your business will now be part of the cover photo (see the above Facebook page for reference), you might have to shift additional text. Like Pepsi will have to do.


But these are small changes. The photo of this redesign is still horizontal in nature, taking the entire width of the fan page.  So let’s move on.

Your Apps Will Still Be Ignored

Remember those four app icons that appeared beneath your cover photo? They’ve now shifted to the left navigation bar of the page.


Facebook fan page apps have moved. They now appear to the left of a page’s posts.

And while the “old” design gave fan page admins the opportunity to display four apps, the new design allows only two apps to show.

That’s fine.

Apps get very few eyeballs, especially after a fan has liked a page. Upon clicking “Like,” fans rely primarily on their news feed to read your page’s latest posts. Very few fans take the time to look up all the pages they’ve “Liked” to see what’s new on these pages’ walls.

With that said, add two business-savvy apps — such as a link to a lead-generation page or an upcoming event signup. Then, to rip The Replacements’ seminal album title, “Let It Be.” (Hum The Beatles if you prefer.)

It Has Zero Impact on Your News Feed Posts

Yes, a great first impression is important. So make sure your cover photo is compelling and your apps are business-driven. But then switch your attention to the heart of your Facebook marketing — your posts. Posts are what represent your business to your fans on a daily basis — not your cover photo.

So that means not just posting when you remember or get around to it, but getting into an organized pattern of sending posts to your fans’ news feeds.

And that doesn’t mean you should be posting just to be posting. You should be creating a variety of post types that resonate with your fans and bring value to your business.

You should also be taking proactive steps to make sure your news feed posts are seen by as many fans as possible.

So are we chill now about the fan page redesign? Let me know!


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