Become A Productivity Ninja – 4 Steps To Content Marketing Automation
Let me start by asking you a simple question. What is it that you dream of?
No seriously, think about it for a second.
My wild guess is that “more time” is in top 3.
As a small business owner or solopreneur you know all too well that 24 hours in a day is not enough time to do everything you want to do.
If you had more time you could have implemented more strategies into your business, read more books, worked out more often, traveled abroad and of course spent more time with your friends and family.
Don’t worry, there’s an app for that! Oh sorry, that’s from somewhere else. I meant, there’s a system for that.
In this article I’ll show you how to achieve content marketing automation in 4 simple steps. Or in other words how to turn you into a productivity ninja slicing through every task with ease.
CREATING A SYSTEM
A big part of how successfully you deal with all the demands of running your business depends on how organized you are. So your first focus should be on putting some systems and processes in place to better help you keep track of everything.
Let’s start with something simple, such as creating a to-do list. You know what’s that?
Of course you know, your bin is overflowing with crumpled papers on which you’ve written all the stuff that you should have done ages ago. The reason why this time it will work is because you won’t write down every single task that needs to get done by the end of the year. You will be realistic.
Here’s what my Daily Task list looks like. It is as simple as it could possibly get. There are only 3 tasks for the day, each having 3 prerequisites. They are the three important things that I need to do in order to complete the task.
It shouldn’t take you more than a minute to recreate it in Excel. You can expand the list vertically and horizontally, but that’s defying the goal of simplicity. The KISS principle is in full force here. Keep it simple, stupid.
Your day should start and finish with this planner. Write down the most important tasks for the day and evaluate your progress in the evening. In the notes section write down anything that is worth mentioning, such as what went wrong, how to improve the process, things to keep in mind for next time, etc.
Once you’ve set your priorities for the day or week it’s time to get to work.
Creating high-quality content that people share and engage with is a difficult task. It doesn’t matter whether it is a video, article or even a picture – it is a time-consuming process. It certainly ain’t easy to be original, funny, creative and/or bringing massive amount of value in order to stand out from the rest.
It would be foolish to think that you can produce such content on a daily basis. Sure, a couple of times per week is possible, but you need to be in your audience’s news feeds every single day… sometimes even multiple times per day.
You might be familiar with the quote “Good artists copy. Great artists steal” by Picasso, which Steve Jobs referred to in a couple of interviews.
Of course you won’t steal content. You will outsource it. My favorite places for this are Reddit and Quora.
There’s hardly a niche for which you won’t fund a subreddit. You can search for your content by subreddit or by using the search bar. If you are planning on contributing regularly on the platform or you want more stats, then I suggest checking snoopsnoo. It gives you valuable insight about your search, such as the number of subreddit subscribers, age of the community and related subreddits.
As for Quora you will find all the top stories on the Homepage. The results are based on:
- Top answers – those that received a lot of upvotes
- People you follow or whose answers you read often
- Your interests that are selected under Feeds
So in order to get relevant results and not scroll down for ages, you will need to spend some time selecting your interests and following influencers in your niche. It’s worth mentioning that very often people who you do not know might give better answers than the influencers, so keep an open mind when browsing.
Once you find great content it’s time to distribute it. One option is to quote part of the answer and then link to the original author and page. Give credit where credit is due.
Alternatively, if you think you can write better content then by all means go for it. Give it your own twist, share your experience and express your views. In this case you can use other people’s work as inspiration. Once again, give credit if you are quoting or referring to the source.
This is a quick and easy way to constantly share interesting and engaging content with your audience. With that being said, don’t turn it into the base of your business. People follow you because they want to see your stuff.
You outsource the videos, articles and images to keep your followers entertained/educated until you release the masterpiece. Don’t confuse the two types of content.
CONTENT MARKETING AUTOMATION
By now you should have a simple, but solid plan on what tasks need to be completed by the end of the week. You’ve also created enough high-quality content that your audience will enjoy and will benefit from. The next task is to distribute it.
This is where most business owners fail. Two main reasons for that:
- They don’t know where their audience is, so they try being omnipresent.
- They fail to post consistently, so their audience doesn’t know when to expect fresh content.
So before anything else, figure out what social media channels you want to target. It is hard enough to dominate one, never mind three or four.
For example, if you are sharing a lot of short content or you are in the news media, then Twitter is your first choice.
If you are into cosmetics, apparel, fitness and beauty, handmade stuff or any other area in which you can share beautiful images, then Instagram and/or Pinterest are the obvious platforms.
The list can go on and on. As a rule of thumb you should always create a Facebook account (since everybody’s on Facebook) even if it’s not the main stream of new leads. Leverage it to grow your other channel(s).
Study your audience, experiment and then adjust. It shouldn’t take you too long before you see what channel brings you the most bang for your buck. Then focus on those.
We are all about efficiency, so the less time you spend posting the better. This is why we will look at some content marketing automation services. They will make your life a lot easier.
In order to asses the tools objectively, I will presume that you want to use up to three social media accounts and you will post up to 3 times per day from each one. At the end of the day you want to stay relevant without constantly shouting for attention. You don’t want to be that kid.
(Disclosure: I am in no way associated with any of these websites. No affiliate links and no backstage games. It’s all based on my personal observations and preferences)
Publer – for a lot of solopreneurs automating just Facebook is enough, hence Publer is first on the list. Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and Pinterest are said to be coming soon.
You can connect up to 5 social accounts with the Free plan and it supports posts to Profile, Page, Group and Event. The limit is 10 scheduled posts per social account and 50 saved drafts. So you can still upload your content and leave it there as a draft until the scheduled posts are published.
This plan is designed mainly for those of you who are just starting out or planning to use the tool a couple of times per week.
For heavy posting you can upgrade to Argentum ($9.99/m), which gives you 15 social accounts, 3 team members and unlimited scheduling and drafts. You also get access to Bulk Scheduling (from a CSV file) and watermarking images.
The highest plan Aurum ($19.99/m) allows you to connect 25 social accounts, 5 team members and additional access to reposting and multi-photo posts, video and offers. For that amount of money though you get a better deal with some of the tools below. Also, if you are such a heavy poster then chances are you won’t be on just one platform.
Clearly this tool is great if you are using the free version. However, until they add more social media platforms I see little point in upgrading. I prefer spending my hard-earned money on one of the next content automation services.
Social Pilot – pretty good automating system if you want to distribute your content across multiple channels (supports 9 platforms). The free version gives you up to 3 connected profiles, 10 posts per day and 30 scheduled in queue.
It doesn’t sound much, but it covers our daily requirement of 3 posts per day for 3 accounts. At this rate the 30 scheduled posts will last you for 3 days, so you will need to log in twice a week to update your list.
If you are ready to splash the big bucks, then for $5/month you can connect 10 profiles, share 50 posts per day and schedule 250 posts. That’s pretty much what most of you will need… at the price of a Starbucks Venti Latte. Other benefits include Social Media Analytics, 5 RSS feeds, client management and content discovery.
If you work in an agency or have a large team then you should consider Growth Hacker or Business for which the daily quotas are insane. You get up to 100/200 connected accounts, 200/500 posts per day, 1,000/5,000 posts in queue, 10/20 RSS Feeds and 5/20 team members for the measly $9.99/$14.99 per month respectively.
Although the Starter plan is good for a beginner, I think it’s totally worth it upgrading to Basic if you post more frequently. The bigger quota will allow you to connect more accounts (if and when needed) as well as automate the whole process for the entire week or even more. It will takes you 35 posts a day to exhaust the scheduled posts in a week.
KUKU – third on the list comes the most user-friendly social media management platform. Seriously you just won’t believe it how damn easy it is to use KUKU. It’s almost like Apple designed this stuff.
In regards to post scheduling, however, it is not as strong as Social Pilot. The Free plan allows you to connect 3 social profiles, but you only have 50 posts per month. That’s less than 2 posts a day if you are consistent every single day. Never mind if you connect 3 accounts.
The strength of this platform comes not only from its simplicity and how intuitive it is, but also from its functionality. You get features such as adaptive content depending on the network, bundling accounts and beautiful media analytics tools.
An upgrade to the Essential plan ($9.99/m) allows you to connect up to 10 social media accounts and have 1,500 posts per month (50 posts per day). The Team plan ($49/m) gives you integration for 30 social media accounts, unlimited posts and features for better team work.
Overall KUKU doesn’t give you the most bang for your buck and as such it probably won’t appeal to those of you who are chasing volume. However, if you want a simple and easy to navigate platform and you are not planning to post tons of content, then you should give it a go.
Blog2Social – this tool can come pretty handy if you are running your site on WordPress. In a nutshell this is a content marketing automation tool that auto-posts your blogs. You will find it particularly useful if you are sharing a lot of content from your site.
Personally, I post post once a week (I guess you can see why), so it doesn’t take me too much time to distribute the content across the channels. If you find yourself in a similar situation, then you probably won’t see much value in Blog2Social either.
If you release new content every day (or multiple times per day), then this tool can save you a lot of time. You just hit “Publish” and your content is distributed to all the networks you’ve connected your blog to. As a matter of fact you might even upgrade the plan if you see that it brings enough value.
You get about 80% of the functionality with a Free account. The Smart one will cost you $69, Pro is $99 and Business is $199 per year. The difference is mainly in the number of domains per license, accounts per network and a few extra features. Unless you run a publishing company you won’t need to upgrade beyond Smart.
Tailwind and Later– these two content automation platforms are for those of you who want to focus on growing a massive Instagram and/or Pinterest account. Although you can integrate Later with Twitter and Facebook I wouldn’t say that it is the option I would go for if I were to grow my presence on those two platforms. As for Tailwind, you can only connect your Instagram and Pinterest accounts.
With that being said, those two SMMs are truly amazing for running your photo-sharing accounts. Their features and interface is tailored to make posting and growing your accounts much easier compared to the above mentioned ones. If you are planning on becoming an Instagram star, then do check them out.
Tailwind gives you a Free account for the first 100 Pinterest Pins and/or 30 Instagram Posts before you need to decide if you want to pay for the Plus plan ($9.99/m). For that price you get unlimited scheduling, posts statistics, profile and board metrics and website insights. All you need to construct a solid strategy for growth based on numbers.
Plus is pretty much the only plan on Tailwind, since if you want to upgrade it will cost you $799/m. The only way you will benefit from such a plan is if you are running a big agency and you work with multiple clients. But I leave it to you to decide.
Later comes with a Free plan on which you can connect 1 profile per social platform. Your posts per month are 30 on Instagram, 50 on Twitter, 30 on Facebook and 30 on Pinterest. It will be enough if you are planning on posting just once a day.
Should you decide to upgrade to Plus ($9/m) you will get unlimeted Twitter posts and up to 100 posts per month on the other 3 platforms. Premium ($19/m) boosts the numbers to 250 per social network, while Starter ($29) and Brand ($49) allow you unlimited posts.
So between the two I suggest Tailwind if your primary goal is growing only your Instagram and Pinterest accounts, since it provides greater functionality and stats. You can automate reposting to Facebook and Twitter with IFTTT (If This Then That), which I will examine in another article. Below is a screenshot from my account on Tailwind.
Buffer and Hootsuite – You didn’t think I’ve forgotten the two leaders in social media automation, did you? Nowadays pretty much every marketer has heard of them, so I decided to leave them for last. You know, so that I don’t start the list by beating a dead horse.
I’ve dropped them here just in case you’ve never tried them or you didn’t like any of the tools above.
Buffer helps you schedule your posts across all the major social networks. The forever Free plan allows you to integrate 1 account per platform and schedule up to 10 posts per account. It also has a browser extension, as well as an app for your Android or iOS device.
If that’s not enough, then you can upgrade to Awesome ($10/m) allowing you to integrate 10 accounts per platform, the scheduled posts per account jump to 100 and you can integrate a Pinterest account.
For teams and agencies the plans are Small ($99), Medium ($199) and Large ($399). The only difference between them is the number of social accounts per platform and the number of team members. On all of them you can schedule up to 2,000 posts.
In comparison, HootSuite is more of a social media management system. After you integrate your accounts you can follow all kinds of streams, such as Twitter mentions, Facebook groups, Instagram posts, etc. It’s designed to help you manage all of your accounts from one place, which is very convenient.
Nevertheless, HootSuite isn’t as good as Buffer when it comes to scheduling. There’s a lot of manual work, which generally is automated on the other platforms. You have to load and schedule every single post individually, which gets a bit boring after a while.
It also comes with a free plan, but the functionality is seriously limited compared to Professional (#19/m), Team ($99/m) and Business ($499/m). It’s a bit pricey and most solopreneurs and small business owners won’t get the same value as the big guys.
Between the two I prefer Buffer, since it provides better content automation. The browser extension and the app add functionalities which make the process of scheduling and posting a breeze. This is what the queue looks like.
As you can imagine this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the gazillion tools out there. My goal is not to list every automation software under the sun, rather give you some examples of different kinds of tools that you might find useful.
No matter how much of your work is automated, it will never be 100% on autopilot. The passive income lifestyle does not exist. Or at least not the way most people picture it – sitting on a beach chair with a laptop and drinking Pina Colada.
It takes f*cking work, man.
There will be days when you will need to create content from scratch, interact with users or comment on various platforms. You can never automate the human touch and emotional connection you build with your audience. This is what makes you stand out from the crowd.
There will be days when you won’t feel like working. That’s normal.
You won’t feel like creating anything. That’s normal, too.
Anyone can create content when they are in good mood and feeling productive. It’s what you do when you don’t feel like it.
No one wakes up in the morning every day fired up and ready to smash the day. Sometimes you have to do the things you don’t feel like doing.
You don’t ask how to stay motivated. You don’t look for inspiration. You don’t look for an excuse. You just do the freakin’ work. Period.
Make a conscious commitment to show up on the platform every single day. Because for every day you miss to show up, someone else is working hard to steal your audience.
Yes, producing content is expensive. But you know what’s more expensive? Not producing content.
You will be miles ahead of the competition if you are persistent.
I would like to finish this point with a quote, which was also used in The Founder (2016). It’s a great film about Ray Croc (the founder of McDonald’s), which I highly recommend watching. Calvin Coolidge said:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The 4 steps to content marketing automation are simple, but not easy. You will need to consciously commit to making your life easier. That’s the price you pay to have more time. It takes some time to build quality habits, but once you do you will become a productivity ninja in no time.
I am looking forward to your comments on what tools you use, how you automate your process and what works for you in general.
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