Looking for a Hootsuite tutorial that’ll make social media easier for you? You’ve found it!
Building a business is all fun and games until you realize how much social media posting it takes to stay relevant online.
Okay, maybe fun and games isn’t exactly accurate, but is there any task more dreaded or time-consuming than scheduling social media?
Sitting down to do it in the midst of an otherwise hectic workday can feel like walking behind someone on a motorized scooter at the grocery store. It’s that same internal howl of, “Come on! I HAVE OTHER STUFF TO DO!” — which is probably why it’s so commonly outsourced.
But social media doesn’t have to be a time-suck. And there’s no reason to pay someone else to do it, especially if your business can’t absorb the added expenditure.
The Bulk Composer tool from Hootsuite easily allows you to block your social media tasks into only a few hours a month, so you can get back to your business.
Learn how to schedule your social posts quickly and easily with our Hootsuite tutorial!
An Introduction to Hootsuite
For those who aren’t already users and may not know, Hootsuite’s service allows you to create a post and schedule it to multiple social media channels, which as of this writing, includes:
- Facebook Accounts
- Facebook Pages
- Facebook Groups
You can also post to both self-hosted and dot com WordPress blogs using their dashboard, though the images will be uploaded to Ow.ly, Hootsuite’s URL shortener service with built-in analytics, instead of WordPress and will show as links in your post.
But simply calling Hootsuite a scheduler glosses over its capabilities, as you can see by the dashboard. It has a number of tabs and options. The image below shows the Streams tab, which includes the quick-posting toolbar at the top of the page.
Here you can create threads to display specific segments of your social media accounts. Then you can drag them around to reposition them on the screen.
Or create and schedule a message for one — or more — of your platforms.
Here’s how you do it:
- Highlight the accounts you want to post to in the dropdown menu on the left
- Write your text
- Attach an optional image
- Choose a scheduling option
When you shorten your link, Hootsuite will automatically import a link preview, though you may want to attach an image if you’re posting to platforms that don’t support this function.
The only other caveat I’ve found is that you can’t post to multiple Twitter feeds in the same post.
Of course, I’m glossing again because Hootsuite does far more than that and has a number of useful features, but you’re not here for a tour.
You’re here for our Hootsuite tutorial that’s going to show you how to schedule your social media in mere hours a month.
Which means that the tab we’re going to focus on for our Hootsuite tutorial is the Publisher. More specifically, the Bulk Composer, which is located on the Publisher tab.
The Hootsuite Bulk Composer
This handy little link makes it possible to upload months of social media posts — if you know how to use it. How far you want to schedule your posts in advance is up to you.
When you open the Composer, you’ll be taken to this page:
In the Post to section, you’ll select the social media accounts you want to schedule messages for from a dropdown list and select whether you want your links shortened, which allows Hootsuite to import the link preview we talked about earlier.
But the magic actually happens in that CSV file you’ll upload — and it’s easier than you think!
Create a CSV File Using Google Drive
To use the Bulk Composer, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet of your social-media post particulars, which is harder than it sounds. If anything, it’s time consuming because this is where you’ll invest your effort when you first begin posting in bulk.
The good news is that you’ll only have to do it once, though you should update your sheet with new posts and promotions as needed.
To create your file, follow these steps:
- Open your Google My Drive account (or create one, it’s worth it!)
- Select a new Google Sheet
This simple three-column spreadsheet is where you’ll input the date and time you want to schedule the post for, the text of the post, and any URL you want included for users and followers to click on.
This example shows how to format your spreadsheet, especially the date and time column. You shouldn’t include the column labels on your sheet — it will cause an error during upload — though you can use them to get you started. (Just be sure to delete them before you download the completed document.)
CVS File Tips:
- To edit a field, simply double click to open it.
- Also, take advantage of the fill color option. (It doesn’t affect the spreadsheet’s functionality and is useful for highlighting temporary offers or promos that need to be changed each month.)
- To save time with the bulk method, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet that spans anywhere from a week to a month — as well as separate spreadsheets for each of your social-media goals. For instance, I use one month-long spreadsheet for my website’s Facebook and Twitter accounts (they get the same posts) and I update it monthly to include new posts, promotions, and sales. But I also have a shorter, monthly spreadsheet specifically for LinkedIn and another to schedule daily threads to my Facebook group. This takes time in the beginning, but once your spreadsheets are done, you’ll have created a system, and an efficient one at that!
Modify Your Bulk Scheduling Spreadsheets
Obviously, you’ll need to tweak your spreadsheets each month before you upload them to the Bulk Composer, but this is quick and painless compared to scheduling manually.
Aside from adding new content and promos, the most important change to make will be the dates — though the Find and Replace tool makes this a snap.
If the times you’re scheduling are optimized, the only variable of the time/date field you’ll need to modify is the month.
To do this efficiently, follow these steps:
- Highlight the time/date column by dragging your mouse down the fields in the same way you’d highlight text
- Next, select Find and Replace from the Edit drop down menu.
In the ‘Replace with‘ box, you’ll be able to replace just the month portion of your date and time for the month you’re scheduling.
‘Find and Replace’ Tips
- I suggest including the forward slash so that all your 02s or 12s in the column aren’t changed, though you should always double-check that the Find and Replace feature didn’t interfere with the day portion of the date you’re changing. For instance, if you’re changing February’s spreadsheet from February (02/) to schedule it for March (03/) be sure, before you download, that you haven’t accidentally changed the second of the month to the third, as well. If it does happen, simply edit each field individually to change it back to 02/.
- Also, since some months have more days than others, I suggest creating a sheet that covers you from the first to the 31st. When you upload the file for a month with fewer days, Hootsuite will show an error for the posts with dates that don’t exist (but they’re easy to delete and it saves you from constantly modifying your Google spreadsheet.)
Once you’ve modified (or created) your spreadsheet, you’ll need to download a copy in order to upload the file to Hootsuite. This is where the CSV file comes in.
CSV is nothing more than an acronym for comma separated values and identifies the character used to separate your columns. Once you’ve created your Google Sheet, you’ll simply download it as a CSV file.
See what I mean? CSV only sounded intimidating.
Upload Your Spreadsheet to Hootsuite’s Bulk Composer
Now that you have your file prepared and downloaded, let’s get back to our Hootsuite tutorial.
The good news is that you’re now only a few steps away from having a full month of social media posts scheduled.
- In the Bulk Composer, select your preferred social media accounts
- Then click Select File to Upload and locate your new file.
Once you’ve selected your file, a button will appear at the bottom of the page labeled Next: Review Messages; click on it and you’ll be taken to the Bulk Composer.
At the top of the image is an example of a post without a valid schedule date, which can be caused by a couple of things. If you have lot of these errors (note the count to the upper right of the arrow) an improperly formatted spreadsheet may be the culprit.
But more commonly, the date you’ve specified either doesn’t exist (like the 31st on an April spreadsheet) or has already passed so more often than not, these errors can simply be deleted.
The second arrow points to the media attachment link. As you can see, the Composer did not import a link preview for this post and therefore has not included an image. I suggest keeping your spreadsheet images in their own files so you don’t find yourself searching for them across numerous folders.
Here’s a few tips for uploading:
- The first time you upload your spreadsheet, create a folder for the images and drag them into it as you locate them. It’s another one of those tasks that will save you time, every time, once your system is in place.
- You can also modify your posts in the Composer, though I don’t recommend it — and I’ll explain why in a moment.
- Once you’ve deleted the errors and your posts have images, you’ll select all of your messages by checking the white square in the upper left-hand corner. And finally, click that blue Schedule button in the lower right.
It may take a moment for your posts to schedule. Once they do, you’ll be given the option to view them back in the publisher or upload another spreadsheet — but you’ve done it!
A month of social scheduling is done — which means you’ve got a month off from social scheduling!
Scheduling Duplicate Posts with Hootsuite’s Bulk Composer
You’re getting close to the end of our Hootsuite tutorial — but stay with us for just a bit longer!
To keep your content marketing fresh, Hootsuite won’t allow duplicate messages within a single uploaded spreadsheet. Hootsuite doesn’t view repeat URLs as duplicates but you will experience errors if you try to use the same text in a post more than once.
And it’s a useful enough feature and a good heads up, until you need to schedule daily threads each week in your Facebook group. Set-Your-Goal Monday and Share-Your-Stuff Friday, will require a workaround if you want to schedule them monthly.
Here are a few tips that’ll help:
- To post duplicate social media posts, either tweak the message in each duplicate message on your monthly spreadsheet or create a weekly spreadsheet to upload weekly — or multiple times with modified dates if you schedule once a month.
- If you upload a sheet with duplicate messages by accident, Hootsuite will show an error message for those posts within the bulk scheduler. You can tweak the message and even change the URL of the post completely in the scheduler, but I don’t recommend this if you’re bulk uploading weekly or monthly posts since it doesn’t fix the actual problem.
- It seems convenient to modify the post real quick on Hootsuite (and it is useful if you have a spreadsheet makeover coming up) but if you time-block your social media scheduling tasks to once a week or a month, you’ll be defeating the purpose because you’ll have to add update spreadsheet to your to-do list (and get it done) or you’ll find yourself rewriting them again next month.
- Keep your to-do list short! Plus, it’s a simple fix. Use the Hootsuite errors from your upload to locate the offending posts on your Google sheet and make the changes there.
- When you’re done, simply download the updated version and re-upload the file. It only takes a few extra minutes and saves a ton of time!
Schedule Your Social Media in Hours, Not Days
There you have it! We hope our Hootsuite tutorial will help you feel a bit more organized (and productive) when it comes to your social-media efforts.
Getting started with bulk uploading is — unavoidably — a lot of work upfront (even if it is worth it in the long haul). To make things easier on you, we’ve included one last tip in our Hootsuite tutorial.
If the work is a bit too much for you all at once, consider adding to your spreadsheets weekly as you built them up to cover a full month.
- To do this, add the upcoming week’s posts to your spreadsheet once a week.
- Then, download the new file from My Drive and upload it to Hootsuite.
- Simply discard the previous week’s posts since they’ll error due to their dates anyway.
This strategy will keep you from burning out with spreadsheet overload and preserve your sanity.
But once your system (and your spreadsheets) are in place, you’ll fly through social media scheduling as we’ve shown you in our Hootsuite tutorial here. Which means you’ll have more time to spend on your actual passion: your business!
Need a Little Social Inspiration?
Now that you’ve got our Hootsuite tutorial under your belt, it’s time to think about content.
The following posts will help you come up with fresh ideas, teach you when to post, and provide you with a calendar to keep track of your efforts.
- 12 Instagram Story Ideas That’ll Be Irresistible to Your Followers
- The Best Times to Post on Facebook, Twitter, and More!
- Need Fresh Product Ideas? This Online Seller Turned to Pinterest
- A Free Social Media Calendar Template That’ll Help You Plan and Post