In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk social scheduling software. What is social media scheduling software, how is it different than social media management software, and what are the things to look for when choosing a social scheduling vendor? Tune in to find out!
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:00
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, let’s talk about social scheduling, and specifically social scheduling tool.
These are tools that allow you to, among other things, schedule social media posts on major public social networks in advance so that you can schedule the next day’s content for next week’s content and not have to be sitting there at specific times of day, pushing the send button on your LinkedIn profile, your YouTube profile, your Tiktok account, and so on and so forth.
So, Katie, when you think about social scheduling, obviously, this is a very mature market, social media scheduling tools have been around for, what, 15 years now? Probably, yeah, about 15 years.
What are you What is it that that you find valuable about valuable about them? And what do you look for when you’re trying to figure out is this a good tool that I should use?
Katie Robbert 0:50
You know, it’s interesting, because social scheduling tools, they’re one of those kinda like, it’s a given that you would use one.
But I don’t think that that’s necessarily true.
And I think that the way in which they’re used, you know, is maybe underutilized a bit, I know that we under utilize our social scheduling tools.
And so what I look for is something that has an easy to use interface, something that’s easy to bulk upload.
And so this is sort of like, I feel like it’s different parts of the conversation, you know, how do you use it? And so for us, you know, we can curate, you know, upwards of 100 posts at a time of our own stuff, to then put into a scheduling tool.
But I also sometimes, like on a whim, just want to, you know, post something.
And so, do I go through a social scheduling tool? Or do I just post it natively to that particular platform.
And so these are the kinds of things that I feel like a social scheduling tool helps create more discipline, versus the random posting of a CEO, who’s just like, I feel like posting this right now.
Or I feel like posting this right now, which is sometimes how I operate.
So I’m probably, you know, doing the opposite of what I should be doing.
But Chris, you’ve been using social scheduling tools for a long time, what do you look for?
Christopher Penn 2:16
Um, well, so I think we should also disambiguate social scheduling tools largely have been absorbed into social media management tools, right.
So where they can schedule and do reports, and analyze and monitor and be a social inbox, for handling comments and things.
So a lot of the platforms that are out there today have multiple components on which the scheduling component is still critical.
And the number one thing that I look for in a social scheduling tool is a big red stop button.
I’m looking for a stop button.
Because we live in a world where crazy stuff happens all the time, it’s happening faster.
And there is no shortage of examples.
20 years of social media marketing history of companies just being super tone deaf and publishing something when everyone’s attention is somewhere else, as it should be, you know, major natural disaster, some kind of incident.
Nobody wants to be putting out, hey, buy our thing, you know, in the midst of raging literal, raging forest fires.
And so that big red stop button to me is something that you would think would be a hobbyist like, Okay, everyone should have a stop button, it could even be a physical button on your desk, that you just hit stop, I don’t want to send anything, I just want to be quiet until I figure out what’s going on.
And yet, I am astounded at how many companies do not have one in their software.
And I don’t know why.
Katie Robbert 3:39
I wonder if with this, you know, huge surge of AI assisted tools that are coming out, you know, I would, I’m going to put this out in the ether, I would love to see a social scheduling tool that allowed you to pre plan scenarios within it within the tool itself to say, if you see conversation about the following thing, pause all social media, so then you the end user don’t actually have to go in so for example, you know, different political situations, or economic situations or natural disasters or other things.
And so you could pre program these scenarios into your scheduling tool and say, if you if you the tool, listen to social media, and you see the following phrases, key words, whatever, pause, social and send me a notification.
Christopher Penn 4:34
I can definitely see that being a very useful thing, or at the very least, hey, I’m seeing this thing.
I’m notifying you that you should do something about it.
And ideally, if you don’t respond an hour, I’m just gonna turn things off.
You know, kind of kind of I think that would be because, you know, your social media manager is like on vacation or it’s the weekend or whatever.
You don’t want to rely on them.
But you also don’t want to stop things for false alarms either for although, in general, the there’s very little harm of not See, it’s like being quiet.
It’s not going to hurt the business super, unless you know, your business is the subject of the inquiry.
Katie Robbert 5:08
Well, and so when we talk about social scheduling tool, you said that most have been absorbed by social media management tools.
And so social scheduling tools often go hand in hand with social listening tools.
And so can you just give a brief overview of the difference between the two?
Christopher Penn 5:26
What is talking what is listening? I mean, that’s fundamentally it, you you have a piece of software, which is tied up is tied to your account.
And then is running scans of feedback that you’re getting engagement on your content, stuff like that.
And, again, you can set those up with alerts and things to say, hey, there’s, you maybe get a notification for everything, maybe get notification for volume exceeds a certain amount, like, Hey, 10, people just commented in the last hour, you might want to pay attention to this.
And again, that’s paired with the scheduling tool, which allows you to publish stuff on your social accounts.
Katie Robbert 6:08
I was first introduced to social scheduling, when I started working with you with the agency and one of our clients, the amount of work that went into social scheduling, not just social, social scheduling, not just writing the social media posts, every single week, then they had to go through an approval process, but then they had to get uploaded.
But to me it again, so sort of this was my first encounter with it was I didn’t realize this was stuff you could do in advance, and pre schedule things.
And to me, you know, obviously, I lived a very sheltered professional life prior to working at the agency.
I was, you know, my mind was blown by this, I was like, I am a planner.
You mean, I can plan this stuff to? This is amazing.
And so I feel like, to your point, social scheduling tools are is a very mature industry.
But people still don’t plan, they don’t use them.
Why do you think that is? Like, why is there still a lack of planning and using these tools that are super easy to use?
Christopher Penn 7:15
Why does anyone not plan something?
Katie Robbert 7:21
Because making plans is boring, and I just want to live in the moment.
Christopher Penn 7:24
And it’s, it’s, it’s one of those things, you know, we often joke and I even say to myself, you know, Alright, I’m gonna do this thing.
Now, I don’t really want to, but future me is going to thank me for doing this right now.
You know, and then I’ve had other situations be like, ah, past, me really should have done this.
And people don’t, a lot of people don’t have that level of self awareness that it boils down to.
Katie Robbert 7:50
And so I feel like it’s a missed opportunity for companies that aren’t using some kind, even a basic social scheduling tool to at least, you know, plan out, like one post a day on their own social channels to say, subscribe to my newsletter, or here’s my website or something.
Because, you know, we all have the best of intentions, like, No, I can totally get to that later.
And then later comes and you forgot about the thing.
But if you plan ahead, even very starting very simply with like one post a day on a social channel, then that’s one more post than you would have done, if you were just kind of winging it.
Christopher Penn 8:32
Now, here’s where a lot of companies get in trouble with scheduling tools is they, they literally will set it and forget it.
And if somebody interacts with them, nobody’s home paying it, you know, somebody comments, Hey, that sounds great.
When I buy one, and then no one, no one responds, you know, there is a an aspect of social media that requires you to show up.
Katie Robbert 8:55
No, and that’s I think, when I think about the ease of use of a social scheduling tool, I know most of them, if not all of them have built in the ability to monitor and reply to conversation within each social channel that you have set up.
And so if you’re not using that feature, if you’re still natively going back to those each individual social channels, then you’re sort of defeating the purpose.
Eight, you’re doing the opposite of efficiency and saving time.
So then why are you paying for this tool in the first place? The question I have for you, Chris actually, is so you’ve talked a lot and still talk about the private social networks.
And so where do private social networks and social scheduling tools intersect, if at all?
Christopher Penn 9:50
They don’t, they don’t they don’t have API’s that are available.
And the whole point of those private networks is to be there as a person to communicate with Fellas, you can’t schedule stuff.
And I don’t see I mean, you the tools natively do not allow you to schedule things.
Now there are add ons and plugins that you can add, for example, Discord, there’s a bot called Carl, there’s another one called M EE six.
And these are allow administrators of a of a community to do scheduled stuff scheduled content within the community.
But there’s still not like a social inbox.
There’s still not like a scheduled tour where the average individual user, can you can schedule their responses because it’s kind of it’s weird, right? Imagine you’re in a chat room or you’re in a group text, right? And then, you know, you’re one family member in your group text hasn’t been scheduled, right? The middle of conversation talking about tacos, and your family member says, See you at breakfast tomorrow.
Like, why did you do that? Oh, that was my, that was my group, family group chat scheduling tool.
I mean, that’s effectively what you’re doing.
And it’s it’s just the wrong environment for that.
Katie Robbert 10:55
I feel like you’re totally spying on my group text now.
Because I’m that person who pre scheduled texts, knowing that I’ll forget things, and then forgetting that it’s going to show up at a certain time.
And then it shows up and everybody’s confused.
And I’m like, Oh, yeah.
So like, I’m the person who does that.
Because I otherwise forget.
And so like, we use Slack for our analytics for marketers community.
And I think someone commented, it was last week, maybe you can reach our free slack group at Trust Insights at AI slash analytics marketers.
And we asked, I asked a question of the day, every single day at 10am.
And somebody was commenting about the consistency in which I post the question of the day at 10am.
And what they either didn’t realize, or were looking for me to confirm is that I schedule those ahead of time, sometimes only five minutes ahead of time, but still ahead of time, generally, a few hours ahead of time, if I’m lucky, a few days ahead of time, when I go on vacation, I can schedule them out for weeks at a time, all to drop it at the exact same time.
But to your point, Chris, I have to do this manually.
One by one, I don’t have a third party tool or social scheduling tool that allows me to do this.
But to be fair, in the instance of slack, I don’t really need it, everything’s contained within that one environment.
I’m not also looking to post the same thing on multiple other channels.
Christopher Penn 12:27
Yeah, now, for example, on Discord, if you’re a Discord admin of multiple servers, there are bots that you can use that can broadcast across different servers.
And so if you run 10 different communities, you can set up a task in one of your servers.
And as long as the other servers are all administrative, administrative ly tied to the same bot, you can conduct those actions across your different communities.
So there are options for administrators specifically to be able to do that, I think in most of the social media, private social media communities, but yeah, for the most part, they’re not really designed for scheduling.
They’re not broadcast platforms, right? A lot of companies treat public social media as broadcast platforms, hey, here’s our stuff, hey, here’s our stuff every single day right over and over again.
And that’s okay, that’s totally fine.
And in those cases, social scheduling makes total sense.
It’s a great use case for it in a chat environment where you’re chatting with other people in real time, it doesn’t make as much sense, it still makes some sense for like having scheduled things like your question of the day.
And the community adapts to that as the game becomes an expectation like the daily question.
But for the most part, it’s not something that there’s nearly as much of it compared to the public channels.
Katie Robbert 13:46
Now, let’s talk about the data, the analytics, the insights, do you feel like social scheduling tools? Let me ask you, as an analyst, as a data scientist, we use a social scheduling tool, do you use that tool to look at our data? Or do you look elsewhere for our data,
Christopher Penn 14:04
I export our data out of our tool.
So we use Agorapulse.
And they have a very robust reporting platform inside the tool.
I don’t pay much attention to it, because that’s not the information I’m after.
I use it to export the data out into other systems so that we can go back and look at it holistically along with other data.
If you go and check our back episode of so what episodes we’ve talked both about marketing mix modeling as the as the function and also uplift modeling.
And in both of those examples, we’ve used exported data from our social scheduling tool from Agorapulse as part of that mix to help the tool a calibrate itself better and be to help understand the role of social media channels in though so I think the tools and the reporting in those tools are good, particularly for non technical people.
I think there’s some decent reports to be had.
And then for technical People you know, that’s that’s an important consideration with these tools is how good is the data export how easy it is to get your is it to get your information out of the tool.
And I would be very, very wary of any tool that does not make a CSV export super easy.
A really good tool, a good tool, have an API a good tool, say, Yo, yo, let me get my data out of you programmatically.
Katie Robbert 15:25
As you were saying that I admittedly realized I’ve never actually looked at the reports that are social listening tool, or social scheduling tool, I should say.
But actually, as I’m looking at it, now, it does social listening.
It does social scheduling, it has reporting, and shame on me for never, and you know, there’s shame on me for never really exploring these and looking at, you know, what it can do what it could tell me about our awareness because we use social media as an awareness tool.
Public Social Media, so you know, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, all that good stuff, we use those as awareness.
We don’t necessarily use them as conversion tools.
So, you know, shame on me for not looking at these deeper to figure out, Where am I missing the boat on driving awareness for our brand, with our, with what we’re doing, and so I know what I’ll be doing for the rest of the afternoon anyway.
Christopher Penn 16:25
The other thing that I think is really interesting, and is a human thing is, you might see, you might see a productivity increase if you have people using a social, social listening tool, and certainly a social media management tool.
And here’s the reason why.
When you’re in this tool, and you’re scheduling content, or you’re responding to messages and stuff, you’re in the tool, you’re doing the thing, if that same employee is on a regular device in their in their Facebook account, we all know how easy it is to fall down a rat hole of you know, or rabbit hole of all this extra content, or you got hop on Tik Tok and you there’s some funny dancing monkey or dancing cat or something else like that.
And the next thing, you know, an hour and a half has gone by and you still haven’t gotten any work done.
This is one of the advantages of these tools, especially if you don’t like being on social media, you can do all your work in the tool, then close it and get on with your day.
Katie Robbert 17:21
And I think that that’s a really good way to also think about it like in terms of team management.
You know, if you have someone who is, you know, you can look at the time spent the level of effort on, you know, posting to social, and if you find out that they’re natively trying to post things, one by one live in the moment, obviously, you know, you can use a social scheduling tool, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on social scheduling tools, there’s free versions with limited functionality of a lot of these tools that, especially for a small business are good enough.
Christopher Penn 17:58
And the tools are getting smarter.
I know a bunch of the different social scheduling tools on the market.
Now we’re all looking at those surprise, large language models to help you craft posts faster.
You know, there’s some legacy tools lately is one of those tools that is more legacy tool that that does some stuff like that.
But pretty much everybody is figuring out how do we integrate a tool like a ChatGPT style interface into social listening tools to make content easier? Because we’ve all had that moment? Yeah, social media manager is going.
So I gotta say today about the same product and Hawkins last 90 days, right.
That’s where, again, these tools are really are designed to help you speed things up to be more productive and more efficient.
So I would fully expect that every one of these tools is going to be doing something like that, you know, we’re right now trying to promote stuff like our Google Analytics, 4 course, right? We’re trying to say, hey, there’s always so many ways that you and I can come up with, Hey, take this course, because Google Analytics is coming, you know, Universal Analytics coming to a close with AI assisted tools at the end of social scheduling tool, you can at least not have to just copy and paste the same status over and over again, by the way, take our course.
Katie Robbert 19:19
You can find that at trust insights.ai/g a four course.
You know, as we’re talking about the intersection of large language models and the social scheduling social listening tools, I would imagine, and I’m i There are probably some tools that are already working on this are already out there.
But using the large language model to learn how you talk and sort of Chris what you were saying about our past.
So what episodes that you can find at trust insights.ai/youtube We were talking about refining a large language model, integrating that into your social scheduling tool.
So that when somebody Does comment on one of your posts, you don’t even have to be there the tool like you’ve trained it, in your voice in your style of writing, you’ve given it some example, responses, you know, some scenarios, sort of like you would program a chat bot, if somebody says, What are your hours, this is a typical response that you would get, you can do the same thing down the line with a social scheduling tool, where the tool itself knows how to respond as you so that it saves you even that much more time of monitoring, and it can, you know, you can put in, if somebody says, I’m frustrated, I’m upset, then you can alert me but otherwise, just say thank you for sharing.
We appreciate the engagement, like whatever the thing is, I can see that being a very powerful time saving thing for social media managers downline.
Christopher Penn 20:53
And the most forward thinking companies in the space should be thinking about, how do we let users do this, right? How do we help a user build that custom social media response system that learns their voice? Now, you know, the most technically savvy folks will be like, Okay, well, I will train my own model, I will fine tune in, I will upload that somewhere and make it available as a service.
And I don’t see any reason why a social media or social listening tool company could not say, Okay, send us the URL of your API so that we can get when we want to plug Katy GPT-3, right into this thing.
And here we go.
And there’s a lot of value to be had there.
But again, this would require these companies to go, oh, this something a users want.
And B is something that we’re technically capable of implementing.
But I could definitely see for large companies that have technology resources to say, Yeah, we will stand up a model internally, we will connect it privately to our tool.
And then as long as the tool can call our API, it can respond back and forth in the same way that you connect right now to a ChatGPT.
Right, you can connect to it via API just connected to a company’s private model, internally to say, for Bank of America, this is how Bank of America speaks on social media just learned from all that and this, and now you’ll be able to craft responses, or new posts with that voice.
And there’s a lot of again, there’s a lot of potential with that.
It is, to my knowledge, no tools off for that today.
So if you work for a social media, listening to company, this is something that is an opportunity for you.
And if you want some more advice about that, ask us at TrustInsights.ai slash contact, we can froth at the mouth for hours on this topic.
Katie Robbert 22:40
But we can also act actually offer valuable consulting as well.
Christopher Penn 22:45
Oh, yes, yes.
But I think for for social media management and social listening, even something as simple as just doing that initial analysis of incoming comments, right, and being able to more effectively score the sentiment more effectively understand and distill down I can think of, when we back a few years ago, we were doing sort of mass market analysis for this one client.
And it was a chore to do all that language processing today, that is trivial.
The other thing that you can do with these tools, if they’re good, if the listening side is good, is extract out, say your best performing posts, right, and maybe your competitors best performing posts, and build a language model that you can then say, Okay, now in my scheduling side, in the social scheduling said, I’m going to create posts that are trained on only the best performing content so they can keep creating great content.
Katie Robbert 23:45
I think we should totally do that.
But yeah, so how.
So we’re sort of we’re going a little off topic, but I think it’s an important conversation to have, because social scheduling tools, scheduled content for social media, and we’re talking about how generative AI is going to enhance these tools, maybe respond as you as you train the large learning model.
How is this different from these companies that spun up these, you know, AI bots, on social media to interact with that immediately, you know, went sideways.
Christopher Penn 24:24
For one thing, you know, those examples are, you know, seven or eight years old now, and they were prior to today’s language models, today’s language models, depending on how you train them, you can put many more guardrails in them.
And, again, there’s, there’s there’s all sorts of ways for it to go wrong, sir.
But if you are, if you do your due diligence, and you spend the time on how to build this sort of thing, they do function much better.
They’re less probable to go wrong, particularly if you don’t allow them to accept feedback from the outside world, right? You say you, you will only learn from we give you not from what the crazy, the crazy person on Twitter is venting at you about that’s, you know, you can disregard that person entirely.
The other thing is that a lot of these models, again, depending on how you set up the agents, you can say, hey, if you’re unsure if if the probability matrix is saying that this is not sensible router to human, send this to a human, let a human deal with it, right? So and that’s where social media managers will still have a super important role to play, because what will happen is, the robots will take care of the easy stuff, and the manager be like, Wow, okay, this is, you know, this customer is really mad, or this guy mister has come into the office with a gun, you know, like that.
And you as a human had better do something about it.
So this job was a social media manager will be less dealing with minutia and more dealing with actual serious customer issues or audience issues.
Katie Robbert 26:01
I would imagine to that as social scheduling tools get smarter, it would allow the Social Media Manager to really do research and really think through, you know, what that social media plan should be versus, okay, I have one hour left in my, you know, client billing this week, and I have to fill all of their social channels with some content.
Let me just slap something together.
Like, I feel like all of us, regardless of our role, I always feel like we’re kind of behind the eight ball.
And so using these more sophisticated social scheduling tools that you and I are dreaming up on this podcast right now.
I would imagine that it would allow for more of that thoughtful, what should we be posting? What is our voice versus the urgent? Oh, I have to get five posts out today.
And I have five minutes left to do it.
Christopher Penn 26:56
And the other side that is, I think, important relevant for social media managers thinking about what kind of social scheduling tools he uses.
They should also have some guardrails themselves, right to say like your, your, your junior manager, type something in and the tool could say, Are you sure you want to post this? Like?
Katie Robbert 27:15
That would be amazing.
Christopher Penn 27:18
So a little bit of a language safeguard go, Hmm, it looks like you’re squaring an awful lot.
And that’s not an O’Brien brand guidelines.
Are you sure you want to test should
Katie Robbert 27:25
be all levels of the company, not just the junior folks? It should probably expecially be for senior managers of the company.
Exactly what you’re you want to sound like such adult on social media.
You know that that’s not science, right? That’s just opinion.
Christopher Penn 27:45
Yeah, I mean, Gmail had an experimental plugin years ago, it was it was quite funny.
And it was it was in the labs, it never made it into production.
But when it detected erratic behavior would actually pop up a sobriety test.
Katie Robbert 28:02
I can see how that is contract.
Like, it’s, I can see how it’s useful.
But I can also see how it’s super controversial, and probably triggering for a lot of people.
But I feel like that there’s definitely, you know, asking five times, are you sure? Are you really sure? Do you want to take five minutes and walk around the block? Do you want to go get some water? Are you just hungry? Like I think that there’s definitely some questions that these systems can start to ask as you train them on your own large learning model your own tone.
So if I start saying things like, Trust Insights is going to start talking about politics, you know, just as a terrible example, the social scheduling tool, as I’m scheduling, it is like, Are you sure you’ve never posted about this topic before? Is this really where you want to go with this today? Do you need a snack?
Christopher Penn 28:57
The day will come with a social schedule, it says, well, it’s helpful say, can I talk to your manager?
Katie Robbert 29:02
I just wanted to ask me if if I need a snack or a glass of water? Because 10 times out of 10.
That’s my problem.
Christopher Penn 29:11
So those unfortunately don’t exist yet.
The what the social scheduling tools are on the market right now.
We’re not that intelligent yet.
But I do have faith that, again, these are all tech companies, they all can see what’s happening in the news.
And all of them should be thinking about how will these these more advanced technologies make it into into social scheduling.
And for today, as a social media manager, your social scheduling tool should have the basic features it should have a stop button, it should have the ability to upload data in in bulk Twitch have the ability to download data in bulk from it, some level of reporting and probably some level of listening or a social inbox that allows you to take in direct interactions that you’re having that you want to participate in, or not participate in.
And depending on the industry you work in, you may also want to look at your compliance, like, does this tool have audit capability.
So when the auditors come, you just hit the audit auditors here button, and it dumps a database file to them.
Any other things keep that from today’s features you would look for in a social media listing tool,
Katie Robbert 30:21
definitely an approval process.
You know, and I know a lot of them have that built in where you can put things into draft and then assign it to someone else.
But with that, it needs to be not overly cumbersome.
So if you know, Chris, I upload, you know, 50 posts for the next couple of weeks and assign them all to you.
There needs to be an easy way for you to approve all of those posts, and not have to go through individually one by one and say, Yes, I approve this.
Okay, let me hit the next button.
Yes, you’re not going to do it.
And unfortunately, a lot of tools right now operate that way.
And it’s making people like me want to abandon those tools and find something even easier, because it just gets in my way of being productive.
That’s when I start to feel like well, why don’t I just do this natively again?
Christopher Penn 31:13
The flip side of that, though, is if you did not trust me, as a as a person to draft those posts, as a manager, you might be like, Yeah, you know what I do want inspect every post, because last week, your posts that posted that racist meme, and we all got in trouble.
So it’s one of those things where you have to have the settings available to say like, yes, trust, welcome, or no, don’t trust them, and giving the user the option.
Katie Robbert 31:37
And I think that’s it having a little bit more flexibility than some of these tools currently offer.
Because right now it feels like it’s an either or.
And that doesn’t work in every scenario.
Christopher Penn 31:47
So this week later this week, we’re going to have our bake off with a bunch of different tools.
If you want to catch the Bake Off to see kind of how we’re going to evaluate these tools.
Just make sure you’re following and subscribe to our YouTube channel TrustInsights.ai AI slash YouTube.
We’ll take a look at some of the popular solutions in the market, see if they meet our requirements, help you develop those requirements, and things as well.
If you’ve got some things you want to share about your experiences with social scheduling tools pop on by our free slack go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers, we’re up over 3000 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions every single day.
And there’s only one scheduled post at a time a day and that is Katie’s wherever it is you’re watching or listening to the show.
If there’s a channel you’d rather have it on.
Instead, go to trust insights.ai/ti podcast where we are on most other podcast platforms.
And while you’re there, please leave us a rating and a review.
It does help share the show.
Thanks for tuning in.
I will talk to you next time.
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