Why I'm Switching To Later For My Social Media Platform
1) Excellent media manager, 2) quick schedule a week's worth of posts, 3) hashtag suggestions, 4) and link in bio management
If someone was to ask you: "Hey, have you ever tried using a social media app to manage your social accounts?" - Likely you'll respond with something like Hootsuite. In fact, I've recommended Hootsuite to many SMB's over the years. I've also recommended Buffer as an alternative. Now, those are two in a sea of 100's of apps that can help manage your social media accounts.
In fact, I have been using Buffer for quite some time now to manage my two business profiles, and several client pages. There's a lot that I like about Buffer, and it's super simple to use. A somewhat unique feature they have is a content inbox. You add a few RSS feeds to an inbox and you can quickly schedule content from those sources.
Their pricing is reasonable also. Depending on how many accounts you'll need and how many team members, you'll pay anywhere from $0 to $15 if you're just one person managing one business. After that, their next tiered plan goes to $99.
After a while of using Buffer though, it's time to say goodbye to them. It's time to say hello to Later, well, again. I actually used Later for a brief month, and just about considered switching to them a few months ago.
At the time, I was stuck on a few components that were missing in their tool set. So, those components are still missing, but I've come to realize that I can live without them and if they get added in the future, that'll be great too.
Here's the reasons I'm switching to Later.com for all of my social media management. There are some points of criticism I have though, that I explain in the end. You'll also see what I believe those missing components are, in case those are deal breakers for you.
An obsessive compulsive media library
"Did I post this picture yet?"
"When did I last post this picture?"
Those are two questions you can easily answer using Later's built-in media library, and more.
The first thing you'll want to do is add a bunch of images and videos to your media library. You can do this easily with a bulk upload of images via drag and drop. Literally, just select a bunch of images on your computer and throw it onto the media library – it adds it to the library for you and as a bonus, preselects all of them for tagging.
Which brings me to my next media library feature: tagging. With your photos selected, you can tag the photos for easy reference.
For instance, I've done a lot of dog photography in my side hustle. Here I can upload photos from a session, and tag them as "dog" and then the name of the dog. Now I can quickly find photos to schedule out for just that one portfolio. By default, the "unused" tag is filtered. So this way, Later will only show me photos I have not used in a post yet. You can easily change that filtered to "used" or "all media" so you can see everything.
There is also a native dropbox and google drive integration. If you often store your finished photos or use those services to store media – you can just upload directly from those cloud services.
A hidden gem for this media library is external collaboration. If you have someone that takes photos for you, but is not on your team, or you just don't want them having access to your later.com account, you can invite them as a media collaborator. This feature works awesome and flawlessly.
You'll set up your custom inbound email @submit.media. For example, let's say your business is Tony's Tacos. You just put in something like: tonystacos in front of the @submit.media area. Now, you can just have yourself or anyone else email photos to email@example.com – and poof! your photos will be ready in your media library for use! You can, of course turn on approval required before it ever makes it to the media library. No photos will get posted anyway until you schedule them.
Quickly schedule your social media posts
There's several ways you can go about quickly scheduling your social media posts with Later. I think it comes to what workflow you are comfortable with AND if you're focusing on certain social networks or not.
The first thing you want to do with your social calendar is set up what days and times you want to post on. You'll do this for each network, just once. Once you have created this weekly schedule, you can take a bunch of photos from your media library (wink) and drag it to the calendar. Later will then create a scheduled post for each content. You can go into each of them and just add your captions, and hashtags and links.
Scheduling to multiple social networks
Quick scheduling works with just one social network at a time. If, however, you want to schedule one post to multiple social networks at once, you'll want to use the multi-post scheduling feature.
Here you'll select the social channels you want to publish to, drag a photo onto the calendar, and then put your caption in.
When you click NEXT, you will actually be able to customize each network. So basically you have one 'master' caption for that post and then you tweak it per channel. For instance, you'll be required to trim it down for Twitter if it's beyond the 320 character limit. For Instagram, you'll want to remove any links you've placed and put that in the LinkIn.bio section – more on that Later! (all puns intended)
Then just watch and wait. Your perfectly captioned post will appear on all the networks you selected at the time you've scheduled it. Voila.
Auto-post to Instagram
Recently, Instagram opened up its API to allow direct posting without the need for using the mobile app. This is only for single photos though. If you're schedule multiple photos or videos to Instagram - Later has a workaround for that.
Let's say you schedule a video post for Tuesday at 10am. When that time comes, you'll get a notification to your phone from the official Later app. You'll confirm that you're in the right Instagram account, and then it will open Instagram for you with the caption already copied to your phone's clipboard. From there you'll just select the different photos or the video from your camera roll.
4 Bonus Gems For Creating The Perfect Post
You might have noticed in the above screenshots something called "Saved captions" and "Hashtag suggestions".
This is your life-saver, eh hem, time saver.
With saved captions, you can select from several predefined captions. I personally use them for saving my hashtags.
Yaaaaaas, that means no more having to switch to Evernote to copy/paste hashtags there. I just click on the one I want and it adds it to my post :)
Well, "Hey Brad, how do you even know what hashtags to use?"
I'm glad you asked. Later has a built in hashtag suggestion box. You put in the hashtag you want to start with, and it will spit back several comparable hashtags. Complete with a relevancy to your original hashtag, and also how many times it's been used, so you can see its popularity.
Tag users directly
Many other platforms do not let you tag other users outside of the Instagram app. This is also in part due to recent API restrictions, most of which came from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Later has a feature that allows you to tag users in the photo. Technically, if you also put their handle in the caption exactly as is, it will tag them in the actual post. It just won't show you that you've put the correct handle in during the caption.
Seek And Share
Sometimes you come across content that you really love and want to share it also. You know what I'm talking about – the HOME BUTTON + SIDE POWER BUTTON to activate a screenshot, or using a re-share app.
With Later, you can search for hashtags that you want to find content for, and then you can import the photo or video directly into your media library to reshare. Just, it's a good idea to tag that original account when you DO share the content, to avoid copyright infringement. 😳
Use your one link wisely
This is an Instagram specific feature, but it's worth its weight in gold. Instagram only gives you ONE clickable link in your entire bio area.
Just a quick break down of how your bio even works:
Your NAME can be anything, completely different from your username – and it should be. The name is the only searchable text from Instagram, use this like the page title in your website SEO.
The bio description area has a maximum set of characters - I recommend using this as a "keyword" area. Your profile can potentially come up when people are discovering hashtags.
At the bottom, you have your highlights, if you've enabled them for Stories.
Right above that though, is your ONE link Instagram gives you to place in your bio. In case you didn't know why this is so important – any link you place in the caption of your post, is NOT clickable. So, please stop placing links there, no one can click them. No one is going to type that 💩out into their browser – from their phone nonetheless.
So, what Later has done is something magical. They use a feature they built in-house called Linkin.bio to handle multiple links.
Basically any links you want people to get to on Instagram, you add them to your linkin.bio. You do this easily by simply pasting the link into the box provided during your Instagram caption.
You then replace your current website link in your bio, with the one Later provides you. From there, Later handles the rest. When someone clicks on your special link, they'll be taken to a page which has all of the photos you've tagged for links. Now your visitors can just tap the picture and go to your intended link.
Analytics that give you actionable data
I'm pretty certain that most dashboards that have some sort of analytics to them were built by data junkies, for data junkies.
There's just toooo much data to comb through usually.
Not with Later.
The analytics dashboard, which is currently limited to Instagram and Pinterest only, gives you a quick but powerful overview of your social media performance.
The follower count shows you how many followers you had at the time of that post being published. The engagement column shows your overall engagement percentage – which is a calculation of the likes, comments, and linkin.bio clicks divided by your follower count at that time.
Finally, you can see how many likes, commments, and clicks each post received. You can also sort by any of these columns.
Perhaps you want to create more content that generates more comments.
Just filter by the comments column, and you'll see your top performing posts that generated the most conversations. Then, you can start creating more content like that!
What's the best time to post?
This is another Instagram specific feature, but it's powerful!
Most other social media scheduling platforms will give you a recommended posting time. They might set up a queue based on known industry best times to post. However, that's really not personalizing it to YOUR feed.
Later will look at your historical posts, even the ones that weren't posted by Later, and determine the best times to post in the future based on engagement rates.
You can then use these "best times" to create your quick schedule calendar mentioned earlier.
Manage engagement right from the dashboard
Comments on your insta feed are one of the biggest factors Instagram uses when sorting your posts out in their algorithm. It's not enough to get comments though – you want to engage with them as well. This is both useful to create a community around your product, but also to keep the conversation, eh hem, engagement going.
With Later you can:
- Manage Instagram conversations from within your dashboard
- Respond to comments on recent posts
- Like comments (heart)
- Delete comments
This last one is particularly useful, especially when you get the robo-dummy comments inviting your followers to like their page.
They still need to work on a few things though
I think Later is one of the best social media management platforms out there, contending with the likes of Hootsuite, and my former pal, Buffer.
However, they're not perfect. These are a few pain points I've run into, but these may not be a big deal to you. It's worth noting however.
This first feedback is a small one, but could make life a bit easier. If posting to something like Twitter or Facebook only, it would be great to create a post with no image, and then have an image pulled in from the URL. Basically, right now the only way to create any new post is to add some sort of media to it – photo(s) or video.
I get it.
Sometimes though, I'd like to schedule sharing of content from another source, and I really don't want to have to try and get images from that site first. (Though, for what it's worth, they do have a handy Chrome extension that lets you right click any image on the web and add it to your media library)
The second feedback is to include analytics for Twitter and Facebook. Their support team has told me they are looking to integrate Facebook analytics in the future. I'm keeping my eyes peeled :).
Thirdly, they yet to have implemented anything beside Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. LinkedIn is NOT present in their social networks. It's not a deal breaker for me, but it would be convenient to have as an option.
Last feedback, and this might be the most important. Transparently, they're kind of slow when it comes to responding to support requests. Their chat box indicates they usually respond in 24 hours. That's true. Perhaps I find this frustrating because there IS a live chat box inside the dashboard. I don't think you should have chat widgets on any part of your site unless it is monitored for at least some part of the day.
That's really it though. Those really aren't huge flags for me, so I'm giving them a real go at their platform.
What social media management tool are you using currently? If you're looking for other tools, I have a roundup of the 17+ best free social media tools you can use in your business right now.