There’s always so much to organise at Christmas – your business social media can get consigned to the bottom of an endless to-do list and you might end up losing momentum at a time when you should really be out there getting more business.

Don’t get caught out this year – sign up to a social media scheduling app and make sure that you have everything organised in time for the festive season this year.

It might seem a little counter-intuitive, scheduling a whole week, or even month of updates to your Facebook accounts in advance, but it takes the panic out of trying to keep up with everything at a time when you’re trying to do so many other things at once and your business might also be dealing with a Christmas rush. Get yourself prepared in November so that you’re covered all over the Christmas and New Year period, and then all you need to do is check in once or twice a day just to respond to any messages or posts that need your attention.

You’ll need to spend some time coming up with a social media schedule for Christmas – we’ll cover that in another post. Deciding what you need to focus on and when will really help you to focus your mind. If you also know the optimum times for posting you have another head start and can begin to plan your campaign.

Buffer – a quick and dirty posting tool

Buffer makes posting those interesting things you see while you’re browsing so much easier. It’s available as a mobile app too so when you’re out and about and spot something good you can just pop it into your scheduler and make it post out to your followers at a time you choose.

You can use it to ‘clip’ links, photos, text and videos or just write a witty status onto your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. You can use it to schedule Retweets in Twitter (a useful feature as people love to be retweeted) and spread them out instead of doing them all at once.

You can Buffer a post without having to be in the app itself – a tool allows you to literally click and Buffer from just about anywhere, and you set the timings yourself. With apps for Android and iPhone it’s a really useful place to organise yourself. The basic app is free with an option to sign up for the ‘Awesome’ plan which lets you schedule up to 10 social profiles – including Pinterest – for $10 a month. You can schedule up to 100 posts in advance so if you’re only planning two per day for a couple of accounts you can get really organised . The freebie account gives you a maximum of ten posts over five accounts.

There’s also a business account option with 25 accounts and up to five ‘team members’ but this is probably more suited to you if you’re managing social media for other people.

Meet Edgar – never run out of ideas!

Meet Edgar is a really popular app for social media users just because of its functionality and all the great things you can do with it. There are too many to talk about in one post but it can be a Godsend for busy business owners.

You have to be invited to ‘meet Edgar’ which is quite quaint, but once you ask for an invitation you should get an email saying “Edgar is ready to meet you!” – Usually pretty quickly and certainly within about 24 hours.

It’s a real all-rounder so if you have lots of different social media accounts it’s something you might want to consider investing in. It will keep you linked up to your Twitter, Facebook profile, pages and groups, and LinkedIn profile and company pages and it even checks your email address when you sign up, matches it with your blog and pulls out your last ten blog posts ready to schedule and share.

You can add blog links to a customised library and categorise them in whatever way you prefer, get the links shortened in (this is really useful) and schedule everything to go out exactly when you need it to. Another really great thing about Meet Edgar is that unlike some other scheduling apps, if you haven’t added anything new for a while, it will just go back to the beginning of each category and start again when it gets to the end of your new posts.

It’s a paid-for service but well worth it, as the basic level can store up to 1000 posts and connect up to 10 social media accounts.

Hootsuite – my personal favourite

Hootsuite is another scheduling tool that has a free option if you only need to keep an eye on few accounts. There’s a fairly user-friendly screen that shows you all of your accounts in the same place, once you’ve been through the sign up stage and connected the accounts you want to manage.

All the accounts are displayed in what it calls streams and you can see different aspects of each account, so for example if you want to view your Facebook account, you can customise your view to show you private messages, wall posts, tags, mentions and more. You can choose to see as many or as few of the streams as you want to.

But for me, the main advantage of HootSuite is is that it’s perfect for when you want to plan ahead and manage your accounts all in one place. Each post can be individually set up to go out at a time that suits you – so let’s say you wanted to time something to go out during the Strictly or X factor finals, you can plan it down to the minute to catch all of the people who are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter talking about it (that would be loads) and make sure you have all your hashtags set up to capture the audience! Hootsuite also shrinks links in posts automatically which is handy.

Which is best for you? The free Hootsuite and Buffer accounts give you a great way of trying both to see if you like them before upgrading to a paid-for service. Meet Edgar is really popular but there’s no free option, although you can pay as you go.

Do you use scheduling apps? Which ones?