Social Media Planning Tools: Do They Reduce Your Reach?

Business owners nowadays have a seemingly endless list of things to track to keep their businesses running smoothly, therefore automating certain tasks is a no-brainer to increase efficiency. A task that is frequently automated is social media posting. There are several highly regarded scheduling tools to accomplish this, including Sprout Social, Later, PlanOly, Hootsuite, Buffer, Loomly, etc. However, many people are under the impression that utilizing these tools might have a negative impact on post reach.

Is it true?

This line of thinking appears to have originated in 2015 when Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith published a blog titled 8 Facebook Engagement Stats Every Marketer Needs To Know in which she claimed that posting from a third-party tool resulted in “89.5% less engagement than directly posting to Facebook.” The resulting debate eventually led to social-media-scheduling-tool companies conducting their own research on the matter.

Their findings not only disproved Mari’s claims, but also showed the opposite may be true. A study by Buffer concluded definitively that posting via a third-party scheduling tool does not negatively impact performance (reach or engagement) on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

On Facebook and LinkedIn, posting via third-party tools generated slightly better results whereas on Twitter, native posts performed slightly better. To help limit potential bias stemming from a social planning tool conducting research into itself, Buffer also analyzed two other tools, Hootsuite and CoSchedule, while doing their research.

How to get the most out of social media planning tools

These tools offer a variety of features, including social listening, aggregated messaging from all your social media inboxes and hashtag suggestions. Not all of these tools are created equal, but more important than any of these features is making sure that you don’t just “set it and forget it” when it comes to your posts.

Another common critique is that using these social media planners widens the divide between users implementing such tools and their audiences since the implementers may no longer be concerned with what happens on social platforms. The way to ensure you get the most out of these tools is by scheduling your posts ahead of time and still making sure you pay close attention to the engagement they receive, responding to any comments and mentions they generate. Social media algorithms place a high value on engagement, which is not a one-sided issue.

Engagement is not only when an audience engages with a user’s posts, but also when that user engages back with their audience. It is a two-way conversation that must be given the proper amount of time and attention. With higher engagement on both sides comes increased organic reach.

Another thing to note is that content is king. According to Buffer’s research, effective reach doesn’t just depend on the frequency or time of day of your posts, it also depends on what you’re posting. Buffer found that video content consistently had the highest reach and engagement compared to still images/gifs and links. Placing a strong emphasis on high-quality content that captivates the attention of your audience will pay immeasurable dividends in regard to the long-term engagement you’ll receive.

Additional Resources

Do Scheduling Tools Really Affect Facebook Reach?

Automating your social media posts could hurt your startup’s online presence

Does Hootsuite or Buffer cause lower reach and engagement?

Debunking the myth: Do social media scheduling tools affect reach or engagement?

Do 3rd-Party Social Media Tools Negatively Affect Reach & Engagement?

Does Posting With 3rd-Party Social Media Tools Have a Negative Impact on Facebook Engagement?