(Updated February 2015- New prices)
I’ve been playing with a new tool called Edgar for the past few months, and I have to admit I’ve been really excited about sharing it with you! It’s such a well thought out tool that aims to solve a big problem for marketers. How do you manage all that content? Well, the good news Edgar certainly helps you do that. Read on to find out how you can become a content marketing Jedi with Edgar!
What is it?
Founded: June 2014
Founder: Laura Roeder
Quick Overview: Edgar is a social tool that allows you to build up a library of your content. You can put each piece of content into different categories within your library. Once you’ve built your content library, you can then create schedules across all your social media accounts and post out content to each one at specific times from specific categories. Content in each category is recycled- meaning when the last piece of content in a category is posted, it goes back to the beginning again. There is also a “use once” category where recycling does not occur- each piece of content is just posted once.
- Wonderful user interface – Clean & easy to use
- Saves you and your business a huge amount of time!
- Easy to set up a library of your content and to set up schedules
- Easy to set up a cycle of never ending content
- Friendly support team
- Analytics (Updates February 2015)
- Invite Only (although they send out invites pretty quickly)
- No Google+ integration (yet)
- No facilities for teams (yet)
- You can only connect up to 10 accounts on the basic plan
- Doesn’t give you access to images after uploading
- Individual: $49/mth (connect up to 10 social accounts, 1,000 updates in your library)
- Premium: $99/mth (connect up to 25 social accounts, 5,000 updates in your library) – Updated February 2015
- There are higher volume plans, contact Edgar for more information)
As well as writing a comprehensive review, I’ve also put together a short video walk-through which goes through the basics of Edgar:
Before I go into more detail on what Edgar does, I thought it would be useful to look at other social tools- ones that almost do what Edgar does, but not quite! The truth is I have been searching for a tool which has the features that Edgar offers, but I never found one. There are other tools that have Edgar-like features such as Buffer, Hootsuite, SproutSocial, MavSocial and SocialOomph.
Buffer was one of the first tools to offer a queuing scheduling system and it’s used and loved by many. With Buffer, you can connect many different social media accounts (depending on which plan you are on). It connects with a good number of social channels, such as Facebook (profile, pages and groups), Twitter, LinkedIn (profiles and pages), Google+ (pages) and app.net. Each social account has its own queue of posts and a schedule for when these posts will be published. You can have a different schedule for each day of the week, or the same for the whole week. Whenever you add a new piece of content to a queue, it gets added to the back of the queue. The post at the front of the queue gets posted at the next time in the schedule and the next one in the queue moves to the front. You have the ability to post straight away, add to the queue or schedule at a specific time. Buffer also gives you some helpful stats and analytics- showing you how many clicks you are getting for each piece of content.
I love Buffer, but it is focussed on the social networks and not the content. You can’t segment your content into different categories and you can’t set up a cycle of never ending content. This is where Edgar wins!
Hootsuite* and SproutSocial*
Hootsuite and SproutSocial are traditional “all in one” social media management tools. They are great at helping you manage multiple social media accounts from one dashboard. Both integrate with a large number of social networks (particularly Hootsuite). They allow you to add streams for each social network on your dashboards- for example your Twitter mentions, Facebook posts, a Twitter hashtag search and more. You can post updates and cross post across multiple networks at the same time. Both Hootsuite and SproutSocial are great at monitoring mentions and conversations across multiple networks and ensuring you or your business aren’t missing out on the action.
Hootsuite and SproutSocial have allowed you to schedule your social media posts for a long time, but once the posts have been published- that’s it! By this I mean you would have to remember to re-post the same piece of content again in the future. It took them a while to add a queuing system like Buffer, but due to the popularity of Buffer both SproutSocial and Hootsuite ended up adding this functionality. Hootsuite does this via the Hootlet extension or on the dashboard via AutoSchedule. SproutSocial’s system is called SproutQueue. Unlike Edgar, they are only schedule one-off posts, so once they’ve been posted from the schedule, you’ll have to re-craft the post and reschedule in the future.
MavSocial is a new tool on the block and like Hootsuite and SproutSocial can be classed as an “all in one” social media management tool. It does offer something quite different though- and that is a digital assets manager integrated within. That means you can upload and store all your digital assets (videos, photos and more)- all within MavSocial. That is so important- it means that you’ll have all your content assets in one library and accessible to your marketing team. Not only can you upload your own content, but you can purchase stock images and videos right from within MavSocial. This is something that sets MavSocial apart from other tools, and it is a huge time saver.
MavSocial allows you to manage multiple networks and has the advantage of integrating with Chinese and Japanese networks such as Youku, Weibo and Renren with full international character support. Whilst MavSocial offers a powerful campaign manager and has scheduling and cross posting capability, it doesn’t have a queuing system or a feature where you can cycle through a library of posts.
SocialOomph is a tool that has been around for a long time and helps you manage multiple accounts from one dashboard. It isn’t a traditional social media management tool in the way that Hootsuite or SproutSocial is, but it does offer some interesting features. The problem is the interface. It has always been, well, not the greatest. Despite a recent update to the user interface, SocialOomph remains cluttered and difficult to use. However, SocialOomph does allow you to set up schedules and can cycle through content in a similar way to Edgar- it just isn’t easy to set up and doesn’t allow you to set up a library with categories of content in the way Edgar does.
Edgar: The Content Marketer’s Dream?
With such a huge amount of content being shared each day, it’s becoming more and more difficult for your message to be heard. According to an article from AdAge the organic reach for Facebook pages is down to around 6%. The analysis (by [email protected]) was made of 106 brand pages.
Let’s just pause and take that in!
For those Facebook pages not paying for Facebook advertising, their content was only reaching 6% of their fans!
That is a truly shocking figure, but it shouldn’t make you depressed- it should bring us all in to the realms of reality!
For too long, far too many businesses have tried to hack the system and push low quality content to their Facebook fans. Facebook have tried to manage this and make sure that it delivers content that its users are actually interested in. So, if the organic reach for the average Facebook page is 6%, could it be that the content being shared on these pages aren’t what the majority of its fans want to see? Controverial perhaps, but hopefully it will mean that more of us will start thinking a bit more deeply about our social media strategy.
Before I go on any further, I urge you to read this article by Jon Loomer entitled It May Be Time for You to Quit Marketing on Facebook.
Part of the problem is that many businesses just don’t plan their content. What if there was a way to build up a library of content, set up a schedule and then let it run? Surely that would be too easy?!
Well, I’m definitely not advocating unintelligent automation of your social media channels- you know, where you just set it and forget it and then don’t engage with your followers and fans! Make sure you Schedule your Social Media Posts Responsibly!
If there is a tool that allows you to schedule responsibly and automate intelligently, whilst building a library of your content with different categories- then Edgar is that tool!
Read on to find out more….
How to Use
First of all, you will need to request an invite. Just visit the Edgar Home Page and click on the big red button in the top right. You might have to wait a few days, so do try and be patient. If you’ve been waiting a while, then do reach out to the team and ask what is happening. They are a friendly bunch and it might just be that they are dealing with a lot of requests.
Whilst annoying, I am guessing the reason for being invite only, is to help grow their platform at a pace that they can cope with. I can understand that- there have been many examples of tools and platforms struggling to cope with numbers of users in their early days and having to deal with complaints.
Once you’ve been invited, you can create an account and log in. I hope you’re excited!
The First page: Your Library
When you first log in, you’ll be presented with your library. At first your library will be empty, but Edgar will give you quite a few categories to get started. Once you fill your library you can see all your items on this page and you can filter by category and social media account:
Each piece of content can be assigned a particular category. That could be your “amazing photos” category or “evergreen blog posts” or possibly “promotional posts”. Each content is also assigned to a specific social network or a group of social networks. For example one of your “evergreen blog posts” could be scheduled to be posted to your Facebook page and your Twitter account, whilst another post in the same category could be scheduled to be posted to just your LinkedIn company page. The quick filters are a really easy way to see what’s in your library.
Although Edgar hasn’t been around for too long, I love the fact that new features keep on arriving. One of these new features is the “bulk edit” system. By clicking “bulk actions” and then the “edit” link, you will be presented with the bulk edit screen. From here you can update all or some posts- all in one go. For example, you could change the category of selected posts and then choose which social networks these are being posted to. A very welcome and powerful feature!
Bulk upload CSV tool
Another newish feature is being able to bulk add content from a spreadsheet. To make use of this, create a spreadsheet with two columns. In the first column, enter the text for the content, and in the second column enter the category name. Whilst this method doesn’t allow you to upload images, it offers a time saving way of uploading a large number of posts in one go, or exporting content from your blog or content management system. Once you’ve created the spreadsheet, save it as a CSV file and then upload it to Edgar.
Once you’ve added your posts and set a schedule, you’ll then be able to view your social media agenda for the forthcoming weeks and months. Here is the queue from my set up:
From here you can:
- Show forthcoming posts by a specific category by using the “filter by category” option.
- Show forthcoming posts scheduled to a specific social media account by using the “Filter by Account” option.
- See how long your queue is. This is the length of time before the last post in a cycle is posted and it goes back to the beginning of the queue. In my case, that’s a 2 week long queue – you’ll probably want it longer than that. It also shows you how many posts are in the queue- in my case there are 55 posts.
- If there is an emergency or another reason where you need to stop your schedule, you can quickly and easily pause your queue so that Edgar won’t post out any updates. Really useful feature!
- Edgar is very clever and knows about time zones. Once you’ve set your time zone all your scheduled times are shown in your time zone.
- Each content item shows you the category and the update itself. You can quickly edit the post from here or shuffle the order.
You’ve got your posts, but we’ve not discussed setting a schedule for them. This is the tricky bit and will require some time and good strategic thinking. Thankfully, Edgar has a really helpful article entitled What should my social media posting schedule be? I recommend reading it to give you some inspiration.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to learn from examples, so I’m going to share part of my set up. It’s only basic- but it is a start. With more time and effort I intend to build on this.
Firstly, here is the schedule for my main Twitter account, @iagdotme. You can see I have a post from a different category in each slot:
Since Twitter is very fast moving it’s good to have a higher frequency of updates each day, but other networks are different. It’s often better to post at a lower frequency on LinkedIn and Facebook. Here is my LinkedIn schedule:
It’s really easy to add a new time slot. Just click the “add timeslot” button and then select the time and the category of the post you want to schedule:
As I mentioned, Edgar gives you quite a few categories to get started. However you will want to change these and add your own- since all businesses are different. Here are the categories I set up on my system:
Remember, categories are separate from social networks. For example, your “amazing photos” category might contain posts that schedule only to Facebook or perhaps a number of different networks. All categories work the same- once all posts in the category have been posted, Edgar goes back to the beginning and starts cycling through them again.
There is one exception, and that is the “Use Once” category. As you might guess, each post in this category is only used once. You might want to use this category for special offers or other time limited posts.
Edgar integrates with a fair number of social channels. So far it integrates with Facebook (profiles, pages, and groups), Twitter and LinkedIn (profiles and pages). I don’t think it would be suitable for Edgar to schedule to LinkedIn groups- it could get far too easy to end up spamming with repeated content.
The main omission at the moment are Google+ pages although I know Edgar is working very hard to add this. I’d love it if they could add Google+ profiles, but that will never happen as Google don’t (and very likely never will) have an API for Google+ profiles. If you want to schedule from your Google+ profile to other networks, then I highly recommend the social tool Friends+Me* of which I have mentioned many times on this blog.
Add New Content
Adding new content is easy in Edgar, and there are a number of ways. I’ve already mentioned the bulk uploader where you can upload from a spreadsheet. You can also add posts one by one, and it is surprisingly quick. Just hit the “Add New Content” button and you’ll get something like the following:
- First of all, select the account or accounts that you want to schedule to. It’s best to create different posts for Twitter since you are restricted to only 140 characters.
- Then select the category of the post.
- If you want to upload an image (as opposed to using a preview image from a link you are sharing) make sure you do this next otherwise the preview image of a link will override this option.
- Type your content. Links will be automatically shortened and a preview image will appear below (if you haven’t already uploaded an image). Please note Edgar only sends images to Facebook at present and doesn’t support Twitter cards.
- If you would like to bypass the scheduler and post at a specific date and time, then click the “send at specific time” checkbox.
When you add a link, Edgar fetches a preview image from that page. This image only gets sent to Facebook at present. You can cycle through other images from the page to choose the best image for the post- just click on the arrows.
Edgar have created another way to get content into your content library- and that is through a browser extension.
Once installed, go to the page you want to share, and click on the Edgar button in your Chrome toolbar.
You’ll then get a pop up where you can select the accounts, category and text. The text is pre-filled from the page title and the URL of the page, although you can edit it as you choose.
Areas to improve
It’s amazing to see how mature and fully featured Edgar has become since June 2014. They’ve managed to add some great new features (such as the Chrome extension and bulk upload) whilst keeping the interface uncluttered. However, no tool is perfect, and there are definitely areas to improve and sort out. Here are my thoughts…
No easy way to change plan or cancel
The only way to cancel or change the plan you are on is to email Edgar at the moment. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case- perhaps it’s a technological issue? Whatever the issue is, there needs to be an easy way for people to cancel their account or to upgrade/downgrade. It’s just the right thing to do, and not having it will cause a lot of frustration amongst some users.
Expensive base plan and very expensive other plans
Update (February 2015)
Edgar has updated his prices, and instead of the big leap up from $49.99 to $449 there is a much more manageable $99/mth plan which gives you up to 25 accounts. Well done Edgar. I’ll leave the next few paragraphs in the article for posterity.
Rightly or wrongly, many people will compare Edgar to other similar social tools. It must be frustrating to social tool vendors, but that’s just the way it is. Buffer has a free plan, but their individual plan (called the “Awesome Plan”) is $9.99/mth. Hootsuite also has a free plan and their individual plan (called “Hootsuite Pro”) is $14.99/mth (or effectively $9.99/mth if you pay yearly). Buffer allows you to connect with up to 12 social accounts on their Awesome plan, and Hootsuite up to 50 on their pro plan. Compare this with Edgar’s individual plan that costs $49 where you can only add up to 10 accounts and it’s easy to view Edgar as expensive.
The other issue is that there is a ludicrous jump up from $49.99 to $449 per month for the business plan- and that only gives you 25 accounts! Then there is the agency plan which gives you 100 accounts for $999/mth. I am sure Edgar has his reasons for these prices, but they are going to be off-putting to many.
Limited number of connected accounts
I’ve covered this in part in the last point, but I think they need to offer more social media accounts for each plan – particularly for the individual plan. Although they could address this by reducing the cost of the business plan significantly.
No Google+ integration (yet)
I know Edgar has been working very hard to get access to the Google+ API. It’s difficult for social tools to work with Google+, but I do hope they can add that soon.
No Twitter card support
In my opinion, this is an important feature that is currently lacking. Edgar is all about sharing and managing content. Unfortunately it only shares text including a link when posting to Twitter. That means Edgar doesn’t embed images in Tweets or send information about the article. Twitter has a great feature called Twitter cards. You can embed images, videos and a summary of an article. It makes tweets much more visual and engaging. Other social tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, SproutSocial and MavSocial offer this, so I hope it won’t be long before Edgar does.
Only one bit.ly account
It’s great that Edgar supports bit.ly. This means you can track clicks on all your links from your bit.ly account (particularly useful since Edgar doesn’t yet offer reports or analytics). It also means you can use your custom short domain when sharing links. If you want to know more about short domains and how they can build brand awareness, have a read of an article I wrote entitled 8 Steps to Build Brand Awareness with Short Domains. However, Edgar currently only allows you to integrate with one bit.ly account and so use one custom domain. I manage my blog’s social media accounts (Seriously Social) and my web agency’s (Select Performers). I have a bit.ly account for Seriously Social (to.iag.me) and another one for Select Performers- (select.social). Unfortunately I had to choose one for Edgar. Buffer allows me to have a different bit.ly account for each social network which is fantastic. Having the ability to add multiple bit.ly accounts in Edgar will be particularly important for agencies who will manage multiple clients. They won’t all want to use the same custom short domain!
No ability to store assets individually to re-use with content
Although Edgar does store the assets (currently only photos- not videos or other content types), it doesn’t allow you to access these in a central digital assets library. Once you’ve created the text, added the photo and scheduled it, it gets stored in Edgar’s vault until its published. If you want to share that image again, you’ll have to re-upload it. Edgar could take a leaf from MavSocial’s book and list all previously uploaded digital assets so they are easy to access again. It would be a really useful feature to be able to bulk upload images and videos in one go.
Could do with integration with Canva or other image creation tool
Edgar will save you a lot of time- there is no doubt about that. However you still need to design your images, store them somewhere and then upload. In my last point I covered why Edgar should make it easy to access previously uploaded digital assets, but wouldn’t it be great if you could actually create your images within Edgar? It could be possible, if Edgar integrated with design tool Canva. Canva is a tool that makes it easy for non-designers to create professional and eye-catching images. Canva have an API and other social tools (such as Sendible) have integrated with them. How awesome would Edgar be if they added Canva integration?!
(Edgar now has analytics) Could do with basic analytics (similar to Buffer)
Update – November 27, 2014 – Edgar now has basic analytics. Whilst currently not quite as advanced as Buffer’s, it’s looking good and I’m looking forwards to seeing how this progresses!
I know Edgar is working on providing analytics. It would be great if you could quickly monitor how your campaigns are going- which updates are the most successful and which ones aren’t working. Hopefully they’ll add this soon.
The Chrome extension and bulk CSV uploader make it much easier to upload content to Edgar, but I think a WordPress plugin would be a great addition. Imagine being able to upload all your blog posts to a particular category in your Edgar library? Or perhaps you’d just like to upload posts from one category in your WordPress blog? Whilst they’re at it, they could add a feature where a new post gets added automatically to a specific category. Now we’re talking!
No team log in
I’ve only been testing the individual account, so I could be mistaken, but it seems that there is currently no facility for teams to log in with different accounts. This is going to be important for businesses and agencies- particularly as currently the individual’s personal LinkedIn and Facebook accounts are there for the taking. I hope that Edgar will make it easier for teams to manage an account and for an administrator to create sub accounts for team members with different roles. Ideally an administrator should be able to give an individual access to specific social accounts, or groups of social accounts and decide which features of Edgar they have access to. This is complex stuff, and very difficult to implement from a development point of view. Let’s see what happens!
What Others are Saying
Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at what others are saying about Edgar:
- Social Media Scheduling Tool Is My New Secret Sauce….ssssshhhh! (Julia Doherty, Green Umbrella)
- 14 Social Media Marketing Tools Recommended by the Pros (Cindy King, Social Media Examiner)
As I write this article, I haven’t quite decided yet, but I probably won’t be carrying on with Edgar once my trial has ended. It’s a difficult one, because I seriously love Edgar. I don’t often get as excited about a social tool as I have with Edgar. It’s so well thought out and the user interface is a joy to work with. Yes, I hope they add Twitter card support, multiple bit.ly accounts, integrate with Canva and gives us the ability to access and re-use previously uploaded assets. But, for me, the issue is down the cost. $49/mth as a base price is just too pricey- and that only gives me 10 social accounts and ideally we’d need more to get the most out of Edgar. The business plan which gives access to 25 social accounts would cost us an eye-watering $449/mth! (update, now that there is a $99/mth premium plan, cost is not so much of an issue!) If Edgar was the only social tool that we used, then perhaps this would be manageable, but like many businesses, we use a variety of tools to manage our social media channels.
However, I’ll continue to recommend Edgar to our clients and to other businesses. Whilst it is expensive, it really is a massive time saver and could actually save your business a significant amount of money. I’m just hoping that Edgar will have another little look at the prices and be a little more generous and realistic. Here’s hoping!
What do you think? Do you like the idea of Edgar? Let me know in the comments below!