Of course you want to wish all of your social media followers a happy New Year, but what happens if you're stuck in traffic? Out of signal? Surrounded my masses killing your data connectivity? Here's how to get your holiday greetings lined up ahead of time.
We're going to use a couple of our favourite online tools for the job: IFTTT and Buffer. You can sign up and use both services for free, so pick whichever one suits your needs best — we'll show you the step-by-step process for each one. Buffer also has a series of pricing plans available that grant you access to some extra features.
Scheduling updates with IFTTT
If you've not used IFTTT before, it stands for If This Then That. It plugs into hundreds of apps and services and lets you specify triggers that result in actions. So a weather report might prompt a text, an Instagram favourite might prompt a Dropbox download, a Twitter hashtag might prompt a change of colour for your Philips Hue lights, and so on and so on.
Here we just want to schedule an update on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social networks supported by IFTTT. Once you've got yourself an account and signed in, go to My Recipes and then choose Create a Recipe. You can either use Date & Time or Is It Christmas? as your "this" trigger.
It's probably easiest to use the Date & Time one, especially if you want to include New Year — select Every year on then set the date and time accordingly. Your "that" action is going to be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr or whichever social network you want to post to. If you haven't yet activated the channel in question you'll need to provide your credentials.
Take Facebook for example: Your next move is to select Create a status message, write out your message and then click Create Action. Double-check everything on the recipe review screen and you're good to go. You can of course edit this recipe to suit your own needs — you can send a text to a special someone, send an email to up to five recipients, turn on your smart Christmas lights automatically (if IFTTT supports them) and more.
Scheduling updates with Buffer
Buffer is a bit more straightforward and primarily focuses on scheduling (or "buffering") updates for your Twitter and Facebook accounts. The app lets you queue up future posts in a variety of different ways but here we're concentrating on broadcasting a message at a particular time and date.
Sign up for a free Buffer account if you need to, and log in through the web interface. You can add new social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) through the column on the left. Once that's done, choose the network in question and start composing your post.
Click the drop-down arrow next to Add to Queue then pick Schedule Post. Here you want to choose Christmas Day or New Year's Day and an appropriate time. Select Schedule and everything's good to go — you can see the scheduled post in your upcoming queue, and Buffer will send it out at the specified time.
Buffer is a more straightforward app to use but then IFTTT does give you a bit more flexibility in terms of actions, so opt for whichever one you prefer. It's one way of avoiding the frustration of trying to send a message at five minutes past midnight on January 1 when the data networks are staggering under the strain.