How do I use bulk scheduling?

New to Sprout Social? Learn how our Bulk Scheduling functionality fits into our social media publishing suite here.

What is bulk scheduling?

Bulk scheduling is a great way to add content to your content calendar for your profiles. Use Bulk Scheduling to:

  • Speed up your workflow - create up to 350 messages containing tags, links and images with a single import.
  • Keep your process - rename columns for importing into Sprout.
  • Adapt importing for your preferences. Import messages as Scheduled Messages or Drafts for additional flexibility or revising.

Note: Bulk Scheduling is available on Professional and Advanced plans. Trial customers can upload up to 50 messages per import.

This article contains the following sections:

How do I format my .CSV for bulk scheduling?

Before you create your bulk schedule import, you need to create a .CSV file. Sprout provides a sample template or you can download it here.

Note: .XLS files aren't supported. If you're using Excel, export your spreadsheets as .CSV files and  verify that proper formatting was maintained. If you are using Google Sheets, save your spreadsheet as a .CSV to avoid formatting errors.

All column headers are case sensitive. The following column headers are required for the .CSV to work in Sprout. If these column headers are deleted or edited, the messages won't import successfully:

  • date - Must be in dd/mm/yyyy or mm/dd/yyyy format, depending on the the import preferences you specify in Sprout.
  • time_24hr - Must be in 24-hour format. Messages must be scheduled at least 10 minutes apart from one another, and at least 10 minutes after the time you upload the .CSV to Sprout.
  • message_text - The message's text. The message text can't exceed the maximum character count for the network.
    • Note: If you include a link in the message_text column when you’re scheduling posts for Facebook or LinkedIn, and don't include the link in the link_url column, Sprout automatically adds the last URL in the message text to the link_url column to use as the target for the link post.

The following column headers are optional, but are also case-sensitive:

  • link_url - The link included with the message. These should be well-formed links, including HTTP or HTTPS (ex. https://www.sproutsocial.com, not www.sproutsocial.com). Not currently compatible with Tweets. To include a link in a Tweet, add the link to the message_text column. For Facebook, the link isn't required in the text of the post, so you can add it to the link_url column. Instagram doesn't support clickable links in posts.
  • instagram_first_comment - The copy for an Instagram first comment. This column in the .CSV is ignored for personal Instagram profiles and other networks.
  • public_image_url - Link to the image you want to include in the message. This must be a publicly accessible link that doesn't require a login to view. For more information, see image considerations in this article. 
  • tags - Specify which tags to apply to the message. These tags must exist in your Sprout account. Separate multiple tags with a comma.
  • approval_workflow_name - Specify an existing Approval Workflow (per row). All messages are submitted for approval after bulk upload.
    • Note: As a best practice, turn off Message Approval notification emails when bulk scheduling a large volume of messages requiring approval. 

You can add additional columns to your spreadsheet if you or your team rely on additional columns to help enable better organization or collaboration. These won't affect your import.

What if my posts/messages contain emojis?

If you're using emojis or international characters in posts/messages, use Google Sheets instead of Excel to avoid strange or incorrectly formatted imports. This is due to Excel improperly encoding the Emojis and Characters when saving as a .CSV. As a workaround, save the .CSV as UTF-8. Excel does NOT do this by default.

How do I bulk schedule in Sprout?

You can find bulk scheduling from the When to Post section in Compose or from the Content Calendar.

Screen_Shot_2022-03-04_at_2.09.50_PM.png

Navigate to Publishing > Calendar and click  Smart_Inbox_Overflow_Menu.png   then Bulk Post Import. The Import Posts popup appears.

Screen_Shot_2022-03-04_at_2.11.19_PM.png

Note: Sprout recommends scheduling your posts for no more than six months in the future. 

To complete the import:

  1. Open the Import Posts popup from either Compose or the Content Calendar.
  2. Select the profiles you want to schedule messages for.
    Screen_Shot_2022-03-04_at_2.27.08_PM.png
  3. Drag your .CSV into the window or browse for the .CSV on your device.
  4. Select the date format you want to use.
  5. (Optional) Enter the tags you want applied to all posts.
  6. (Optional) Select to Schedule posts as Drafts and/or Shorten Link URLs with Bit.ly
  7. Click Start Import.

If the .CSV file fails validation, an error message appears with details about the failed import. If Sprout detects any errors in the formatting of your messages, you can download a separate .CSV file of the messages that couldn't be imported.

Depending on the number of messages included in the .CSV, the import process can take some time. You can close the import window and use Sprout as normal. You will receive an email when the import is complete.

What image considerations should I keep in mind?

When accessing links from services such as Google Drive or Dropbox, ensure that the URL directs to the image itself, and not a page showing the image. Typically the end URL contains the image format (png, jpg, etc.)

When pulling links from Google Drive specifically,  select Get a Shareable Link as seen in the image below.

It's best to use public links for images. To make your images public, use one of the following resources:

  • Dropbox
    1. Find an image in your Dropbox.
    2. Click on the image and select the “Share” button in the upper-right corner.
    3. Select the “create link” link and paste the created link into the public_image_url column of your .CSV.
  • Public Server
    1. Host desired images on your own website or server.
    2. Copy and paste the URL into the public_image_url column of your .CSV.
  • Currently public and available images
    Copy and paste direct URLs of desired images into the public_image_url column of your CSV.

#SproutTip: An easy way to determine if your public_image_url is valid is to paste the link in a private or incognito browser window and see if it renders properly.

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