Running a social media marketing campaign can be a daunting and time-consuming task. With so many platforms available, and with each one often requiring daily attention, you may not know where to start.
Luckily, there are plenty of quality tools available to help you manage your social media marketing. From multi-platform scheduling tools to blog idea generators to graphic design apps, you can find everything you need to get started in this list. And best of all, you don’t need to spend a cent, if you don’t want to.
All of these apps are either free or have a generous free tier that isn’t overly feature-limited. Let’s get started.
The key to successful social media marketing is posting consistently and frequently. According to studies, the average number of Tweets per day for maximum engagement is three, and on both Facebook and Google+, sharing two to three times per day is recommended.
To do this in real time, every day, can take a lot of effort and planning. Buffer is a scheduling app that allows you to set when you would like posts to be shared from your accounts – and then does the sharing automatically for you.
About.com says the app saves them, “one to two hours a day,” has doubled their Facebook followers, and has increased Twitter followers by 60% in the past year.
The app is compatible with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest and you are allowed to add one account from each platform for free.
Buffer also offers some insightful analytics on your posts such as comments, clicks, reach, and shares.
Like Buffer, Hootsuite also offers post scheduling.
But its most useful feature is that it allows you to consolidate all your social platforms’ streams into one place. You can easily navigate between timelines, notifications, messages and more for each platform with a single click.
Hootsuite was originally designed for Twitter but now it is compatible with Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Mixi and most recently, YouTube.
The free version also offers a social media report, giving stats on most popular links, top referrers and more.
Circloscope is a management tool for Google+ that has everything you need for managing your circles. It comes as an extension for the Google Chrome browser and lets you:
- Remove inactive profiles
- Remove profiles not circling you back
- Add users from shared circles and posts
- Find and add influencers
The free version is fully functional, but if you want to add and remove people in bulk, a $ 47/year Premium upgrade allows you to do just that.
Followerwonk by Moz is a one-stop shop for Twitter account management. The web app has a multitude of functions to optimize your Twitter account and marketing. You can:
- Track followers
- Organize followers by certain characteristics such as influence, keywords or number of tweets
- Analyze accounts, including those that don’t follow you
- Track when followers are most active
In any case, with such a small window of opportunity, you need to make sure your tweets are being seen by the maximum number of followers – and this functionality lets you pinpoint the prime time for posting. It also features Buffer integration to create a posting schedule based on your optimal times.
The free version does have some limits, and to manage multiple accounts or for more advanced analytics, upgrades start at $ 29/month.
It’s all well and good having a big following on Twitter, but this does little for business if the majority of your audience is unengaged.
ManageFlitter is a Twitter follower management tool. It helps you to analyze your audience to see who is engaged and who is not. The app displays your followers in order of who has followed you most recently and displays statistics such as if they are following you and when they were last active.
You can go through the list and remove accounts that are inactive, spammy or offering little engagement. The free plan lets you unfollow 200 accounts a day. For more features, reporting and unlimited unfollows, paid plans start at $ 12/month.
SocialPilot is a social media management app similar to Buffer and Hootsuite – aimed specifically at online stores.
The free version of the app allows you to schedule posts and even offers content suggestions, but its unique selling point is the integration it offers with your online store.
It allows you to send out branded Facebook posts and pictures of products directly from your site. Connect Pinterest, Instagram or other image-based sites to maximize product sales.
Zapier describes itself as an app that “moves info between web pages automatically.” It links applications together so that an action in one automatically performs an action in another.
Zapier has a multitude of uses but it can be used to automate your social media marketing by share content across multiple channels with one click. You can link your Facebook to Twitter or Twitter to Pinterest, for example, so that when you share on the first platform the same post is shared automatically on both platforms.
Zapier offers a number of platform combinations such as Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and many others.
The free plan allows you up to five, two-step “Zaps,” with upgraded accounts starting at $ 20/month for 20+ Zaps.
It can be tough coming up with content ideas that will resonate with your target audience. BuzzSumo takes the stress and guesswork out of this by allowing you to look at what is already working in your industry or niche.
Matthew Barby of Hubspot describes BuzzSumo as the “most important tool” he uses for content marketing and SEO. With BuzzSumo you can search a specific keyword, topic or industry and it will show you the most popular related articles.
It also breaks down the number of shares each article has on each of the main social platforms, and who exactly has linked to them and shared them.
BuzzSumo offers another free feature that is extremely useful: Influencer Search. This function allows you to search for other people in the social sphere who are making marks in your field. Then you can follow these people or just look at what they are doing to get an idea of what marketing strategies are working well.
9. Portent Content Idea Generator
Content is the driving force behind your social media campaign and it can be tough constantly coming up with titles for your blog posts. Portent’s content idea generator is a web app that instantly gives you potential post title suggestions when you type in a keyword. It’s quick, easy to use, and best of all, free.
Using images as part of your social media strategy is a surefire way to maximize engagement.
A study by Social Bakers found that 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook were photos. In a study by Skyword, posts with relevant photographs or infographics had 94% more views than those that didn’t.
But editing your own images can be complicated and costly if you use one of the popular paid solutions such as Photoshop. Canva offers an easy-to-use design suite with the convenience of editing a large number of image types including:
- Blog graphics
- Facebook cover pictures
- Facebook posts
- Twitter posts
It has drag-and-drop functionality so you can quickly create professional looking images in minutes, and you can also apply filters to images – and add text. There is a selection of free fonts, templates, and backgrounds you can choose from, with premium options available for purchase starting at $ 1.
URLs can get a bit long sometimes and sharing them can look untidy and unprofessional. Bitly condenses your links into a smaller format. All you have to do is copy and paste a link into the Bitly homepage and it converts it for you on the spot.
Finding the people that are influential in your niche is an important part of an effective social media strategy. Not only can you network with them, but you can also look at what they are doing that is effective so that you can implement it yourself.
Klear is a powerful influencer research tool that is informative and easy to use. Simply search a keyword and it will display a list of the top ten influencers in your industry.
You will also be given the following statistics about the influencer:
You can search any influencer you already have the name of to check them out. This search will give you in-depth information including:
- Top content on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
- Activity and responsiveness levels
As well as coming up with original ideas for content for your social media strategy to be on point, you need to keep up to date with what your competitors are doing. Feedly gives you a feed of the latest blogs from sites in your industry.
You can choose a list of blogs compiled by Feedly, or you can compile your own. If you compile your own list, Neil Patel of Quicksprout recommends only selecting sites of the highest quality because, “if you start mixing in lower quality sites, you’ll have to dig around through the bad content to find good content to share,” defeating the purpose of using Feedly as a filter.
14. Social Mention
Once you’ve started publishing quality content, you need to be able to see how far it reaches people so you know what works.
Social Mention is perfect for this as it tracks over 100 social media sites to see where your company is being mentioned. It breaks down the search into 4 main categories:
It also includes useful information such as who has mentioned you and the top keywords in each mention.
15. Google Analytics
Once your social media strategy is in full swing you need to be able to look at the effect it is having on your site.
Google Analytics is, by far, the most popular and powerful free analytic tool out there. It takes a few steps to connect Analytics to your website but just follow their instructions. Once connected, Google Analytics has an abundance of robust information to help you understand your website growth like:
- Gender of visitors
- Country of origin
- Bounce rate of each individual page (how long visitors stay on your site before leaving)
- Returning visitors
- Devices used (e.g. tablet, mobile, laptop)
- Operating system used
You can use this information to monitor the success of current campaigns and plan what you will change in the future.
LikeAlyzer is a fabulous tool for optimizing your Facebook Business Page and checking out your competitors.
Simply type the URL of your Facebook Page into LikeAlyzer’s homepage and a number of statistics about your page will show up – as well as some recommendations for improvement.
The app will give your page a ranking out of 100 to give you a rough idea on how it’s doing. It also displays stats such as likes and engagement rate and will tell you how this compares to the industry average.
You can repeat the same process for competitors’ pages. Social media examiner recommends paying, “close attention to suggestions the tool spits out.”
Wrapping It Up
Online marketing doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t have to do everything manually, yourself. Investing some time into learning how to use popular tools and apps can save you a ton of time in the long run, as well as give you insights into the performance of your marketing strategies.
From using Hootsuite to automate your social media scheduling to using Klear to connect with top influencers in your industry – all the way to using Google Analytics to gain a better picture of your overall tactics – it will help your business measure goals and successes with your marketing strategies.
The best thing about these tools and apps is that you don’t need a big budget to access them.
Over to you – what social media marketing tools do you like the best? Or, if we haven’t mentioned your favorite, let us know in the comments below.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community