Five social media management tools you wish you’d known about sooner
Social Media is one of the most popular online activities with an estimated 2.65 billion people using social networks worldwide (Statista, 2019). If you’re a social media manager or small business owner, it’s likely that you’re managing multiple social accounts at one time, perhaps for multiple clients, maybe even across different timezones… sounds stressful right?
By using social media management tools, the workload of managing multiple social media platforms can be cut in half, so today, I want to share with you some of the best free tools on the internet.
What Are Social Media Scheduling Tools Useful For?
The tools which are created for scheduling are a social media manager’s (or small business owner’s) best friend, not only do they allow you to have better time management, they also allow you to keep track of multiple social media profiles at once.
Many of these tools also give you the gift of being able to analyse the data for everything you post! You can then use this data to build a more accurate plan for your business or clients’ needs. Whether that’s to find key posting times or to learn what kind of posts create the most engagement and traffic, these tools are worth getting your hands on, especially if they’re free.
What Social Media Management Tools Are on the Market?
There is an extensive selection of free tools on the market for managing social media platforms, so it’s undoubtedly about finding the one(s) which match your goals and expectations. The tools that I’m going to be mentioning in this piece are all free and easy to grasp, even for complete beginners to social media management.
Buffer is a platform that supports you to schedule posts for sites such as Facebook (pages and groups), Instagram (personal and business profiles), Twitter and Linkedin (profiles and pages). Buffer can also integrate with Pinterest but only if you upgrade to one of their paid options.
Buffer’s vision is for its users to have “a unique voice on social media, and to be able to increase engagement and reach of posts by targeting the message to the right audience on each social network.”
As such, the platform allows you to set up custom posting schedules based on how often you would like to post and at what times, on each platform. These schedules can be the same or completely different for each social media channel. This means if you have clients based in different countries, you can set up their individual posting schedule in the correct timezone, regardless of where you yourself are based!
Likewise, you can also choose to post the same content across all of your accounts or select just the accounts you want for that particular piece of content; this allows the scheduling process to be even quicker.
Buffer enables you to quickly customise your content for each network too, i.e. to allow for different character limits or platforms that don’t work so great for link sharing, like Instagram. You can also adapt your posting times or schedule additional posts outside of your set posting schedule using the ‘Schedule Post’ option.
The Buffer free plan also offers basic analytics, so once you’ve posted you’re able to view how well the posts did. The more you post the more data Buffer has to analyse and it will then advise you if a post did better or worse the previous times it was scheduled.
On the Buffer Free Plan, you can have one user (one login) and up to 3 social media accounts linked up, with 10 items in each queue. There are a variety of paid plans too, starting at as little as $15/month, which are great if you’re looking after several clients with multiple accounts or would like additional users.
Hootsuite runs similarly to Buffer, but you have the added extra of being able to view social streams on several social media networks at once, allowing you to view what’s happening on each platform simultaneously.
One of the major benefits of Hootsuite is that you are able to track certain keywords or social media platforms to find activity surrounding a specific topic. So, if you’re looking to follow your own brand name it allows you to respond to any negative comments quickly and effectively, likewise, you can keep track of positive comments too and feed these back into your wider marketing!
Hootsuite is also great for spying on your competitors as it allows you to set up social streams for multiple accounts and have them open at the same time, allowing you to monitor your competition in real-time.
On the Hootsuite Free Plan, you can have one user (one login) and 3 social profiles, with 30 scheduled messages at any one time.
TweetDeck is a fantastic resource for Twitter users, not only for scheduling posts but for a variety of other reasons, such as allowing you to watch your feed, direct messages, and notifications, whilst also seeing what’s trending all at the same time. You can even monitor your competitors’ feeds too!
Like Hootsuite, TweetDeck allows you to customise your dashboard. So, whether you want to check out what’s trending, monitor a specific hashtag (or several hashtags), or keep an eye on your mentions to allow you to interact with your customers in real-time, you can modify your dashboard to suit your needs.
Another great feature of TweetDeck is the ability to respond to your notifications within the site, so you don’t end up missing anything important. Oh, and as long as you have a Twitter account, TweetDeck is ready to go — simply log in with your Twitter profile details and you’re away!
Have you ever seen those social profiles where they’ve created one big image spanning across 9 squares of their Instagram feed? This is done through a visual tool such as UNUM.
What started as an app for mobile-only, has now branched out into a fully-fledged scheduling tool for Instagram users. UNUM has branded itself as a ‘visual storytelling’ platform, enabling you to not only plan and schedule content in advance but actually see what your Instagram feed will look like when you publish your next 1, 3, or 13 posts!
Simply drag and drop images and videos into your feed and rearrange to your heart’s content…
UNUM for Instagram also allows you to ‘dive into your data’ — find out your key times for posting in a graph format and learn when your target audience is more likely to engage. UNUM’s analytics feature also shares popular hashtags that have been used in prior posts and advises you of these for future posts.
On the UNUM Free Plan, you get 18 grids (to visually plan your content layout), 3 tags (to store and reuse later), and 500 uploads per month. Similar ‘visual’ scheduling apps for Instagram include Planoly and Later, both of which also have Free Plan options.
Ok, so Google Analytics isn’t technically a scheduling tool, but what use is spending a bunch of time and effort working on your social media strategy if you can’t track ROI (return on investment)?!
With Google Analytics you can view what does well on your site, where your traffic comes from and more in-depth information about your demographics; from age, gender and location right down to the devices which are used the most to view your content.
Google Analytics enables you to breakdown your traffic data, providing insights into which platforms are working best for you, i.e. referring the most traffic, allowing you to make informed decisions about which platforms to invest in further and which ones to stop sinking time into for little to no return!
Who Should Use These Social Media Management Apps?
Anyone can use these apps, ranging from a personal blog to a corporate company. If you’re new to social media management or looking for some tools to organise your social media presence, these five tools may just change how you work, bring more views to your content, and better traffic to your website each and every day.
Need help managing your social media accounts? From completely hands-off ‘done-for-you’ packages to more interactive hands-on learning so that you can manage your own accounts going forward — I can help you grow your social media network and boost your influence amongst your audience base. Claim your FREE 30-minute initial consultation today or get in touch to discuss your needs.