Social media is where your customers are hanging out online. While they keep in touch with friends and family, you can use the various platforms to get your message in front of an engaged audience. Test out a social media management tool for free and try out their features before committing any dollars.
The Problem with Social Media Marketing
Many small business owners struggle with social media because it takes time to manage the many different social channels.
Time is money, and social media marketing is notoriously difficult when it comes to pinning down a concrete number for what you may be getting back from your investment. Paid ads are a different story, because each of the platforms usually provide a ton of data you can analyse.
However, the time spent finding and posting new content can be a daily grind for a lot of businesses - with not a lot of reward, at least not any which can be accurately tracked. Without regular content, your followers have no reason to keep coming back to your news feeds.
If you want your social media marketing to be effective, you need to keep your accounts regularly updated with interesting new content. You don’t want to spend hours every day sitting in front of the computer when you have clients to serve and a business to run, so you need options.
An affordable option for many businesses may be to incorporate the use of a good social media management tool to speed up the posting process.
Always Know What to Post.
For an Entire Year!
Maintaining a busy social media profile is critical to increasing engagement. But, coming up with ideas for posts day after day can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unproductive.
Angie Gensler's time-saving social media calendar is a powerful tool designed to help you regain control of your schedule.
How a Social Media Management Tool can Help
A social media management tool can take a lot of the load off your social media marketing efforts. Instead of showing up at the computer every morning, you can schedule a weekly sit-down and load up your schedule all in one go.
The best social media manager apps make it easy for you to find, collate, and schedule appropriate content for your chosen platforms. What used to take you a couple of hours every morning, can now be done in one or two hours every week or month.
As far as your audience and the social media platforms are concerned, it appears that you are diligently keeping your channel alive with fresh new content every day and engaging with your audience.
If you want to grow your followers, you will need to deliver material that interests them. The best social media manager apps make it more efficient to find posts with relevant content that you know will appeal to your target demographic.
If you don’t want to be completely left in the dark about engagement levels - followers won and followers lost, for example - a built-in analytics tool will help you track the posts which are rewarding you with the most engagement.
Choosing the Best Social Media Management Tool
Any business which has dabbled in digital marketing knows about the power of social media for bringing in new leads, attracting prospects, and keeping people engaged with the brand.
And if you were wondering about the ability of social media to bring in the profits, just consider the many billions of dollars Facebook is raking in from it’s advertising. Business managers wouldn’t be handing Facebook a huge chunk of their marketing budget if their efforts weren’t producing a decent return.
There’s no doubt that social media is effective for getting your message out there, but you don’t have to always pay for ads. And with social media posting software, you no longer must sit at the keyboard for hours in the day wondering what the heck you’re going to post next.
There are ton of options for automating your marketing with a good social media management tool, and if your needs are modest, many of them don’t cost a cent for the basic service. It took me a while to find out which service suited my business best, but here are some of the most useful platforms I have tried out along the way.
The selections below have free trials, and a few have free, but restricted, plans. Unfortunately, many platforms which did offer free options no longer do so. It’s an understandable situation given the cost of running powerful servers to ensure your scheduled posts go live. At least you get to try them out before you decide.
In the rest of this article, I will go over the various features of the following social media management tools:
Hootsuite is one of the most generous free plans on the market as far as I am aware. As a free subscriber you receive:
Hootsuite is one of the few free Pinterest schedulers on the market, even though the offering is basic in what it can do. A limit of 30 posts also means you could be sitting down at the computer every couple of days to automate your pins if your marketing budget can’t squeeze in a social media content scheduler.
A thirty post maximum is also extremely limiting if you are using the Facebook post scheduler, Twitter post scheduler, or both. It won’t take long before your queue is full, and it will empty fast.
Fortunately, the paid plan gives you access to 10 social media profiles, unlimited posting, and the ability to link RSS feeds and schedule out fresh content from those. I don’t like how the RSS feature will schedule out everything in the RSS. I like to choose and approve first, but Hootsuite requires a separate paid plugin for that functionality.
Buffer has been serving social media posts for its members for a long time now, making it somewhat of a granddaddy in the industry.
The platform is fully featured, and scheduling content is as fast and simple as browsing the web when you use their chrome extension.
Another handy feature is that Buffer keeps track of the busiest periods on the social platforms. Suggestions by Buffer about when to post should help you get more people viewing your content.
You can start using Buffer with a 7-day trial, which allows you to connect to 8 social accounts and schedule 100 posts.
Buffer analytics for premium accounts are robust with plenty of metrics to dive into. You can review the reach and engagement of Instagram Stories, receive strategy recommendations based on your activity, and create reports to share with your social marketing team.
After the trial you are bumped down to 3 accounts and can schedule up to 10 posts in advance. Pinterest posters will need to continue with a paid account to gain access to scheduling pins.
3. TweetDeck - A Social Media Management Tool for Twitter Users
If you are a big user of Twitter, then TweetDeck is an absolute essential. You can customize timelines, manage your lists, and create team accounts, monitor messages, and quickly check what’s trending. The best bit is that TweetDeck is free to all Twitter members.
TweetDeck is a one-trick pony and only works for Twitter. However, if you’re managing multiple accounts and teams, then it’s an excellent tool for providing you a bird’s eye view of what’s happening.
Not only does SocialOomph have one of the best names for a social media scheduler in the industry, it’s also one of the most fully featured platforms.
You may only get one social profile on the free and lower tiered plans, but an unlimited number of scheduled posts is hard to pass up. On the downside, if you were looking for a free Pinterest scheduler, you may be disappointed that you can only connect a single board.
SocialOomph has everything you would expect from a competent social media scheduler, plus a few you might not. You can schedule your blog posts and keep your Twitter DM inbox clean.
5. Zoho Social - A Social Media Management Tool and CRM Combined
Zoho are a one-stop shop for managing everything about your online presence including CRM, Finance, IT management, and even HR. The platform also provides advanced reporting features to help track that all important level of engagement.
There are agency and business plans available and they have a free trial which does not require a credit card for signing up. Once your free trial expires you automatically revert to the free plan which includes 1 brand and 1 team member.
You will still be able to publish your posts for the Zoho platform, but the scheduler is only available with a paid plan.
SocialBee is my platform of choice. I was in the market for a Pinterest scheduler, so when AppSumo posted a lifetime discount offer for SocialBee, I jumped in. The platform integrates with Hootsuite’s API for posting to Pinterest, but it works well enough for my purposes. Hopefully, Pinterest will come to the party soon and approve SocialBee as a partner.
The best thing about SocialBee for me, is the ability to create variations on evergreen content. Instead of posting the same image and content every week, you can create multiple variations and add variety to your feed. You can change images, hashtags, and descriptions to deliver the same meaning, but in a slightly different way.
A recent upgrade that promises to save a lot of time are hashtag collections. Now you don’t need to remember or type in a long list of hashtags on every post you create. Throw related hashtags into a collection and call them up as needed.
Another handy addition to SocialBee is being able to add RSS feeds to automatically grab your newsworthy items. Instead of hunting all over the web for interesting content every day, all you need do is add your favourite sites’ RSS news feeds into SocialBee.
The software will then grab all the latest feeds and push them into the categories you have previously set up. You can auto approve every post, but I like to spend a couple of minutes going through and approving relevant posts each morning. It doesn't take long, and I'm making sure only relevant content goes out to my platforms.
The scheduling tool, while not as fully featured as some other offerings, will suit most bloggers and small business owners and it’s very easy to use.
Click on a blank time slot, select the category you want to post, and set your time. It takes just a few minutes to set up a schedule that will take care of all your posts for the week, using a mix of evergreen content, promotional material, and newsworthy items from your favourite authority blogs.