“Why would I need social media tools to run my business online?” you might ask. After all you have Facebook and Twitter. You use Instagram and Snapchat. You know how it all works.
Well, we might use social media everyday in our loves but anyone that has ever run social for a business will know that managing social marketing is far from a walk in the park.
To really stand out takes a lot of effort. Online consumers have a strong filter for ads and unless your ad is unique, striking and thought-provoking you just won’t cut through the noise. Every element needs to work, from the image to the copy to the message needs to work together to capture user’s attention.
But if you don’t have the budget to hire a content-strategist, graphic designer and copywriter for social, we have the list for you. We’ve put together the essential social media marketing tools that you can use 100% for free.
This is the holy grail of social media marketers who don’t have an in-house designer or don’t have great design skills. Canva gives you a selection of pre-designed templates, catering to the social channel of your choice. If you want to create a Facebook banner, there is a template on Canva that has already made to the required size. You can also find plenty of photos, icons, illustrations and you can adjust the colours as you wish you can use in the creation of your social media assets. Canva is a free tool to use. There are premium images and items that are charged at $1 each, but if you are on a budget, the free options will do just fine.
Pixabay has a selection of over 900,000 free images for you to choose and unlike some free-use image websites the images don’t all look cheesy. This makes it a great tool for really standing out on social platforms. All the images are free from copyright so you can use them in any way you want. An advantage of Pixabay is that it has a wide selection of images so you have more chances to find the suitable ones for your post. A downside is that it may take some time to right the right image, but you will find it.
Unsplash is another photo bank where you can find copyright-free images. The database is not as big as Pixabay, only over 200,000 photos. However, the quality is amazing and guarantee a beautiful post. They are contributions from community photographers, and there are new photos added everyday. When it comes the social marketing the image used it the most crucial element for grabbing the users attention. If you image is not impressive you might as well not bother, so this is a great tool to have in your belt.
Have you ever run into a situation where you don’t know which colour is right for the design? Maybe you just don’t have an eye for colour. Or maybe you’re genuinely colour blind. A simple, beautiful design is made of four elements:
- Visual, which is made from the colour, image and font
There are colour theories that guide you in combining colours. However, you don’t have to worry too much about that since Paletton creates a super easy to use tool to help you find good colour combinations. All you need to do is choose a colour (most likely your brand colour or the main colour of the design), the tool will give you the other options that go well with your chosen colour. All you have to do is copy the codes and use in the design for your social media image.
Now that you don’t have to worry about the design, the next step is to ensure that your social media post has a good message. Grammarly helps you check the writing and correct errors. It will scan your test and spot spelling, grammatical errors and word choice. It may seem pretty basic but it is a great safety net even if you have a great attention to detail.
After all not every tool you use in your social media campaign has to help you do something you can’t. Helping you do what you can faster is just as beneficial.
If you want to promote an article on social media, Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule helps you create a catchy headline. The tool analyses and gives recommendations on how to create effective, SEO-optimised headlines that drive traffic and shares.
There is a lot of theory that goes into headline analysis. In fact some people build entire careers around being able to write great headlines. You can’t expect to hit those levels just by using this tool to write the headings for your posts on Facebook or your Tweets but by running your ideas through it each time you will slowly get a feel for what works and what doesn’t
You can use URL Builder to customise the links so that Google Analytics is able to track them properly. Without a customised URL, a generic link will be recorded with Facebook as the source, but you won’t be able to see more than that, such as which post drives more traffic, especially if you have the same landing page for several posts. The URL Builder allows you to categorise the posts and track them properly. The final URL will look pretty long and scary, but don’t worry, as Google has already integrated a URL shortener into the tool.
This tool is crucial because if you don’t know how the traffic that came to your website via various social channels is interacting with your website, you won’t know if what you are doing is effective. Using this tool will allow you to identify your best performing posts and Tweets and realign your social strategy accordingly.
Now that you have a great design, a well-written message and an effective URL, the next step is to schedule them on the channels. Buffer is one of the top freemium social media management tools out there where you can manage activities on various channels. With a free plan, you can connect to one account per platform. The downside of the free tool is that you won’t be able to use Buffer analytics tool.
This tool is crazy important for keeping consistent with your social presence. Social media is your opportunity to seem active and vibrant to your online audience but actively posting can be really time consuming. Use Buffer to ensure your feeds don’t languish.
Stay on top of the trends by using Google Alerts. Simply enter your keywords and Google will automatically notify you when the topic is being talked about online. You can also track your brand mentions and know who is talking about you. It’s a free, simple and easy tool to use and can be effective as a social tool as it helps you provide an instant reaction to things that happen online with minimum effort.
When someone mentions you all it takes is a quick Retweet or share on Facebook to interact with them. This helps to: validate their interest in your blog or brand; encourage others to talk and mention you in their content; and shows people already engaged with you that you are relevant and talked about.
BuzzSumo is another tool for you to know what is being shared about the net. With a free account, you can conduct five searches about for your chosen keywords. The tool will let you know the best-performing articles relating to those keywords, where there are being shared. If you upgrade to the paid version, you will be able to view the sharers and back link sources.
The type of content that does well on social is often very replicable. If you want to create content for your niche it makes sense to look at what has been successful in the past on various social platforms.
Author: Khanh Tran
Khanh Tran oversees influencer collaborations at Villa-Finder.com, a leading villa booking and distribution platform in Asia. Khanh has also contributed to various media and magazines like KarryOn, SingaporeMotherhood and Family Capers.