Regardless of the type of business you run, this list of free social media management tools and resources will contain one or more that will work for you. Tried and tested, these tools will help you leverage the power of your social networks to convert connections into customers. They will save you time (and money) and help you focus your marketing efforts only on activities that bring real value to your business.
By installing the free browser extension you can fill your ‘buffer’ with great articles that you find online. The free plan allows you to schedule 10 updates at a time per social network (Linkedin, Twitter. Google+ and Facebook). Its awesome (paid for) plan removes the post-scheduling limit and allows a total of 12 social profiles.
Strategy Tip 1: Use the BufferApp browser extension to schedule posts you find online, rather then dumping them into your social media feed all in one go. You can edit your tweets to curate content you share and explain to your followers why it’s useful for them to read. You can then track analytics for your buffer-posted social media updates — how many RTs, clicks, comments they received.
Strategy Tip 2: You can add a free WordPress plugin Buffer Old Post to your website or blog and automatically share older content on a regular basis on selected social networks. This will drive traffic to your website and will give your followers something they can share with their networks too. Using Google Analytics you can measure the increase in traffic and how well it’s converting into leads and customers.
Most parts of it can be made to work in exactly the same way that Google Reader did. Its interface can be newspaper-like or image-centric, depending on your preference. It has included a syncing service that will sync with popular apps together with recommendations and keyboard shortcuts.
Strategy Tip 3: You can add feeds to blogs you follow and that your customers and clients will find useful. Then you can regularly check new posts – all from one place – and share the most useful articles using built-in sharing buttons or using your BufferApp account.
This has to be one of the best social media tools that is actually free. Social profiles on Facebook and Twitter can be viewed at the same time and ‘streams’ can be organized as you prefer. It is very similar to Hootsuite in functionality but with less options. Hootsuite’s pro version is well worth the extra money but as a free tool Tweetdeck is very popular.
Hootsuite’s free plan allows five social media profiles to be connected. You can pre-schedule posts and it’s a great tool to for having all your social media under one roof. Its has more features than BufferApp and the Pro plan offers unlimited social profiles, Google Analytics integration and Facebook Insights integration. Monitoring of social profiles is achieved efficiently from Hootsuite’s dashboard.
Strategy Tip 4: Play with either of those tools to choose the one you like best of all. If you go with Hootsuite, set up your reports to monitor social media activity — basic reporting for Twitter and Facebook, and your bit.ly link clicks will be included in free reports. From my experience, the Pro account is well worth the investment for the amount of analytics and functionality you get – more advanced reporting on Facebook and Twitter, Google Analytics integraion. You could also use the Hootlet app in your browser (similar to BufferApp) to share useful articles and resources as you find them online on your selected social network.
This is a must have for watching the Internet, keeping track of who is talking about you and your business. E-mail updates are sent to you with the latest Google results, which are based on keywords you wish to track. It’s ideal for showing you how large your media coverage is, how fast Google is indexing your content and lets you address negative or positive comments and reviews with speed.
Strategy Tip 5: Set up alerts for your domain, business name, personal name and selected keywords. You can also track your competitors to see what they are up to and what content they share (if relevant).
6. DiggDigg (WordPress plugin)
This tool, now part of BufferApp, makes it really easy for visitors to your website to share your posts on various social network platforms. The floating bar on a blog simplifies the process of sharing and the WordPress plugin is free. You can get an account with DiggDigg to get social media analytics of shares for your blog posts.
Strategy Tip 6: Ensure your blog has a sharing toolbar enabled so readers can share your posts with their followers. If you don’t want to (or can’t for any reason) use DiggDigg, search and select another social media sharing option for your website.
This is an essential tool to analyze and improve your Twitter activity. You can check what tweets perform better and generate more engagement, what Twitter cards generate more clicks and shares, overview of your followers’ demographics.
Strategy Tip 7: Login to your Analytics and review the information available. Make a list of three actionable improvements you can make with how you are using Twitter with the help of the data available.
Facebook’s Edgerank provides analytics that allow you to choose when to post content to reach the most people in your network. It shows you which post types work best and when, who your most active followers are and can help you benchmark your marketing efforts against your competition. Data is similar to Facebook Insights (which you get with your Facebook Page in all cases) and for more detailed breakdown on posts’ performance you can use Facebook’s Power Editor. Choose either option to monitor and optimize your marketing efforts on Facebook.
Strategy Tip 8: Try Facebook analytics tools on offer to choose the one you like most, make a habit (and a calendar reminder) to check your results at least monthly and tweak and optimize what and when you post based on this data.
If you would like to get detailed data on your followers, try this free online tool. You can find out information about people you follow (location, keywords, age, income), about people that follow you and most importantly – when you should be tweeting based on hours your followers are most active. You can compare several Twitter account and use Twitter Search integration to look up new users you could follow based on keywords. With a paid account you can also track your followers/follows performance with a set of pretty charts and graphs and manage, filter and search your followers to manage your audience more effectively.
Strategy Tip 9: Review your Twitter followers to work out what times you need to tweet to get more engagement. Compare your account with those of your competitors to see what they do differently on Twitter — is there anything you can do differently or adopt on your marketing strategy?
Tailwindapp offers you free and premium versions of analytics and reporting dashboard for your Pinterest account. You can easily see which boards and pins perform better: get higher engagement, virality, more shares and comments. You can analyze your followers and which content will be most useful for them. Integration with Google Analytics will help you track how much traffic is generated from your pinning efforts and how much of that traffic converts into leads and customers.
Strategy Tip 10: If you are using Pinterest as part of your marketing efforts, make sure to sign up for a free account and review how effective your marketing efforts have been so far. Create an actionable improvement plan for your Pinterest business account.
Bonus tool: Google Analytics
If, after reading all that you thoughtt ‘OMG, that’s way too much,’ don’t despair. These tools are great for someone who knows their way around social media already and has the time to review information in several different places, compare and contrast the data in order to create an actionable social media strategy for your business. That’s why so many small business owners hire a social media manager to help with managing and reporting.
If you want to do it yourself — get started in small steps. Take one tool at a time, test and explore it. Find ways to use it that are beneficial for your business, rather than just take up time and your resources. Then move on to the next tool — just as you would to get started with social media in the beginning.
But if you were to implement just ONE tool today for your business — make it Google Analytics. You can track the most important stats — how much traffic you drive to your website using social media, what posts and pages are the most popular and what kind of content converts your social media visitors into leads and customers.
Social media is a tool to find new leads online — then get their details for your e-mail list — then encourage them to sign up for your offers, products or strategy sessions. And this information is easily (and for free) accessible through your GA account.