Your Free Social Media Management and Planning Toolkit
Looking to save on the pennies and find some free social media management tools? You’ve come to the right place...
While there are hundreds of amazing social media management tools in the world, we’ve picked out some really great tools that are 100% free. While many of the following options do have paid plans and the ability to upgrade, our case in point here is that social media management doesn’t have to be expensive.
Tweetdeck is Twitter’s own tool for community management. With the ability to separate your incoming Twitter activity into easy and manageable streams, you’ll be able to keep your eyes on multiple hashtags, users, mentions, and phrases.
For those of you who enjoy a good ole Twitter Chat (who doesn’t), participating or hosting a Twitter Chat can become 1000x easier with Tweetdeck and its ability to keep the hashtag front and centre, while keeping an eye on mentions and relevant pages.
If you’re determined to make your social media presence a meticulous work of art, then this tool is for you. As a way to resize images for specific social channels, Landscape ensures that your social media content will never again be blurry, pixelated, or unprofessional.
Whip up some social media graphics in the blink of an eye thanks to Canva. As an easy way to create perfectly sized and impressive looking graphics, those lacking a design department can fake it ‘til they make it.
With the ability to select your intended graphic type (such as Facebook post, Instagram post, etc.), and then enter any images, logos, or text, you can quickly make some company branded graphics will little-to-no design skill.
Manage Flitter is another tool for community management on Twitter. However, while TweetDeck focuses on engagement and organisation, ManageFlitter allows for the following / unfollowing of particular accounts. Those of you who do this manually will understand just how time consuming (and extremely boring) this can be.
Although ManageFlitter’s free plan has some limitations, it does allow you to set rules to categorise and separate your following (or Twitter accounts in general) and then execute unfollowing or following actions on your behalf.
And lo and behold ContentCal, the ultimate tool for planning your social media content (apologies, we are bias). Our free plan allows for 1 user and 1 calendar with connections to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for automated publishing. With helpful organisational features including channel notes, a post backlog (for storing notes or draft content), monthly view, and placeholder posts, you have everything you need to master your social media plan.
Create your free account here: http://bit.ly/2GWITcE
First thing’s first - find a content calendar that works for you. Content calendars are invaluable in helping you plan and create your upcoming social content to keep you structured and focused in managing your social channels. While many content calendar tools which are reffered to more commonnly as a social media management platform are integrated with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for auto-publishing capabilities, gone are the days of frantically trying to create and execute a post when you know your audience is online.
With a content calendar, you’ll have a string of consistently great content, prepared in advance, and set to post at peak times of traffic. It’ll also help you to stay varied in the content you are posting, and stick to your content marketing strategy. ContentCal is just one content calendar example that allows you to see all of your upcoming content mapped out in a visual calendar format in weekly and monthly view. It's more than just a content calendar really though it's a social media management platform.
Now you’ve been paired with the perfect calendar to help you master your content, go through it with a metaphorical fine-toothed comb and map out any key dates. You can then plan ahead to deliver thoughtful content for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas etc. but also dates that are specific to your business. For example, do you plan on live streaming the launch of your new product? Are you hosting a webinar? Are you attending any events? By planning this content ahead, you’re maximising your potential engagement as well as setting the bar for your brand, have a social media calendar can allow you to plan all this activity and stay organised.
Once you have your key dates, you can use your content themes to fill in the gaps on your social media monthly plan. Seeing your content in front of you will help keep everything varied and interesting, so interaction on your channels won’t go stale. You can even leave notes within the calendar for yourself on ideas or draft content you might want to expand upon or explore at a later date when planning social posts again.
However, remember that ad hoc content might be necessary for some occasions. Let’s be topical and assume you want to post about The World Cup; make some notes in your calendar about important fixture dates, but wait until later on to finalise your content to ensure your posts are relevant and exciting. Having a social media posting schedule can really help.
Equally as important as having your social media marketing plan (and we can’t stress this enough) is assessing and reviewing your plan at the end of each month. After all, there’s really no point in continuously posting the same sort of content over and over again, only to wonder why your engagement never increases.
With a content calendar or whatever social media management system monthly report, you can assess which content themes are getting the best interaction and which times of posting are most effective for impressions. You might even decide that there’s value in posting more frequently on your top-performing social networks. Therefore it's also key to ensure your social media posting tool pulls through analytics so you can keep an eye on performance.
You see, the real secret of consistent social media growth is all about having an overall plan or more importantly a social media marketing plan. Learning and improving go hand in hand with tracking and reflecting so it’s important to... 1) Have a clear and goal-orientated plan for your social media content 2) Find your most engaged audience 3) Keep tabs on your performance every step of the way
1) Growing your business on social media with specific goals
Setting specific social media goals is a crucial first step for growth. Clearly define what you’re looking to achieve; whether it’s a rise in engagement, more followers, or even just increased reach, and then set out a plan on how to accomplish these goals.
Setting targets (realistic ones) will drive your social media efforts forward and give you the motivation to keep working towards your ultimate end-goal. Also ensuring you have the corrent social media tools for business can really help you get more efficient.
We’d recommend mapping out your targets for the next 3-6 months. Every month, revisit your goals and see how you performed against the targets you laid out for yourself. If you can stick to the KPI’s you’ve created then you’ll be able to keep growth consistent, and your efforts focused.
Furthermore, allowing for steady progress will break your end-goal into more achievable bite-size chunks. This will make you more likely to stick to your growth-plan and see it through to the end.
2) Find your audience
Social media is a powerful tool for raising brand awareness. You’ll be interacting with existing customers (creating brand loyalty), but you’ll also be trying to pique the interest of potential new customers.
We recommend developing an ideal customer persona. This will allow you to fully understand your perfect customer and exactly who you’re trying to reach. Use your social media scheduler to reach your target market at the right times of day.
Once identified, you can then work on creating content that will really strike a chord. It’s one thing to bring attention to your social media channels, but it’s all for nothing unless it’s coming from the right people.
Only once your ideal customer persona is in place can you begin to further tailor your content to your audience, and work out what you need to change to draw even more engagement. You may even want to step up your social media marketing automation to get more posts out to increase traffic.
3) Grow your business by looking at performance every step of the way
Introducing fresh new ideas into your social media strategy is the way forward, but if you’re not planning your content or checking your results then you’re likely to miss opportunities to double down on what works well. Social media planning tools will help you get more organised and save time.
So here’s our golden rule...
If a new content theme is introduced and performs better than the average post, you should be developing this theme in the future or increase the frequency of this type of content.
On the other hand, if content doesn’t seem to resonate with your audience, think about how you can improve this theme or whether you should scrap it altogether. Check in on results, learn, and then optimize accordingly. ! You could also try looking into social media marketing automation.two people at desks
Reach your social media goals with ContentCal...
The importance of planning your content in advance is also directly related to quality. Social media is not something to be ‘done on the fly’ although the odd bit of ad hoc content around various trends can be great here and there. Having a social media plan and social media scheduler is key.
For the bulk of your content you need to be carefully crafting ahead of schedule, ready to be published later on in the week or month. Content that is created on the spot can often be rushed, ill-considered, and unlikely to have as much impact as a pre-crafted post could have.
That's why it's important to look back & see what's working best for you, based on what you've already posted.
Social media analytics tools can tell you how much your engagement levels have increased across all social channels, the best times for posting, your audience growth, your best-performing content and more. How ContentCal presents analytics
Just because you’re representing a brand doesn’t mean that you can’t show your human side. People don’t like it when you hide behind your brand. They want to see faces, know who they’re talking to, and get a feel for the personalities behind your company.
It’s so much easier for people to connect to other people than for someone to connect to a faceless business. Making your brand a little more human will make you appear more trustworthy and approachable, and increase customer loyalty when building a social business.
- Sign off your social media replies with your name. “Thanks for getting in touch Joshua, we’ll keep you updated - Meg”
- Use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’
- Post pictures of the team in the office doing fun activities to show off the company culture
- Create Instagram stories about specific members of your team
- Utilise the LinkedIn account of your CEO as opposed to the company page
Did you know that people are 30% more likely to recommend a brand if they receive a response to a query on social media? Great customer service can go such a long way to building a closer relationship with potential and existing customers. Put in the effort and you’ll see growth both online and offline.
- Monitor your social media platforms closely - aim to respond to all queries within 30 minutes or less
- Form a rapport - aka - don’t talk like a robot (unless that’s actually your brand’s tone of voice)
- Respond quickly, even if it’s just to say that you’ve acknowledged their message and will find them the answer
There should be no limit to how far you research your audience. You should be able to answer every question under the sun when it comes to your followers.
What content do they like? What’s their sense of humor? Are they looking for informative content? Which types of content do they enjoy; videos, gifs, polls, etc.? Who else does your audience follow and why?
- Don’t just check on your analytics but really make an effort to understand them; find the patterns to get the most out of analytics make sure you pick a social media management platform that has a good analytics function.
- Don’t just test how people react to your brand, but see how they react to other brands too - what kind of content do they regularly retweet? You can use social media monitoring to help with this too.
When you’re trying to run a business, your priority will always be your customers; finding new ones, and maintaining existing ones.
But when you’re oh so busy sending the people you chat to online over to your website, remember that it’s also beneficial to flip this and direct website visitors to your social media accounts.
You might have a potential customer who is ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ a little as they browse your website. If they head to your Twitter page and have a scroll, they’ll get a much deeper understanding of what your brand is all about.
They can also get in touch with you easily through social media (a space where most people feel pretty comfortable doing so) and if they do give you a follow they’ll be more likely to be loyal to your brand in the future.
- Add social media icons to your website
- Encourage people to chat with you over social media at any opportunity (at the end of a blog for example)
- Have your most recent Tweets appear on your website
- Send people to your other social media accounts from social media accounts (e.g. plug your Instagram page on Twitter)
Tesco had the right idea when they said ‘every little helps’. Every minuscule detail about how you handle your social media presence could contribute to whether somebody decides to follow you, purchase from your company, or unfollow you.
- Check on your channels regularly - have a read through your pages and make sure there are no typos, that all content is displaying correctly, and that all the links work
- Make an effort - if somebody leaves a comment; reply. If somebody shares your post; thank them
- Set up Twitter lists to make sure you're regularly engaging with key accounts
Level up your social accounts
We’ll send you our latest blogs, guides, and let you know about upcoming webinars. Subscribe to our newsletter, so you don’t miss a thing.