In a decade social media has become a fundamental part of our lives. Not just to share cute images with those we love but as part of a well-oiled marketing strategy for business. But what do you actually need to run that well-oiled machine? The right tools! Those that save you time, tools that replace your lack of expertise in some of the areas. In this post, we have a look at tools to streamline your social media presence. Tools that keep you consistent across different platforms and ensure you don’t spend all your time on social media tasks.
The Social Media Stats
With almost half of the world’s population using social media, as a business, these are important figures to remember and fully justify having the right tools to deliver a sound social media strategy.
- 42% of the world’s population uses social media. That’s over 3 billion users worldwide (Statista).
- Each person spends an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes on social networks and messaging (HubSpot).
What is a social media strategy?
In basic terms, social media strategy should define how your business intends to use social media to achieve a set of goals. It should also incorporate what social media platforms and tools you will use to achieve it.
In very basic terms, it should clearly state your intent. Should outline your goals, have measurable objectives and it should be part of your overall business and communication plan.
You can check out this detailed post for help with planning and creating a social media strategy.
Great social media is not something that happens out of the blue! As with any other marketing strategy, it needs planning, monitoring, consistency and it needs to be in line with strong communication and overall marketing vision. In order to implement this vision, you need the right tools to support your strategy. Identifying the right tools can really impact your brand and posting consistency and generate growth.
Why you need the right tools?
With so many different social media platforms, you need reliable tools to help you manage your social media content, find content to share and monitor the impact you are making. Not only that you need to know what your competitors are doing, what platforms they use and the contect they share.
The right tools for social media presence
First and foremost, you need a good social media scheduler. This is a tool that does exactly that, it schedules your social media communication and posts it for you. But a scheduler can be so much more than that and there are so many options out there!
There are a few basic things I would definitely want in a scheduler:
- Automatically posts new blog posts
- Allows you to pre-schedule posts to launch at later dates/times
- You can select the post format for each social media network
- Let’s you share social media posts (curated material)
Social Media Content Schedulers – Best value
Blog2Social – Is free to join (free forever), with premium options available for different levels of need. Premium plans start at an amazing $79 for a full year! It comes as a plugin or you can download a web app. This is the tool I use and the free version does the basics extremely well! I have tried different tools like Coschedule and Hootsuite and came back to Blog2Social because of its simplicity and hands-down best value for money.
What you get with the free version – below I list the features I like the most on the free version.
- Connect to the top networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and a lot of other networks.
- Autopost directly to your social media channels. You can set it to automatically post on all the networks as soon as you hit publish on your blog post!
- Schedule posts to release at a later date/time.
- Re-schedule posts. This is a great feature, you can automatically set the system to re-post for you so your content is always rotating.
- URL shortener.
- Schedule curated posts (posts from other sources). This for me is a great feature! In my social media plan, I tend to post 1/3 my own posts, 1/3 engagement (questions, quotes, etc) and 1/3 curated content. With this feature, you can research content in the same niche and schedule it months in advance.
- All your scheduled posts show in a content calendar in the dashboard (see below).
When it comes to social media schedulers, there are many options available for all budgets. I’m listing below another two strong schedulers I have tried and found reliable.
CoSchedule – offers a headline analyser, I’m a fan of it! But you can find other headline analysers equally good and free. CoSchedule offers a free 15-day trial and prices start at £19/month for the basic plan. Coshedule has integrated reporting, something that is not so good with Blog2Social.
Hootsuite – is also free to start and offers good flexibility and curated content too. You start with a free 30-day trial and after that prices start at £25/month. Hootsuite is one of the most used social media schedulers.
Image creation Tools – Best value
Canva – Canva is an image creation software, is also free to join (no trial, free forever). You can use quite a few of its features with the free version. Premium versions have great benefits like automatically re-sizing your images and exporting with a transparent background. You will be able to create almost anything you want in Canva. From logos to business cards, social media banners and quite a few more complex things like ebooks, planners, social media kits, its almost limitless. Once you get the hang of it this tool is very simple to use.
You can start with Canva for free here.
If you are good with graphic design, you can start your own business selling online templates. Check out these two sites selling templates made with Canva.
thesideblogger.com – want to offer freebies to your audience but don’t know where to start? Here you can find a template for almost any freebie you can think of. On top of that, you can get Pinterest and Instagram templates to customise with your own branding colours and fonts. The side blogger also teaches you how to make a business out of it.
Conversionminded.com – here you can find many great paid courses, Canva templates for all your social media strategies and a great variety of planners, some free to download.
These two sites are great examples of delivering something that people need!
Best for automated image creation
RelayThat – is another great tool for social media image creation. This is a relatively new tool for me and I love it. Why am I showing you two different image creation tools? Because they are quite different in how they work. With Canva you work on creating one image at a time and can resize it (if you have the premium version). With RelayThat you insert your website URL, press the magic import feature and your branding is imported to the site. You chose the image size you want to create out of lots of options and the tool uses your brand colours to populate all the available design templates in one go, then you just need to decide what designs you like best!
Let’s say that you have a post with a title: Must-Have Tools For Strong Social Media Presence. You want to make a Pinterest pin, so select that option from the social image sizes menu. Add your title, your website name, select the image you want to use (they offer over 300,000 stock images) and select one of the almost 200 variations of Pin designs already populated with the basics you inserted. With a few clicks, you adjust your details and the tool generates your pin image and also your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook add, Blogpost Image. It also creates another 20 or so different formats all coordinated. If you don’t want all those formats but want 50 pins instead, just select more ready to download templates from the available template.
Tailwind – if you are active on Pinterest you will love Tailwind! This is a paid tool that allows you to schedule your Pinterest posts (pins). With this tool you can share curated pins too. Share pins with different tribes (similar to group boards) and use loops to keep pins active. I use Tailwind and see good benefits from both the tribes and loop evergreen posts. Why do I use Tailwind for Pinterest and not Blog2Social? I always pin my first Pin manually directly on Pinterest and then use this tool to pin it to other boards. As Pinterest gives me almost 50% of all my traffic, I try to be both careful and consistent with my pinning strategy. This tool is better for that and worth the extra investment.
The tool offers an interval option, allowing you to select all relevant boards in one go. You can set it to post at optimal times with an interval of 2, 3, or as many days as you find ideal (2+ days minimum). The system also alerts you if you break any of the rules Pinterest sets for posting, like post the same image twice in the same board in 6 months. These rules are hard to keep track and Tailwind keeps you on track.
Prices for Tailwind start ar $9.99/month paid annually.
Stock Photos – Best value
Unsplash – is a stock image site with free images you can use for almost any purpose including business, they claim to have over 1 million free images available. I regularly submit and use images and they are a great resource to have. If you are a blogger you may want to consider using images that are used less often, so search engines don’t get confused about your message, seeing that they have seen the same image associated with different messages. If that is the case, check out this other option.
Best for Content Creators
depositphotos – they open deals a few times a year and for a fee, you have access to a number of downloads. This is an exclusive deal with AppSumo and is discounted from $299.00 to $39.00. I use their images and am always happy when they open these promotions.
Analytics for social media
Analytics are an important part of keeping track of business results. Even a very simple business needs goals and objectives to feed into those goals. The objectives you set for your business should be SMART meaning they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and, timely (or time-bound). Having good analytics tools will help you measure results and progress. Most social media sites have their own analytics and you can use those to check how your posts are performing in each of the platforms.
Sprout Social – is much more than a social media management tool, it rolls social engagement, publishing and analytics all into one efficient tool. It monitors hashtags, brand mentions and content calendar. You can start with a free trial and plan prices from $99/month. If this price tag is not for you there are a few free options for you.
Followerwonk – this is a Twitter analytics tool. It helps you learn who your followers are, where they’re located, and when they are active. The free version is quite limited but some of the information can be very useful to establish optimal times to post.
Overarching and free social media tools are almost nonexistent, so learn to use the analytics available on the platforms you are active and make sure you track progress on a monthly basis.
Ultimately, it’s important to understand what is working and what is not for your business. Selecting a social media tool that works for you shouldn’t be hard work, start with understanding what you can have with each free platform and once you are familiar with the different stats sign up for a free trial with the tool that ticks most boxes for you and your business.
Keep safe & enjoy the simple things.