As a small business owner, social media marketing, along with search engine marketing, is no doubt a cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Using social media helps you communicate with existing customers, attract new ones, position your brand, manage your reputation, identify influencers, monitor trends, keep tabs on competitors, build brand loyalty, test key messages, improve your customer service, create communities….the list goes on!
But let’s pause there and look at how you can manage your social media marketing more effectively with some of the free software tools out there at your disposal.
Buffer for scheduling
Buffer is a highly popular scheduling tool and for good reason! With a clean interface, the option to post now or schedule for later and shorten links it ticks lots of boxes. With the free plan you can connect up to three social media accounts, perfect for most small businesses. Only one login is allowed with the free plan, but again this is usually fine for a small business.
Buffer allows you to schedule up to 10 posts on its free plan, helping you to plan ahead and set posts to auto publish to take advantage of the best times to post for your audience. It’s great for campaigns where you can plot your messages across a number of days or weeks as well as helping you to keep a regular posting frequency. Use the calendar function, set your posting times and the posts you’ve crafted will auto-publish.
To get started with Buffer you’ll need to choose one of their paid plans for a free trial then at the end of the trial there will be the option to select the free plan. If your needs or budget change then it might be time to upgrade to a paid plan for the extra features, but the free plan really is an excellent starting point for any small business.
Hootsuite for monitoring and reporting
No man is an island and no social media marketer should operate in a vacuum blindly broadcasting out into the ether and hoping for the best. Social media is done well when it’s used for listening and engaging.
Hootsuite is synonymous with social media marketing and its capabilities for monitoring are excellent even within its free plan.
Social media monitoring will help you keep tabs on what’s said about your business, competitors and your industry on social media platforms. Vital for spotting trends, issues, and most importantly opportunities, with monitoring in place you can tweak your social media marketing and even your overall business strategy to take advantage of the feedback monitoring will give you.
With Hootsuite installed you can set up as many ‘streams’ as you like and collate them together in tabs, to monitor things such as mentions of your brand or competitors, keywords, hashtags, accounts and more, giving you control over what you want to see and respond to.
Hootsuite’s free plan isn’t immediately obvious on their homepage but dig around and you will find it and be able to sign up and get started.
Hashtagify for hashtag analysis
Finally, Hastagify, is, as it sounds, a tool for hashtag analysis helping you to better use hashtags to amplify your social activity increasing and broadening your reach. It integrates with Twitter and Instagram where hashtags rule and whilst it doesn’t have a free plan, it’s hashtag search tool is free and there is a free trial option which is then followed by a low cost monthly plan.
If you’re not already using hashtags, or using some but not really sure what you’re doing or why they’re important, then Hashtagify can help demystify the dark art of the hashtag. Simply put hashtags categorize and collate posts which then act as signposts for people searching for content, create communities of like-minded people, highlight trending content, and where space is short provide additional context. They can help start conversations, raise brand awareness and help with content curation amongst other things.
Once you understand their power, the need for monitoring them becomes clear. Hashtagify takes the legwork out of the analysis and lets you see what hashtags might be the most effective for you.
If you’d like to make your social media marketing more effective then we can help, just give us a call.