Three Free Multi-Platform Social Media Management Tools to Save Small Businesses Time
Managing your business’ social media is time-consuming. It’s often the first thing to fall by the wayside as a small business owner gets pulled in a million directions. Use these free social media management tools to cut down on the time you spend posting.
Social media is almost always a pain point for small business owners. Most understand the importance of maintaining a presence on social media platforms and engaging with their followers. Few, however, have the time necessary to do it well.
That’s why social media management tools are a busy business owner’s best friend. With the right tools, you can drastically cut down on the time you spend creating social media posts by scheduling ahead and automating much of the process. Many of the most widely used platforms have free versions that can save you a significant amount of time and money.
Three Free Social Media Management Tools
Here are three of the most well-known and widely used social media management tools out there, each with a free version to get you started.
Hootsuite is perhaps the most well-known of all the social media management tools out there for marketing agencies and other larger teams. Its full suite of tools comes with a pretty hefty price tag, but small businesses can get their feet wet with social scheduling on Hootsuite’s free platform. With the Hootsuite free plan, you can schedule posts for three social media profiles and schedule up to 30 posts a month. The biggest downside with the free version is the lack of analytics and reporting. Hootsuite makes you upgrade to a paid version to receive a report showing how well your posts are performing.
The free version has its limitations, but it’s a great way to get started if you’re just looking to streamline your social media efforts and stay in front of followers more consistently.
Later Similar to Hootsuite
Later is a scheduling tool that lets you plan out and schedule your social posts. It’s a bit more limiting in that it connects to only four platforms –Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. However, if having a well-curated, visually stunning social profile is just as important to you as the overall look of each post, Later may be exactly what you need.
That’s because Later lets you create a post and then drag and drop it into your social calendar. You can visually see how your entire profile will look as you go and shuffle the order of any posts you’d like by just dragging them to a new calendar day. With Later, you can also import media files from your other cloud storage tools, like Google Drive and Dropbox, and create libraries so finding the images you need is fast and easy. Later’s free version gives you one social profile on each of the four social platforms they support. You can schedule up to 30 posts per month per platform.
Like the others, Buffer is a well-known and respected tool for managing your social accounts. It has a simple interface and is fairly intuitive. Buffer integrates with the five major social media giants –Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The free version, however, only lets you connect three social accounts and caps the number of posts you can send each month to ten. While Buffer’s free version has its limitations as well, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use tool that can help take some of the social media heavy-lifting off your plate.
Before You Can Schedule Your Posts, You Need Well-Designed Graphics
Once you find the best free social media management tool for your business, there’s still the trouble of figuring out what to post. Luckily, there are several social design apps out there –many that are free –that can help you create post-worthy graphics quickly and easily. Here are two great options.
Over will help you elevate your social media profile’s look with professional templates and design layouts. There are many free templates to choose from, letting you create graphics for both your social posts as well as your stories on Instagram and Facebook. On the app, you can organize your graphics by project and create folders. You can also sync Over to your social platforms and post your designs directly to Instagram. However you use it, Over will help give your accounts an instant upgrade with professional graphics tailored to your brand.
It is very similar to Over in its capabilities and array of free design templates. With Canva, you can create social graphics and video templates. And, you can also post your graphics directly to Instagram. Deciding which of these two social design apps to use may come down to preference after you look through the available templates in each and check out the user interface
Start Experimenting to Find Which Tools Work Best for Your Business
The best way to know which of these tools will work for your business is to simply give them a try. There’s little risk involved when trying out a free platform. If you decide you need more features than what the free versions offer, each tool has a free trial period so you can try before you buy. Whichever tools you choose, streamlining and automating your social media is the easiest way to keep up with your followers without letting social media efforts take time away from other areas of your business.
When you’re ready to create a social media plan and find the best tools out there for your business, consult other business owners and mentors, like a SCORE mentor, to see what tools have worked best for them. A SCORE mentor can work closely with you to evaluate tools, develop a social media strategy, and help you determine the right way to use social content to grow your business. Contact a SCORE mentor today.
Southwest Regional Vice President, SCORE
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 10,000 volunteer business mentors in over 250 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth, and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE atwww.score.org. Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA