Most business owners who don’t have a budget to hire a social media manager, have to force time into their busy schedules to pay attention to their social media and content marketing. That includes myself. In addition to managing my client’s marketing, I need to manage and market my business, so I look to a range of social media marketing tools and apps that help save me time.
Here are some of my favorite ones that help me create, curate, publish, monitor and engage with my fans and followers — and save me valuable time.
Video, as you may know, is a must in your social media marketing strategy. But the thought of a making video puts most people off — it’s too hard, I don’t know how to edit, I don’t have the equipment, etc.
But those worries are in the past. With today’s technology and devices, anyone can create, edit and publish videos in minutes!
Here are a couple of free social media marketing tools that I use to make videos to publish across my social media networks. All you need is a smart phone or pad.
Mix a group of photos together to tell a story, or explain something. Add music, adjust timing, and share your video instantly to Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. It’s very easy to use. All you need is an iPhone or an iPad (iOS 7 or later), or an Android device. Choose photos and music from your device. The paid version gives you the ability to add transitions.
Here’s a video I made in less than five minutes. I saved the images from my blog to my phone, and then uploaded them to PicFlow.
I’ve reviewed this app on my blog previously. But it’s such a great choice for making explainer or story videos, with the ability to personalize it with your voice, I’m mentioning it again. Adobe Voice is made for the iPad only.
The instructions are super easy to follow. Choose from a library of images, icons, and music, or add your own. You can choose from a variety of themes as well. Share instantly to Facebook and Twitter, or send by email to a friend or colleague.
Here’s the first video I made with Adobe Voice. There are some things I would change, such as use a lighter theme, but for a project that only took 20 minutes, it’s not bad.
Meerkat and Periscope
These two free apps for iOS or Android devices are truly simple, yet powerfully effective. Reach your fans and followers instantly with live broadcasting. Show behind-the-scenes at the office, share live events, introduce your coworkers and colleagues all in real-time. There’s not much difference between the two. Read this comparison on the uses and benefits of Meerkat and Periscope. One thing that boosts my interest in Periscope over Meerkat is the ability to save your video streams to your phone’s photo library. Upload it to YouTube or another server for other uses.
In addition to creating content, curating it is a vital part of social media marketing.
So where do you find great content to share? Beyond Google search, there’s a multitude of apps out there, free and paid. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Feedly came about when Google Reader was killed off. Luckily, users were able to import collected RSS feeds from Google Reader before it went away. And that’s what Feedly is — a collection of RSS feeds that you add from blogs and websites.
I have the app on my iPad and iPhone, or I an access it from the platform’s Website. Share stories directly from your smart device directly to Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, or adjust the settings to use Buffer or iOS sharing. Feedly is also available for Android users.
Here’s a video on how to use Feedly that I made using Screenflow, another video creation tool that I find awesome. It allows me to record my screen from iPhone or my iPad.
In addition to social media posting and monitoring, Hootsuite offers a suggestions feed right from its dashboard, or from its smart devices app (iOs or Android). The iPhone app is a little buggy, but the website’s suggestions feed works great. Hootsuite also offer integration of publishing apps like Storify and Flipboard, two great content curation tools I cover next. You can post to those platforms directly from Hootsuite.
To schedule content from Suggestions, from the dashboard, go to publisher, and choose Suggestions from the menu on the left.
Click on Settings top right to input topics you want to find articles about. Check boxes next to content you want to schedule, or on the right, click on editing options before you schedule.
This application is a beautiful reading, and sharing tool. Available for iOS and Android devices, I think it looks and reads best on a iPad (or other similar device).
Flipboard is composed of “magazines” that anyone can publish with an account. For instance, I have an Adventures magazine, where I save travel stories, photos and posts from articles already published on the Web. I also have Social Media Marketing Tips and Content Marketing magazines, curated with my content and from other blogs. It’s the same idea as Feedly, but in a much sleeker format. I can share directly from Flipboard to my social networks.
Magazines “flip” open to story squares, that flip open for reading. You press the plus sign to add a story to your own magazines, which you can then share to your networks.
Storify is an advanced version of both Feedly and Flipboard in that you not only curate content, but also publish blog posts right from its dashboard. You can also embed curated articels into your own blog or Website.
From the editing dashboard, you can search Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Google search, Flickr and Getty Images. Or you can search for stories already published on the Storify platform.
Choose from an array of posts, images and links that will show up on the right hand side, and drag and drop them into your editing window on the left. Write a headline, add text, and publish. If you’re not satisfied with the flow of your post, you can drag elements up or down. There are free and paid versions.
Posting and Monitoring
I’ve mentioned this social media management tool several times in this post already, that’s how useful it is. You can curate, schedule, post, grow your fan base, send and reply to messages, monitor for brand mentions (or crises), add team members, assign leads and create reports. And now, in Beta format, you can promote posts directly from Hootsuite’s dashboard. Hootsuite is free, or a low-cost $10 per month for more capabilities. There are larger plans as well.
This is another low-cost social media scheduling and sharing app. Connect up to four accounts for free, or pay $10 a month to connect up to 12, including Pinterest! There aren’t many Pinterest scheduling tools out there, therefore the excitement. The paid account also allows you to schedule up to 200 posts to your accounts.
Buffer offers individual scheduling options for each network, and in-depth analytics that show most popular and least popular posts, with the most clicks, shares, retweets, likes, and the ability to re-buffer the best ones.
Oh yes, you can also post video directly to all your social media networks with Buffer. What’s not to like about his tool?
When I first tried Twitshot, I didn’t like it. That’s because I didn’t understand it. Lesson learned: give all new apps and tools some time.
Similar to Buffer, Twitshot allows you to Tweet images from articles on the Web, along with a prepared headline, link, and correctly tagged attribution (the @ symbol). Buffer only prepares the headline of the article, and a link.
But the really cool thing about Twitshot is you can do more than share on Twitter — the app allows you to open the prepared image and all the content in another social media scheduling tool, like Buffer or Hootsuite. Works on iOS devices, or you can install a Chrome extension.
OK, one last cool tool (for now at least)
I’ve written about this app before as well, but it’s one of my staples when setting up a social media network. ifttt (if this then that), connects different platforms together to perform certain workflow actions. The prepared actions are called recipes.
For instance, I have a recipe that performs this action: if a video is uploaded to my Youtube channel, then it is published to my Tumblr blog, complete with title, caption and tags.
This app is an enormous time saver. And it’s free.
These social media marketing tools are just a fraction of what’s available to marketers and business owners. But these are by far my favorites that I use all the time. Most are easy to use, and will make social media management and content creation easier for you, so you can run your own business (or, if you’re a marketer, have time to run yours!).
If you’ve got any fave apps, please let me know in the comments section.