Despite the fact the Facebook seems to be imploding in slow-motion, social media is still as important as ever when it comes to marketing your business. However, as the number of networks we need to engage with keeps growing, managing our social media is an increasingly cumbersome and time-consuming task.
If you are still engaging with each of the networks you utilize by going to their sites individually, then there is no doubt that you are hemorrhaging time that could be spent to much better effect elsewhere. So, what’s a frazzled business owner to do?
Use a social media management tool, that’s what! While there are tons of options available out there, we’ll be focusing on platforms that offer free options here, so that you can get in on the social media management ground floor without having to make a financial commitment. If you find that you are outpacing what the free plans offer, then most of these services offer paid options that increase functionality.
So let’s get to it! Here are the six free social media management tools you should check out in this crazy ol’ year of 2018.
One of the oldest social media management platforms on the scene, Hootsuite got it’s place at the top of the list for a reason. Their free plan offers management of up to 3 social profiles (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest), up to 30 scheduled messages, 2 RSS feed integrations, entry-level analytics, social contests and more. Their paid subscriptions are also very reasonable, so if and when you do need to upgrade, you’ll be in a good place.
Also an oldie but goodie, Buffer made it’s reputation with a robust schedule for later and a Chrome extension that lets you cue up content to share as you browse around the web.
Similar to Hootsuite, Buffer’s free plan allows you to manage up to 3 social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram), but limits you to 10 scheduled posts at a time. They also have a built in image editor that can make creating media posts a snap, as well aslink-shortening and tracking. While Buffer doesn’t offer RSS feeds or analytics as a part of the free service, their browser extensions make them a natural fit for people who do a lot of content sharing.
Also, the Buffer Blog is fantastic, so if you’re looking for good info on the social-sphere, check that out.
I hesitated to include TweetDeck on this list, because it only manages Twitter, but it does such a good job at that, for the low, low price of free, that I just had to let it in.
Using TweetDeck (which is owned and operated by Twitter), you can manage multiple Twitter accounts, build custom timelines and lists, monitor search terms and hashtags and more! Seriously, if you use twitter a lot, then you owe it to yourself to check out TweetDeck.
Not quite as fully featured as HootSuite or Buffers free plans, MavSocial still offers a service worth looking at. With their free offering, you can manage up to to 2 social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr) and up to 10 scheduled posts.
Where they stand out from other services is in their integrated stock image library and robust campaign planner and calendar, as well as a nifty way to manage the images you’ve already posted.
While Friends+Me is heavily focused on Google Plus management, it also allows basic management of other networks as well, It’s free plan allows integration of 5 networks (Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr), and offers 2 queues of up to five scheduled posts each. It also handles link-shortening, and has a browser extension. Unlike many of these other services, they also offer a native desktop application.
Rather than limit the number of networks you can connect, CrowdFire limits the number of accounts you can connect to each network. This means you can use all four of the networks they make available to the free plan (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram). They also include up to 10 scheduled posts per account, but keep RSS feeds and analytics behind the paywall.
One really cool thing that CrowdFire does is offer unlimited suggestions for curated content that you could use, based on your existing topics. They also suggest unlimited images you can use for Instagram and Pintrest growth.
And there you have it! You should be set to dip your toes in the social media management ocean and see if you can’t free up some of that precious time to spend elsewhere. Good luck, and happy posting!