We all love a freebie. And when it comes to free online tools, social media is probably the most populated marketplace.
This has its blessings, but also means that pinpointing the genuinely useful ones takes a little work.
This week I want to take some of the work out for you, and look at 12 of the best tools you can use to actually benefit from using social media to make money online.
#1 – Facebook Insights
Almost every social network has its own ‘analytics’ suite or dashboard, but Facebook Insights is definitely one of the best. ??Insights allows you to Instantly see stats on your Page posts and fans, in a visual format – and you can export the information easily.
If you were running a Facebook page for someone else, that would be of particular benefit, as you can show detailed analytical data on Facebook marketing efforts without having to put in the legwork yourself.
What’s more, it will suggest posts to ‘boost’ (which you can do under £10 and with just one click).
You need 30 ‘Likes’ on a Page to access Facebook Insights – it will be added automatically to the page when you reach that small milestone.
When you do, make sure you check it out and use the information!
??#2 – PostPlanner
Part post-scheduler, part post-curation tool, PostPlanner promises to ‘free up two hours of time daily’.
You can create a ‘filing cabinet’ through PostPlanner and set categories to instantly click on, whenever you want to see what’s happening in a particular niche or find content to share.
The content is already ‘proven’, in that you can instantly see how popular it is, hence judging its potential for being shared much better.
You can queue posts you want to share to appear at a later time or date – or simply click on the ‘Add to publish’ button.
When you pre-schedule a post, you can also choose to repeat it at intervals – and even stagger the intervals.
You can share photos as well as other content, get ‘status ideas’, and discover new content sources – all without having to open new tabs or pages.
A small note: PostPlanner is free to use, but not all features are available at the free level.
#3 – IFFT (If This Then That)
Not strictly a social media tool, but very much one that can be used for social media activities. I love this cool little techy tool.
If This Then That is a brilliant way of doing what computer programmers used to do with simple basic language, back in the dawn of time.
They would create a conditional statement based on the logic: ‘If [X] occurs, then [perform a specific action]’. Conditions could vary infinitely for the same ‘if’ statement: ‘If [x] is less than/greater than’ etc.
IFTT has found a way to translate that logic into a visual form, letting you create ‘recipes’ to be applied to or from sites like Facebook, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Evernote etc.
It takes more time to explain IFTT than to use it, so check it out.
Browse existing ‘recipes’ to see if there are ones you can use. Examples would be the ability to save Instagram photos with a certain hash-tag to your Dropbox folder – great if you were doing a competition on social media where you ask people to use a certain hash-tag to enter.
#4 – Buffer ?
This simple app automatically tweets at the (analytically determined) best time of the day from a queue of your tweets that you can set up in advance. Very handy!
#5 – Followerwonk ?
This is an amazing analytics tool for Twitter: more drilldown methods than you could even imagine, and a lot of its features are available for free.
#6 – Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck has been around FOREVER in social media terms and is pretty much the standard in social media dashboards; there are good competitors’ versions out there, but not many, and few are free.
This is a fantastic tool for helping you manage multiple social media accounts all in one place.
#7 – MarketMeSuite
I am a big fan of Tweetdeck, which is the best app for viewing and posting to Twitter (especially if you have multiple accounts) from your desktop.
However, MarketMeSuite is a very nice alternative to Tweetdeck and has a more marketing-led focus.
This tool finds and follow users who use specific keywords in their tweets: very handy when you’re starting out and trying to build a following in your niche.
#8 – bitly
The most widely-used URL shortener with built-in analytics (and, according to some studies, the URL shortener with the best click-through rate), bitly is easy to use, customisable, and integrates with almost every other app out there.
If you want short links (handy if you use Twitter), this is your free tool!
?#9 – HootSuite
??HootSuite is a web app that helps you manage your Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts in the same spot.
The ad-supported free version lets you add up to five social media accounts and two RSS feeds.
#10 – Topsy ??
Topsy is a social media search engine, to see what’s going on in public status updates around the world.
Again, this is a great one when you’re doing niche research and want to see what people are talking about in your niche; and if you are looking for an audience for your business.
#11 – Google+ Hangouts??
If you want to talk to or meet (virtually, at least) the people you meet through social media through face-to-face chat, use Google+ Hangouts, which requires only a simple plug-in installation and a Google account to gather up to ten people in a video chat.
As long as you have a solid video connection, Hangouts works reliably and seamlessly shifts the main window to whomever is talking in the group. Amazing: just don’t all talk over each other.
If you ever thought of doing webinars or offering your services as a virtual ‘tutor’ or mentor, then this can be a very cost-effective tool for setting up the technical side of things; not to mention, incredibly simple!
#12 – Add to Any
This is a tool specific to WordPress in the form of a plugin for your WordPress site. ??These days you have to make it easy for people visiting your site to share whatever they find there (blog posts, videos, things to buy…) – and that’s what Add to Any is all about.
This clean, unobtrusive looking plugin that is easy for visitors to use – which is the most important element in social sharing buttons.
Add to Any – installed by simply being logged in to your WordPress site, going to the ‘Plugins’ section, finding it, and then clicking a button to install it – gives you access to 128 bookmarking sites.
When you install it, your visitors can also make use of an email tab that makes it easy to share via any email service, like Gmail and Hotmail.
We need people to share our content and so this plugin is really a must if you’re using WordPress.
I hope that amongst the 12 tools listed you can find at least one that will be useful to you and your online ventures.
And, as always, if you need any help with using them please do get in touch.
Have a lovely week,