3 Free/Cheap Social Media Tools You Should Be Using
As an online reputation and social media manager, I’m always looking for cheap/free social media tools to help create content and keep track of my social platforms. I recently came across three different tools that are sure to help any social media professional make their life easier. They are Animoto, Infogr.am, and Followerwonk.
Animoto is a social media tool that lets you create truly engaging video content.
Here’s an example of the type of content you can create:
This was done with the “plus” version (which cost us a paltry $30/year) and let’s us create videos up to 10 minutes in length, choose from up to 44 different styles, access to over 300 music tracks, and the ability to download the video. There is also a “lite” version that is free, but video length is only 30 seconds and you can only choose from a limited number of styles.
The best part of this tool is that it’s SO easy to use. You can include images, text, and even other video into your Animoto clip. It’s a simple matter of uploading and rearranging the order you want the content to come up.
My one sticking point with this tool is there isn’t enough customization. Although the “pro” version lets you create unbranded (no Animoto logo at the end) videos up to 20 minutes with multiple songs, users should be able to do more, like change colors and how the video unfolds from one piece of content to the next.
Despite limited customization, this is an incredible tool for brands to take advantage of.
Infographics are some of the most engaging pieces of content you can create for your brand. They offer a wealth of information, while being easy to digest. To create truly stunning infographics, you’re going to need a designer, but sometimes you won’t have the skills or the cash to make one. That’s where Infogr.am comes into play.
Here’s an infographic we made for the Westchester Digital Summit using this free tool:
Aside from being free, what’s cool about this social media tool is there are a ton of different chart types you can use, as well as multiple infographic styles. Chart types range from simple bar graphs to pictorials and financial charts, and you can even upload Excel data. You can also add text, images, and video to your infographics.
Infogr.am also has a “pro” option that costs $18/month (or $180/year), however I only recommend it if you plan on distributing the infographic onto a website, email, ebook, etc. This is because you won’t be able to download/embed your infographic otherwise. The pro version also comes with 4 other design themes, allows password protection for infographics you create, and the ability to privately share the infographic with a non-public URL.
As great of a free tool as Infogr.am is, it really falls flat with its “pro” features. It lacks any true customization – you can’t change the colors of the infographic template, and the charts themselves lack dynamism. Sure you can change the colors of the charts, but paying users should be able to adjust the size of different aspects of the charts (for example, changing the width of the bars on the bar graph).
If you don’t plan on downloading the infographic, I highly suggest sticking with the free version because you’ll still be able to share the graphic onto your social places (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest). There simply aren’t enough options available for paying users to be worth the money, but it is certainly very robust for a free tool.
Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics tool created by Moz (formerly SEOMoz). Moz is known for its great SEO tools and is an industry leader in Internet marketing. Followerwonk is one of the most robust Twitter analytics tools on the market today. From the free version alone, you can search twitter bios (i.e., highest Social Authority, journalists, SEO, CEOs, most followers etc.), compare users, and analyze a user’s followers or the people a user is following.
Through the “analyze followers” function alone, you can get a world map of your users by region, active hours of your followers or those you’re following, Social Authority score of followers, gender of followers, keywords used by followers, frequency of @mentions used by followers, % of retweets by followers, % of retweets with URLs of followers, language, total tweets of followers…the list goes on.
I regularly use this social media tool to manage the social content Silverback Social produces on Twitter so we can tailor our content to get the highest engagement possible. I also use it to analyze our followers’ accounts to see whom else we can engage with in our field. In terms of finding new engagement opportunities, Followerwonk really makes it easy to pick and choose the right accounts to follow instead of bloating our following number with low quality accounts (i.e., low # of tweets, low social authority).
The PRO version comes chock full of other features. There’s too many for me to write all of them here, but here’s a screen of what else they offer for paying members:
The only downside to Followerwonk is that it comes at a fairly pricy $99/month. However, they do offer a free 30-day trial, which is more than enough time to decide if this tool is good for your needs. Also, you must be comfortable with looking at graphs and numbers to use the tool to its fullest potential. There is no single way to use it because everyone has different goals and everyone weighs metrics differently according to their goals. If you are serious about utilizing Twitter for your business, I can’t recommend this tool enough.
Have you used any of the tools above? What are your thoughts on them? What tools do YOU recommend?