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,, 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 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. 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 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.

For Silverback Social’s twitter, our followers are most active at around 5:00 pm ET.

Breakdown of Silverback Social’s followers via Social Authority. We use this graph to determine who to tweet at and who to follow.

This breakdown of keywords tells us what type of content we should be broadcasting to our followers.

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 search query we used was “social media” and Followerwonk gave us a list of Twitter accounts related to the query.

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?


Online Reputation Management: How Important is Your Online Reputation?

What is “online reputation management” (or ORM)? It’s exactly as the name reads – it’s the art/science/process/etc. of managing your online reputation.

Since the advent of the Internet, there has been an ever-increasing demand for ORM services, especially in the present day with the prolific use of social media.  One joke gone awry, one spur of the moment controversial opinion is usually all it takes to tarnish one’s reputation. Whatever is posted on the Internet, generally, stays on the Internet – forever.

So, let’s say you own a business, and for some reason a customer gets upset, but instead of letting you know he/she decides to write a scathing blog post about your business. Unfortunately for you, this blogger is fairly well known and respected within the industry.  Thus the post crosses the screens of hundreds (or thousands) of people. Due to the post’s popularity, it begins to rank in Google for your business name. So now, whenever anyone does a search for your business in Google, one of the top results will be this negative blog post.

Why is this significant? In today’s digital/mobile age, everyone is connected to the Internet at all times. More people than ever are using the Internet to get information on everything from general trivia to reviews on businesses.  In fact, in 2011, 77.86% of people in the United States (src: Wikipedia) have some kind of Internet subscription, and that number is increasing. So, chances are, people WILL see that negative blog post written about your business.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done regarding outsiders writing negative content on your business (or name). Remember, once someone posts something on the Internet, the content stays there forever. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate any negativity related to your business/name.

  1.  First, set up web alerts. Set up Google Alerts for your business name and any other relevant terms that are related.  Also, in today’s social world, it’s not a bad idea to set up alerts for social media as well through a website like  Now anytime your name pops up on the Internet, you will get an email in your inbox. From here, it is your responsibility to respond to any negative feedback, with positivity that’ll leave that person feeling content.
  2.  Second, set up social media pages. Regardless of your opinion on social media, millions of people are on Facebook, Twitter, etc. every day. These pages can also serve as a hub for your customers so they can send complaints directly to you rather than through a blog or on a review site like Yelp. Be sure to stay active on these pages – people don’t appreciate their complaints/questions going unheard. I’m not going to lie; managing your social media will take a lot of time, but if you don’t have time, hire someone else to manage it. Not only are you able to have a direct, open line of communication with your customers, your social pages will rank in Google for your business name. Having a presence on social is too important to ignore, and is absolutely vital to managing your online reputation. The Internet is gearing towards social; so don’t get left by the wayside.
  3. Third, learn search engine optimization (SEO). Or hire someone to do your SEO. For the newbies, SEO is the “science” or “art” of influencing the major search engines (i.e., Google) to show results you want for certain search terms. Think of it as marketing without actually marketing. Remember that bad blog post about your business that keeps showing up in Google? SEO can get rid of that blog post by pushing positive content up and burying the negative content to the 3rd, 4th, or 5th, pages – a.k.a. the “Google void”.

Managing your online reputation is really just like managing your real-life reputation. You have to be wary of how you speak to/handle people who you had contact with. The Internet world works differently than the real world, but both tie into each other as more and more people around the planet join the online community.