Create, schedule, and monitor buzz with these inexpensive (or free!) tools
“Buzz,” or PR and social impact, is hard to measure for a business of any size. Billion dollar corporations have teams of several dozen people managing different divisions, voices, and products, and many of them still don’t know the ROI on these programs. Meanwhile, most startups don’t even have a dedicated marketing person because their team members are likely wearing many hats. Having the right tools in place can help make monitoring your social media and public relations a lot easier, so we’ve rounded up the top free or low-cost tools to help you monitor and maintain your social media. Here are some real-world examples of how to get the most out of these tools:
The choice between these two is truly a matter of preference. Both have free versions and allow you to plan and schedule your social media activity over the next few days or week. By saving links for future posts, you’ll shave a bunch of time off your weekly social media work, or at least begin to better represent your company on social media effectively without dedicating too much time to it.
This might not be considered a social media tool by some, but it’s hard to deny that it helps make social media (and contact) management easy. Linked to your Gmail, Rapportive displays your contact’s LinkedIn profile, giving you a brief overview of their job title and where they work. This allows you to easily connect with them and further build your relationship.
Perch is a fairly new app that allows you to keep an eye on your competition, or even to keep tabs on other local merchants and service providers. You can track their social media activity, reviews, and even when they’re running offers through Groupon or LivingSocial. This is obviously not a fit for all startups–but if you’re launching an ecommerce company, or even a brick and mortar one, this app is a must.
This is one of our favorites. There’s both a free and a paid version, though we think the free one is sufficient for most businesses. Basically, this monitoring service scans social media sites for keywords you input. Most businesses can get by with just monitoring their business name. However, if you’d like more robust monitoring, such as industry terms or competitor names, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version.
This design program for “non-designers” is a great way to add text to photos, or edit images to use on social media. The ease of use is unbelievable–and the results look quite good. Canva will never take the place of an experienced designer, but if you’re producing dozens of images per week, this tool makes production quick and easy.
This tool is extremely helpful in planning your Instagram feed. It gives you the ability to upload images from your desktop, provides helpful analytics, and is forever free for up to two accounts. Paid versions allow you to add team members, upload videos, and search (and repost) others’ content, which is a must if you want to share photos where you’ve been mentioned.
If Pinterest is an important part of your social strategy, Tailwind is a great tool. There’s a professional version for large companies that archives your information for a year, but so long as you can work within the one-week archive (we recommend taking that info and putting it into a spreadsheet), then the $9.99/month cost makes a lot of sense. The free version allows you to track pin activity, as well as optimize when to pin your content.
This is another one of our personal favorites. Creating content (such as this blog post…) takes a ton of time. And once the content is finally shared, it can be somewhat disheartening for it to be noticed by only a few people. With Edgar, you can upload your social shares and have them automatically distributed to your networks several times with the goal of reaching a new audience each time. At $49/month, it’s not the cheapest on the list, but it certainly can save you a lot of time, and optimize your work.
This is another great tool for the startup pro who is bootstrapping and trying to self-manage their PR. In the world of press lists and contact management tools (which are outdated, clunky, and expensive), PressRush is a breath of fresh air. Lists are easy to create, contacts are easy to reach through the tool itself, and it’s cost-effective for what you get, too, at only $49/month to start. If you’ve looked into Cision or Meltwater, you know this minimal investment makes much more sense for a startup with limited money and resources.
Some might not consider Inkybee to be a social media tool, but as it relates to “buzz” (pun unintended), we think this is a great resource for any startup looking to try to reach out to relevant bloggers to cover their product. Search for contacts, manage a list of bloggers, measure your results with built-in analytics, and more. Starting at $79/month, it’s not the cheapest tool, but if you’re looking to test out blogger outreach, it’s definitely worth the investment. Just make sure you (or someone on your team) has the time to dedicate to outreach.