In 2014, I quit my job at a leading publishing house to pursue my blog and hone my skills beyond the realms of print journalism. And while my biggest learning was digital content creation and social media, I realised it was equally important to make most of social media marketing and management tools. Not only do they help you organise, increase efficiency and track data but are what you need for your peace of mind too (raise your hand if you’ve freaked over your Instagram feed). Over the past three years, I have singlehandedly worked on digital marketing and social media for small to medium-sized brands. During this time, I learnt how to make most of social media marketing tools. Here are 6 tools that totally saved my life in digital marketing!
PS: This is not a sponsored post. I’ve personally tried and used these tools.
1. What? Canva
Ideal For? All things graphic
To be completely honest, I discovered it by accident. When I arrived at the e-party, I mostly read about PicMonkey and used it a few times too. But when I started handling my client’s social media accounts or wanted better blog banners for my own brand, Canva was a lifesaver. Instead of hiring a graphic designer in my budget, I designed beautiful graphics just by myself. So instead of learning how to use Photoshop (which I’ve tried and failed), this tool bridges the gap between content writers/editors and graphic designers. If you’re a social media manager or an avid Instagrammer who is following a particular theme, Canva should be on your list (if it already isn’t).
Things You Should Know:
- You can sign up and use most of the features for free.
- The templates are made by graphic designers that can be customized (colours, fonts, images).
- They have a ton of photos from stock photo websites, both free and paid (I’ve paid as little as a dollar), that you can re-use too.
- Recently, I enrolled in Canva’s paid version which let me upload my client’s brand book. So I can upload all of their fonts, colour scheme and then work on layouts which is really good if you’re consulting or working with a brand full time.
- The upgraded version also allows you to share your dashboard with others, which is great when you’re working with a team
- The only drawback is that Canva hasn’t really subsidized their paid version: I wish there was a smaller fee to pay as individuals versus businesses, but that’s my only beef so far.
2. What? Hootsuite
Ideal for? Scheduling content
I actually learnt about Hootsuite back in 2010 when I was working at a magazine. That was my first stint to handle my magazine’s Facebook account so I’ve been familiar with the interface for many years now. The usage is pretty simple with a protocol of choosing which social media handles you’d like to post on, followed by uploading and scheduling the content. Streams like “mentions” and “hashtags” (you can follow hashtags relevant to you or to your brand, for example, #beforbeauty) keep me on my toes, while being organized.
Things You Should Know:
- In Hootsuite’s free version, you can schedule up to 30 posts in a month.
- You can generate monthly reports from one tool instead of going to independent social media accounts.
- You can create, schedule and track all your content streams on your Hootsuite Dashboard with the help of free and paid third-party apps. So if you’re a blogger, you can have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress and YouTube set up together, on one interface. This is very similar to Co-Schedule and while I know they have a loyal number of users, I’m more inclined towards Hootsuite.
- I’ve used their paid version (Professional) which allows one user (not a team) to set up 10 handles which worked really well for me when I was handling more than three brands.
PS: They have fabulous customer service. I had registered for their annual plan but when client work came to a halt, I wrote to their help desk, requesting a refund. And it took their team less than 3 days to set things right.
3. What? Buffer
Ideal For? Scheduling more content
Buffer is yet another scheduling app that allows you to be more consistent and efficient with social media. I don’t use it anymore but I will give it credit for being so easy to use. Also, Buffer comes with an in-built graphic maker (good for those of us just starting out) called Pablo and that’s been of great help in times I was pushing out a tweet. In fact, some of the blog graphics that have done reasonably well in 2014-15 were made on Pablo!
4. What? UNUM
Ideal For? Scheduling Instagram Posts
I don’t know what the correct pronunciation is, but I do know how to use it. I used to be on Latergram, now called LATER which also allows you to schedule Instagram posts. Besides this, a lot of us used to make most of the VSCO grid just to make sure we have a consistent theme of content, images and filters. But for me, UNUM was the first time I took a cold, hard look at my grid. And while I realized it’s really hard for me to make my feed as beautiful as that of someone living in Europe, being balanced was a possibility.
Things You Should Know:
- It allows you to import photos, move them around which really helps if you pre-plan your feed.
- I use the free plan which allows you 18 photos in the grid. If you upgrade to their individual account, you get about 36 photo grids to plan your feed.
- There are also other features like “best times to post” or access to stats, but for that, you have Instagram Business. And so that doesn’t really do anything for me.
- Two things I just remembered while researching this article: a) You can have multiple accounts even when using a free membership; b)The second feature that I completely forgot to use was that you can repost directly from UNUM (you don’t have to use Repost, although I love the app!).
5. What? Preview
Ideal For? Instagram Scheduling 101
I think I was off doing my favourite thing: browsing online aimlessly, when I read about the Preview app. At first, it seemed just like UNUM but two things really stood out for me. The first would be hashtags. I don’t know how many hashtag websites I would have used in these past few years and most of them didn’t work for me because they had overused hashtag clouds. I tried some of the hashtags suggested by Preview (particularly when the engagement was down), and I have to admit, they were really effective and helped me reach my audience.
The second thing that caught my eye about Preview is that you can do it all on one interface: basic edits, adding a preset theme, and schedule.
Things You Should Know:
- Even if I’m a free user (which I am), I can post and schedule unlimited posts which makes it stand out from its competitors.
- The filter packs are really good if you have a theme going: you get 2 for free if you’re a basic user and you can buy filter packs from there.
Besides this, I make most of Instagram (if you have a business account) and Facebook insights (if you have a Facebook page), so if you’re just trying to grow on any of these social media accounts independently, make most of their analytics to figure out who your audience is, the best time to post, and days of the week that work the best for you.
I hope this post helps you in being more organized and efficient in digital marketing.
Do tell me about your favourite apps/tools in the comments’ section below.
Featured Image: Richa Singh, Internal Images: Be For Beauty/Google