Managing multiple social media accounts while sticking to a limited marketing budget is one of the biggest challenges social media marketers and entrepreneurs face. Despite incredible advancements in monitoring, management, and analytics technology, very few tools combine a full spectrum of features that eliminate the need to use more than one social media management service. The cost of leveraging several pieces of software can add up quickly, which is why we thought we’d take a look at some of the best free social media management tools available today.
While these free tools may not offer a comprehensive set of features, they do provide core capabilities that allow businesses and individuals to manage their social media accounts effectively. As the needs of your business evolve along with its budget, you might consider upgrading to paid plans that are more in line with your requirements. For now, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars you don’t necessarily have.
The following tools were selected based on their ability to schedule posts, shorten URLs, manage multiple accounts, and track basic analytics data.
Although Viralheat began as a social media monitoring tool, the service has extended its offering to include publishing, engagement, and analytics capabilities. The company’s free plan offers more than you’ll find elsewhere, which is why it has become one of the best free social media management tools and a popular starting point for entrepreneurs without a budget.
While the service is a web-based application right now, the company does have a mobile app in the works. In addition, it currently offers a Chrome extension called Flint. With a single click on the Flint icon, this extension lets users share articles, stories, and links from any Chrome page.
Features of the free plan:
- Manage up to seven social media accounts: Viralheat’s free version makes it possible to add and manage a total of seven Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.
- Unified stream: Use one smart stream to access your main or custom streams, filter a combination of sources, and engage your audiences directly.
- Convenient URL shortener: Integration with bit.ly allows you to shorten URLs without needing to leave Viralheat’s platform.
- Post previews and rich media uploads: Besides seeing what your post looks like before making it public, you can use the post preview feature to update your content. This includes the ability to edit your image, video, and accompanying text.
- Post scheduling: The software lets you schedule an unlimited amount of updates for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. It also offers time zone support so you can schedule your content’s release well in advance.
- Geotargeted publishing to Facebook: Probably one of the best features of the free plan, geotargeting lets you specify which Facebook updates you want to target according to country, region, state, or city.
- Analytics dashboard: Leverage Viralheat’s analytics feature to measure the performance of your accounts in real-time. For Facebook, you can measure performance in terms of engagement, likes, stories, page reach, page views, and impressions. For Twitter, you’ll not only be able to track data on favorites and followers, but you’ll also be able to track reach, influencers, and more.
Ultimately, Viralheat is a versatile, efficient, and powerful social media management tool that offers many of the core functions a small business will need to implement and maintain a strategy across main networks. While the service does offer paid plans with additional features and a robust set of analytics, the free version is ideal for anyone without money to burn.
A firm favorite, Hootsuite is a social media management tool that offers an extensive range of features for team collaboration and campaign execution across several social networks. It’s also one of the few tools offering Google+ Pages integration.
Features of the free plan:
- Access to Hootsuite Conversations: This nifty feature lets you collaborate with users, team members, and colleagues in real-time.
- Add unlimited apps: The software gives you the ability to add content management and social network apps, such as Instagram, Youtube, and Evernote, to your dashboard.
- Manage five social network accounts: Create a custom mix of social profiles, including those from Google+ Pages, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress, Foursquare, and more.
- Add 2 RSS/Atom Feeds: Auto-update your social network streams from your blog or news feeds. These updates will include a trackable link created by Ow.ly (a Hootsuite-owned URL shortner).
- Schedule messages: Schedule messages that Hootsuite will deliver to your audiences at times when engagement levels are at their highest.
- Access basic analytics reports: Measure your social media efforts with custom reports based on your network stats, Google analytics, and Facebook Insights.
Other noteworthy features include those that give you the ability to create Twitter lists; publish images to Facebook Profiles and Pages; view trending topics; utilize the Retweet and Twitter Reply All functions to set up messages quickly; and conduct real-time search.
Hootsuite’s solution is perfect for constructing streams to track the keywords, messages, and mentions your business or brand cares about most. It has an easy-to-use interface, a mobile app for social media managers on the go, a solid set of free management options, and impressive network integration. What more could you ask for in a free tool?
Available in both web and mobile versions, Jugnoo is the social CRM tool that is being hailed as a leader in its market. Although it isn’t as well known as tools like Hootsuite, many users would agree it’s far more powerful. With a user-friendly interface and a strong suite of features, the free version gives you just enough to monitor and manage your social media marketing in one location.
Features of the free plan:
- Link multiple social media accounts: This includes three team members, as well as the management of 20 accounts.
- Access to analytics data: Jugnoo combines social, web, and Google Analytics to help you track performance.
- Post scheduling: This feature is enabled through the BufferApp, which means you can benefit from automatic posting at optimal times.
- Link previews: Now you can see the content a link leads to before clicking through to the page. Besides greatly reducing the amount of time you spend sifting through irrelevant content, this feature can help you avoid phishing scams.
- Rich Media Embeds: This convenient feature allows you to watch videos and view images in your stream, so there’s no need to open additional tabs or leave the Jugnoo dashboard.
There have already been several major changes since the launch of Jugnoo, and it appears the company is constantly developing its service offering. This is certainly a tool to keep your eye on, even if you choose to go with another for now.
The bottom line: social media management does not have to be exorbitantly overpriced in order to operate effectively. The three tools mentioned above offer a great start for small businesses and individuals who understand that social media is an integral part of any marketing campaign, but can’t afford to allocate financial resources to social media management.
Which of the best free social media management tools are you using? Are there any you’d add to our list? We’d love to hear how they’re making your social marketing efforts easier, so drop us a line or two in the comments area.