The Free Social Media Tools You Should Already Be Using

If you want to learn more about a situation or get to the bottom of something important, you’ve probably been told to “follow the money.” You can apply this advice to business and leadership, too.

If you want to keep a pulse on industry trends and stay ahead of the curve, one of the first things you can do is look at how money in your space is being budgeted. Take influencer marketing, for example. Last year, influencer marketing took off, and so did the budget that companies allotted for it.

Now, look at social media through the same lens. Social media spending in the U.S. alone is expected to increase to more than $17 billion in 2019. A dizzily impressive figure, no doubt, but that kind of budget makes sense when you look at just how important social is to the way companies engage with their audiences, amplify their content marketing, and measure their successes. In fact, “The State of Digital Media” found that 66 percent of publication editors determine content success based on the number of social shares each piece yields.

Because social is so critical to building strong brands, it’s important for your team to maximize how they use it (and what tools they use) to make that job easier. There are plenty of free social media tools out there to help your team save time and money. To stay current on those options, check out the updated list below of eight free tools that can simplify your team’s social media marketing:

1. Facebook Insights

According to the same “The State of Digital Media” report, Facebook is still the most popular platform for sharing and engaging with content, so tools designed for that platform are especially valuable — and Facebook Insights is a good one.

Further, not only is Facebook Insights free; it’s easy to use, too. Your team can access it through an existing page, and the Insights feature can help your business track metrics on page performance, times your audience is on Facebook, and posts that receive the most engagement. Your team can even export these insights for more analysis.

2. SocialRank

I love Twitter; it’s probably my favorite social platform. I’m not as active on Instagram, but I know a ton of people swear by it. This is why SocialRank is so great. It helps manage your followers on both platforms — Twitter and Instagram — so you’re not just accruing followers, but you’re also getting to know who they are and what they like. Honestly, it’s great to have a ton of followers, but what good is it if you don’t try and get to know most of them? After all, they’re your audience — if you care about appealing to them, SocialRank is a solid social tool to add to your toolbox.

3. Likeable Local

Likeable Local is a unique social tool thatany company can find useful. Driven by a passion for small business success, Likeable Local helps generate leads and referrals through its platform, as well as share content to social platforms. It also offers tools to boost your reach and manage your online reputation through built-in keywords so you can engage in the right conversations.

Social media is evolving and only becoming more important to the way companies communicate with their audiences. Do your team a favor: Look into these free tools to make it easier to increase the reach, engagement, and impact of your social media marketing.

4. Social Mention

This tool can help your team track brand mentions and social interactions. Through a single search of your company’s name, your team can discern how often others are mentioning the name, whether it’s on the receiving end of positive or negative feedback, the reach of its posts, and more. Plus, it shows the top keywords and hashtags involving your company.

5. TweetDeck

If your team maximizes content by sharing it via multiple accounts, you’re probably familiar with the struggle of logging in and out of each account to launch posts. It takes time to sign in and out of different accounts to ensure as many possible audience members get the chance to engage with your content. Major headaches can surface when you’re bouncing around from sharing original posts, researching hashtags, tagging the right people, and replying to messages. With TweetDeck, your team can effectively manage multiple Twitter accounts with ease, all on one screen.

6. TweetReach

Free TweetReach snapshot reports provide fast, easy tracking of analytics for up to 100 tweets. Find out who’s been interacting with your company on Twitter, as well as what keywords, hashtags, URLs, or account names are receiving the most engagement.

The snapshot also includes insights into things such as: reach, exposure, tweet activity, tweet types, top contributors, top tweets, list of contributors, and tweet timelines. If your company uses Twitter daily or your company leaders are trying to identify potential influencers to work with, this is a great tool to ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts. TweetReach also offers paid plans in addition to its free snapshot reports.

7. Buffer

Yes, I’ve mentioned Buffer in the past, and that’s because it really is a great, easy-to-use tool. Keeping up with sharing your content each day can be hard, and Buffer allows you to schedule multiple posts on different channels at once. This way, you can knock out a good amount of social distribution in one sitting, which is helpful for busy social media teams (and the thought leaders whose content is being shared).

8. LinkedIn

You’re probably already using this one, but hear me out. LinkedIn just released a new extension of its platform called LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms. This helps businesses accumulate and track leads. Because most people view the app on their phones, it can be a hassle to fill out a contact form. So instead of relying on users to fill out the forms, LinkedIn’s new application uses an in-app form that populates already stored information about an individual LinkedIn user, making lead generation for your business easier than before.

What are some social tools you’re currently using? Share them in the comments.

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Article written by John Hall.

John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.” You can book John to speak here.

I am currently the Cofounder and CEO of Influence & Co. – We help companies position key individuals as industry influencers and thought leaders. We focus on creating high-quality content, coming from our clients, that reaches their target audience online. Our clients range from startups to fast-growing companies on the Inc. 5000, as well as Fortune 500 brands.

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Facebook’s New Algorithm Change Is Actually Two Updates In One

You already know that Facebook uses algorithms to determine who sees your updates and when – and they adjust those algorithms all the time.

(Which means that occasionally, you need to adjust your strategy, too.)

Facebook’s latest update is actually TWO updates – a couple of changes to totally different parts of the overall algorithm!

Updates like these can impact your visibility in the News Feed not just for individual updates, but for your Page as a whole – and that means you should definitely pay attention to them.

So, double the algorithm changes, double the fun!

Wanna make sure you’re playing by the rules?

Here’s what’s new and different:

Facebook is judging your authenticity

When Facebook is determining who should see your updates and when, it looks at two different types of signals.

Personal signals are specific to the user seeing an update. For example, if there are certain people on Facebook with whom you frequently interact, you’re more likely to see their updates.

Universal signals are specific to user or Page posting an update. For example, if a Page’s updates frequently score high engagement rates, its updates may be shown to more users.

(Think of Facebook like a very trendy personal shopper – it shows you items based on what it knows you like, as well as the overall quality of what’s available.)

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One of Facebook’s most recent algorithm changes relates to universal signals. That means it has to do with your Page and what it posts – specifically, your authenticity.

Facebook has new ways of determining how authentic you and your updates are – and if you aren’t authentic, you could be in trouble.

But what does that mean, exactly?

How do they know whether or not you’re authentic?

It’s not like they can turn you inside out and check your label! (That would be weird and gross.)

On Facebook, authenticity takes different forms.

First, it can mean trying to game the system.

Facebook is usually forthcoming about what you can do to increase your visibility in the News Feed – but that also makes their algorithms vulnerable to exploitation.

Last year, for example, they explained that live video broadcasts would get higher reach than some other types of content.

Sounds like a good way to get people to share live video, right? (Which makes sense, because this is a feature they were promoting pretty heavily at the time.)

The good news is, it worked! What also happened, though, is that people found ways to exploit the system. By posting graphics-only “live videos” like countdown clocks, for example, they could enjoy better exposure in the News Feed without producing an actual live broadcast.

The result? Facebook had to find a way to crack down on people taking advantage of the algorithm – in this case, by limiting visibility for graphics-only live broadcasts.

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Remember what we said about how high engagement rates can increase your visibility?

Some Pages explicitly ask people for likes, comments, and shares as a way of increasing their reach – a tactic that Facebook believes is dishonest and inauthentic.

Another sign of inauthenticity is posting the types of content to which users have certain unfavorable reactions – Facebook gives the example of Pages whose audiences frequently hide their updates.

Another example may be Pages whose updates are frequently reported – especially as Facebook is under scrutiny for issues related to the spread of “fake news.”

Facebook has used the habits of Pages that regularly share inauthentic updates to build a model that can automatically identify and predict whether or not other Pages’ updates are authentic.

The way they see it, Pages that frequently do things such as asking for likes or sharing updates that people hide aren’t exactly great examples of the authenticity users care about. The more you have in common with those Pages’ tactics, the less likely that you’re authentic, either.

So while Facebook isn’t sharing all the different ways that they measure authenticity – after all, they’re trying to prevent people from gaming the system – they’re making it plenty clear that taking shortcuts when it comes to quality isn’t the answer.

That’s one big algorithm update out of the way, but remember – there’s still another new update to talk about!

Here’s the other big change to keep in mind moving forward:

Facebook is tracking real-time changes more closely

Facebook’s algorithms are always working in the background, so that when you visit your News Feed, you’re seeing the information they think is most relevant to you at that moment.

The second update they’ve just made is to how information is processed in real time – specifically, information related to an update’s subject and its engagement.

Basically, Facebook may place a status update higher in the News Feed if:

  • It is related to a topic that is popular on Facebook at that moment (for example, if you share an update about the Academy Awards while the Academy Awards are being broadcast, and people on Facebook are talking about them)
  • It is getting a lot of engagement at that moment (for example, if several of your followers get into a real-time debate in the comments on one of your updates)

Does that mean that all of your updates should be relevant to what’s trending at that exact moment?

Of course not!

What you do isn’t always going to be that timely. (You’re better off not forcing it.)

What it does mean, though, is you should be prepared for the times when it is relevant for you to post timely, live updates.

The best way to do that? Plan your updates ahead as much as possible – even by using a scheduling tool that allows you to share evergreen updates more than once.

An overwhelming majority of marketers prefers planning their Facebook updates in advance over trying to do everything live, and with good reason: it’s too much work!

The more you can plan, write, and schedule in advance, though, the more time you’ll have later when there are appropriate opportunities to post live – and being prepared for those moments is especially important now.

What do YOU think of these updates?

So, Facebook is fine-tuning their ability to measure real-time signals, and they’re paying closer attention than ever to whether or not your updates are authentic.

What do YOU think of these changes, though?

Do they make sense?

Will they influence what you share?

Do they address concerns you might have, or that you’ve had in the past?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Source:  MeetEdgar Blog

The Best Times to Post on Social Media

This article was written by Lindsey Kolowich | HubSpot.com

Below you’ll find the data and research on the best times to post to five popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Which time zones do these refer to? For a United States audience, your best bet is to combine Eastern and Central time zones, as they represent almost 80% of the U.S. population. For audiences located outside the U.S., use whichever time zones your target audience uses. Finding your target audience’s location or locations should be a part of your buyer persona research.

best-time-to-post

1) Best Times to Post on Facebook

People log in to Facebook on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used depends heavily on the audience.

The best time to post on Facebook is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  Other optimal times include 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 1:00–4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. [Tweet this!]

Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and weekdays from 1:00–4:00 p.m. tend to see the highest click through rates. On Fridays, Facebook use spikes by 10%. Since people tend to be happier on Fridays, Neil Patel suggests posting funny or upbeat content to match your audience’s mood.

The worst times to post on Facebook are weekends before 8:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m, according to SurePayroll’s research.

2) Best Times to Post on Twitter

Like Facebook, people use Twitter on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used also depends heavily on audience — but people often treat it like an RSS feed, and something to read during down times like commutes, breaks, and so on.

The best times to post on Twitter are weekdays from 12:00–3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. [Tweet this!]

For B2B organizations, the best days to post are Mondays through Fridays, and click-through rate is highest on Wednesdays. For B2C organizations, the best days to post are Wednesdays and the weekends, when click-through rate is highest. According to CoSchedule, B2B content performs 16% better during business hours, whereas B2C content performs 17% better on weekends.

Some businesses have also had success with 2:00–3:00 a.m., 6:00–7:00 a.m., and 9:00–10:00 p.m. post times. Experiment with these times and others to see if they work with your audience.

3) Best Times to Post on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is used by professionals, and they tend to use it during the workweek, during working hours, just before the workday starts, and just after it ends.

The best time to post on LinkedIn is midweek from 5:00–6:00 p.m. Other optimal times include Tuesdays from 10:00–11:00 a.m., and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 7:30–8:30 a.m., at 12:00 p.m., and from 5:00–6:00 p.m. [Tweet this!]

Tuesdays tend to see the most clicks and shares, especially between 10:00–11:00 a.m. Mondays see lower engagement rates than the rest of the workweek, likely because people are catching up from the weekend. Friday may see lower engagement rates too, as people are wrapping up the week and even leaving early for the weekend.

The worst time to post on LinkedIn is during the night, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

4) Best Times to Post on Pinterest

Pinterest users skew heavily female, and are most active in the evening.

The best time to post on Pinterest is in the evening any day of the week, especially Saturdays from 8:00–11:00 p.m. [Tweet this!]

Other optimal times include every day from 2:00–4:00 a.m. and 2:00–4:00 p.m., and Fridays at 3:00 p.m.

5) Best Times to Post on Instagram

Instagram is meant for use on mobile devices, and users tend to use the network all the time, any time — although many users engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.

The best times to post on Instagram are Mondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3:00–4:00 p.m. [Tweet this!]

Videos tend to perform best any night of the week between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., according to TrackMaven’s research. Some businesses have also seen success with posting at 2:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m., and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. Experiment with these to see if they work with your audience.

What Social Media Content Should You Post?

The content you post to each of these social networks depends heavily on your audience. To successfully engage with your audience, you’ll have to really get to know and understand your target audience by creating detailed buyer personas.

That being said, there are best practices for types of posts on each of these networks.

The most effective posts on social media have a clear goal, whether that’s to drive traffic to your blog, encourage comments, get shared, or something else. The general rule of thumb is to keep it real and keep it relevant. On Facebook and Twitter, your posts should be roughly 30% promotional content that link back to your website or blog, and 70% value-added content that includes relevant information your target audience would find useful or interesting.

On Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, the best posts use brief but compelling language. They also avoid click-bait phrasing, such as “You’ll never believe what happened next.” On Instagram, your captions can be slightly longer. The official character limit on Instagram is 2,200 characters, but you’ll want to cut it shorter than that to avoid losing readers along the way. Use your Instagram captions to tell a story, connect with your followers, promote an upcoming campaign, or sell a specific product pictured in your post. On all the social networks (especially Twitter and Instagram), use hashtags — but judiciously.

Finally, visual content will perform best on every social network — especially on Instagram and Pinterest, where it’s a critical part of each post. Engage your audience with photos, graphics, animated GIFs, and videos.

There you have it, folks. Happy posting, tweeting, and pinning!

Note: This post was published in January 6, 2016 by HubSpot.com.