As a small business, I get it, you don’t always have the extra money to throw at the latest social media marketing tools, classes, and gadgets for your business. But on the flip side…sometimes you need them to make you look good and help you get ahead in this world.
So why not try the best of both worlds, get the social media marketing tools you need (that work) without the cost? Here I have listed out some of the free social media marketing tools that I use (or know of) to help jump start my social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing Tool #1: Stock Photography
I can tell you that I am NOT a professional photographer. I have tried, I see things out in the world and think “Man that is a great photo!” so I pull out my camera and take the shot. Then I look back and it is nothing like what I saw in my head. These days having an online presence requires us to have a professional image and that includes the pictures that we use on our website and all social media accounts.
But if you are not a professional photographer where can you get great images? Depending on your business there are a number of different sites you can use these are some of my favorites:
Pixabay – I have been using this site for a few years now and it seems to be gaining in popularity because I see more and more of their images being used. But there is a lot of great images that can be used.
Unsplash – Here is another great site for images. They have a great category break down to make it easier if you are just browsing for images without a specific idea in mind.
The downside to using free stock photography is that it is free for everyone to use. This means that the images on your site are not unique and depending on your audience might hurt their impression of you.
If you do have a little money to spend on stock photography I would highly recommend looking on Creative Market. Search for stock photography and you will see so many great choices.
Personally, I love to look for photographers that offer bundles so I can get more than one image. If you find a photographer you like, I suggest you look at their website and see if they have a newsletter. One of my favorite photographers (that I can’t yet afford her packages) gives out free images every month to her email subscribers and when I signed up I received 20 of her images for FREE! Lots of people will provide these kinds of offers, so be on the lookout! It’s a great way to get images for free.
However, you decide to find images to use for your business please be sure that you fully understand the copyright laws. Be sure that the images come with an open license so you can use them anywhere in your business (the same is true if you purchase images as well because some of their contracts will have limitations on use). To that end, I typically tell people not to use images from Google searches unless you are absolutely certain the creator has given permission for them to be reused.
Social Media Marketing Tool #2: Graphic Design
Now that you have the beautiful stock photography that you want to use on your site, you now need to make it your own!
Canva – I am in love with this program! There is a free version and an upgraded version. Right now I use the free version to design stunning images for my clients and I feel it has everything I need. I can add text overlay, use only a portion of the picture, resize for different platforms. By far this is my favorite tool to play with!
All of the images you see on my site were created using Canva. I love that you can design a template for yourself and continue to reuse it each every time to keep that professional and consistent look and feel. You will also see that Canva can do so much more than images. I have seen it used to create stunning documents as well, especially opt-in offers for email subscribers.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a designer, they offer you a number of free templates that you can take and make your own!
Easil – This is another free program that not as many people are using but it is very similar to Canva in their free program. They have great tools and you can resize your images as well.
Social Media Marketing Tool #3: Email Marketing Platform
If you are not creating a list of emails from your most loyal customers and fans you need to start doing this today! Why, you ask? Because on any given day Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and any other networking platform can cancel your account or change its algorithm and every effort you have made to create a fan base can disappear overnight! The one thing that these other companies can not take from you is a list of fans that you have created!
And if that isn’t reason enough to get you collecting emails did you know that according to Hubspot “email generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available.”
So now that you know you need to build your email list Once you have started to collect those emails don’t just sit on them! Make a connection. How often and what you email about is up to you and your business but don’t create this list and only email when you have something to sell (or not at all). Find ways to connect with your fans regularly.
I have a photographer I follow and she only emails once a month (with the exception of big sales) and that works. I have other bloggers I follow that email once a week. Find out what works for you and your fans and stick to it.
I know this can seem daunting there are programs out there that can help you automate a lot of this process.
MailChimp – I have been using this program since I was working at one of the Big 4. I love this platform because it is free up to 2,000 subscribers. This is great news for those that are just trying to figure out this whole email marketing thing. Some features include – the ability to create a signup form that can be added to your website/social media pages that will collect information and add it to your list automatically. Ability to schedule campaigns (anything I can set and forget I love!). Create automation (no not the same as scheduling).
Automation allows you to create a series of emails that are sent when you set them up to. For example, a welcome message when someone signs up. Or a series of sales emails for a product.
MailerLite – I am newer to this platform than I am to MailChimp but they also have a free version of the tool that can be used up to the first 1,000 subscribers. While this is less than MailChimp offers I am finding that the tool offers more in their free plan.
For example, in MailChimp’s free plan I am only able to put one email in an automated workflow and I can only have a limited number of segments for my contacts. Mailerlite allows for a lot more flexibility in their tool.
Social Media Marketing Tool #4: Collaboration / Productivity
Since I started my business I know that there are a million details that I need to keep track of. I also need tools that will help me collaborate with my clients on their campaigns. That is where this next tool comes in.
Trello – This tool is a gem of a find for this girl who likes to be overly organized! I love to think of this tool like your to-do list on steroids! You can create boards to track ideas, manage social media scheduled, email marketing content and project steps. Each item on your board can be dug into further to provide even more details (including attachments!). Use this tool for yourself or with clients or among your team members. It will help you keep all of those details together!
Facebook – Nothing screams time suck as much as Facebook. Even when I log on just to post for my business I get sucked into my feed and before you know it 15 minutes or more has disappeared.
Not to mention I frequently train business owners to post when the majority of their audience is online, for some that might be 6pm or 7pm when most business owners are trying to unwind for the night. Who wants to get back online?
Facebook has this great feature for your business page – the ability to schedule out your post! When you log into your business Facebook post, navigate in the top menu bar to Publishing Tools, then in the left-hand menu select scheduled post, then create. You will be able to schedule posts into the future and even backdate them if needed.
This is the perfect tool to help you batch your social media content and keep your page consistent.
BONUS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TOOL: Sign-ups
I realize that this isn’t something a lot of business do, but I have a few non-profits that I work with that need help with signing up volunteers or event registrations. In the past, I have used Google forms for this type of work but it’s clunky and not easy to manage. Recently I found a new tool that I am just in love with!
Signup Genius – This tool will offer you a variety of ways to organize signups for different events. As the organizer, you are informed when people signup. You will also have the ability to email from the system as well. It makes everything a lot easier! (Don’t forget to get those emails over to your marketing tool!)
When you are just getting started with your social media marketing these free tools will help you get started and most will let you grow with them.
Do you have any other free social media marketing tools you love to use to market your business?