6 Must Have Social Media Tools

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

6 Must Have Social Media Tools

While everyone is focused on social networks from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram as the main tools for social media marketing, there are an array of third-party online tools and mobile applications that can supplement your marketing efforts online. Social media marketing involves a variety of activities including producing and publishing content and monitoring your social communities.

While each social network has various tools to reach their members, those tools aren’t always robust or feature rich. Twitter and Facebook, for example, allow you to edit a graphic that you’re posting but the editing options are limited. Facebook lets you schedule posts, but their scheduling tool is limited to their platform and no other social network has a scheduling feature.

Setting up accounts with free or fee-based services puts handy applications at your fingertips – both on the web and on your mobile device – to enhance and support your day-to-day social media marketing activities. Here are six key tools you could be using to vastly improve how you leverage the popular social networks.

For Graphics

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use graphics program to produce visually pleasing images, look no further than Canva. Tap into their library of beautiful photographs and tools to lay out attractive images with text on them. Visuals are key to attracting attention to your social media posts. Even if you’re not a graphic designer, web apps like Canva and PicMonkey help you crop and resize images to the specifications of each social network. PicMonkey also offers filters, a tool to add text to images, and frames for your images.

Canva’s has a free version as well as an affordably priced version at $119.40 annually or $12.95 per month with an additional cost per user if you’re using the Work version. PicMonkey has a free version and then two subscription options: Basic and Pro. Basic costs $71.88 per year. Or you can choose to pay $7.99 and be billed on a monthly basis.

For Photographs

Not everyone is a professional photographer, and as a small business owner, you might not have the budget right now for a photographer on call. Taking photos with your smartphone is convenient, and you can use a mobile app like Camera+ 2 (for iPhone only) to enhance your image with a click of a button. The app automatically changes the lighting, tone and color saturation of your images or easily converts them to black and white for a more dramatic look. Another popular photo app is VSCO where you can play around with filters and save your modified images in your phone’s photo library for quick access when posting to social networks on the fly.

Camera+ 2 is $2.99 at the app store but only available for the iPhone. VSCO is available for both Android and iPhone and is free unless you want to become a member for $19.99 per year to unlock additional features.

For Scheduling Posts

Two popular post schedulers that are perfect for posting to Twitter and LinkedIn are Hootsuite and Buffer. Both allow you to schedule posts to go out over time. Hootsuite gives you the added benefit of viewing different feeds to monitor as well as post and reply. Both applications can be operated from the web and from a smartphone.

Hootsuite has a free version with limited features but quite functional while their Professional paid level is $29/month if you pay up front as an annual subscription. Buffer has a “free forever” version and the next level up is Pro for $15 per month.

While you can use either tool to schedule Facebook Page posts, you are better off using Facebook’s schedule that you can access through the Facebook Manager app or through Facebook’s Creative Studio on the web version of their site. Facebook tends to favor posts created and scheduled from their own tool. Facebook’s scheduling tool is free.

If Instagram is your go-to social network, you can now use Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule posts and publish them directly to the network. In the past, third-party tools didn’t integrate with Instagram, but now some do.

As you can see, there are some tried and true applications that can be used hand in hand with your main social networking apps. Picking the right tools can help streamline your process and significantly improve your output.