I’ve always been stingy with my money. If I go shopping with friends, you can count on me to head straight to the back where the sales are. I’m the same with a budget at work. As a former nonprofit employee, I am very conscious of spending money and always look for ways to avoid it.
When I first started at a corporation, I remember being nervous to tell my boss that a platform I wanted to use was going to cost a little bit of money. Their response to my request was laughing at how small it was and sarcastically replied, “I think we can spare that.”
With a little extra freedom to spend money when needed, I still find myself choosing applications and tools that don’t cost money. It’s my personality. I’ve found success using these free or low-cost tools and I think most brand can. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Polldaddy– Polldaddy can do anything. We originally purchased it for surveys because it allowed us to download an application for our iPads, but it’s proved to be a endless resource. Our website didn’t have the ability for people to upload photos. Using Polldaddy’s photo upload feature on a survey, I grabbed the code they provide and embed it on my website. I’ve yet to come up with a task that requires gathering customer information that PollDaddy cannot accomplish. There is a free version, but as much as I use it, the paid version is way worth the money.
- ShortStack– As you know, Facebook has strict rules for companies that want to run any contest on their Facebook page. Basically, you aren’t allowed to do anything unless you use a third party application/platform and disassociate Facebook with any connection to the contest. Shortstack is the best free application I’ve used. It has minimal branding, templates and lots of features to choose from. This also has a free and paid version, but by combing Polldaddy and ShortStack, I’ve managed to survive with the free version.
- HootSuite/TweetDeck– You know about these. I think HootSuite is the easiest to use on my phone and during the day at work, but TweetDeck I like that TweetDeck is a desktop feature so it has a small popup anytime someone mentions my brand. Tweet Deck also catches some interactions, such as who retweeted your post, that Hootsuite does not. I always have them both open!
- Facebook Pages– this is an application for smart phones and iPads. Until recently, it was only developed for iPhone users, but as soon as they released the Android app I downloaded it. I love it because it sends a push notification to your phone every time someone comments on your page. This makes monitoring on the weekends and after work so much easier. If there is an emergency, I will find out about it much faster than just randomly checking in every once and a while. I also like that it is separate from Facebook application so I don’t risk posting personal stuff on my company page. Additionally, it lets you look at insights which the Facebook application does not let you do.
- Facebook Post Analysis Spreadsheet– I just discovered this last week. Tim Wilson has created an awesome (free) downloadable spreadsheet that will analyze your Facebook post history. It uses a color coded system show you when posts received the most engagement and another table tells you when your post reached the most people. I have discovered that when the data is exported from Facebook it uses the time you schedule the post, not the scheduled time which skews my data a little, but I still think this is a very valuable tool. Too much other research out there does not speak specifically to my demographic so I appreciate being able to analyze my own data with this spreadsheet.
These are my top five social media tools. What’s in your toolbox?’