Managing social media is a critical area of importance for freelance writers, but it’s really something that all businesses need to focus on in the modern world. And social media tools for freelancers can make a time-consuming job much faster.
As a writer, we often hold a second “unofficial” role as the social media manager for our clients and are tasked with sharing our content and blogs on various platforms to ensure it gets views, replying to reader comments and other associated tasks. This can often take more of your time than writing the piece itself.
Social media and getting your posts shared is more important than ever before. Not only that, but it seems like a new social media platform is coming online every week. For each app that drops off and becomes the next Myspace, a new Facebook appears to pop up to take its place.
Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram, and Snapchat are just some of the platforms that you may need to use to push out information about your new posts. Luckily, there is a broad range of free and paid social media tools for freelancers that make staying on top of your social media a little bit easier.
Batching your work together by task and doing it all in one sitting can be a great way to save time.
Instead of interrupting the rest of your schedule to stop and make daily social media posts, Buffer allows you to write your posts ahead of time and set them in a queue to be automatically published on a particular schedule. These are some of the most interesting social media tools for freelancers.
Sitting down to write out all of your social media posts for the week might only take a few minutes if you do it all at once, but can otherwise be a huge time sink that draws you away from your work if you’re manually creating one post at a time throughout the day.
Buffer works as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. You can even use email to add to your queue from a mobile device.
Besides just having a name that’s really fun to say, Hootsuite is another great social media management tool. You can schedule posts across multiple social media accounts in Hootsuite similar to Buffer, but it also has additional features.
You can engage with customers and followers from inside the app and reply to comments with a single click.
Hootsuite also provides a pretty robust set of analytic reports that allow you to track how your social media posts and performing and how your audience is growing. It also provides valuable insight into what types of posts with your audience and which don’t.
Hootsuite is a more comprehensive “all-in-one” package than Buffer, but also comes at a slightly higher monthly price as a result. The time savings that you can gain by having all of your social media activity accessible from a single dashboard definitely makes it worth the price tag.
Agorapulse is an up-and-coming competitor to Hootsuite that has actually been making a favourable impression on the social media pros of the world. It includes most of the features that Hootsuite offers and often expands upon them, making it a good all-round social media tool for freelancers.
The app offers an “inbox style” way of looking at comments and private messages that allow you to quickly clear through backlogs and ensure nothing gets missed.
Automated rules that can be set up ahead of time allow Agorapulse to moderate your content even while you’re offline.
But perhaps one of the most interesting and useful features of Agorapulse is how it tracks your audience. Data is retained on every person you interact with on social media including their comments, likes, mentions, shares, and private messages. In a pinch, you can see the whole backstory and any previous history you may have with a specific commenter.
Tweetdeck is unique from the other social media management tools we’ve discussed because they choose to specialise in supporting only the Twitter platform. If you are a Twitter power-user and focus primarily on it instead of other platforms, then Tweetdeck might be the perfect tool for you.
It’s a web-based tool that gives you control over all of the Twitter accounts you manage. The dashboard shows a column for each of your Twitter accounts so they are easy to keep separate. It can also separate specific activities such as direct messages and notifications into either own columns as well. It’s highly customisable, and you can add, delete, or change the order of the columns.
Much like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck allows you to schedule future posts ahead of time so that you aren’t stuck updating Twitter throughout the day.
Unlike the other items we have discussed so far, BuzzSumo isn’t a tool to consolidate or schedule your social media posts. You can think of it more like the Google Analytics of social media, giving you access to information on what is currently hot and trending.
BuzzSumo allows you to instantly search across the last 12 months of content on all major social media networks. You can use it to view backlinks, find influencers to work with, analyse your competitors, and more. It’s a great tool to use as part of a B2B social media campaign.
The information gleaned from BuzzSumo can be exported in Excel or CSV format for further analysis.
If you run a blog devoted to cats, you could really benefit from networking with other cat bloggers who might share a similar audience to you.
If you were around in the early days of the Internet, you might be familiar with the concept of “web rings“. They were essentially a way for up-and-coming websites to form a community and agree to link to each other’s websites. While web rings aren’t a common practice online any more, Triberr is like a Web 2.0 version of web rings, adapted for social sharing.
By banding together with fellow writers, you can get more traffic directed toward your posts and find other people in your niche to work with.
The best way to catch people’s attention on social media is with eye-grabbing graphics. With multiple social media posts per day, the work associated with creating infographics and other images can quickly add up. Unless you’re a large corporation, you probably don’t have the money to hire a professional graphic designer to create all of your social media imagery for you.
The app is web-based and offers hundreds of templates custom-made for each social media platform which can be easily customised to meet your specific requirements. There are hundreds of free images, fonts and backgrounds or you can pay to upgrade to stock photos.
See that image at the top of this post? I made that in Canva in just a few minutes.
Speaking of graphics, you might want to improve those social media posts even further with some custom photography. Stock photos can be expensive, but websites exist that offer millions of royalty-free images for download and commercial use. Many of them don’t even require any type of attribution. Most of these images are just as good as professional stock photography.
You can search for whatever term makes the most sense for your business and find plenty of images to choose from. Other sites like Pexels or Unsplash similarly offer royalty-free photos for use, but I find that Pixabay consistently has the best selection.
Here is an image of an adorable little kitten that I found on Pixabay. As you can see, it’s quite a professional looking photo with great depth of field that would be great to put some text over.
Use These Tools to Work Smarter, Not Harder
If you plan to follow the advice of prolific social media gurus like Grant Cardone or Gary Vaynerchuk and take massive action on social media, that means you might be making five or more posts to a single platform per day. Using an app like some of the social media management platforms discussed above to schedule your posts is the only way to achieve it without being glued to your social media all day.
Apps like BuzzSumo make research easy and can help you identify topics and keywords that will interest and grow your audience, as well as analysing what your competition is up to. Creative applications like Canva help you quickly and easily create beautiful content that your followers will love. When you use several of these apps in conjunction, they can easily save you hours of time each week that you currently spend updating and managing various social media accounts for yourself and clients.
Do you have a favourite app that helps make your work on social media a breeze? Please let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s note: this post was originally published by Claire Broadley in May 2012. It was revised and updated by Dustin Yarc in September 2017.