The Must-Have Social Media Management Tools for Writers
A Product Review of the Great (and Not So Great) Social Tools
Social media is a must for every author in today's tech-consumed culture. But trying to manage multiple accounts, passwords, logins, and posts across several platforms doesn't have to be tiring and time-consuming. These (mostly) free, easy-to-use tools can seriously simplify your social media efforts so you can get back to more important tasks—like writing.
Hootsuite is the tool for scheduling posts and managing multiple social network platforms all in one place.
Hootsuite can help you manage:
- Facebook: Profiles and Pages
- LinkedIn: Profiles and Pages
- Google+: Company Pages
- WordPress blogs
- Pinterest, Tumblr, Vimeo, Evernote, Flickr, MailChimp, SlideShare, Storify, and more via third-party apps in Hootsuite's App Directory
Pros: You can post easily to most major platforms, schedule posts, listen in on hashtag conversations, and manage replies to your followers. You can even read feeds of the people and companies you follow right in Hootsuite, which is perfect for discovering additional content to retweet or share with your followers. There's also a suggestions section that will feed you relevant content based on keywords you select. The Hootsuite has an in-house URL shortener ow.ly that's helpful for tracking performance and gathering analytics. The calendar is also a really great feature for scheduling out content across many platforms.
Cons: Instagram access is limited. It's still helpful because you can upload the photo and text on your desktop, and Hootsuite will send them to your smartphone via its app. But from there, you have to manually set up the post in Instagram and hit share yourself. Additionally, some of the third-party apps can be clunky, buggy, and honestly more work than they're worth. The Hootsuite interface is also in serious need of a facelift—it's a little hard sometimes to find what you want and even when you get there, it's still confusing.
Plans: Free, Pro, and Business
Buffer is similar to Hootsuite in that you can schedule a bunch of posts and manage most of the major platforms in one place.
Buffer helps with:
- Facebook: Profile, Page, and Group (for groups you have to be an admin)
- LinkedIn: Profile, Company Page, and Group (for groups you have to be an admin)
- Twitter: Profile
- Google+: Company Pages
- Pinterest accounts (On Awesome and Business level packages)
Pros: The interface is clean and fairly simple to navigate as opposed to Hootsuite's difficult to manage layout. You can "re-buffer" posts, meaning any posts that you've scheduled and sent out to the world can be reloaded into your scheduler with the click of a button. This is great for recycling recent updates to make sure you get the most out of your content or popular content on your page.
Cons: The lack of Instagram access and third-party apps means Buffer has pretty narrow social media capabilities.
Plans: Individual to Large Business—read more about the different perks on Buffer's pricing FAQs.
- Individual Plan: Free!
- Awesome Plan: $10/month or $102/year
- Small Business Plan: $50/month or $510/year
- Medium Business Plan: $100/month or $1,020/year
- Large Business Plan: $250/month or $2,550/year
IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT is a cool tool that can automate activities for you between Internet connected services. IFTTT is currently hooked up to 211 different web services—including major social media sites. Example: If you want to receive an email every time it's going to snow, you can set up one of their formulas, called recipes, to trigger an email every time it's going to snow in your area.
Pros: There are lots of ready-made recipes to choose from, making it super simple to sign up and get going with automated recipes. The search bar allows you to look for recipes like "Get an email if there will be rain in your area tomorrow" or "Post my tweets to Tumblr." You can also create your own recipes for a totally customized experience.
Cons: It's a bit tedious at first to connect all your Internet accounts through IFTTT. You'll need to have a native account on sites that require a login (like Buzzfeed, Facebook, and Reddit) for the recipes to connect and work properly. It's great that there are so many ready-made recipes ready to go, but the list is a bit overwhelming unless you know what you're looking for.
Pictures are a huge part of social media. Although photos are no longer the top performer (hello videos!), they're still an important part of developing the visual side of your social media brand as an author. Canva is an awesome graphic design tool that lets you create and manage customized images with text, brand colors, and more.
Pros: You can make professional looking images in minutes without having to know much about graphic design. They make it easy with templates to choose from or you can create images from scratch.
Cons: The free version is good, but you can really dig into branding with a paid account.
Plans: Free with premium add-ons and Canva for Work
- Free Plan: Access to basic templates and $1 premium add-ons
- Canva for Work Plan: $12.95/month or $119.40/year
Social Media Marketing and Management Tool Recommendation
I'd definitely recommend starting off with Hootsuite and Canva. I love the calendar view and the content suggestions feature in Hootsuite. You can type in three keywords and Hootsuite will pull fairly recent articles from around the web that might be good for sharing.
They're not all home-runs, but definitely help when you're in a content pinch. I especially love using suggestions for Twitter content, since the platform is designed to take lots of tweets throughout the day, as opposed to Facebook, where you want to really zone in on quality over quantity.
And Canva is a gift from technology heaven. It's the easiest and quickest way I've found to make high-quality images without having to buy a design program or know much about design in the first place. Their templates are modern and easy to use, and even include templates based on which platform you're creating images for.
The others are great tools, too—it's more about figuring out what you need to make your social media presence easy peasy.
With new tools popping up every day that could seriously elevate your social media game, it's important to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest. Subscribe to our newsletter and find us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the best new social media tools for writers.
Katie is a social media & advertising strategist.