The Internet has shifted the entrepreneurial climate across the globe and made it easier for individuals to turn their passions into profits. There are more than 22 million entrepreneurs in the United States, with another 500k new businesses being added monthly. However, more than half of the small businesses fail within the first year. As a social media strategist, one of the main complaints I often hear from entrepreneurs is the inability to grow their online community due to budget constraints.
Trust me; I understand that many entrepreneurs don’t have the large budgets available during their startup season to spend on the social media tools that social media professionals often use to build online communities. However, that can’t be your excuse when 74 percent of adults who are online are using social media. Your presence, or lack thereof, could mean the difference between the success and failure of your business. Because failure is not an option, I have gathered six free social media tools for entrepreneurs who are balling on a budget can use to build and grow their social media following.
Feedly is a news aggregator and a great tool for curating content to share on your social media channels. Feedly allows you to save time by organizing and housing the RSS feeds that you add in one location, so you don’t have to visit hundreds of sites trying to find content to share. When it comes to sharing on social media, I like to go with 80/20. That’s 80 percent curated content and 20 percent of your content. Although your followers are checking for you, let them know that you don’t mind sharing other great content that they can use. This also builds their trust in you and lets them know they can come to your feeds for updated and accurate information. So, instead of spending hours searching for content, save time with Feedly and get those posts scheduled.
When it comes to scheduling social media posts, Hootsuite is my top choice. As an entrepreneur, having a social media strategy in place is essential to your business’s growth. Using a social media management system like Hootsuite, you’re able to automate and schedule posts, interact with and reply to followers, and track keywords and hashtags for up to five social media channels with a free account. This takes away the hassle of remembering when and what to post, or not to post at all. Instead, you can schedule a specific time each day to go online and interact with your community and see what you’ve missed.
Latergramme allows you to upload images and schedule Instagram posts using your computer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically post to Instagram, but it does send a notification to your smartphone alerting you that it’s time to publish. This step alone literally takes less than one minute, and it eliminates the hassle of remembering to post to your Instagram or having to type a status from your phone. Also, you’re able to schedule and send up to 30 posts on their free version.
Tweetchat allows you to participate in real-time hashtag conversations, also known as a Twitter chat or Twitter party. As a business owner, you should know what keywords and hashtags are associated with your industry so that you can track conversations and participate in these discussions. Using Tweetchat is easy. You just input a hashtag and then participate in the conversation without having to physically type out the hashtag at the end of every tweet. For my clients, I recommend that they participate in at least two Twitter chats per month. This allows them to connect with other industry insiders, potential clients, and new followers.
5. Fanpage Karma.
Fanpage Karma is a social media analytics and monitoring tool that allows you to see which social media posts are most popular with your community, among other things. Although you’re able to add various social media channels, on the free version you’re only allowed one profile, and I suggest using it for Facebook. As you know, Facebook engagement on all pages has decreased now that it’s pay to play, and that’s okay. Until you’re able to increase your budget, use Fanpage Karma to see which Facebook posts resonate with your fans the most. Knowing this allows you to share and create more content that they will like, share, and comment on. That’s the goal, right?
Commun.it is a relationship-management tool for Twitter that entrepreneurs can use to automate engagement with their followers. I use this tool to automate ‘thank you’ tweets for new followers and followers who share my content. It also shows me my top engagers, along with suggestions about individuals I should engage with or follow. This tool packs a powerful punch as it relates to engagement. Although many of the features are limited to free users, don’t be discouraged. Use the free version until you can upgrade.
As I previously mentioned, not being on social media isn’t an option. Your business needs a virtual footprint, because phone books are only used for … are they still making those, though? Seriously, use these tools to grow and engage with your virtual community. Please note, these free social media tools are only intended to be used until you can upgrade or pay someone to do the work for you. You cannot build your empire on free stuff forever, so make the investment sooner rather than later.
Do you currently use any of the tools listed above, or do you have any tools to add to the list? Please share in the comments.
About the Author
Yolo Spinks is a Memphis-based lifestyle blogger and social media strategist. With a charming smile and deep-rooted Southern drawl to match, Yolo is dedicated to inspiring and motivating women and girls of color to live in purpose and on purpose. Her work to bring awareness to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and infant mortality in communities of color are just two of the ways that she gives back to her community. In her spare time, you can find her reading a book and being Auntie ‘Londa to her great-nieces, Goo and Kay. Follow her on Twitter at @YoloSpinks.