Budgets are getting smaller and smaller by the academic year. Positions become vacant and are never filled, resulting in responsibilities being divided by an already overworked team. Sound familiar? Sometimes we are the experts or “social media manager” has become another hat that we must wear to continue to engage our students. Whether you’re in higher education or in the corporate sector, social media managers are well aware of bootstrapping as much as possible to make their campaigns and accounts successful. While running my business (The Branding Muse) and working at John Jay college, I have relied on free (and often underutilized) tools to make fun, dynamic content for our student life channels. Below are my secret weapons.
No visual content should be created without Canva. With an app for the iPad and a desktop platform, Canva makes Photoshop unnecessary for the average community manager. This graphic design tool comes with templates and layouts sized for all our favorite social media channels, making it easy to create flyers, quotes and other engaging content that is high quality and properly sized. Thank me later.
If your boss and team think that infographics are the next best thing and could be a game changer for your content strategy, they are absolutely right. The visual presentation of data helps information to not only be conveyed easier but to be understood and retained. Similarly to Canva, Piktochart is the all in one tool that allows you to visually present data through the use of icons, charts, graphs and text. They have everything you need to make a stunning infographic and templates to help save you time and creative energy. You can report on student trends, recap the success of a social media initiative or use it as an alternative to a blog post.
Hootsuite is a popular scheduling tool, but it works well with other scheduling platforms like Buffer. While Hootsuite is an amazing listening dashboard with the capability to bulk upload your posts, at times it can be a bit frustrating to use. I will give you a common scenario: you come into work to emails about multiple messages that need to be sent out that day. Instead of manually scheduling the time you want these to go out and uploading photos that get converted into ow.ly links, you can use Buffer to load the tweets or Facebook posts into a cue that will automatically space out the messages throughout the day for you. You can also use the analytics tab to see how well each individual message is performing to give insight on what content works well for your audience and what content didn’t.
Iconosquare will have you wondering why in the world you have been torturing yourself going through comments on Instagram and taking screenshots of photos you want to save. Iconosquare allows you to manage your Instagram account from your computer. You can like and save photos, respond to comments, monitor hashtags, and check your analytics in one place. Iconosquare gives you more data to work with and helps you build your following faster than any iPhone keyboard would ever allow.
Reporting can also be made easy with the SumAll dashboard. You can have weekly reports emailed to you and run monthly reports to see the statistics for all of your channels and hashtags at a glance in one screen. You don’t have to run individual reports for each channel or be clueless about your hashtags’ performance. SumAll brings it all together in an appealing format to share with others on your team or track your progress over the life of a campaign.
Many of these tools have a freemium model, where they offer you the basics for free and advanced features come with a price. However, I have used all of these tools with the free basic features and there is nothing that I feel I need or want. Your supervisor, VP (or SSAO) will be grateful for everything that you are able to accomplish without having to add a line item to the already constrained budget. Happy posting!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dave Kerpen on Authenticity/ Branding on Social Media