If you're managing the social media network and blog for your business or brand, in addition to other responsibilities—such as running your business—to create engaging content, and to manage it simply and quickly is not an easy task. Especially if you don’t have the technical or artistic know-how.
In my quest for simplicity and versatility in content creation and social media management, I've found some great social apps and tools that help me create great looking content, including promotional material such as contests and surveys. I also have my favorite applications that I use to easily schedule, post and manage across several social media platforms.
Best Social Apps for Content Creation
I first used Pagemodo to create a free Facebook tab graphic. But the social media platform offers much more. In addition to Facebook cover designs and tabs, Pagemodo also offers social media post scheduling, contest creations, and a post designer. Its simple interface makes it easy to find content to post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn by searching with keywords within the Pagemodo platform. The contest publisher comes with ready-made templates--just fill in the blanks, and upload images. The post designer, in beta stage, offers a plethora of predesigned posts that can be modified, or you can create your own with a library of images, or uploaded photos. You can access analytics of your social posts, and more in-depth Google Analytics with a paid account. A free account gets you one tab and Facebook cover, and limited post scheduling.
Speaking of Facebook covers, the new kid on the block Canva has a fantastic drag and drop editor to make all sorts of infographics, including Facebook covers, social media cards, blog graphics, invitations, photo collages, postcards, and business cards. It's super easy to use, and they offer a huge library of photos for purchase at $1 each. Right now Canva is in beta stage, and you have to request to be on a waiting list, or have a friend refer you. I was able to open an account just a few days after requesting one.
A daunting task for many might be creating promotions and applications for Facebook. Shortstack is a great alternative to paying for a developer, and makes the process as easy as one, two, three. You can create promotions, surveys, contests and other campaigns with its easy-to-use templates. Applications can integrate with MailChimp to capture subscribers emails, as well as with other platforms, including Google Analytics, RSS, Twitter and more. You can use it for free, or pay for more options.
Best Apps for Post Scheduling and Management
Buffer is one of my favorite social media message scheduling and sharing applications. Install the extension on your browser, and with one click you can share content and schedule posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. With Chrome, you can share posts directly from Facebook news feeds. It’s free, but with a minimum number of days you can schedule ahead of time, and you can only connect up to four social media profiles. However, for only $10 a month, you can schedule as many posts as you want, use up to 12 social profiles, and have two team members assigned to manage an account.
It's better to have shortened links when posting and sharing stuff so it looks better. It also gives more space for your Twitter messages. This handy application will shorten those unsightly, long links to external pages and sites that you want to share. It is also useful for tracking clicks, and bookmarking your favorite sites and pages. Bitly's link shortener can be used across multiple platforms, including Buffer. Best of all, it's free!
Last, but not least, is my newest favorite, SproutSocial. The social media management platform is not perfect, but it offers almost everything I need to manage, post, monitor and analyze social media accounts from one place. I can search for content within its Feedly integration, schedule posts, reply to messages and comments on Facebook and Twitter, and monitor all messages across Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn personal profiles from one place. If they could add YouTube and LinkedIn business pages to the mix, it would be almost perfect. The platform also provides pretty looking social media analytic reports, but it does need to upgrade its Google Analytics integration--right now the metrics it imports are pretty skimpy. But of all the social media management tools out there, I find it to be one of the most comprehensive.