Tools for Social Media Managers
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As a social media manager (SMM), it can be a challenge to find the resources to create engaging content and the time to manage content across different channels.
While things can change on a dime and it’s important to remain flexible, taking note of current trends and news-worth items, it’s equally important to stay organized and have a plan in mind. Luckily, there are many tools out there to help social media managers overcome these challenges.
Below I’ve included a list of the tools I’ve found helpful as a social media manager. It’s broken down into 3 categories:
- Tools for planning
- Tools for creating and editing
- Tools for scheduling, monitoring, reporting
It was a bit of a journey to find a tool I liked for planning purposes for social media. After experimenting with different methods of planning content, including a spreadsheet, I came across Trello. While Trello is typically viewed as a project management tool, I quickly became a fan of it for content planning because it’s so visual in nature.
I use two different Trello boards to plan and manage content (both shown below). The first is an editorial calendar, which includes all social themes and campaigns, newsletter campaigns, and blog content. This is the first step in content planning and it informs the second board.
The second Trello board is a social media content calendar. This is where most of the monthly and weekly planning takes place, including creating copy and attaching any assets. Being able to have copy, links, and assets all in one spot is one of the things that really drew me to Trello.
While I lay my content out by month, I’ve also seen Trello boards used to track the stages of social content. This typically includes a board with a list for planned, in progress, approved, and completed. Typically with these boards, the social content will move from one list to another, until it ends up in the completed list. Here’s a template for this type of board that Trello provides.
Below are some of the ways I use Trello for content planning:
- Colour-coded tagging system to tag items based on social platform (you could also do this for themes or campaigns)
- The Planyway power-up is my favourite power-up for Trello. It’s got an interactive calendar feature that easily allows. you to drag and drop items from one date to another on the calendar. This is great when making last minute changes to a content schedule
- With the business version of Trello, you’re able to assign items to a particular team member as well as deadlines. This is something that’s beneficial when collaborating with other team members or departments
There are many planning tools for Instagram (Later, Planoly, etc.), but the one I have experience using professionally is the Preview app. While Instagram content is also included in my Trello board, Preview helps to visualize what the content will look like once it’s in your Instagram feed. It allows you to drag and drop content, rearranging it to see what it will look like with the rest of your feed, ensuring you’re posting content consistent with your brand.
While there are two paid options (pro and premium), which allow you to access analytics, hashtags, filter packs, and give multiple team members access, I’ve found that the free one gives me everything I need.
Creating and Editing
Canva is a user-friendly graphic design tool that allows you to create assets for social media. There are many free templates to get started, which you can easily modify and personalize. Though the free version is quite good, this is one of the tools that I’d recommend upgrading to the Pro version. This upgrade allows you to use custom colours, upload your logo and fonts, and create branded content.
While Canva doesn’t replace having a dedicated design team, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to work alongside a designer. In smaller companies, it’s often the SMM who is responsible for creating content. In these instances, Canva is a great tool to use.
Biteable is a video maker that allows users to create professional-looking videos easily for social media. It includes:
- Stock footage clips
- Different types of templates to begin from (ads, explainer videos, etc.).
This tool is very easy to use and allows you to resize the videos you create to align with popular aspect ratios of different social platforms.
Though it’s possible to create videos with the free version, the videos include the Biteable watermark so it’s not something you’d want to share externally. It is possible to pay a one-time fee to download a video you create without the watermark, but if you’re going to be using it to make videos regularly, the Plus Plan is worth it.
Lightroom CC is a mobile app that is completely free and helps to edit images on the go. It’s very easy to master (here’s a tutorial that walks through the basics), and if you find a preset that you love, you can easily edit photos to ensure they are consistent with the feel of your brand.
Not sure what a preset is? It’s a set of photo adjustments (exposure, highlights, colour, etc.) that you can save and easily apply to your images to get a consistent look (think Instagram filters). There are many free and paid presets out there to help you achieve any look you’re going for, but you can also create your own custom presets in Lightroom.
Scheduling, Monitoring, Reporting
Though there are many different tools out there to help with scheduling, monitoring, and reporting on social media content (Agorapulse, Hootsuite, HubSpot, Sprout Social, and Zoho to name a few), the one that I am familiar with is Hootsuite.
Hootsuite is an all-in-one social media management tool that allows you to:
- Schedule and publish content across platforms
- Monitor and engage with content and your audience
- Analyze results and create custom reports
Hootsuite makes it easy to schedule and publish content, allowing you to schedule a post for multiple platforms at the same time. There is also a calendar view, which means you can visually track when scheduled posts are going out.
Tip: if you’re hoping to use Hootsuite to determine how many link clicks posts receive, it’s important to use the URL shortener in the scheduling tool. From previous experience, if you don’t shorten URLs in Hootsuite scheduler, you won’t be able to find this information in the Analytics section, you’ll have to search in each platform’s native Analytics.
With Hootsuite, you’re able to set up different streams to monitor content. This can include things like scheduled posts for each platform, mentions of your brand, specific hashtags, and competitors. This makes it a great tool for social listening and staying on top of what’s going on in your industry. These streams also make it easy to engage with your audience when they share something about your brand, as you’re able to respond to messages, comment and share posts all from within Hootsutie.
Finally, Hootsuite also makes the reporting process easier as it provides you with lots of data about your posts. Not only are you able to view insights by platform and look at different date ranges, but you can also compare platforms within specific date ranges. Hootsuite allows you to download customized reports, which you can then use as a jumping off point for your own reporting and determining optimizations.
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