Despite the situation changing daily, COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown have hit small businesses especially hard. That means now more than ever, it is imperative that your social media presence remains active.
Staying visible and connected to your followers will keep customers engaged even when you’re not online.
We’ve put together a selection of our favourite free online tools to strengthen your social media strategy.
Facebook for Business
Facebook for Business is a great platform for not only scheduling your posts, but seeing what your customers engage with the most.
You can sign up here, add any team members and set permissions as admins, editors, or advertisers.
Once you’re set up, head to your page and go to the ‘Creator Studio’ tab. This is where you’ll be able to create and schedule your posts.
If you’re not sure what to schedule and when, this is where your ‘Insights’ tab comes in, especially the ‘Posts’ section. Here, you can get a good insight into who your followers are and how they interact with your page, including what time of day they’re most active, and how each individual post has performed. You can use these to make sure you’re reaching your customers when they’re online, with content that they like.
If you want to keep up with what your fellow independents are doing with their accounts, head to the ‘Pages To Watch’ section and see how your page stacks up against theirs.
Top tip: Video posts work best on Facebook, generating a 6.13% engagement rate – much higher than the post average of 3.6%. Think about ways you can use video in your posts, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
If you’re struggling to get through customer queries or want to join in with trends, Tweetdeck is about to change your life. There’s no sign up needed as it’s an extension of your existing account, so just click here to get started.
It’s basically a breakdown of all of your tabs on the app, but in one place. You can then begin to build, using the ‘Add Column’ button on the left to track mentions, hashtags, messages – anything you might want to see. You can add, remove, and prioritise each tab to suit your own preferences, as well as schedule posts.
If you have several locations, you can add multiple accounts to Tweetdeck to control them all at one.
Top tip: Tweets with hashtags get 100% more engagement, so make sure you’re keeping up with the latest trends to get your business seen and heard.
We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Instagram doesn’t yet have scheduling capabilities on the platform. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
If your business’ page is set up as a business profile (it should be if it isn’t, and it’s a simple click of a button in settings), you’ll have access to some brilliant insights.
In the ‘Audience’ tab, you’ll be able to see who you’re speaking to exactly, and when they’re most active, so you can change your messaging to suit them. The ‘Content’ and ‘Activity’ tabs will allow you to see what’s working, and what’s not, so you can tailor your images, and hopefully get a set style going.
Top tip: 90% of users follow a business on Instagram, so they want to hear from you. Just make sure you have something exciting to say to them!
When it comes to managing everything in one place, from scheduling to replying to comments, Hootsuite offers the most comprehensive free software. You can add up to three profiles (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and schedule up to 30 posts, which is around two weeks worth of content.
It also offers reporting, so you can get a snapshot of how your content is performing. It’s not as in-depth as the singular platforms, so make sure you’re using all of the tools at your fingertips.
One amazing thing that Hootsuite is doing to support small businesses in their time of need is making its Professional Plan (usually £25 a month) completely free until July.
If your business has a website, Google Analytics is a must-have.
You can access traffic statistics, find out which pages and products are the most popular, and compare to any date range from the day it is activated.
To get set up, you have to add a little bit of code to the top of your website – if a developer built your site, they should have added this for you.
Want to know what people are talking about? Have a look at Google Trends! Stay up to date with what’s popular and talking about it will see your engagement increase, and reach new people as they search for what’s trending.
Like Google Trends, this is a great tool to see what people are searching for on Google. It compiles the data from Google Suggest to give you an idea into the popularity of certain topics as well as the related topics people are also searching for.
Now you’re all set up, it’s time to create your posts. If you don’t have the budget for a creative agency, you can still create images that look good on the feed with Canva.
You can add a background in your brand’s colours, upload your logo (use a PNG file with a transparent background), and add text and images to make your message stand out.
Canva is free, but we would recommend paying the £10 a month for a premium account if you use it a lot, as you’ll be able to access more images and features.
We’d always recommend taking original photos – you’d be amazed at how good a smartphone is in the right hands – but we understand that it’s not always possible. You can make your feed look good with a seemingly unlimited bank of free images. Here are just a few sites you can use:
One brilliant resource is also your customer base. Check out the posts you’re mentioned and tagged in and share the pictures your customers have taken – make sure you tag them in and credit them. When they see that you’ve personally taken the time to share their post, they’ll feel more connected with your brand.
You may not realise it, but you don’t need a production budget to produce quality videos. Most smartphones now come with inbuilt editing options, as well as HD cameras that make them perfect for social videos. There’s also iMovie, which is free on Apple devices!
If you’re able to, consider creating video content for a cooking class, cocktail masterclass, or even a music night!
If you need any advice on how to navigate the various aspects of marketing your business, our blog is packed with free advice from our team!