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The Best Free Social Media Management Tools

In this post we’ll share our favorite social media planning tools, our favorite places to find inspiration for content, and more tools to help maximize your efforts online. All of the tools listed below are FREE. Some offer subscriptions for more features, but we are only sharing tools that still have value in their free versions.

News and Articles

We like to ease into the work day with a strong cup of coffee, a quick check for urgent emails, and then we dive into our favorite websites while we wait for the caffeine to hit. We use the below websites to stay up-to-date on marketing news and our clients’ industries. We believe in sharing outside material for about one-third of posts, so here is where we find some of our outside content.

  1. Social Media Today: They share the latest news, trends, and tips in social media. We recommend subscribing to their newsletter to make sure you catch the most important updates. 
  2. Social Media Examiner: Another great source for social media news! They release an annual social media report filled with so many helpful graphs. They also have a podcast that we listen to while working.
  3.  Moz: Moz is more geared for SEO, but they offer great tips for promoting your content, and increasing your search engine page results.
  4. Medium: Medium is a great publishing platform to find industry related news, and to syndicate your content. 
  5. Mix: We like to call this the Pinterest of interesting articles. You choose the topics your interested in viewing, and it creates a customized board of “pins” consisting of article snippets. We love using this a source to find articles to post on our clients’ pages, and to share our own content.
  6. Google Scholar: Nothing beats a scholarly peer-reviewed article.

Content Creation Inspiration and Tools

Every social media manager knows how important content creation is, but sometimes it’s hard to find inspiration. We keep an ongoing spreadsheet of interesting articles we find to sprinkle through our content calendar. When we’re in a rut, here are some tools we turn to.

  1. Track Maven’s National Day Calendar: Yes, your accounts are for your brand, but your followers will get tired if you ONLY promote your brand. Spruce it up every once awhile, and post pictures on national holidays like National Cupcake Day, National Margarita Day, etc. 
  2. Forekast: This is a crowd-sourced internet calendar. Very similar to the above calendar, but it also includes international holidays, and events like the Grammys. 
  3. Canva: This website is MAGIC. You are crazy if you are not already using it. You can easily create images for your social media platforms. It provides the optimal size for the post you are creating, templates, images, a huge text library, and more.
  4. Unsplash: Unsplash is our favorite place to get stock photos. EVERYTHING on their site is free (don’t you hate those sites that make you sift through a bunch of images just to find the free ones?). You also have the rights to do whatever you want with the photos. Just be sure to pick the more unique photos, because we have seen some of the “business” themed ones on other websites.
  5. Grammarly: It’s not necessarily a creation tool, but it is an app that checks your spelling and grammar. Your audience will appreciate your well-written captions and posts.
  6. Bitly: So you’ve finished your latest blog post, and it’s ready to be shared. We suggest using Bitly to shorten the link, and so you can track the clicks it receives, and where your viewers are located.

SEO Tools

Search Engine Optimization is complicated considering Google updates their algorithm approximately 500 times a year. Here are some tools to help you pick the best keywords, and test factors for determining SEO. 

  1. Google Search Console: Any tool made by Google is an important tool. This helps measure your site’s traffic and performance. 
  2. Google Page Speed Insights: The rate at which your site loads factors into your SEO especially on mobile devices. This tool rates your upload speeds for both mobile devices and your desktop, and provides suggestions on speeding it up.
  3. Google Chrome’s Developer Tool: Through a few steps, you can see how your webpage loads on different devices. While using Chrome, go to your website, right click, and select “Inspect”. On the toolbar on the top and second to the left, click the icon with two boxes (one looks like a mobile device, and one looks like a tablet). After doing this, above the webpage, you will see options for different devices, and if you select the tab that says “Online”, you can choose different upload speeds. To see how it would load for a first time visitor, hold the refresh button, select “Empty Cache and Hard Reload”. It takes a few steps, but it does provide a lot of valuable information. Below are some images to help you access the right buttons.
    SEO Developer Tool for Mobile View


  4. Broken Link Check: Dead links or links on your site that result in a 404 error hurt your SEO. This tool helps identify those dead links, so you can update them. 
  5. SERPSTAT: You can search the SERP of your website, keywords, and more. We like that they provide the going rate of CPC ads for keywords you search for and related keywords also.
  6. SERPROBOT: Simple tool to see where your page ranks within the top 100 spots in a search engine.
  7. Text Optimizer: This tool rates your keyword, content, and writing-style optimization. It also provides insight on how often people are searching for that specific content, and how often that search has been already answered by others. This could be helpful for choosing niche content to blog about. However, the main downfall of this tool is that the free version doesn’t offer much, but the paid version looks really awesome. Unfortunately we will not be paying for a subscription based on two factors: 1) We think the price is steep ($60/month) and 2)as a small business, we have so many other paid subscriptions that we need to prioritize before purchasing this tool. 
  8. Ubersuggest: This is our favorite keyword tool mainly because it’s not in your face with “RAWR! Buy our product!” advertising. Look, we’re all in marketing. We understand how this works, and we understand why you can’t offer your full service for free, but nothing annoys us more when you taunt us in our face about what we COULD have if budgets didn’t exist. Rant aside, we like the tool a lot. They score keywords on their search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, and they tell you  the CPC for ads. They also include related keyword searches, and the top five articles for that search. We’re curious about the paid features, but this tool is still very valuable in its free edition.
    Marketing Keyword Tool

Tagging and Trends

There are great tools to help you recognize trends in both your industry and on different social media platforms.

  1. Hashtagify: Enter a hashtag, and you’ll get suggestions for related hashtags. It also maps their popularity on Twitter and Instagram. 
  2. RiteTag: Similar concept to Hashtagify. It looks at related hashtags in real time. They break it down by Twitter and Instagram results with additional statistics. There’s also a pretty detailed word map at the end of the page.
  3. Google Trends: Ah! We LOVE Google Trends… well, we love data, and Google Trends give you a lot of that. Google Trends graphs keyword searches for a selected amount of time (default is 12 months), and shows you related queries. This data can be used in so many ways. For example, we knew that we wanted our last blog post to be on social media policies. When we searched for that term, we noticed that there was an increase in searches for “examples of social media policies” and “social media policy template”. Using that information, it helped us outline our blog post, and let us know what keywords we needed to use. We’ve also used Google Trends to help a client who is a photographer. We searched for the keyword “photography” and saw that searches like “baby photography”, and “smoke bomb photography” were trending. We relayed that information to our client for potential inspiration in future photoshoots.
    Google Trends Search Results
    Google Trends Search Results Two


To be successful, you need to be able to quickly adapt to new information, technologies, and audiences. Learning just feels good. Here are our favorite sites to teach ourselves new skills.

  1. Hubspot Academy: YASSS Hubspot! They offer SEVERAL in depth courses with hours of learning. The courses have an emphasis on marketing and sales. Their courses are taught by qualified professionals, and provide a substantial amount of statistics to make you feel confident.
  2. Google Digital Garage: Google’s at it again! Learn digital marketing skills at your own pace with Google. 
  3. Khan Academy & Code Academy: We fervently think you should learn how to code… specifically languages for front-end development of websites. The basics of CSS and HTML are pretty straight-forward, and once you learn the basics, you mainly just have to do a quick Google search to get what you need. We think of HTML as the skeleton of a website (this is what search engines are looking at), and CSS is the skin. Content Management Systems (like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix) are pretty good these days, but it can be frustrating sometimes to get them to do exactly what you want them to do. That’s where coding comes into place. It also comes in handy for email newsletters. We recommend starting with HTML, then CSS, and then JavaScript. We used Khan Academy to learn HTML and CSS. 

Other Tools

There are so many tools out there that we could go on forever. However, we know you have a life, and as much as you’re dying to spend the day on our site, there are things you HAVE to do. We have some beef with the last two that we’ll explain, but overall we think they’re worth giving a try.

  1. Squarespace: Okay, this one isn’t free… but it is affordable, and we’re really opinionated on why you should try it. If you would like to set up an e-commerce shop, this is the CMS you want to use. It is so intuitive, and newbie-friendly. We seriously can’t say enough good stuff about it.
  2. WordPress: Probably the most popular CMS/hosting service (at least for our customers). Free hosting is offered, but the features are limited. We’re a pretty tech-savvy team, and we had some trouble during our first few uses. It’s UX and UI are lacking. However, you can do A LOT with it once you figure it out. If you pay for the premium subscription, you get access to more themes, and can write custom CSS to get your site looking exactly how you want (and we just find it fun!). The absolute most frustrating thing to us is that there are a lot of cool and useful plugins… BUT you need a business account to use the plugins. Overall, it’s a great tool, but be prepared to dedicate some extra time with it.
  3. Hootsuite: This is a social media marketing and management tool. There are several on the market, but this is our preferred one for scheduling content. The free plan allows you to have one user, be logged into three accounts, and you can schedule 30 posts in advance on your content calendar. It lets you create “streams” acting a social media monitoring tool where you can track activity on your social profiles. The free plan is perfect if you have one or two social media managers who can share a password. We think great to use mainly for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and then just manually post on other sites (as we do not use them for daily posts). Our only complaint is the first paid plan is $29/month for 10 social profiles, unlimited scheduling, and 1 user. That seems pretty fair. However, the next plan is $129/month for 20 social profiles, unlimited scheduling, and 3 users. We have contacted their sales team and there is no in-between plan. We are just not fan on their pricing structure. The free plan is great for what it does, and we would recommend it if you are a small business.
    Hootsuite Screenshot 

Even though we have some concerns with the last two tools, we still totally recommend them! We’re just always going to be honest with you. 

Have you tried any of these tools before or do you plan on using any of them?

ProfileThis blog post was written by Sara Corbin, Owner of Good Karma Marketing. Sara likes items with unicorns on them, and is an enthusiastic gnome collector. She has a green thumb, and is aiming to grow a jungle in part of her living room.

#socialmedia #socialmediatips #marketing #marketingtips #digitalmarketing #digitalmarketingtips #freetools #SEO

Common Marketing Abbreviations, Terms, and Acronyms

When you’re new to the world of marketing, it can be intimidating to come across so many abbreviations, terms, and acronyms. Today, we’re going to break down all of those, so you can better immerse yourself in digital marketing.

Split Testing and A/B Testing:

Split testing is when you experiment with different variables in a post/ad/email to see which version yields the best results. The best practice is to just change one variable between the different versions, for example: changing the photo or font used in an ad, using a different tone in a post, etc. A/B Testing is a type of split testing where two versions of a post/ad/email are created, so you can see which one performs best.

API: Application Programming Interface

An API is an endpoint for access to certain data/functionalities to an application. When I did sales for a tech company, I basically thought of it as the “wires” that connected one website’s information to another website e.g. Hootsuite displaying data from Facebook. APIs are always changing and if you use a social media management platform, it is important to keep up on these changes as it may affect what you can access from your social media platforms while using an automation tool

BR: Bounce Rate

Websites: A bounce is when a user visits your website and leaves before clicking any content.

Snapchat/Instagram Stories: A “bounce” is when someone skips through your ad/post, and does not view it in full.

Email: A bounce occurs when the intended recipient does not receive your email. There are two types of bounces, “hard bounces” and “soft bounces”. The type of bounce you receive determines the action you should take.

Soft vs Hard Bounces

Soft bounce: This does not mean that your recipient will necessarily never receive your emails. This may occur if their inbox is full, they have an out-of-office reply set up, or if your email’s size is too large. Try to keep your emails under 10MG. Keep track of the soft bounces, because if they occur repeatedly, the user may have abandoned their email address. I recommend removing them from your mailing list after four soft bounces.

Hard bounce: This occurs mainly when you’ve been given a false email or your email has been blocked. Remove these users from your mailing list immediately.

CAN-SPAM: Controlling Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing

This law was signed in 2003. The main takeaways are that you must be given permission to email/text a client, and that you must provide an unsubscribe option.

GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation

An EU law that protects the data of EU citizens. Citizens have control over their personal data, can request that their data removed from websites, and can not be automatically opted in for any correspondence that is not explicitly stated.

CMS: Content Management System

These are applications that allow you to create websites and are typically friendly to the non-tech crowd.

CPA: Cost Per Action

The cost in advertising for an certain action to be taken e.g. sale, form submission, newsletter sign up, etc.

CPC: Cost-Per-Click

The cost in advertising that is paid each time an ad/link is clicked.

CPL: Cost-Per-Lead

The cost in marketing for acquiring a lead.

CR: Conversion Rate

Represented as a percentage. (Number of Conversions) / (Total Number of Visitors)

CTA: Call-to-Action

A call to prompt a certain response. For example, a Facebook post encouraging you to share that post or click on a link.

CTR: Click-Through-Rate

Typically, the number of users who click a link on a page, email or advertisement divided by the total of visitors.

*However, if you are using an email marketing automation service refer to their definition of CTR. For example, Constant Contacts uses a different method than Mail Chimp to determine their CTR.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

A metric used to track your marketing success.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click

In advertising, the amount paid when a user clicks an ad or link.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

aka your “Google juice”. Practices that increase your ranking in search engines.

UV: Unique Visitors

WOM: Word-of-Mouth

B2B: Business-to-Business

B2C: Business-to-Company

ROI: Return-of-Investment

The money gained from a marketing investment. It is expressed as a percentage. Formula: (Gain from Investment – Cost of the Investment) / Cost of the Investment

UI: User Interface

The visual arrangement of an application including navigation, content, etc.

UX: User Experience

This describes how the user uses and experiences your media. It is important that your website is intuitive to new users. We recommend before officially launching a website or app having people test it and give you feedback. Another tip is to test your website on a mobile device/screen simulator.

SOV: Share-of-Voice

The weight or percentage of your company’s presence via marketing/advertising in your company’s industry.

UGC: User-Generated Content

This is gold to social media managers. This is content about your brand created by users of your brand. On social media, audiences are interested in interacting with humans, not robots. Sharing content from your users is a great way to build trust with your audience. Make sure you check the rules of the social media platform before sharing posts. It’s always best to ask for permission before sharing someone else’s material.

There’s a list to get you started. Let us know in the comments if we missed any you think someone new to the industry should know!

ProfileThis article was written by Sara Corbin, Owner of Good Karma Marketing. Sara has spent her career working in sales, account management, marketing, and customer relations. In her free time, she enjoys trying new craft beers, exploring new restaurants in her city, and cooking elaborate dinners while destroying the kitchen, and dirtying every dish possible.

#socialmedia #socialmediamarketing #smm #digitalmarketing #marketing 

Understanding Facebook’s 3 Basic KPIs

Welcome back! We wanted to write a quick description of Facebook’s KPIs– Engagement, Reach, and Impressions. If you’re new to marketing KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator… these are the metrics you use to track your campaign’s success. Don’t worry! We have a blog post coming up soon breaking down marketing abbreviations. Personally, I’m not a fan of abbrevs in general(see what I did there? I cringed too.).

According to Facebook, here are their definitions of those metrics:

  • Engagement: Number of people who engaged with your post. This includes any click or story created, and looks at unique users.
  • Reach: Number of people who had any content from your post or about your post enter their screen. This also measures unique users.
  • Impressions: Number of times any content from your post or about your post entered a person’s screen. This is a total count of all views from all users. You should expect this number to be higher than the others.

If you’re new to social media, you may think likes and followers are the most important metric, but in the industry these are considered vanity likes. Yes, lots of likes can look impressive, but it does not necessarily mean that those likes are converting to leads or sales. For me, engagement is the most important metric (and in my opinion, the most difficult!), but the importance of them will vary based on your marketing goals.

What metrics are most important to you? How did you get over the engagement “hump”, or what methods are you trying? We’d love to hear from you!

ProfileSara Corbin is the owner of Good Karma Marketing. She loves being involved in the Raleigh community. She’s a proud owner of two pit-mix mutts, and enjoys cheese plates and everything lavender.

#socialmedia #socialmediamarketing #raleigh


When and How to Use Instagram’s Nametag Feature

Instagram’s new Nametag feature opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to marketing your business on Instagram! The Nametag acts like a QR code… simply present it to a future follower, have them scan it, and then they can instantly follow you! No more spelling out your name meticulously, or making sure the hyphens or underscores are perfectly placed. Using Victoria King Photography‘s Instagram as an example, here’s how it works:

  1. Go to your profile. On the top right you will see the three lines. Click those three lines, and a menu will pop down. Select “Nametag”. (The menu may vary if you have a personal account opposed to a business account) Menu
  2. Once you click Nametag, you will get a screen with your handle, and on the middle top you are given a choice of a background. You can choose a background ranging from a pattern of an emoji, to a selfie, and a gradient of colors. We chose the camera emoji, since it’s an instagram page for a photographer. Nametag
  3. Now that you have your Nametag set up, it’s time to find some new followers. If you meet a potential follower, and would like them to follow you, the easiest way we’ve found, is open up your nametag using the steps above, have them follow the same steps above, but then have them click the “Scan a nametag” function.ScanNametag
  4. Scanning a name tag is very similar to scanning a QR code, and once you get to the “Scan a nametag” screen it should look like this:Scanning
  5. Once you’ve aligned the scanner’s square with the nametag’s square you will get an image like this that will give you the option to follow the page or view the profile.Successful Scan

Pretty easy, right? So why would something so easy be so important?

  1. The future of social media is moving away from text to images, and then to video. The Instagram platform allows for both images and video. Why not encourage future clients to join in on a platform that benefits the future direction of social media?
  2. How many times have you asked someone for their username, and said you would follow them, but never followed through? My biggest fear of doing sales was being too pushy/forward, but this is an easy way to say “Hey, let me make it easy to follow me.”
  3. It’s a great way to advertise at conferences, booths, etc. Print out your nametag and post on your booth! It is helpful to provide a little information on how the user can scan it incase they’re not up-to-date. Here’s an example of a poster you could use it at a conference:Poster
  4. You could also use the image of your Nametag on your Twitter and Facebook to increase your Instagram following! The studies behind social media prove that users like photos and video!