This post originally appeared on the Buffer blog.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
No problem. There are a handful of social media tools that can assist with your out-of-office marketing. Automation techniques can help fill your queue, and the 10 tools below can help you keep tabs on your profiles, engage with your audience, and communicate with your team.
Here are 10 time-saving social media tools (actually, more like 28–each featured tool has a few similar alternatives I’ve listed) to keep in mind whether you’re on the beach or onto other tasks.
The 10-part tool recipe for saving time on social media
When it comes to productivity with your social media marketing, I’ve found that there are a handful of areas that are worth investigating, improving, and experimenting.
When I look for helpful, time-saving tools, I often grab ones that make a difference in one or more of these areas. It’s how I got started with Buffer’s sharing app, and it’s how I’ve tested tools in the past.
Each of the 10 time-saving social media tools I’ve highlighted below fit into one of these categories. Here’s hoping that a bit of help in each area can unlock some spare time for you this summer.
1. Automatically tweet your new posts, complete with rich media: Twibble
With Twibble, you can set up any RSS feed you want to publish automatically to your Twitter feed, complete with a featured image pulled directly from your article.
And the fun doesn’t stop with images: You can edit the times that new posts go out, the frequency with which they’re sent, and the text and attribution on each. You could end up with something like this:
Twibble offers filters, too, in case you only want to post articles containing certain words (or want to exclude articles that contain certain words). You can wire up multiple feeds and track clicks and performance, too, all for free.
2. Sell and distribute anything at all: Gumroad
For those sites and companies that lack a traditional e-commerce area (SaaS products like Buffer tend to fall into this category), what do you do when you have a one-off item you’d like to sell or share? If you’re an individual with something to sell, where might you turn?
That’s where Gumroad comes in. With Gumroad, you can sell a digital product, a subscription, or even a preorder, and your Gumroad sales page can be easily shared to Twitter and Facebook or embedded on your website (an SSL certificate is required for embedding). Gumroad boasts that a customer is never more than two clicks away from completing an order. Not bad!
Here’s an example product (hamburgers just happened to be the stock image I had on hand):
Gumroad takes a small cut off the top of each sale (5 percent, plus $0.25 per transaction) and doesn’t charge anything additional for hosting, bandwidth, or refunds. You get to keep all the data from your sales—email addresses included. It could be an out-of-the-box way to build an email list!
3. The best (only?) solution for scheduling Instagram posts: ScheduGram
In the meantime, the guys and gals at ScheduGram have created a rather neat workaround hack. You can schedule your Instagram posts via ScheduGram by uploading them via computer to the app’s back-end.
How does ScheduGram get around the sticky issue of Instagram’s upload API? They’ve built a custom process in their office that uses an encrypted, secure physical phone. Go figure!
(Note: ScheduGram will need your Instagram password in order to upload on your behalf. Same with Postso, an alternative listed below.)
Price: Plans start at $7 per month with a free 7-day trial
(Note: If you’re itching to schedule to Pinterest, too, ViralWoot offers Pinterest scheduling and analytics. They’re one of a select few with Pinterest API access; we’re excited for Buffer to be added to the invite list soon!)
4. Get feedback from friends: SiteDrop
Collaborating on your work should be a snap, especially if you and your team are spread out with travel or remote work. One way to keep a project in sync is with SiteDrop, a fun tool backed by the team behind Digg and Chartbeat.
SiteDrop syncs with a chosen DropBox folder, pulls in all the files and photos from the folder, and displays everything in a stream of information that you can easily share with teammates. Each file comes with its own areas for likes and comments, and you can create as many different sets as you like, based on your DropBox folders.
SiteDrop pitches itself as a tool for project management, design, and photography, and I think there could definitely be uses for coordinating content research, social media campaign ideas, and more.
5. Chat quickly with teammates about anything and everything: Pie
When we last mentioned Pie as a helpful tool for small businesses, Pie was a link sharing app that helped teammates collaborate together on content curation. It has since morphed into a full-fledged chat tool—with a fun twist.
Pie chats are topic-specific, meaning that instead of a general, broad chat room for everything, you essentially create mini chat rooms based on specific topics and conversations.
Beyond the slick web app, you can interact with Pie via Chrome extension, iOS app, and Mac app.
6. Sync and automate any two apps: IFTTT & Zapier
Two of our favorite automation tools—IFTTT and Zapier—can help you coordinate and automate your marketing efforts in a variety of fun, unique ways. We’ve written before about 34 tips to wire up an IFTTT recipe for social media, and anything you can’t figure out with IFTTT, you can try with Zapier. The former is a free service, the latter gives you your first five free and then switches to paid plans (Zapier has hundreds of connectable apps and services, compared to IFTTTs dozens).
Here are a couple examples of the way we use each service.
An IFTTT recipe to add to Buffer every time I tag something with “shared” in Pocket:
A Zap that pulls in all blog comments right to our chat room:
Price: Free for IFTTT, Free-to-paid for Zapier
7. Save time building beautiful surveys that people love to use: Typeform
I quite enjoy a survey that doesn’t feel like a survey. Those are exactly the type that TypeFormspecializes in. Typeform surveys ask one question at a time; survey takers move through the survey chronologically via the smooth UI or keyboard shortcuts (e.g., press Enter to go to the next question).
Plus, you can add visual components to your questions and that make it even easier on those filling out your form.
Creating a new survey is a time saver as well. You simply drag and drop the types of questions you want to include, and you can set the color scheme, fonts, and images with just a couple clicks. And of course, TypeForm provides all the relevant analysis and data that you might need from the survey results.
Also consider: SurveyMonkey
8. Create an awesome GIF with ease: Gifmaker
If creating a GIF seems like a daunting task, rest easy. There’s a tool for that. Gifmaker is one of my favorites for creating a quick and easy GIF from existing photos on your computer. Simply upload your pics, place them in order, and set the timing, and Gifmaker will combine them into a single animated image—for instance, me with Kanye glasses, a tiny top hat and a mustache.
9. Save time choosing where and how to engage: Social Rank
I find myself occasionally wondering where and how I should spend my time on Twitter. Are there particular people I should be engaging with? Which of my followers should I be focusing on?
Social Rank answers these questions with its follower reports, identifying which of your followers have the most influence and which are most engaged with you. The output from Social Rank makes it quick and easy to see some spots where you can focus your Twitter time.
Free accounts are allowed to run a report every month.
Also consider: Followerwonk
10. See all your social stats in one place: SumAll
How’s this for a time saver: All your daily analytics from over 30 services delivered straight to your inbox every morning.
Since I’ve started using SumAll, I’ve been more on top of my stats and numbers than ever. You simply wire up any number of different accounts—Twitter, Facebook, Google Analytics, and MailChimp are a few of my favorites—and SumAll will pull the data and send you a report daily.
Here’s a taste of what the email looks like:
You can log into your account dashboard to see even more statistics and to edit the reports you get sent. If daily stats aren’t your thing, you can change the range to weekly, monthly, or custom, and there are pro accounts for those interested in expert analysis, notifications, and more.
Also consider: Moz
Bonus time-saver: Buffer
Since we’re talking about productivity, I’d be remiss not to mention our own little app. Buffer lets you schedule your social media posts with ease, building up queues of content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.
We’ve recently added additional topics to our content suggestions, so you can always discover fresh new articles and quotes to post. Suggestions now include our favorite stories from marketing, design, lifehacking, business, and inspiration.
Price: Free (w/ paid plans if you’re interested)
I hope you’ve found some fun new tools to try as you seek to save time this summer. I’m always eager for a new tip, tool, or trick that can help me automate, schedule, communicate, and engage better.
What tools and services do you use that save you big time on your projects and strategies? Got a favorite summertime tool to share? It’d be great to hear from you in the comments!
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