By: Jessica Dally
Sure just like in the bee yard, you COULD do a hive inspection without a good hive took, but it sure makes everything a whole lot easier.
There are a ton of tools for social media and marketing out there. So many I could fill this article simply listing all of them. But just because someone makes a thing doesn’t mean it’s good. And alternately, using all the tools can take you more time rather than saving you time.
So what tools are lifesavers? Here’s my short list. I couldn’t do my job without some of these. While some have a bit of a learning curve, none of these will take up a ton of your time just trying to become efficient and a number of them even have help so you can learn them at your own speed!
I’ve often said that the minute this tool goes away I will quit my job and I’m only somewhat kidding. If you’ve ever struggled to make graphics, signs, pictures with words on them, flyers, business cards layouts, posters, ads for print publications, etcetera this is the tool for you.
Sure, Photoshop and other bigger tools will give you a lot more options, but if you have those skills you’re not having graphic design problems. This tool is for the rest of us. And best yet, it’s FREE!
So what does Canva do? Well, first, it allows you to design almost anything in almost any size. Second, it gives you design templates you can use and customize to your own specifications. Need to make a poster? You can choose one of their templates and change colors, removes parts of the design, change the background image, and make it your own. You can upload your logos, your personal pictures, and more.
Best yet, when you first sign up for Canva they send you weekly (ish) emails training you on the basics of how to use the program. DO THESE! They take about two to three minutes and help you learn how to use the program in bite size chunks that are easy to understand.
I have friends who are Photoshop experts who still use Canva when they want something quick and easy. That tells you a lot about just how simple and useful this program can be even for professionals. It’s even more useful for people who don’t have a graphics team supporting their marketing!
I will add that Canva does have a paid program as well. To be honest, when they finally launched their paid program I was one of the first to sign up, primarily because I wanted to pay for this service. I’d simply received too much value to not pay for this amazing program. Beyond that, however, you receive a number of great features with the paid program. One of which is the ability to resize your design. This comes in useful when you realize the poster you designed now needs to be printed on regular 8½ by 11 paper.
Unless you’re a pro at Photoshop and the like, give Canva a try. It’s free, it’s easy and you will not regret it.
This tool is a bit more complex and not nearly as user friendly. That said, I use it a LOT less. I don’t use the downloaded version but stick to the online version. And what do I use it for? Really one thing and one thing only. To create .png images. What are those? .png images are what you usually see as images with a clear background. In other words something you can put over another image and still see the background.
Pixlr makes this relatively easy. That said, you’ll need to do a good google search to figure out how to do this but if you really want to cut something out of a background, this is the easy and free online tool to do it. Your images aren’t going to be perfect so if you need perfect hire someone to do it in Photoshop. If, however, you just want something fun, this is the tool for you.
I’m always amazed in this day and age when people have one sided, one color business cards. Moo Cards (and many other printers) allow you to have FULL color business cards for not much more than you’d pay for single-sided one or two colored cards. Best yet, you can switch up the background on EVERY single card if you want. You can give each person a personalized card, or at least one that no one else has. How fun!
If you’re managing a thriving Instagram feed it may be difficult to post regularly. Instagram, unlike almost any other social media platform, will NOT allow you to schedule posts. While there are other tools that theoretically allow you to schedule, Schedegr.am is the only tool that actually schedules your post for you. They do not require you to log in and do something to actually post the scheduled content. Simply schedule your post for 2am and it will go up at 2am.
OK, so you’re probably not scheduling posts for 2am, but you might be scheduling for when you’re out of town. This is the only tool out there that I’ve found that will actually post for you once you’ve pressed schedule without any further interaction required. This is a huge win for folks who don’t want to work on their rare day off but still want to have content posted to their social media streams on those days.
While there are a ton of different dashboards out there for managing twitter and other social media streams, my favorite is Hootsuite. To me, it’s the least cluttered looking and it allows the easiest integration for the least amount of money. For most people the free version will work just fine for keeping an eye on your different social media streams all in one place.
There is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to using a dashboard. While you can post to your various different social channels (Facebook, twitter, Instagram) from the dashboard, it’s almost always best to use the actual platform itself for posting. In other words, log in to Twitter to post to Twitter and the same for Facebook. Use the dashboard simply to keep an eye on your content.
That said, I do use Hootsuite to retweet content for twitter. But I never use it for posting pictures as it won’t show the pictures in the same way a post made directly to twitter will, and that is a huge drawback. Of course, like anything social media related, that could all change tomorrow so check it occasionally to see if Hootsuite has updated how things post. And if you use a different dashboard it could be that your choice posts pictures just fine.
Why use a dashboard? It’s just a touch easier to look at everything in one place, especially if you manage multiple accounts – like a personal twitter account and a business twitter account. BUT, if you don’t have multiple accounts you might not need a dashboard at all.
So that’s your starter list. Do you have a tool you love for managing your social media accounts or dealing with your marketing needs? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know on twitter at @jessicadally or Facebook at JessicaDallyConsulting.
Jessica Dally is the Director of Marketing for a company in Washington State and also runs her own marketing consulting business, Jessica Dally Consulting which can be found at www.JessicaDally.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jessicadallyconsulting. She has worked with numerous beekeeping businesses including Bee Culture Magazine and was a former board member of Puget Sound Beekeepers in Seattle, WA.