Social media has become a primary form of communication for most public organizations. It helps communicate goals, educate the public on issues, share important information, and creates an opportunity for community members to engage with others. Yet, for all the benefit we can gain from social media, it does require a lot from us. It takes time, skill, and resources–and if your organization has the money, you can buy tools and hire people to manage your social presence.
However, most public organizations don’t have a lot of money to dedicate to social media. So, what are your options?
There are many useful free tools that are available, and the following are my favorites for the reasons listed below. I have tried a variety of free services, but these consistently have served my needs well in supporting an organization’s social presence or my own.
Canva: Canva is a fantastic tool that can help you easily create engaging visual content. If you are envious of other organizations who have beautiful graphics with inspiring quotes or interesting infographics on their social sites–envy no more! The free version of Canva provides ample creative tools and the ability to upload your own images for custom designs.
Why you need it: Visual content such as graphics and photos perform 4.4 times better than text-based content alone and results in greater community engagement. Social Media Examiner notes that photos create substantial engagement on Facebook and results in more retweets on Twitter.
Pexels: There are a lot of good free photography sites, but I like Pexels because the photos don’t look like average stock photography and their images reflect the diversity of people, organizations, and places of our country. The images are licensed under Creative Commons and attribution is not required.
Why you need it: As noted above, images and photography are critical content features for social posts. If your organization doesn’t have images to use or you don’t have the time or skill to take great pictures yourself, Pexels can give you what you need.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social media management tool that helps you keep track of and manage your social network channels. The free version allows you to schedule posts, analyze content and follower interactions, and manage details of up to 3 social accounts.
Why you need it: Hootsuite frees up your time by allowing you to schedule posts in advance. It can also enable you to monitor what people are saying about your organization or current issues and help you respond promptly.
Analytics: The analytic and insight tools available for social accounts are free resources often ignored. Embedded within your social media accounts, analytic tools help you monitor, assess, and enhance your social media goals. You can gain information on who is following and engaging with your organization, which posts are driving traffic to your website, and what type of information community members are responding to.
Why you need it: Social media is one way in which you can achieve your communication goals with target audiences. If you are not assessing whether or not your efforts are working, you’re wasting your time. Analytics can ensure your social media presence is serving your organization well and provide you with much-needed audience insight.
I encourage you to try some of these free resources as you move ahead with your communication and social media efforts. What free tools are using? I would love to hear from you.
Tricia S. Nolfi is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.