We know that nonprofit organizations typically have limited marketing budgets, so we put together a guide of free social media marketing tools to make your funds stretch a little further.
Free Social Media Design Tools
A nonprofit rarely has a designated designer on staff. More often, the marketing team is wearing many hats and "Designer" is just one of them. Thankfully, since not everyone is a Photoshop wiz, free tools are available to help create stunning social media graphics.
Canva is a beginner-friendly, template-based graphic design app. With a huge, searchable library of templates, you are bound to find what you need for your next social media campaign. And, it's easy to share and collaborate with others; all you need is an email address. The free account gives you access to 250,000+ templates and 5GB of storage in the app You can get even more with a monthly subscription.
It's super easy to use.
Templates are organized by size, so you know you are working in the correct format.
Slide decks are limited to 15 pages.
You can't change image dimensions after starting a project.
For a completely free app with a vast library, Canva will provide most of the design tools you need as a small marketing team. And, if you like it, more options and functionality are available with the paid plan at $9.99 a month.
From the creator of such design powerhouse tools like Illustrator and Photoshop comes Spark. This drag and drop tool provides customizable templates that you can adjust to fit your brand: upload photos, your logo, and color scheme, and 'brandify" your project. You can create custom templates that are reusable and add animation to make your design stand out. It can also automatically resize your project to fit the aspect ratios needed for different social media platforms. The starter plan is free, the individual subscription offers a one-month free trial, or you can opt for the team subscription.
You can make videos, images and pages.
Very easy to use. Five minutes and you'll have it mastered!
Only integrated for direct sharing with Facebook and Twitter.
Templates don't allow you to enlarge text or images.
If you're already in the Adobe world, Spark can tie in to your existing account. And you know you have the backing of a design solution developer with a decades-long reputation.
Free Social Media Collaboration Tools
Marketing teams usually require collaboration between different team members or functions. This is where a collaboration tool can help. Coordinating the needs of your nonprofit between content creation, design, social media, blogs, and your website can be overwhelming. Luckily there are a couple free of tools that can help.
Airtable gives your team a place to plan your content and collaborate on projects. Airtable operates as a project database that allows you to choose how you want to view your projects—grid, calendar, gallery or kanban. Each project plan, known as a base, can hold up to 2GB of data and 1200 records. And, after your content is created, you can download it as a .csv file for easy upload to a social media management tool.
The calendar view allows you to see everything you're working on and publishing each month.
Get the familiarity of an Excel spreadsheet with loads more functionality.
Steep learning curve and challenging initial setup.
If you want to upgrade to the paid plan, you pay per user, not for a team account.
Airtable offers a visually appealing way to manage several marketing projects at once. However, getting it set up may be a headache. And having the price rise on a per-user basis may not be cost-effective for larger teams.
While not made specifically for social media or marketing teams, Trello is an easy-to-use, free task and project management tool. You can create boards for each project and cards for each task or make it even more granular with checkboxes and lists on each card. You can also tag colleagues on cards and write messages to collaborate or hand off projects. For the free version, there is a limit of 10 boards.
Easy to keep track of projects and tasks.
Loads of functionality in the free version.
For larger teams or more complex projects, boards can get cluttered with too many cards.
There is a 10MB per file storage limit, which might be too small for large design projects.
Trello is great for smaller teams or less complex projects, and the free version offers a lot out of the box. But if your team or projects are large, you might want a more robust solution or upgrade to a paid plan.
Free Social Media Management Tools
Once you've designed your social media campaign, you need to have a system for getting it out into the world. The ease of scheduling posts across platforms, tracking and analyzing social media metrics, and account security are all essential considerations when searching for a social media management tool.
Hootsuite connects your social media accounts in one place so you can schedule posts and track performance in one place. From their easy-to-use dashboard, you can create, customize and schedule posts to be shared across your social media channels. Hootsuite's free version allows you to connect up to three social media platforms and schedule up to five posts at a time. If you're super organized, you can leverage their Bulk Composer feature. Just upload a .csv file with up to 30 posts to preview and edit before scheduling.
Integrates with many social media channels.
They offer 30 day free trials for their upgraded plans, so you can try before you buy.
In the free version, you're limited to two social media accounts and a single user.
If you want to use URLs in your posts, you're obligated to use Owly short links or paid URL shortening software.
Hootsuite's limited free plan is indeed limited, but if you're a very small team and are only active on a couple of social media platforms, you can probably make it work for you.
Buffer is similar to Hootsuite in many ways, but their free plan has several key differences. Their free plan gives access to a single user, connects to three social media channels, and lets you schedule 10 posts at a time per channel, for a total of 30 posts. However, their dashboard is limited, allowing you to schedule and view posts, but not much else. The have creation and editing functionality, but it's not tied in with the dashboard and doesn't have an auto-schedule option.
Integration with the top five social media platforms.
Their 30 post at a time scheduling constriction has not daily, monthly or annual limit.
Bulk uploading of social media posts requires a third-party app.
The free version doesn't have any engagement functionality.
If your goal is to publish across social media platforms frequently, since Buffer has no limits, it might be the tool for you. But don't count on tracking engagement on those posts unless you upgrade to a paid plan.
Need Help Strategizing?
If a new tool isn't the answer to your social media marketing woes, perhaps you need a little help and advice. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you develop and execute a solid social media marketing plan.