Though business owners have faced incredible hardships during the pandemic, people and businesses have come together while staying apart in heartfelt and innovative ways to support each other and their communities.
Businesses are getting creative online to stay top of mind with their customer and client base, and many have even found ways to maintain a revenue stream by offering new online services, or converting their existing business model into a digital one.
Below, we’ve aggregated 24 free digital marketing and social media tools that will help business owners and marketers stay connected with their communities during this time at home, and through the adaptations that will accompany reopening.
Social Listening Tools
During times of uncertainty and unrest, it’s critical to maintain a pulse on sentiment in your industry and your community. These social listening tools will help you understand what matters to your audience in real time, so that you can create content that will resonate with their immediate needs, or know when to go dark to be respectful of rising tensions.
1. Social Mention
Social Mention is a free search engine that crawls the social web and analyzes volume, frequency and sentiment of search terms. The tool displays results by source, and also provides top keywords, users and hashtags. Use the advanced search option to see results by specific channels and location.
2. Google Trends
Google Trends tracks search data in aggregate on Google over time. Track a specific search term, or more broadly a topic or category. You’ll be able to see how searches have changed over time, as well as location data, related topics and related search terms. You can also compare multiple topics and terms.
Boardreader tracks keywords in online forums, message boards and discussion panels. It’s most useful when searching for niche or local terms or phrases. Use it to find conversations to hop in on, or take the pulse of a topic in your local community or area of expertise. It’s also effective for tracking brand terms. Select the chart icon to compare volume of multiple terms over time, or enable advanced search to refine results, or search within one specific forum.
Hootsuite allows you to connect your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts to monitor activity on your channels, as well as real-time results for search terms and hashtags. Displayed in streams, you can interact with comments on your content as well as queries you’re following from multiple channels directly from the Hootsuite dashboard. It’s a huge timesaver – saving you the hassle from jumping between platforms and keeping your preferred searches saved, updated and organized for easy access.
Audience Analysis Tools
In a time when building out your business’s digital presence is more important than ever, it’s extremely helpful to know not just what your audience wants, but where they are. These free audience analysis tools will help you better understand where your audience hangs out online, so you can connect with them in an authentic and meaningful way.
5. Answer the Public
Plug in any term into Answer the Public and it will return a list of questions including that term people have typed into Google. It will show you questions, prepositions and comparisons, as well as related results. They refer to their data as a “goldmine of content ideas” and that is not an exaggeration. Search data in question form provides invaluable insights into your audience’s pain points, needs and desires – giving you an edge when it comes to how you position your business and your offerings during uncertain times.
6. Think With Google’s Find My Audience Tool
Think With Google also hosts a comprehensive suite of free tools, including the Find My Audience Tool, which helps you segment audience affinities by categories on YouTube. Select either an In-market audience (people actively researching or planning on purchasing products) or Affinity audiences (people whose interests align with your business), and your business category. YouTube will then show you audiences, including popular YouTube channels, matching your selections. You have the option of adding these audiences to your YouTube profile, which will allow you to run a more segmented audience profile for your channel, as well as run ads to reach these people.
7. Facebook Audience Insights
Similar to Think With Google, Facebook Audience Insights delivers detailed demographic, psychographic and sociographic information about different segments of Facebook based on multiple factors you plug in including age, location, interest, life status, work, education and more. You’ll be able to see popular Facebook pages liked by these highly specific segments, as well as their predilection to perform certain activities on Facebook, like click on ads or engage with posts. You’ll need a Facebook Ads account to use the tool, but don’t worry, it’s free to create and you don’t need to run any actual ads to use it.
For Twitter users, Twitonomy provides a detailed analysis of the activity and network of any Twitter user for free. You’ll be able to see basic stats, such as how often a user tweets, how much engagement they get, and how much they interact with other users. You’ll also be able to see frequently used hashtags, and who the user most often talks to and retweets to help you identify accounts and conversations to focus your attention.
Content Creation Tools
To stay top of mind and keep your audience engaged, you’ll need to create great content. Thumb-stopping content is always important, but now there’s both more opportunity and more competition in the digital space with everyone at home. With people spending more time on their screens than ever before, these tools will help you create great content to stand out from the noise.
9. Adobe Express
Adobe Express will help you create stunning graphics and videos for every social channel. Use one of their beautiful templates, or choose from thousands of free images and icons to create your post from scratch.
Use the free Wibbl app to create custom animated stickers you can upload to your Instagram Stories. Using Wibbl, you can start with a still image, remove the background, add text or other elements, and animate it in mere seconds.
11. Canva’s Mailchimp Email Templates
With businesses closed and people at home, it’s incredibly difficult to acquire new clients and customers – which makes keeping your current contacts engaged critical. Canva and Mailchimp – both free and widely used tools by small business marketers, actually have a free integration. Design your email template using visual design tool Canva, and integrate it directly into your email templates on Mailchimp. This article details how to do it.
12. Magisto Video App
Magisto is a smart video editing app that allows you to create compelling videos in seconds – or dive deeper into robust editing tools to perfect your masterpiece. The tool’s AI features help you find the most impactful parts of your clips, making creating a succinct, focused product quick and easy. More on how that works here.
Content Curation Tools
While creating content is critical to keep your clients and customers engaged during a time when they may not be able to make in-person contact with your business, it can also be incredibly difficult to create new content because the world feels like it’s on pause. These content curation tools will help you find, feature and attribute quality content you find from others.
13. Repost app
Proper attribution on social media is a tricky thing, and murky as far as the law is concerned. Repost App makes it easy for you to share another Instagram user’s image to your feed while correctly crediting the original image. The app will automatically add a banner with the original photographer’s handle, and copy their caption while leaving space to add in your own.
Feedly isn’t just great at helping you find good content, it also helps you create and organize your own repository of content sources. Add new sources via RSS feeds, Twitter feeds or keyword alerts and organize them into categories either provided by you or recommended by Feedly. Scroll through your feed and the tool will display trending stories from each category in an easy-to-read dashboard. Feedly’s discovery features will also help you identify new sources and quality content to follow and share on your channels.
Quuu allows you to choose your interests from over 500 categories. The free plan allows you to connect one social profile and will provide 6 new content suggestions daily, which you can post in one click through your scheduling tool. Every piece of content is hand-reviewed by a real human so no bots will be sending irrelevant or offensive content to your queues.
With many businesses operating entirely digitally, getting your website in tip-top shape should be a priority. Your website serves as your business’s online home, and is often the first place prospective clients and customers will go to assess your credibility as a business establishment. These free website tools will ensure your website is optimized, found and user-friendly.
16. Moz Local
If you’re a local business, Moz Local will help you track and optimize your listings to ensure you’re found by members of your community looking for your product or services. While Moz Local is a paid tool, it offers a free presence check to see where your business is listed accurately and inaccurately in 9 online directories.
Ubersuggest provides a full SEO audit of your website, as well as a traffic and keyword analyzer so you can optimize your website for search and identify content opportunities. You can also analyze your competitor’s websites to see the content and keywords they’re prioritizing, which will help you determine areas you may be missing – as well as untapped opportunities where you can emerge as an industry leader.
Plug in any site domain into Buzzsumo and it will identify the most popular pages and how often they been shared to on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit, as well as total engagement with those pages.
Digital Engagement Tools
Many businesses are turning to video conferencing, webinars and other creative means to have real-time conversations with audiences from home. These tools will help you take customer engagement to the next level on a digital scale.
Mentimeter helps you make your webinars or video conferences interactive by asking for real-time input from your audience. Live polls, quizzes, word clouds and more allow you to collect, analyze and display data in real time. You can use it for anything from simply asking for your audience’s opinion for research purposes, to keeping your digital engagements fun and friendly by showcasing your brand personality.
20. Google Surveys
There is perhaps no better way to prove to your audience that they have a voice than to ask for it. Since many of us are forced to take a pause in our business and personal lives anyway, why not take a step back and find ways to improve your business by surveying your audience? Google Surveys allows you to create custom surveys and distribute them to your audience. It’s a simple tool with a simple design, but it allows you complete control over your questions in an easy-to-use format for both the survey designer and the participant.
Experiment with creative ways to convey information to your audience through infographics. Piktochart offers templates and data tools to create beautiful and engaging infographics that will give your audience something to explore – a much-needed break from text-only articles and shallow memes.
Time Saving Organization Tools
Even though we’re at home, it feels like we have less time than ever before – especially if you’re trying to keep a business afloat. These tools will help you stay organized and manage your time to optimize productivity, and make more room for much needed decompressing.
22. IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT is a free automation tool that allows you to create recipes (known as applets) that are set it and forget it for the user. Connect multiple apps to the tool, and trigger an event when something happens. For example, a popular YouTube Applet adds songs to your Spotify playlist every time you like a video. Another example is this Instagram Applet that automatically adds your new Insta photos to a Facebook album. Choose from pre-made Applets or connect your apps and create your own recipes.
ClickUp is a free project management tool that consolidates your to-do lists, spreadsheets, time tracking, email, chats, goal plotting, collaborative docs and more in one place. Use this tool to keep your team organized while working remotely, or use it individually to keep track of your own projects and progress.
You can literally organize every part of your life using Evernote (I know I do). Using a mix of notebooks, notes and tags, you have the freedom to write freeform, draw freeform, or clip images, text, PDFs or full webpages from the internet or your personal devices to your notes. Use notebooks and tags to keep everything organized, and in no time you’ll have a repository of curated resources.