It should come as no surprise that social media isn't going anywhere. Not only are businesses solidifying their presence on more social media networks, but they're also investing more in these channels. In fact, in 2014 alone, social media ad spend topped $8.5 billion, and that number is projected to reach nearly $14 billion by 2018.
But for small-business owners newer to social media marketing, the thought of throwing money at paid social might feel unnerving. And with the growing number of social networks, features, and possibilities, paid social isn't the only cost associated with social media marketing.
It also costs time to create snackable content and execute a full-blown strategy. So what's the solution for a budget-conscious business? First, enlist the help of social media tools to tackle virtually every aspect of your social media marketing, from content to advertising to lead generation, social listening, analytics, and more. Second, keep those social efforts organized. Using a spreadsheet or custom content promotion template can ensure you're maximizing every opportunity.
Without further ado, here are the top seven free social media tools for small businesses:
1. Likeable Hub
Likeable Hub is a comprehensive social solution for SMBs that could even replace your marketing agency or consultant by aiding in content creation, social listening, social media advertising, lead generation, strategy, and support, and more.
Through the free version, you can also create your own mobile website and landing pages and enhance your tweets and LinkedIn posts. Plus, its streamlined mobile app makes it easy to manage your social presence in one unified place.
Beyond the free Likeable Hub app, the company offers VIP ($19.99 per month with a 30-day free trial), Expert ($199 per month), and Pro ($499 per month) plans.
Hootsuite is a trusted giant in the social tools space known for its social listening tools and RSS feed capabilities for multiple social networks--allowing you to connect with more than 35 popular social media apps.
Noteworthy features include a multichannel social media listening tool, a scheduling tool, RSS feeds, analytics, and reporting.
Hootsuite is free for personal use but also offers Pro (from $9.99 per month) and Enterprise (custom pricing) plans.
Buffer tracks your follower activity and determines the perfect moment to schedule tweets to maximize your exposure. With the Chrome extension, you can schedule content easily while browsing.
With features like multiplatform scheduling, analytics, and a browser extension for posting, Buffer has become a top name in the social media space.
Individual use is free, and business plans include Small Business ($50 per month), Medium Business ($100 per month), and Large Business/Agency ($250 per month).
TweetDeck is great for all Twitter-savvy businesses. It has some of the most advanced and helpful Twitter functionalities--such as custom timelines, Twitter lists and searches, and team accounts--that will shave hours off social media management while helping you do more.
Most important, it's free for all Twitter users.
Organize and analyze your Twitter accounts in one easy place using SocialOomph. It allows you to track your keywords, mentions, and retweets across multiple accounts and schedule tweet drafts.
The slew of free features includes dld.bz URL shortening, direct message inbox and old tweet purging, and keyword tracking.
SocialOomph is free to use, but you can also upgrade to Professional ($17.97 for two weeks) to access additional features for Facebook and Twitter.
MavSocial, whose name is a hybrid of maven and social, aims to be a trusted expert in managing your business's social media content. Its business-oriented visuals and management allow you to consolidate your social activity in one place.
Unlike other platforms, MavSocial gives you the option to post in multiple languages, even on the other side of the Great Firewall of China.
Plus, the starter kit is free, with the option to upgrade to an expanded platform for enterprises.
Friends+Me is the definitive social media management tool for Google+. It's a team-oriented platform that allows you and your co-workers to collaborate on your account and create content.
Its Google Chrome plug-in facilitates easy content sharing across your Google+ accounts, as well as other connected social media accounts.
Friends+Me is free to use and also offers Just+Me ($9 per month), Business+ ($29 per month), and Agency+ ($59 per month) plans.
What tools do you use to grow your social media presence online? Feel free to share others in the comments below!