There are so many fantastic free tools and websites that I use on a daily basis that make my tasks so much quicker and my life much easier. It has taken me many years of searching the web and much frantic scribbling during conferences to compile a list of my top five:
Social media management
1) First up there is Hootsuite, by far the easiest tool I have found for managing social media. Hootsuite is a tool for managing Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and countless other social media sites, allowing you to post to multiple social media accounts simultaneously, schedule posts to be sent out at a later time or for monitoring multiple twitter / social media streams. I use it to keep track of Facebook messages and page feeds across several accounts, following Twitter lists, hashtags and mentions. Push notifications on mobile are particularly useful which vibrate and flash up when I receive a mention or a message.
Hootsuite is free for up to 3 social profiles and one user: https://hootsuite.com/
Free link checker
2) Next up there’s Xenu. Xenu is a fantastic link checker which crawls your website to check for broken links – an essential part of maintaining a website – but can also be used to view site metadata. I run a monthly report to update broken links and use the metadata function to find pages with missing metadata or poor descriptions.
Xenu is free: http://xenus-link-sleuth.en.softonic.com/
Social media listening
3) Buzzsumo is a great tool for finding out what content works on social media and finding influencers for different topics. I use Buzzsumo to find people who have high number of followers who are active in my field. I can then start to interact with them over a period of a few months – promoting their content, engaging in discussions, retweeting their posts – with the hope that the favour will be reciprocated and they will retweet my messages. It is also useful to find out which pieces of content are performing well on social media so that I can more accurately deduce which articles to commission for the highest chance of success.
The website requires you to sign in and you can access the top 10 influencers / content on a free account: http://buzzsumo.com/
Free image editing
4) Believe it or not, but not every computer has Photoshop and working at a charity I have had to get used to not having all the tools I need at my disposal. Pixlr is a web-based image editing platform which will perform many of the basic functions of a tool like Photoshop. From cropping, resizing and adding text to creating layers, adding transparencies and merging images.
Pixlr requires you to log in and set up a free account: https://pixlr.com/
5) The daddy of them all has to be Google Analytics. One of the most powerful web analytics available and all for free. The capabilities of Google Analytics are virtually endless – on a daily basis I use it to find out what content / pages are working on my website and which ones need to be culled, to track user journeys and to spot areas of weakness, to ascertain the effectiveness of my marketing efforts by looking at acquisition reports and to get a better idea of my web audience. The best thing I have done recently is to set up goal tracking which allows me to see how many people are reaching my website goal (whether that is buying something, filling in an enquiry form etc) and to then backtrack to look at their journey through the site, where they came from etc. Link up Google Analytics with your Adwords account and suddenly you can see which keywords work best not just for advertising your website but for actually reaching people who will convert.
Google Analytics is free: www.google.com/analytics/
Training and certification: www.google.com/analytics/learn/index.html