The web is full of sites claiming to offer the best free social media tools. Some of them are great while others, not so much. But some of the most effective social media tools I use weren’t meant built for social media at all. Here are six of my favorite web tools and applications, and how you can get creative and use them for social media:
1. Word Cloud Generators
What it is: Enter text from a URL, word or excel document, or just plain copy and paste, into word cloud generators like Wordle, Tagxedo and WordItOut. The tool will then generate a word cloud to help you visualize which words are used most frequently.
Creating this word cloud was as simple as copying and pasting the lyrics into Tagxedo. In just a matter of seconds, Tagxedo produced this word cloud, sizing each word based on how frequently it appeared in the text. Now, a quick glance at the word cloud will show you that “Treble,” “‘Bout,” “Yeah” and of course, “Bass” are the words most frequently used in the lyrics.
How to use it for social media: When you get in the rhythm of posting every day, it’s easy to overlook the bigger picture, and to miss patterns you don’t realize you’re creating. Export your tweets and Facebook posts over the course of a couple months, upload them into one of the word cloud generators and see what comes out.
You’ll be amazed at what insights you can glean when you look at what you’ve written in a new, consolidated format. Do the “biggest” words align with your brand’s strategy and mission? Are you frequently using target keywords?
2. Tableau Public
What it is: Tableau Public is a free data visualization application you can download to your desktop. Upload any data set in the form of an Excel or text file and Tableau will slice and dice it in the form of graphs, charts and maps.
In seconds, Tableau will take care of all of those calculations and filtering you’d otherwise have to do manually, then suggest charts and graphs to help you visualize your data.
How to use it for social media: Export your analytics from Facebook, Twitter or another social network and upload them into Tableau. Play around with different chart, graphs, filters and calculations to see what stories your data can tell you about what is and isn’t working.
For example, I uploaded my Twitter analytics from September, downloaded directly from Twitter’s analytics platform, into Tableau. With just a few clicks, I was able to create this chart that shows my average retweets, favorites and URL clicks per day.
In seconds, I was able to discern that Sunday is my best day for URL clicks, and Saturday is my best day for Retweets and Favorites. Now, I’ve learned an important and actionable insight about my Twitter strategy – that tweeting on the weekends has the biggest payoff.
3. Portent’s Content Idea Generator
What it is: Designed as a tool for bloggers, Portent’s Content Idea Generator will spit out a potential headline when you enter any keyword or phrase. While some of them are silly (it suggested “How Social Media Tools Once Saved The World” when I entered “social media tools”), it explains the justification for each piece of the headline.
If you’re not impressed with your headline, just hit the refresh button for endless possibilities. Portent’s Content Idea Generator is tireless!
How to use it for social media: With newsfeed space becoming increasingly more competitive, it’s more important now than ever to drill your point home. If you have something important to say – you often have to say it more than once, especially when it comes to campaigns, current events and holiday marketing.
The idea generator can help you think of new ways to present repeat information. Don’t just look at the headline it spits out, pay close attention to the justification bubbles. While I may not send out a tweet about how social media tools saved the world, I’m now thinking about ways I could work nostalgia into my theme.
4. Keyword Tool
What it is: A pretty straightforward SEO tool. Enter any keyword or phrase and the Keyword Tool will spit out hundreds of long-tail keyword options.
How to use it for social media: Similar to the Content Idea Generator, browse the keywords for a different angle you could take on a popular or timely topic. This is particularly effective for helping you focus by taking a broad topic (i.e. social media tools) and generating more specific themes you can tackle (i.e. social media tools for nonprofits or small business)
5. Hemingway App
What it is: Hemingway App analyzes your writing style. Just copy and paste any body of text into the app and the tool will channel its inner Hemingway to tell you what grade level you’re writing at, and where your writing falls flat.
How to use it for social media: Strip away strategy, analytics, content curation and all of those other buzzwords, and it becomes clear that the success of your social media channels depends, more than anything else, on clear, provocative writing.
Copy and paste a few of your latest posts into Hemingway App and look over the highlighted sections to avoid copy writing pitfalls in the future.
6. 10 Minute Mail
What it is: 10 Minute Mail generates real email addresses that self destruct 10 minutes later.
How to use it for social media: Social media managers need to be up to date on all of the new and changing tools in the marketplace. Use 10 Minute Mail to poke around without sacrificing your inbox. Oh, and need I mention free trials?
How do you get creative with your social media tools? Tell us in the comments below!