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I was fortunate to find a marketing manager position shortly after earning my bachelor’s degree in 2015.  I had unexpectedly fallen in love with social media during my studies once I realized that a large part of it was creating creative content.  I say unexpectedly because I was not much of a social media user in my personal life.  It was not until a friend of mine asked me to help promote his company on Facebook and Twitter that I truly understood the breadth of social media’s influence.   When used for marketing purposes you quickly learn that social media marketing consumes that most precious of commodities…time.  You also learn that it’s not as easy as finding a great image online, writing some clever content, and posting.  Each social network possesses their own optimum image size and text limits.  It can become easily frustrating if you don’t find and utilize tools to help manage social media. So, how do you make posting easier, more efficient, and an overall better business experience?  That is where the two tools I selected to write about come in.  Please note:  This is just a basic overview and these are some of your more mainstream (bigger if you will) tools.  Once you get into serious social media management you will find endless apps and browser extensions that offer even more ways to increase the effectiveness of your social media presence.

Hootsuite: The True “Go To” Social Media Tool

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Hootsuite is probably one of the more recognizable social media management tools.  This popularity can sometimes also be a detriment, causing it to be overlooked by marketers who may prefer more technically diverse platforms.  However, most blogs that suggest other (similar) tools, you realize that Hootsuite is still the benchmark for total social media management.

One factor in Hootsuite’s is popularity is that its free version offers enough features for a small business owner to manage their own social media marketing (should they choose to do so).  But Hootsuite is more than just a social media scheduler, it has the ability to integrate with other marketing tools like MailChimp and WordPress.  Hootsuite also has an extensive list of add-ons to suit any need you may have for content curation, reputation management or analytic tools.

There are many resources that get in depth about the pros and cons of Hootsuite and since I only touched on the basics I thought I’d share a one with you.  I really like Ian Anderson Gray’s posts on why you should and should NOT use Hootsuite.  He lays out a very succinct argument for you to weigh in deciding whether to use Hootsuite or not.

Canva – Making Business Owners and Marketers into Graphic Artists?

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I have some very close friends who are graphic artists.  I also know they would like to give me a very loving (but swift) flick to the ear if they saw that sub-title above.  So, first things first, Canva is not a replacement for Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator.  But here is the more important second thing…you don’t need Photoshop for social media marketing.

Canva allows you to make branded social media posts that can be perfectly sized to meet most of your social media image needs.  They offer pre-sized templates for various Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest images.  Plus, if you don’t see a template size to suit your needs, you can use this constantly updated SproutSocial blog post depicting the current image sizes for all the main social media platforms.  Once you know the correct dimensions you can input them into Canva’s “Use Custom Dimensions” option to get the exact image size you need.  Canva also offers the ability to create resumes, letterheads, brochures and other printable marketing materials that can be downloaded in JPG, PNG and even PDF format for print projects.

Optimization and flexibility to design different types of documents are great, but what I really enjoy (as an avid user) about Canva is the ability to set your social media posts apart from your competitor(s).  Some small businesses may have a limited pool of content specific to the products they carry.  This can lead to their social media pages either looking similar to their competition or lacking in content that supports their brand identity.  Canva is a great brand building platform and that makes it a vital social media tool for people that just don’t have the time to learn how to be a Photoshop guru... people like me.