Sometimes having the best tool for the job is exactly what you need. Having great tools can save you time, save you money in the long run, and make your life a whole lot easier.
As someone who talks to churches, and in particular Communications Directors often, it’s interesting to me just how much time is wasted by church staffs who just don’t have great tools because they want everything for free. They end up putting in a ton more effort to get around the cost of a $49 / mo. tool.
While not all tools are valuable, I always recommend doing what saves you time, within reason. A growing church should be able to spend some money to get great results on social media. And because social media is one of the most important connection points for your church, you want to make sure you’re doing it right.
You might find a few surprises in this list as well, as I didn’t just concentrate on tools that were specifically built for social media management. Some of the most powerful tools I’ve found are more multi-purpose tools that make a big difference in planning and collaboration of a social media presence. Especially when you have more than one person managing a social media account, this can be invaluable.
Without further ado, here is my lineup of favorite tools. Fair warning – I haven’t used all of these tools, but I didn’t put anything on here that I wouldn’t consider using. You might even see something on here you haven’t tried before 🙂.
One of the hardest problems for any social media manager is finding and curating great content. While sermons and events can be great things to post about, there’s no denying that sometimes you just run out of good ideas and need to look around to get inspired.
While not technically just a social media tool, Feedly aggregates great content for you for inspiration, saving you valuable time and making your job easier. It’s like having a built-in swipe file of great ideas from around the internet that will absolutely make your job easier.
Once again, not a specific social media tool, but there are three things I love about Airtable.
- Their free plan is awesome.
- They make planning a breeze.
- They can be configured to how you work.
Social media planning can be a nightmare without the right tools, and especially for social media over other tasks, where there are so many things to keep track of, it can be overwhelming without smart tools that work with you instead of against you. That’s where Airtable comes in.
Airtable is a completely customizable spreadsheet on steroids. You can drop images right in and see them alongside your post content, see a calendar view of your posts, and sort and filter posts based on their characteristics, channel, or anything else you like. They even have great templates to get you started, so it’s easy to get going.
Best of all, the basic Airtable subscription is free, so it doesn’t cost you anything to try it out and see what you think!
This is a bit of a newer tool, but it also has an awesome free plan and integrates all of the top social platforms. Especially if your church focuses on Instagram, this might be a tool worth checking out.
Later allows you to visually plan and schedule Instagram posts with a visual content calendar. They make scheduling as easy as drag and drop, and unlike a tool like Airtable, they also automatically post to the social network as well, so you can set it and forget it.
Later also helps you find and gather content that other people have posted about your church for reposting. Since millennials especially crave authentic content (and there’s nothing more authentic than posts from people in your church), this tool could be a no-brainer.
The final piece of Later that makes this an awesome option is their analytics. They give you in-depth analytics that help you figure our your best time to post and analyze how the content you posted performed, allowing you to find out what worked and what didn’t. This helps you grow your engagement, likes, and followers more quickly to boost your church’s overall social presence.
One of the best ways to make your job easier as a social media manager is to reshare great content. Because not very much of your audience sees any one particular post or tweet[link], reposting great content can extend the life of the content and be a way to cut back on having to come up with a million ideas.
Edgar does just that in a very interesting way. Edgar automatically reshares content over time so that it can be seen by more people and different audiences, and the best part of that is that it doesn’t add any extra work to your plate. Long gone are the days of spending hours refilling and rescheduling great content – this tool does the work for you.
It also has a useful post writer that will scan articles that you give it and try and pull out the most sharable parts, which would make post writing a breeze. You can pick an article that you like, even one that your church wrote, and Edgar will create post variations based on that content. It’s not magic, but it sure seems like it to me.
Granted, this is a paid tool, but what you gain back in time may well make up for the $49 / mo. cost.
When it comes to scheduling tools, if you haven’t heard of Buffer you’ve probably spent the last ten years living in a cave being raised by wolves. Buffer is a great little tool that allows you to schedule posts in one place to get pushed to several social media accounts.
Buffer works on the concept that as long as you give it a few posts to share, it will post them in your preferred time windows. This means you don’t have to worry about scheduling each individual post anymore – just give buffer your time slots and then give it some content, and it does the rest.
Buffer also has an app, making post scheduling on the go that much easier. As you get an idea, you’ll have the tools at your fingertips to create the post and get back to what you were doing right away.
Technically, this is actually a part of Buffer, but I had to put this as a standalone product because I wanted to call attention to just how great this little tool is.
For simple social graphics when you don’t have much time, Pablo is perfect. It has a library of over 600,000 free images that you can use for free, and will create images that fit perfectly on all your social networks from the one image you create. Just too cool of a tool to pass up, and the best part is that it’s completely free!
I would be remiss not to mention Hootsuite – a powerful social media management tool with a great free plan as well. I’ve used Hootsuite in the past to manage Twitter accounts, but it can handle Instagram accounts and Facebook Pages as well from a single dashboard.
One of the best parts of Hootsuite is its post discovery features. It allows you in a very easy way to see who is talking about your church and what they are saying – allowing you to respond appropriately to the conversation happening online that you might not have been otherwise aware of.
Hootsuite also has the standard features of a social media scheduler, saving you time by automatically scheduling posts and providing measurement tools to track the impact of your social media posts. It’s a well-rounded tool with a lot of features designed to make your life easier.
Friends+Me has a lot of the same features of other schedulers, but is worth a mention here as an alternative because it also has a free tier that might make sense for some churches that have small teams. As of this writing, they allow multiple people on their free tier, which is rare.
They have integrations into several different social media platforms, and their interface seems pretty user-friendly as well. They help you schedule posts for the best time, and collect great content as well to stay organized and on top of your ideas. All being said, this tool is worth a look when considering social media schedulers.
If Twitter is part of your social audience, Tweetdeck should be a part of your toolset. It allows you to create custom timelines, create and manage Twitter lists, create custom Twitter searches, and manage team accounts.
It’s not an all-in-one platform, but it does include a free plan and it’s a perfect compliment to other tools while staying true to the thing it’s best at – Twitter.