Thoughts from Steve

Forward Thinking Web Solutions is about helping you ATTRACT, CONNECT and KEEP your customers through using online tools. The purpose of this blog is to help provide ideas for being effective online and using your time and money wisely.

3 FREE Time-Saving Social Media Tools

3 FREE Time-Saving Social Media Tools
“97% of Marketers currently use social media—
85% of users aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.”
(Social Media Examiner - 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report)

As a small business owner you juggle many roles on a daily basis. You oversee marketing, sales, maintenance,  customer service, welcome committee, and social media manager, just to name a few. Quite frankly the last addition to your job description probably feels a bit overwhelming and at times pointless.

The use of the right tools can help you manage your time more efficiently, improve your presence on social media and place you top-of-mind next time someone is looking for your product. I’ve used and continue to use several different social media tools in my work environment. In an effort to help simplify the social media process for you I’ve stripped down my extensive list of tools to three.


3 FREE Time Saving Social Media Tools

Simplifying Social Media Management - Hootsuite

1HootsuiteLogoPURPOSE: To help you develop and strengthen relationships with current and potential customers.

Although I use a paid version of the software, the basic FREE version is powerful enough for many small businesses beginning in social media. Using the Hootsuite dashboard you are able to connect your Facebook profile/page, your Twitter account and your Google+ page. You can post/tweet, schedule posts, and reply to questions using the web-based program. Since Hootsuite is used in a web browser it is available to you wherever you have access to the internet.

Recommendations / Suggested Uses:

  • Download the mobile app from the Google Play or iTunes store onto your smartphone or tablet.
  • Use Firefox or Google Chrome as your internet browser for this program. I’ve had issues with Internet Explorer logging me out.
  • Google “Hootsuite Tutorials for Beginners” for the latest helpful tips.
  • Take 10-20 minutes each morning to manage your Hootsuite dashboard (post, share reply, mention, and follow).
  • Set a timer next to your computer to ensure you don’t get sucked into the social media vortex.
  • Leave the dashboard open during the day and respond to questions, comments and mentions as needed.

Simplifying Image/Graphics Creation – Canva


Canva-logoPURPOSE: To help you easily create eye-catching images.

Canva is a graphic designer’s worst nightmare but a small business owner’s delight. Canva’s strength is in providing drag and drop image creation. Templates are readily available for blog posts, invitations, posters, website promo slides, website modules and social network cover photos. Feel free to upload your own photos into the provided templates, use FREE Canva images, or splurge and purchase a $1 image from their expansive library. Tutorials are readily available to assist you in the beginning steps or to push you towards becoming a skilled Canva user.

Recommendations / Suggested Uses:

  • Use the off-season to create 12 cover images for your social networks corresponding to each month of the year. Use your favourite photos from the previous year.
  • To save time, work at creating multiple images at the same time rather than on as needed basis.
  • Create a template for all your promotional events. Return to the template to update photos, dates and details throughout the year.
  • Have your customers submit their favourite photos for possible inclusion into your online marketing.
  • Use for editing photos prior to uploading to Canva.


Simplifying Content Creation

scoop.itPURPOSE: To help you easily find helpful content that you can share with your social network connections.

Assuming that you wish to take your social media to the next level, I suggest that you begin sharing helpful content with your followers. If you are in the campground industry, helpful content might include: camping recipes, camping tips, camping check lists, RV maintenance tips, information about your campground area, local events, restaurants, and festivals. With that said, one of the greatest time wasters for the typical marketer is the task of finding helpful content to share with your target audience. Rather than having to find the content to share, I suggest using to do the work for you.

Each morning I check my created Topics for new articles that are made available in my feed. I look for content that might be helpful, timely and relevant to my audience. Since I am able to link my account with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ it allows me to share or schedule the info with my networks. Although also functions as a social network allowing people to follow you and make comments on your posted content, don’t expect too much interaction.

Recommendations / Suggested Uses:

  • Make sure you schedule time in your day to refine the list of sources for your topic. You can filter out website domains and words from this list. Expect to do this work up front to ensure you have quality content coming through your feed.
  • Your refined list of content could come from Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube and Google searches for keywords specific to your target market.
  • When “scooping” an item, you’ll find scheduling items under the ‘Advanced’ title.
  • The app is available for your smartphone or tablet, I find it difficult and slow to use and recommend avoiding installation on your mobile device.
  • As you continue to use consider integrating with Buffer ( The integration will allow you to easily schedule your social network posts and open the world to another effective tool.

There you have it. Three tools to use now and save time throughout the busy months. A little time set aside each day to learn and use Hootsuite, Canva, or will help you make great strides in being top of mind with customers and potential customers. Have fun!

Campground Booking/Reservation Software
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