Six free—and almost free—tools to engage the easy way
Social media has become an integral part of the event management task list, and a whole range of apps have launched to help with the logistical side of Tweeting and ‘gramming, but which ones will get the job done most efficiently? These are my go-to tools for any sort of event-focused social media work. With this set of apps and a little time and effort, it is possible to create fantastic social media content on any budget.
1. Trello (freemium)—ideal for visual task and project management
Trello is a tool (both browser and app) that helps you manage your projects and organize anything in a simple, organized and visual way. It works for just about any type of project and links to lots of other software, including Google Drive. I like using virtual boards, lists and cards to plan out a social media campaign and on-site content for any event.
2. SmugMug (free trial)—ideal for photo and video hosting
SmugMug is a great site to upload, store and share your event’s photos and videos. You can share photos instantly with your whole team or choose to share them publicly. During an event, you can give limited access to your event photographers so they can provide you with a fresh source of high-quality images. Afterward, you can go through the best photos and categorize them for future marketing use.
3. Buffer (freemium)—ideal for social media scheduling and analytics
This is my favorite tool for scheduling social media posts, and it works with (almost) any platform. You create a schedule for each profile connected with Buffer. For example, you can choose to post three times a day, and only on weekdays, to your Twitter account. Then you load up each profile with content, including text, images or even videos. You can schedule posts for specific times and get an overview of your entire schedule. You can look at the analytics of anything you posted through Buffer and track key performance indicators.
4. Canva (free)—drag and drop graphic design
Canva is a great tool to create all types of social media graphics. It even works for print materials. It comes loaded with thousands of great-looking designs you can use and adapt with your event details for free. Canva charges you to use its large selection of stock images, but if you use your own, it’s free. It includes a huge library of icons, shapes and clip art as well as designs perfectly sized for social media, including full infographics. I don’t recommend that you fire your design team. Instead, use Canva for quick social media-friendly graphics.
5. Lumen5 (free)—automated social video creator
In many ways Lumen5 is Canva for videos. This clever tool creates text videos—the type that are very popular with news channels on social media—using articles, blogs or other text content from any website. It can take a press release and create a branded video almost instantly. This is my favorite tool for using already existing event content and transforming it instantly into engaging video content.
6. Clips (free, but IOS only)—pocket social video studio
This app comes preinstalled in the latest version of Apple’s iOS software that powers its iPhone and iPads. You may have it on your device and not even know it. This app is both limiting and incredibly creative. It is almost like having a full video studio in your pocket. It enables you to edit together various bits of video footage and still images, add music and even add some editable graphics that Apple has created for it. Clips is great for making fun videos, but don’t expect full control over the end result. In other words, it will never replace a video team, but it is great at making fun videos in square format, which also happen to work well on most social media platforms. The only bad news is that I haven’t found an equivalent app on Android. I am sure it’s just around the corner.
Miguel Neves is head chef at Social Media Chefs and speaks regularly on social media and event technology. From 2011 to 2017, he managed social media activity and digital strategy for IMEX Group. He sits on MPI’s international board of directors, co-chairs the Events Industry Council’s industry insights committee and holds a master’s degree in conference and events management from University of Westminster.