Marketing to and connecting with consumers on social media networks is an almost mandatory practice for eCommerce platforms. Shoppers need to know you exist and social media posts are one of the cheapest ways to do so. Another equally important motivation is that customers want businesses to respond when they message them or tag them, or form a hashtag around them.
You will miss a lot about your own company if you’re not careful. Implementing a social media marketing strategy will be significantly easier if you can access free social media management platforms and free content creation tools.
We discuss some very innovative applications to streamline your workflow and personalize your brand’s communications.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is where small businesses, enterprise marketing teams, or marketing agencies post branded content and ads on social networks. It requires extensive research, creativity, engaging graphics, and maintaining an active presence on social media platforms.
SMM can generate organic traffic so you don’t always have to run ads on social media platforms. Ads aren’t the only expense that can be saved, content creation, social media management of campaigns, and everyday communications can be very expensive when using agencies of freelancers.
If you’re an individual or small business with their own eCommerce brand, finding free tools can be a lifesaver. We will go over 4 social media graphics tools and 4 social media management tools you can use to get started.
If you are less familiar with the concept and benefits of social media management you can see our enlightening exploration article.
Which Social Media Content Creation Tools Are Free?
The best part of content creation applications has to be the built-in convenience in their features. You don’t have to have an Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Creative Suite subscription to craft engaging content.
You can actually manipulate already existing elements (or objects) to create a whole new design for posts, ads, infographics, announcements, etc. No one needs to be an artist or skilled with technology to use them because most use simple drag-and-drop user interfaces (UI).
The majority of the content creation tools have incredibly fast mobile versions in order to can create whenever, wherever without losing any functionality (as you would with the mobile versions of professional software).
Users of the software can have few artistic skills and a low budget. You will still be able to create attractive and thoughtful content. You or your team members simply need to be able to take the time to make the posts (some within one minute if you choose templates).
We recommend building a social media strategy around your target demographic. This include researching what colors they would find engaging. It can also include considering what photos, filter styles, and animations may catch their eye.
When you have your social media accounts up and running, you should test different designs and their individual engagement. If you do this before designing your complete brand style it can save your frustration down the road. We talk about social media management platforms with analytics tools later.
The free versions of many design applications generally restrict the number of users to one person per account. Your team members would need to have separate accounts, but collaboration won’t be lost.
These apps have ample sharing options and save your drafts on your cloud-based account. They do restrict storage to usually 5GB, which is plenty for one designer, but it’s also easy to download the images and delete to make space.
If it’s very important to you to have a team account, then you will need to look at paid pricing plans. Everything on this list has very affordable monthly and/or annual subscriptions. You can find the links to their respective plans and pricing in the table. We are only covering free plans in this article.
|Over 50,000 design templates
Over 1 million creative assets
Fonts, music, animations, backgrounds, and objects
10 GB storage
|Over 250,000 design templates
Over 100 design types
Over 100,000 photos and graphic elements
Team collaboration and sharing
|Pay as you go image & video downloads
Resize image designs
Add text, images & shapes to designs
Custom color palette
Reseller rights (restricted)
One caveat for anyone looking to create designs they plan to distribute for revenue should understand these tools tend to restrict commercial use. Commercial use could be commissioned projects, T-shirts, or company logos. It’s the selling of any item, digital or physical with the design you made.
The reason for this is that these applications have ready-to-use design objects, photographs, and illustrations from artists. It’s unfair and unethical to distribute the unaltered illustrations of a designer as your own for money.
For example, the popular tool Canva requires that the design you make be original and unrecognizable are one of their illustrations. They encourage you to contact them if you are unsure whether or not your design meets those standards. It’s also important to know Canva source images from Pixabay and Pexels, and that their individual licenses will apply if you want commercial distribution.
VistaCreate, another design tool, allows commercial, personal, and business uses of the design you create. They do have restrictions you should see, they include that the commercial use cannot be in competition with VistaCreate or their other companies.
Another quick reminder, you can click the TrustRadius product pages for each software in the table. Our product pages will include pricing, reviews, and related comparisons.
VistaCreate is a cloud-based graphic design tool formerly known as Crello. The company is remote but Ukraine-based. They also own the platform Depositphotos which is a completely free image library of Ukrainian daily life since the 2022 Russian invasion.
The project was launched to combat misinformation and provide social media users and global news stations with authentic images. You can easily take advantage of these photos to make statements like other companies, or blog about current events. Given these core values, it makes sense that this company has a robust free version.
VistaCreate’s free account plan comes with access to over a million elements and thousands of ready-made templates. You can create both Android and iOS mobile devices. It’s an app with endless possibilities and abundant storage at 10GB. You can create illustrative stories, infographics, videos, and gifs.
You can also make the standard social media posts you will see on social accounts like Twitter or LinkedIn. These tend to be high-quality photographs framed with colorful text. You want your brand style to still stand out of course, but it’s good to know the type of content most brands have on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, or Instagram stories.
VistaCreate’s brand kit will allow you to store your logos, fonts, and color schemes. This helps create branded content faster and easier. As a quick note, most social channels have different size requirements.
Tweets for example allow long images. Instagram posts on the other hand are much shorter in comparison. When you consider posting the same content on different channels, always remember size changes can cut off your logos. You may not be able to catch this ahead of time when you use scheduling tools.
On top of VistaCreate’s extensive Free plan, they have special free Pro accounts for educational institutions and nonprofits. You will need to submit an application for approval, but once approved you’ll have access to team collaboration accounts.
VistaCreate is a great choice for any team, with plenty of room for designs. You can learn more about VistaCreate here.
Below is a video that teaches you how to manipulate design elements in the application.
Canva is an Australian graphic design giant for social media marketing and content marketing. It has the same drag-and-drop interface most tools of its kind have and a plethora of objects you can craft inspiring and captivating images with.
Canva’s mobile app is available for both Android and iOS phones and tablets. The Free plan has plenty of opportunities for whatever you need. You can make infographics, presentations, promotions, videos, gifs, and more.
One thing to note is the range of styles in Canva’s graphics, you can find traditional illustrations, modern flat style, and even gothic styles. Even with the variety, Canva graphics in general have a distinct style that can be easily recognizable.
You can still create original content, you just might avoid the over-specific illustrations, like Christmas cats and neo-fluid Halloween designs. This is only if it bothers you that consumers might be able to tell what design tool you use.
Canva has free Pro accounts for education and nonprofit organizations just like VistaCreate. You will need to apply to them first and then you will have access to more team workflow functions. In general Canva’s Free account does have team collaboration options. You can create up to 20 free teams and each team can have as many as 3000 members.
Canva’s free version even has group account optons with admin control. You’ll be able to assign roles and share files and restrict access. In the Free plan you can communicate on designs in real-time, but you want to have too many features. The Pro plan has access to brand kits and marketing tools. You can learn more about Pro here.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should consider Canva or VistaCreate, Canva has team collaboration, while VistaCreate allows you to have a brand kit and more storage. Both applications have amazing design features.
You should definitely consider Canva if you have a bigger team and need the sharing and communication capabilities. For a tutorial on how to use Canva see the video below. You’ll notice that most of the software on this list have similar UIs.
Design Wizard is a content creation tool that has a free account but charges for individual downloads. You can still create and store designs on their platform and have the option to download in PNG, JPG, and PDF. You might use this software if your preferences aren’t met with VistaCreate and Canva.
With Design Wizard, you can resize your design for different social channels, which you can’t do in Canva’s Free plan. You will have the same functionality as other design tools. This means access to photos, graphics, fonts, and custom color palette.
Design Wizard advertises reseller rights for their free and paid plans, but their user license agreement still has restrictions on commercial use.
Below is a lesson on how to get started and utilize Design Wizards different functions.
What Social Media Management Tools Are Free?
Some of the best free social media management tools will have social media scheduling, marketing tools, and team collaboration. They won’t all have these features, and many free options will definitely restrict their analytics functionality.
Most free versions will limit the number of users and the number of social media channels you can have on your account. There is also no guarantee that every SM marketing platform will have the social media profiles you specifically need.
Many do not have any video scheduling options, which cuts out Instagram stories and reels, YouTube, and TikTok. Some may not have Pinterest, but overall most have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which are the most popular platforms.
|3 Social Media Channels
Queue up to 10 posts
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest
2 social accounts
5 Scheduled messages
|1 social set (one account for each social media network)
1 access group
10 posts per month per social platform
Instagram analytics lite
Unlimited media storage
Photo and video scheduling
Visual Instagram planner
Basic email templates
Integrates with Canva
You can click the TrustRadius product pages for each software in the table. Our product pages will include pricing, reviews, and related comparisons. The free plan links lead to their original pricing.
Buffer is a social media management and marketing platform. They have a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The platform has publishing, engagement, analytics, and capabilities for landing page building. Their Free plan will not have access to all these features.
For publishing, they have options to schedule posts to 3 of your social profiles. Their queue lets you schedule content up to 10 posts. For analytics, they offer zero real-time metrics. There is no engagement monitoring allotted either.
You can access integrations. Their integrations can include storage software like Google Drive or content creation software like Canva. If you have a Feedly or Zapier account, Buffer provides instructions to set up really simple syndication (RSS) feed automation.
An RSS feed is summarized page data that’s easy to connect to another. You can use them to connect social media pages to simplify posting. Feedly is a content aggregator that lets you pull information from multiple channels to view on one page. You can essentially build RSS feeds to view content easier. The downside is Feedly is not free, but you can use them with Buffer to add more reporting functionality.
Buffer’s blog is a great place to find information about digital marketing campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO) tips, and current SM marketing updates.
If you’re interested in Buffer, we have a tutorial below for how to use Buffer for social media management.
Hootsuite is a strong competitor to Buffer. They have publishing, analytics, and engagement like Buffer. They also have competitor and market monitoring along with social post boosting capabilities. Hootsuite’s free version is available in both iOS and Android mobile app stores. Their Free plan compared to Buffer’s is much more scarce.
For starters, Hootsuite no longer advertises their Free plan with the rest of the pricing. They cut the plans’ features down from 3 social channels and 30 scheduled posts. It now allows for only 2 social profiles, and up to 5 queued posts for the week. We can definitely say their free plan is not the best option.
It’s an absolute, bare minimum style plan. This does not mean it’s completely useless. It’s ideal for individual or very small startups that just started using social media scheduling tools. You would use this plan if you recently created your social media profiles. It’s ideal if you don’t want to get overwhelmed because the simplicity will help you keep track.
The plan does not come with Hootsuite analytics or boosting capabilities. This isn’t the plan for you if you have experience with social media, and are looking for features to help you with fast growth.
Hootsuite does allow for great functionality in their paid plans, but Buffer’s paid plans are much more affordable so you may want to start there if your budget is tight. We cover Later next and their free version is also a way better option in comparison.
Below we provided a beginner tutorial for using Hootsuite.
We’re not going to say Later is the number one social media management platform above all else. It really comes down to which one fits your personal needs. We will say they certainly deserve a hat tip for their Free plan features because they are one of the best free options out there.
You won’t find the full list we have in the table above if you look at Later’s pricing list. Later goes over some of the Free plan features on the pricing page but they give a more comprehensive list here.
Later’s terms for their platform capabilities can be a little vague. When they say they offer “1 social set” it means you can have one profile for all their available social networks. These are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn. If your team has one business account for each, this would be the most appropriate Free plan for you.
Later allows for 1 access group in their Free plan. Access group refers to groups with designated resources and functions. You will only have one so you can’t do admin and restricted. Your access-group would be one group where everyone can use one media library and calendar.
You can upgrade to a paid plan if you have a big team. You could then have multiple groups with their own designated resources. If your team is small, which is the use case their Free plan is for, then one access group won’t be an issue.
The biggest highlights of the Later Free plan is their Instagram functionality, video scheduling, and LinkedIn bio posting. Later is especially suited for Instagram. They offer analytics (only) for Instagram and offer a visual planner for scheduling Instagram posts. Their media library is also great for storing video and photo content which makes up most Instagram content.
You won’t be able to schedule Instagram stories, unfortunately. You also can only schedule up to 10 posts per profile each month. Later, and generally, most free versions, work best as a supplement to your self-publishing each month. The other social analytics Later offers in Free is for your LinkedIn bio. They save limited traffic data from the past 3 months.
Later is a great choice for teams that want analytics, storage, scheduling, and the ability to work with all their social media profiles. It’s limited but it’s good for startups looking to gradually grow.
Below is a tutorial on how to use Later.
Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform that specializes in email marketing. Mailchimp is an absolute marketing giant and useful for teams of all sizes.
We put them on our list because they offer social posting services. In general, you should 100% consider working with a free CRM in general for boost your online presence. With email marketing, you can offer subscribers/followers more content and more exclusive promotions.
With Mailchimp’s Free plan you can spend more comprehensively on ads campaigns for Facebook and Instagram. You will also be able to track analytics for those ad campaigns.
In Mailchimp Free’s content studio you can connect your accounts, create and store visual content, and publish your branded media. One catch is that the content studio is not designed for scheduled posting. You can schedule posts 2 hours ahead but only with the Standard plan.
Overall, content studio can do what most social media platforms do, except significantly more than their free versions allow. You can create professional multimedia posts with Adobe or Canva integrations. You will also have access to custom editing, and the Giphy library.
A good combination might be using a free management account from a platform with scheduling. That way you could take advantage of Mailchimp’s analytics and email marketing but also be able to schedule posts.
Mailchimp integrates with Hootsuite, but if you’re not a fan you can use a scheduler separately. There are also many other free CRM out there. You can see a variety of some mentioned in our article here.
Below is a video that shows you how to use Mailchimp for SM marketing.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started with social media marketing.
If you are interested in learning more about RSS feeds to collect data we have an article on how to use Google alerts. We go over how instead of sending research to your Gmail you can actually store it as an RSS feed. You can collect data on your brand and competitors with any other research you need. This can be an affordable alternative to relying on platforms to provide you with analytics.
If any of you have used the platforms discussed here please leave a review to help other buyers make informed decisions.
Was this helpful?