The world of digital marketing is highly dynamic. There are new trends and new tools coming out every week, some stick around while others vanish in the oblivion called Internet archives.
I can’t even remember all of the tools I ever tried, tested and deleted in my not-so-long digital marketing career. But, as many other colleagues and tech-and-gadgets-and-tools enthusiasts, I still get excited when I find a new tool to try out, especially when they help with my favorite daily tasks – social media management.
I’ve recently tried out 3 handy tools that made my work a lot easier and I wanted to share my findings and perhaps make someone else’s life a bit easier as well! As you probably guessed from the title, the tools I’m going to review today are Crowdfire, OnlyPult, and DrumUp (Nextpost also found its way to the list after the last update of this post).
They all have a free and paid version, and I found that most free versions are enough for a small business or even a blogger, so it’s totally up to your budget whether you want to go for a full version or stick with a free one.
I described each tool a bit, explained what I use it for, and included some screenshots of the interface, just so you can see what each has to offer. After a few months, some of these tools have added new features, so this article deserved an update as well.
Before we start with tool previews, we have to mention the big Instagram update from January 2018. Well, big for us marketers anyway! Instagram has decided to allow 3rd party apps to auto-post content to Instagram business accounts, something that was almost impossible before. Most major social media management tools, like Hootsuite and Buffer, had an option to share content to Instagram, but it wasn’t auto-posting. Users would get a notification on their phones and had to log in to their Instagram account to publish the content. Now, that should be gone.
The update was added to Hootsuite first, and of course, I had to try it! But, it was noticeable that it’s still in the beginnings. It turned out that hashtags you entered in image caption weren’t recognized by Instagram’s algorithms, so reach and engagement rate was significantly lower than when using other similar tools, or posting directly using Instagram.
So incredibly disappointed with @hootsuite @instagram direct publishing feature – I’ve already returned to push notifications. Engagement is terrible on published content, and there’s no way to geotag or tag other accounts #socialmedia pic.twitter.com/PDXy3s1RYE
— Simone (@Simone_Scribes) February 6, 2018
I’m hoping they will fix it and that the new update will come to other tools soon. Buffer says they are working on it!
Great question! It's so exciting to see Instagram opening this up, we know how much this will help your work! So far it’s in beta testing before it rolls out to everyone. We hope to have an update from our side very soon, we'll be sure to keep you in the loop! 🤗 -Daniel
— Buffer (@buffer) January 31, 2018
Without further rambling, here are the three (and one bonus!) little helpers I use every day for managing Point Visible social media channels, followed by updates that happened after the original text was published.
Crowdfire appeared in one of my Google searches for an automated Twitter direct message sending tool (wow, what a sequence of words). It looked fun and interesting and offered a lot of options beyond the automated DMs, even in free version. So, why not try it! And I did not regret it at all!
First of all, as a visual person, I was blown away by how the tool looks and how intuitive it is. The whole interface is made to look like a smartphone messaging app. It can be accessed via browser or a smartphone app. I used it on my PC in Chrome and it worked really well. It even sends out Chrome notifications every day when it has updates ready for you.
What updates, you might ask? Well, Crowdfire will help you with finding interesting content to share, accounts to follow and interact with, and points out who doesn’t follow you back. I’ve been using Crowdfire mostly for Twitter management and it was one of the main reasons our @PointVisible account got a couple of hundred followers in a month.
Crowdfire notification will pop up once every day and the whole process will take about 10 minutes, depending on how detailed you like to be. First, you will get a list of a few articles based on selected keywords that you can share on your social media. You can schedule them yourself, or let Crowdfire post them at “Best time”. You can choose how many posts you’d like to share per day for each social media account.
I usually pick a few interesting articles, add hashtags in tweets that are related, and then schedule them to be tweeted at the best time.
You can compose tweets too – it isn’t all just about sharing interesting articles. Crowdfire will suggest hashtags, allows you to pick a geographic location and upload a photo. You can do the same for any social media account you have connected. It works great with Twitter, but with Instagram, you have to have the app installed on your phone. Crowdfire will then send you a push notification to publish the scheduled post on Instagram which you then have to do yourself.
It’s nothing new, many tools do it the same, but we found a better way to handle Instagram, which will be introduced later on.
After that, you are led through several interaction steps. Crowdfire will list quite a few tweets mentioning your keywords which you should like to increase exposure. Then you will get suggestions for people to follow based on followers of accounts similar to yours, and those who tweet about your keyword.
In the free version, there’s a daily limit but it’s just enough to not make you look like a follow-crazy bot. Let’s not forget you can also set up an automatic direct message that is sent to your new followers, which is why I tried this tool in the first place.
All in all, Crowdfire is a really handy and easy-to-use tool and I’m looking forward to working with it every day. It has made our Twitter feed a little bit better and brought a nice number of followers. I would recommend it for that part in particular, but also for finding great content to share and read.
Update - February 2018
Since the original publishing of this article, there have been some major updates in Crowdfire – and I have enjoyed them all.
First of all, one that took me by surprise and kind of took some time to get used to, is the new interface. I have written originally that I loved the phone messaging type of layout so this new, clean, different one was a shock at first. But, once you get used to it and take some time to browse around, it’s pretty simple and easy to use.
Inside this new interface, you have simple access to all the features this tool has to offer. There are 5 sections in the top toolbar that cover all the features. Under Content, you can find interesting articles and images to share, based on the topics you chose. There you can also add an RSS feed and easily fetch any content from sites you like the most.
When it comes to new features here, Crowdfire now allows you to connect your blog and the tool will then grab content from there and suggest sharing times. There is also a new feature called Queue Meter which shows how many spaces are left in your weekly social media queue, based on the number of your social accounts and posts per day you set up for each of them.
Under Manage, you do just that – manage all your connected accounts. Here you find all the followers and “unfollowers”, as well as suggestions on who to follow based on competition and keyword search. The next section, Scheduled, is also pretty straight-forward. Here you can also easily change the number of posts per day for each account.
The last option is Accounts, where you can simply connect new social accounts, and edit the setting of all the ones you already added. The messaging layout that I loved so much is still present in the To-Do section, which looks and works the same as it has before.
Next big update, and one that also made me very happy, is Crowdfire Chrome extension. It works similar to well-known Buffer and Hootsuite extensions. You can easily share any content from the web simply by clicking on the icon in your toolbar. Crowdfire extension also allows you to share snippets of text you highlight anywhere on the web.
OnlyPult is, as you can tell from their logo, a tool for managing your Instagram account. And oh boy, it is a good tool! Both me and my boss Martina fell in love with it at first sight! It has everything. In fact, this is the only tool from this list that we decided to invest in after trying it out! Although, when I say “invest”, it makes it sound like it costs a fortune – this handy tool will put you back only $12 per month, for 3 Instagram accounts.
So, what exactly did we like about it? First of all, it automatically posts to Instagram. Yes, I mean it, it publishes a post on your Instagram – it doesn’t just send you a notification and reminder to post on Instagram, it actually publishes it for you. This is the first tool I found that can do that – both Buffer and Crowdfire just send notification reminders to do it manually.
And, to make it even easier, OnlyPult allows you to bulk-upload images for your Instagram feed and publish them according to schedule. You just need to take a few minutes to come up with a schedule in Planner where you can pick how many posts you want to be published each day, and at what times.
We went with 2 posts per day, on workdays, and none during weekends. After that, you just simply drag and drop all images you want to share. In our case, we just upload 10 images and that’s a whole week of Instagram posts sorted.
In bulk upload, you can add a general description and general first comment which will then be applied to all posts – or you can do it all individually, image by image. You can add filters, location, hashtags, emojis, mentions, make galleries – anything you would do in the regular Instagram app. All of these options are available when you want to add just one post too, of course. It’s just amazing.
OnlyPult has even more. You can easily reply to any comments and direct messages. You can search for hashtags and users, and repost images you like. Plus, there’s a nice Analytics dashboard as well, where you can track the number of your followers and interactions.
I’m well aware this is more of a love letter than a tool review, and I’m okay with that. OnlyPult has made our Instagram management a lot easier, and our Instagram feed much better.
Update - February 2018
Just like Crowdfire, Onlypult has had some updates in last few months, but nothing as major as the previously covered tool. The interface has stayed the same which not a bad thing – it’s simple to use and recognizable. Biggest updates on Onlypult are Instagram Story posting and the option to add Facebook account.
The story posting has been in beta for a while but we have tested it and it works great. It doesn’t have as many options as he Instagram app, which is to be expected, but it’s a really great addition and adds more value to your Instagram account. It’s the same interface as for adding regular posts, which may confuse someone at first because you can be unsure if you’re about to post a Story or a post! But, when scheduling, it’s clearly indicated which is which. In stories, you can add hashtags but with a catch. The text won’t be visible in the app, but your story will appear in the search for the hashtag you chose.
The other major update is Facebook option. Onlypult, in cooperation with another tool called PostenOk, allows you to connect your Facebook account and easily manage any profile, page and group connected to your account. The interface looks similar to Instagram one so it’s easy to use. We are using some other tools for Facebook so won’t be using this feature but it’s definitely a nice thing to have.
Onlypult also updated their feature for Instagram Direct. You can now read and reply to any direct messages you get on your Instagram directly from your browser, but also send a new message to anyone.
It’s still my favorite Instagram tool – although they still haven’t updated their payment options – and, even after trying some more fancy-looking new Instagram tools (see bottom of this article), I still pick Onlypult.
In a sea of tools for content curation, social media posting and scheduling, I am happy to recommend DrumUp. Just like with Crowdfire, I found it while searching Google for a tool that would make my everyday tasks a bit more streamlined. DrumUp is helping me to find interesting content to read, share, comment, and even use in future articles and research assignments.
Unlike Crowdfire, DrumUp doesn’t have a flashy, quirky designed interface. It’s plain but simple and easy to use. Once you register (I am using a free version), you get to pick social media accounts you want to use, as well as what keyword you want the content to be about. I went with Twitter again, and keyword Content Marketing.
DrumUp will find and suggest a lot of articles and organize them in streams, where each stream is for one keyword. The free version allows you to use only one stream, which is perfectly enough for our needs.
The schedule for Twitter allows you to have 1, 2 or 3 posts per day. You can create your own posts, or share some of the suggested articles. The sharing part couldn’t be easier. Once it’s all setup, and you find an article you’d like to share on your social media, you can just click on big green “1-Click-Schedule” button and the tool will do just that – schedule the content in your next free space. You can, of course, pick your own time by clicking just on the old Schedule button.
As mentioned, you can also create posts by yourself. DrumUp allows you to write updates and add in photos, hashtags, emojis and even gifs which is really fun and on trend. The paid version allows you to schedule the post to repeat at certain times and intervals, which is great for promoting your own blog posts.
One more awesome feature this tool has is a Slack integration. If you’re using Slack for work communication (or in free time, both’s great!), you can install DrumUp Slack app and it will send interesting articles directly into a Slack channel on a daily basis. We love it and always find some good reads for lunch breaks!
DrumUp also has a Chrome extension which I use whenever I run across an interesting article while browsing around. You just click on the icon and it gives you the same “Compose update” window as in the app. Really handy!
Overall, I am really enjoying DrumUp as a part of my daily social media and content curation routine!
BONUS – NextPost for Instagram
Just as I was working on update for this post, I ran into a brand new tool for scheduling Instagram posts – and much more.
Nextpost is a shiny new tool for automating your Instagram activity. It doesn’t only offer autoposting (in same ways as Onlypult), but it can also automate some other Instagram tasks, like sending automatic direct messages, following accounts based on hashtags, and leaving automated comments. Opinions are divided on this kind of automation, but nevertheless, this tool saves a lot of time.
I have signed up for a trial version to see what’s it about and will it drag me away from Onlypult. The trial is 3 days long which I think is not really enough to try out everything but I saw enough to write about it.
The interface is amazing. I loved it as soon as I opened the demo page. It’s bright, modern, fun and easy to use. After you connect your Instagram, you can start posting updates both as posts and as stories. It will automatically post them to your feed – right away or whenever you schedule them. Since I’ve been using Onlypult, all the setup and post editing was completely natural and easy for me. I loved this part!
Besides the posts and stories, you can automate engagement as well. I have tried auto commenting and auto liking Instagram posts. It took some time to figure out the best settings for that. You can pick hashtags you want the tool to target, the speed of comments/likes (as in – you pick Low if you want fewer comments/likes), and you can pause the activity between certain hours (for example, when you should be sleeping).
At first, I didn’t like the results because the tool was liking and commenting on posts that didn’t have the hashtag I picked, but then I realized I didn’t set it up right. Sorry, Nextpost!
Nextpost also allows you to auto-repost content based on hashtags, send automatic direct messages, save hashtags for easier access when scheduling, and see analytics of your Instagram profile.
Personally, I am not a fan of automated commenting and liking. We wouldn’t like a post written in Portuguese or Indonesian because we don’t understand the language and we can’t be sure that we, in fact, like the post! It definitely increases engagement and profile visibility but it’s not organic. I can see people using and liking this but it’s not something we’ll use now.
There are a lot of other options available but I didn’t get to try them all because, as I said, 3 days wasn’t enough to try it all properly. The tool has several pricing options, starting at $68. You can find all the details on their website!
So, these are my recent favorites, tools I have been loving (some more than others) and using on a daily basis. I will still be on the lookout for more tools that make content marketing and social media easier! Do you have any to recommend? What do you use for social sharing, finding interesting content and Instagram management? Share in the comments!
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