Is a good free social media automation tool? We tried it.

Wheatleys recently set up new social media profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter to go with our re-brand. Now we want to start posting useful stuff across all those profiles. It’s a time-consuming business, so we figured we should give social media automation a try.

We used to use TweetDeck to schedule and deliver our posts, but it now only works with Twitter. So, after reading this post on the best SM automation tools, we thought we’d give a try.

Ideally we want to manage all our social media profiles in one place — and for free. After our experience with, we’re not sure that’s possible… but we might have found another good solution.

Here’s what happened. 

Signing up

Signing up with was easy. We used email, but you can also connect with your Facebook or Twitter profile.

Lots of options

The first thing shows us when we sign up is a fairly complex-looking dashboard.

The 3-step wizard thing at the top wants us to automatically share updates to our social profiles, but we haven’t even set those up yet. And we don’t know if we trust to automatically post for us yet — we only just got here!

Let’s poke around a bit first, to see what can actually do for us.

Connecting our social media profiles

Clicking on the ‘Socials’ button at the top of the screen takes us to a page where we can connect our profiles.

It’s simple enough. Click the ‘Add Social’ button and choose whichever kind of social media profile you want to connect. There are 9 in total: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Companies, Tumblr, RSS (for paid accounts only) and StockTwits.

If you’re signed into the profile you’re connecting, will use OAuth to set things up quick.

You can only add 3 social media accounts with the free plan

Ok, this is disappointing. We were really looking for a free automation tool, and we want to post on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn.

But, when we go to add our fourth profile, we get this screen:

Now we already know definitely isn’t our solution, because we’re cheapskates frugal and we don’t want to pay.

We might stick with if we can’t find a better free option though. So before writing off completely, we may as well see what the tools are like.

Scheduling a post

Let’s share something recent from our blog. We click ‘New Post’ at the top-left, then fill in the form like so:

There are a few things we’re not sure about here:

  • There’s a special text box for Facebook (2nd-down, with the icon), but we don’t know exactly what the top box does. Will this text be used for Twitter and G+? That would be a bit weird since posts on those sites have very different requirements.
  • We’ve added our link and got a preview. But do we need to keep the link text in our post box, or will look after this for us? It would’ve been nice to get some help text on this.

Oh well, we can always delete the posts if we don’t like them. Let’s just click ‘Add to Queue’ and see what happens.

How does the Queue work?

Our post has been added to our queue. But I’ve no idea how the queue works yet. Clicking on it shows us our schedule:

I guess we need to use the switches to choose the times when we want to post for us. Again, some help text would’ve been good.

A few clicks later, we’re now only posting from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Friday:

That was easy enough, but what happened to our post? Where did it go? Has it been published already, or will post it at some random time within our schedule?

We need to click the Queue button on the left to see what’s going on. Here’s our current queue:

It says our post is set to run today at 9am, but that time has already passed. Oh, wait — it’s probably a timezone issue.

Set the right timezone

To fix that, we just need to click on ‘Account Settings’ in the top-right menu. Then we change Timezone from the default ‘America/Los_Angeles’ to the right one. In our case, it’s ‘Europe/London’. has now rescheduled our post for 7pm. But since we want to test the service’s posting features, I changed it to a time much closer to now:

 We made our first post!

A few minutes later, an email arrived saying our post was published:

Here’s how the post looked on Facebook. Everything worked here as it should:

Looking at our schedule again, we see the post has been set for 11.28am on Twitter and 3.34pm on Google+. It makes sense to spread them out a bit, I guess.

We want to make sure is formatting these other posts correctly though, so I set them both to publish right away instead.

Images didn’t show up correctly on Twitter

Everything was fine on Google+. But on Twitter, our post had the wrong image:

Now, I obviously did something wrong, but this wasn’t the most intuitive process. The form was seriously lacking help text to guide us through it.

I don’t think the website is the problem, because we have Twitter cards set up correctly. When we share a post from our site directly to Twitter, the tween includes a nice preview with the featured image from the post. So it’s a shame this didn’t work as expected. costs $9.99 monthly or $99.50 per year

Assuming we could iron out the Twitter problem — and we probably could — we’d still have to pay at least $99.50 (about £76) per year to use with our four main social accounts.

That’s not something we want to do based on today’s experience.

So, is there a better, free SM management tool that will let us look after all four of our social accounts?

The answer seems to be no 🙁

It might be naive to expect totally free social media management

Here’s a list of social media automation tools that can manage Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles. For each, I’ve put in the number of profiles you can manage for free.

  • Hootsuite – 3 free profiles
  • Buffer – 1 free profile
  • – 3 free profiles

(Know of any others? Please share!)

As you can see, there isn’t a free service out there that’s going to let us manage 4 social profiles for free.

Free solution: + Tweetdeck

We didn’t like the way handled our Twitter post. So, what if we used TweetDeck for our Twitter posts, and (or Hootsuite) for everything else?

We wouldn’t be managing everything in one tool. But it would be free. And it would still be a lot easier than managing our four accounts separately. We’re going to give it a try.

In the meantime, I hope this was a useful look at and your free social media management options.

If you have any thoughts on, or you know of a better free SM management solution than + TweetDeck, please tell us about it in the comments!

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Author: Neil Wheatley

Copywriter since 2008, specialist in IT, software and video game marketing, dad to Wolfie and Rock.

One thought on “Is a good free social media automation tool? We tried it.”

  1. We use Hootsuite. It’s worth the small fee to have good tools. By the look of dlvr-it we made the right choice.

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