I’ve used a social media management tool called Buffer for about four years now, ever since it was in beta. And, while I love it for its ease of use and power – not to mention its affordable price (free for the basic service or $9.95 per month for the pro version) – the company is ending its “recommended posts” feature.
That, of course, is the feature I’ve found most valuable. It probably says more about my own social media content than I like, but the suggested posts from Buffer have consistently outperformed anything else on my Twitter feed. In announcing the cancellation of the service a couple of months ago, Buffer provided the following list of sources for content worth sharing. I’ve tried them, and most of them are very good resources.
So if you’re like me, and you struggle with finding creative, valuable content for your own marketing “professional development” or to share with your audience, here’s a list of 7 free or very low cost sources for the links that will help you build your social media following – plus one link to a site Buffer recommends that I can’t recommend.
ContentGems monitors 200,000+ news sources, blogs, and social media accounts, and filters the results based on your keywords, social signals, and more. A basic account is free and lets you monitor two areas of interest. A personal annual subscription is $99 per year – but I got everything I wanted from the free account.
LinkedIn has expanded rapidly as a content platform, and there are enough good stories on LinkedIn to make their Pulse page a fantastic source of solid content. Pulse includes customized stories according to those whom you follow on LinkedIn and you can also receive Pulse via email: weekly, daily, or as soon as new content is posted. To turn on the LinkedIn Pulse email, visit your Email Frequency settings, and change the settings for Updates and News. Also, you can post your own content to LinkedIn Pulse, and expand your readership and social network through that platform as well. It’s free with your LinkedIn membership.
But here’s what Buffer says about Medium, “Browse the collections and trending lists straight from Medium to find great content, or follow your favorite writers. Based on whom you follow, Medium sends emails with content it thinks you might like.” Try it for yourself if you’re less picky about your privacy than I am.
This daily newsletter collects the stories that have been shared most often by those you follow on Facebook and Twitter. Once you create an account or sign in with your Twitter account, News.me begins collecting the content that your followers have “favorite” or shared. Then it sends you a daily digest of five, 10, or 15 stories each day based on your account settings. Since the content comes from your own followers, you can be fairly sure that it’s relevant to your audience. It’s free, but apparently still in beta. I haven’t had any problems with it, and “my” digest has been a good content source for me.
At first, Nuzzel seemed to be just like News.me, in that it collects “news from your friends”, but it has a few additional bells and whistles that aren’t in News.me, including:
- Not only news from friends but also news from friends of friends
- A list of replies and tweets referring to the top content shared by friends
- A boomerang feature: stories that might have slipped your attention
One other thing I like about Nuzzel is that it has a free iTunes or Android store app, making it easy to use on my iPad or iPhone. I’m strictly a PC user for my main computer needs, including writing, but I do occasionally like to use the iPhone or iPad to post to Twitter or Facebook, and the app makes it easy to find interesting things to share when my brain is frozen while I wait for a teenager to finish some activity.
Panda is rather like a catalog of cool content. The site posts thumbnail-size icons of content from communities or websites. It’s definitely designed for the folks who love the way Apple stores photos: you browse through the icons, and if a picture takes your fancy, you click for more information. Personally, I HATE browsing that way. (I’m a wordsmith, not a visual learner/searcher.)
But if you are looking for interesting content, Panda definitely has some of the most interesting stuff I found. It’s free – there isn’t even a required registration. You can get content via the on-screen layout, or they will send you an email with links, and you can cycle among some other curated sites without leaving the Panda Homepage, including: Hacker News
- Growth Hackers
- Designer News
- Product Hunt
SmartBrief’s home page banner reads, “We read everything. You get what matters.” That certainly seems to be the case. THIS is the service that works for me. The service publishes more than 225 individual newsletters, broken down into about 40 topics. You pick the specific industry or niche you’re interested in, and then refine it by selecting subtopics, and the content you most want to see is filtered for you. I love it!
SmartBrief covers 15 main industries including:
- Aviation & Aerospace
- Energy & Chemicals
- Food & Beverage
- Health Care
- Life Sciences and Technology
- Marketing & Advertising
- Travel & Hospitality
Pick one, and it will be broken down further for you. For example, the business category is broken down into four major categories: Leadership, HR & Career, Small Business, and Policy & Advocacy. Each of the main categories is further broken down, so there are a total of more than 20 newsletter choices. Sign up for one of them and get a daily, weekly, or monthly (you chose) collection of relevant articles.
I currently subscribe to two of the SmartBrief categories, and I’m thinking of adding a third. This one is my favorite of the Buffer-suggested content resources.
Like Nuzzle and News.me, Swayy is a service that promises to summarize what’s hot among your friends, followers, and fans. Swayy connects to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to discover the topics and stories that are trending in your social media community.
You can access content from the Swayy dashboard (as well as view analytics on what you’ve shared via Swayy), or you can see stories via a daily email from the site.