Social media is part of every business marketing strategy. If it is not part of yours, then it should be. However, while many businesses have good intentions to use it, they struggle to find the time to really make it effective. Is that true of your dental practice?

If so, good news! There are awesome social media tools that can help you save time by scheduling your posts in advance. These tools allow you to dedicate only an hour or two of your time each week to create and schedule posts, thus saving you valuable time.

But which tool can really help you? Here are the top four free scheduling tools:

1. Hootsuite

The publisher feature on Hootsuite gives you the ability to schedule future posts and adapt them to various social networks. You can customize posts for each platform; for example, on Twitter and Google+, you can add hashtags.

This makes it simple to plan a social posting strategy and create time-sensitive posts for your patients on each platform.

Other features include a stream to easily monitor social networks, analytics (part of PRO package), and the ability to make reports (part of PRO package).

Cost: FREE (for 5 profiles or less) or $9.99 for PRO package.

Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace and Mixi.

Social Media Marketing for Dentists - Hootsuite

2. Buffer

Buffer is a wonderful tool for bookmarking and scheduling tweets, Facebook, or LinkedIn updates. Buffer allows you to schedule the exact time you wish to make an update from any browser or mobile device.

This tool includes statistics allowing you to see how many people have clicked, reached, and retweeted your links.

Buffer has a mobile app and the option to integrate with Google Reader. Also, you can bookmark and tag posts to Delicious or Pinboard, which are social bookmarking sites.

Finally, you can add other people as team members onto your Buffer account, so they can schedule posts and track analytics.

Cost: FREE (one account and 10 posts in a queue) or $10 a month

Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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3. Tweetdeck

This downloadable tool is your personal browser to the activity happening on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace accounts. Tweetdeck allows you to add columns containing updates from your social media accounts, and with additional columns, including “what is trending on social media” and “recommendations for Tweetdeck” (sharing posts from other social media).

The scheduling tool is easy to use with a simple drop down display, asking you when you wish to schedule your posts. A new column will appear displaying all your scheduled tweets with options to edit or send now.

An excellent feature is the global filtering tool, which allows you to filter what appears in your news feed in Tweetdeck, shutting out all the noise already present on Facebook and Twitter.

Cost: FREE

Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace.

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4. Crowdbooster

Crowdbooster is a social media marketing tool uniting your Facebook and Twitter accounts into one central location. This tool includes a recommendations feature where it measures the best time to post and who your top fans are.

Crowdbooster offers a great scheduling tool, which allows you to easily add links and images; it lists all your scheduled posts; and you can edit them any time.

This service has some useful analytics including the reach of each post and how people have engaged with it such as likes, shares, comments, and retweets.

Finally, a cool feature is the influential followers feature. This highlights followers that could potentially expand your reach in the dental industry.

Cost: FREE

Social Networks: Facebook and Twitter

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We know that finding time to reach out to your audience can be challenging, but these scheduling tools can save you time and keep you on track with your social media strategy. Many marketers have implemented these tools and found great success.

Have you tried any of these FREE social tools? Do you have any other social media marketing tools you have found useful? Leave a comment below to share!