Earlier this week, the makers of Twitter dashboard CoTweet announced that it would no longer be offered as a free service. As of February 15, any individuals or businesses using CoTweet will be required to start paying for it, or find an alternative.

So you’re not left in the lurch when CoTweet’s free service shuts down, we’ve compiled 5 of the best alternatives for all your Twitter management needs – and they’re all free.

While CoTweet wasn’t the most popular Twitter dashboard out there, it had a niche appeal among social media managers, especially those with large teams managing multiple accounts.

Here are five alternatives that you can use to schedule tweets, assign duties to multiple colleagues, monitor your @mentions and more:

HootSuite

HootSuite is an all-in-one social media dashboard. You can manage multiple Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and dozens of other accounts from a single dash. It allows you to schedule tweets or updates to your Facebook page in advance, and you can view various “streams” of information in column form: your @mentions, timeline, saved searches, pending tweets, lists and much more. HootSuite is available as a web client.

While most of HootSuite’s features are free, the paid plan (which starts at $5.99USD/month) allows you to add team members and explore robust analytics.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck is a Twitter dashboard that was acquired by Twitter just under a year ago. Since then, it has changed dramatically. It is much simpler than HootSuite, and only allows Twitter and Facebook accounts to be connected – no LinkedIn, YouTube or any others. It offers columns of information like HootSuite, such as your @mentions and your timeline, and is available as a web version, Chrome version or desktop version.

Seesmic

Seesmic is the third “big hitter” when it comes to full service, free social media dashboards. It allows you to view your social media streams in column form just like HootSuite and TweetDeck, and can connect to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, PingFM and Chatter. Seesmic is available as a web or desktop version.

Buffer

If complex social media dashboards aren’t your style, you might want to check out Buffer. It’s a lightweight tweet and status scheduling tool that sends your tweet out at optimal times throughout the day – when your audience will see them. You can get a Buffer button for your web browser or smartphone, so you can share articles and multimedia with your Twitter followers or Facebook friends in just a click of a button.

SocialBro

The fifth Twitter dashboard to make the list is the newest one on the block. Launched just last year, SocialBro focuses more on analytics than the other options. For instance, you can use it to see which of your followers is online right now, view demographics information, maps of where your followers live and find the best time to tweet. You can also manage lists, perform searches and a variety of other activities. SocialBro is available as a Chrome app and desktop version.

(Top image: Mile Atanasov via Shutterstock)