So, now you know the basics of how to save some time when it comes to scheduling your social. This week, we’re going next level to make your social media life even easier by introducing you to some of the best social media management tools.
In fact, you may like some of these tools so much that finding the right one can feel like you found your social media... soulmate.
Before you fall in love at first demo, ask yourself one question:
Are you ready to commit to social media management?
These tools are powerful. Once you link your social media accounts, you can schedule posts quickly and efficiently (and in bulk), customize metrics reports specifically for your brand, and monitor exactly what's being said about your brand and by whom. But this ain't a walk in the park; be sure you’re ready to take on learning the ins and outs of the tool (so that you get the most out of your investment) and that your team is also on board. If you're committed to setting this up right from the start, you won't have a mess on your hands later!
We're briefly reviewing the top three social media management tools so you can decide what's worth taking beyond the free trial. There are many more tools for this purpose out there, but after trying a lot of options, we just can't quit these.
But, if you’re ready to make the plunge, here are some top contenders in social media management platforms:
- Pros: One social media management tool to rule them all. Arguably the most powerful, Sprout offers a robust set of features on top of schedule, across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram (to a degree). Sprout consolidates your notifications into one inbox, so you can easily track your incoming messages and comments across all channels. And if you've got different team members managing different channels, you can delegate messages and tasks using one tool like a real bawse. You can analyze your most influential followers and complement your existing PR strategy with your social (because you have a PR strategy, right?). Sprout also organizes your scheduled posts into a easy-to-view calendar, and the analytics are the bomb dot com. Easy to understand and great for sharing with any executive powers that be!
- Cons: $$$$. It may be the most powerful, but it is also the most expensive. Also, if you’re mainly looking for an easy way to schedule your posts, this might be overkill.
- Cost: Free for 30 days, and plans range from $59/user/month for the standard version up to $249/user/month for enterprise.
- TGL’s Take: Unless you’re a larger organization or you have some budget, Sprout Social might be in the “not right now” category. But if you're ready for the next level and want to invest in a tool that will really help you long-term, go for it. Co-founder Katie has used it a lot, and gives it several thumbs up.
- Free Bonus: They have a great blog!
- Pros: This isn’t Hootsuite’s first rodeo; it's been around for a long time! Centered around a highly customizable dashboard, Hootsuite is a good platform to easily view your feeds and scheduled posts at once. It's sort of like Tweetdeck on steroids. Hootsuite handles the basics well (and even lets you manage Wordpress and YouTube as well as all the other main social channels), and you can bulk schedule and monitor activity and all that fun stuff. But you can also integrate Hootsuite with lots of other tools, like MailChimp and Salesforce.
- Cons: While you may be able to customize how you track your channels, as well as schedule to your heart’s content, you need a higher level plan for more powerful analytics. And a higher level plan = more cash money, honey. This is a popular choice but there are hidden costs to be aware of; reports can cost $50 each or more.
- Cost: Free trials for all versions and has a limited free version for 3 social profiles and 1 user. Normal plans run from $19/month for 1 user and analytics to $499/month for 5 users and a whole bunch of other features.
- TGL’s Take: Hootsuite can be a great tool to try out for those who like to customize their experience. Also, your dashboard provides an easy one-stop-shop to see every update and notification at once. But the extra costs for comprehensive reporting and features can be tough to swallow, especially for a non-profit or small biz.
- Pros: Buffer’s major strength lies in its simplicity. Incorporating elements of scheduling and basic analytics, Buffer is good at providing you with just enough without overwhelming, and its super easy-to-use integrations and browser extensions that help you post updates easily, without having to leave Buffer open all the time. Buffer will also suggest prime times for you to post based on your users and their behavior and automatically schedule your posts to go out at those times. (Of course, you can override their suggest schedule and post things whenever you want.) Also, its free version might be enough for you to manage your accounts, schedule posts, and get analytics, which is awesome.
- Cons: Buffer is primarily a scheduling tool, but if you want super-comprehensive metrics that you can slice and dice, you might want to use something else. It also doesn't give you the same monitoring and listening power that Sprout and Hootsuite do.
- Cost: Free trials for all versions and has a limited free version for 5 social profiles and 1 user. Normal plans run from $10/month to $399/month for the ballers.
- TGL’s Take: Just do it. If you’re someone who knows they want a tool to manage social media, but isn’t quite sure what they want to get out of it, Buffer is a great place to start so you can get used to using a tool in general. It also has more affordable price points. When you're ready to graduate to something more comprehensive, you'll really be ready!
At the end of the day there’s no easy answer when it comes to picking the perfect tool for you. Consider the pros and cons, click around the free versions and trials, and take some time to think about what would really work best for you and your company. Just because a tool has a lot of features doesn't mean it's worth the high price or will be best for your needs.
When you finally decide, let us know which one is your favorite! And remember, we’re always here to chat if you need to talk it through.
And one note re: Facebook: there has been a lot of talk about how using tools like these to update our Facebook page might result in a drop in reach or engagement. The bottom line is that if a Facebook post looks automated, users won't respond to it as well as a genuine post. So make sure you are creating Facebook content that looks and reads as genuine and true to your brand, and don't be a robot even if you're using cool tools like these to automate things.