Getting up and running on social media is one thing, getting content scheduled and regular tweets organised is another. There are so many social media management tools that claim to help you schedule your content, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
Lucky for you, we’ve taken the time to test some of the best social media tools available and rated them for the small business – you’re welcome! Before this experiment we had only used Hootsuite, so we learnt as much as you in the process!
With 10 million active users, Hootsuite must be getting something right. We use Hootsuite daily for the management of our social media sites; but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
Hootsuite is quick to set up, easy to get the hang of and has everything in one place. You can add up to 3 accounts on the free version, from any social media platform. Scheduling is really easy, and the user is able toggle between auto scheduling and manual scheduling.
Cost is another great reason to go for Hootsuite, if you choose to go Pro, it’s either £6.99 per month or £83.88 for the year. When you’ve got multiple social media accounts, Pro is definitely your best option, but for those starting out stick with the free version!
Although you can access all your streams easily and switch between accounts quickly, the messy interface doesn’t make it visually appealing. The analytics tool isn’t the easiest to use and understand, so figuring out what impact you’re making on your followers can be difficult without going direct to Twitter analytics or Facebook insights.
One of the main issues with Hootsuite is that it is prone to bugs and general difficulties. This can cause a slow dashboard and inability to schedule or post tweets – a nightmare for those of us who use it regularly and rely on it for daily updates!
Our favourite thing: Streams. As unpleasant as they are to look at, the streams can also come in very handy for browsing your social media and being able to like or retweet from multiple accounts.
Sprout Social can be considered the elite of social media management tools. There’s no option to have a free account, instead users are offered a 30 day free trial for each of the paid accounts. This can be a pro and con, as for people who are willing to pay, it’s great to be able to test out the features. If you’re hoping to swerve any fees for your social media management tool, Sprout Social may not be the best for you.
When you do consider paying for the privilege of a social media management tool, you expect everything to be absolutely flawless. Sprout social isn’t far off. Its features are very well organised, and unlike with Hootsuite, the dashboard is elegant, sleek and won’t give you a headache.
The messages section combines inboxes of all your social media accounts into one ‘Smart Inbox’. This makes it easier to respond from all your social media accounts at once, without flicking between social media accounts to reply. Sprout Social also has a discovery section, where you are able to view all the accounts you have interacted with. This is a huge benefit if you’re trying to turn followers into customers; you’re able to view who is worth interacting with and who isn’t.
Obviously having to pay for your social media management tool isn’t ideal. And the prices? They aren’t the lowest. There are options of three standards of the management tool. The first is Deluxe, which is roughly £39 per month, per user. The second option is Premium, £65 per month, per user. And lastly, the Team edition of Sprout Social allows three users at a whopping £330 a month. If you’re willing to shell out a load of cash to invest in your social media return, make sure you get your money’s worth.
Our favourite thing: Also worth noting is Sprout Social’s analytics tools, which are visible on the home page; meaning it’s really easy to see your social media engagement.
The last in our trial, Buffer is similar to Hootsuite money-wise; there are no costs until you wish to go over a certain number of accounts, or wish to schedule more than 10 tweets at a time. For small businesses who will be starting out with just one or two accounts, this type of tool works much better and is more cost-effective than Sprout Social.
One of the instant things on Buffer that puts it immediately a cut above the competition is its Twitter link grab function. As soon as you type your link into Buffer it not only instantly shortens it, but grabs pictures from the link so you are able to easily insert them into your tweet (unlike with Hootsuite).
Buffer is also the bee’s knees at scheduling retweets – a function which is available on Hootsuite but is quite hard to get your head around. Its auto schedule tool also appears to be more advanced than Hootsuite’s as it uses your analytics to determine peak times to tweet to your audience – very nifty!
Only being able to schedule 10 tweets at a time can be problematic as you can’t plan ahead for a week or if you’re going to be out of the office (particularly over the Christmas period). It is evident that Buffer’s free analytics tools are more limited than its competition’s; something to bear in mind if you’re going to be trying to improve your social media presence rather than simply maintain one.
Our favourite thing: Again, Buffer has a really simple look similar to Sprout Social. It’s clean and organised, just how we like our desk. However, its look doesn’t mean it’s easier to navigate.
What is your favourite social media management tool? Do you use one at all or rely solely on your raw social media platform to post when you can? Leave your comments in the section below!