Not all Social Media Management Tools are Created Equal
Planning and scheduling social media posts in advance cuts down on the time, stress, and headache of trying to find and post engaging content every day. Instead, plan ahead using an editorial calendar and some handy online social media management tools. These social media tools make it easy for anyone to be successful at social media posting, no matter his or her level of expertise. From individuals to small businesses and large corporations, there’s a platform that’s right for you.
Things you should know about posting in advance: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and most other apps will allow a desktop social media scheduler to automatically post on your behalf. Instagram is different. You can create and schedule your Instagram posts in advance, but the image itself has to be manually pushed out from a mobile device. Luckily, it’s easy to do. You simply receive a notification that pops up on your phone as a reminder, then with the click of a button, your perfectly planned Instagram post is published. **UPDATE: All 3 platforms can now schedule directly to Instagram!
Another few more things to consider before we dive into our comparison include:
- Which social media platforms do you use? How many?
- How many people will need access to the software?
- What sort of analytics data do you want to capture?
- What other tools or apps do you need your social media platforms to integrate with?
- What’s your budget?
Individual: an account is FREE for one user, up to three social platforms, and 30 scheduled posts per month. If you’re looking for a free platform, Hootsuite’s is best. (Buffer’s free account, by comparison, only allows 10 scheduled posts per month.)
Professional: the first month is free, then it’s $29 a month after the trial period, billed annually. You can add up to 10 different social media platforms and unlimited scheduled posts, but you only have 1 user log-in.
Team: You get 3 users and 20 social platforms for $129 a month. Most popular posting apps are the same price. But hey, business is business.
Business: 5 users and FIFTY social platforms. If you’re managing 50 social platforms for your company, you should get a reward. Like a massage or something. And a drink. This option is $499 a month.
Enterprise: Custom user amount and social platforms. There’s no price on their website, so contact Hootsuite if you’re interested.
There is nothing free about this platform except for the trials, but the quality is awesome.
Premium: comes with Complete Social Media Management, All-in-one Social Inbox, Monitor Profiles, Keywords & Locations, Tasking & Social CRM Toolset Publish, Schedule, Draft & Queue Posts, Social Content Calendar Group, Profile & Post-Level Reporting, and Includes 10 Social Profiles. Pretty good. It’s $99 a month per user.
Corporate: Corporate is for the bad boys. For $149 a month per user ($50 more than their smallest package) you get a lot more. It comes with the entire premium package, as well as being able to Tag, Categorize & Report on Inbox Messages, Trends & Engagement Reports, Team & Productivity Reporting, Approval Workflow & Audience Targeting, Campaign Tagging & Reporting, Competitive Benchmark Reporting, And Includes 15 Social Profiles.
Enterprise: (aka what we like to call the Big Kahunas). They charge $249 per user for everything listed above along with this other stuff: Advanced Customer Care Tools & Reports, Advanced Keyword Listening, Build Custom Chatbots with Automation Tools, Custom URL Tracking, Store Media in a Shared Asset Library, Scheduled Reports, Delivery & Reporting API, and Includes 20 Social Profiles. This is a great deal if you need all of these extras.
Starter Plan (Free): It’s free! You can have 1 user and up to 3 social media accounts. The catch is you can only schedule a max 10 posts at a time.
Starter Plan (Pro): $15/mo. friends! That’s like 3 cups of coffee… worth it. Here you get 8 social accounts, and can schedule up to 100 posts at a time.
Business Plan (Small): You can add 25 accounts and schedule up to 2000 posts at a time for $99. Plus you get social analytics! You got 99 problems but posting ain’t one.
Business Plan (Medium): 50 accounts. 2000 posts at a time. $199. Social analytics. Need we say more?
Business Plan (Large): $399 for 25 team members, 150 platforms, and 2000 scheduled posts at a time. It’s pretty much the same package as their Medium package, just upsizing the french fries.
Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. Sprout Social: Our Takeaway
Sprout Social is awesome for large corporations, as it has the most robust social listening, communication and engagement, and analytics tools; however, at $99/user for its lowest-priced plan, the cost is limiting for many small businesses.
For small businesses, we like Buffer for its seamless user experience both on desktop and through its mobile app. The free version only allows you to schedule 10 posts at a time on 3 social accounts. For some small businesses, this is sufficient; however, for optimal posting efficiency, we recommend the Pro Plan for $15/mo.
If you’re looking for a free plan, Hootsuite is best, but keep in mind that the price jumps are more drastic if you plan to upgrade as your business scales.
If social media is entirely too overwhelming for you, we get it. We have gurus that have specialized in social posting optimization, and have poured time and training into understanding the ends and outs of social media. If you want to sit back and watch your following grow, leave it to us.