Whether you’re looking for a social media tool to manage your scheduling, your content distribution or your analytics, this guide will help you to decide which tool is right for you.
I’ve done an analysis of the major social media tools available on the market today, but this guide is in no way exhaustive, so if you’re using or keen to use a tool that’s not on this list, please tell me about it.
In order to get an accurate understanding of every tool, I signed up for an account with each one, and I’ve made a note of the sign up process under each tool to give you an idea of how easy or how difficult it is to get started.
Most tools have a range of pricing plans to choose from and the ones selected for the purposes of this analysis allow for a minimum of 7 social media profiles across the major social media networks.
Each tool has been scored against the number of users you can add, the number of social media profiles, the cost per month, the available networks, the functions they perform, their tracking abilities, their listening tools and their reporting capabilities.
Let’s jump right in.
Biggest selling point: Sprout provides great analytics and reporting capabilities to help you understand what’s working and what not. You can set up URL tracking, tagging, custom reporting and even a competitor analysis to give you a better understanding of the performance of your marketing efforts.
Biggest drawback: It’s quite expensive after the initial free trial. You can use Sprout for free for 30 days (without entering any credit card details), but after that, you are looking at spending about R3 000 per user for the tool. You can add up to 20 social media profiles per user account.
Social media profiles: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Analytics.
Cost: From about R1 400 ($99) per user per month
Biggest selling point: Buffer is free for 3 social media accounts and you can schedule 10 posts in advance. If you need more, you can choose between 4 different pricing plans to suit your business and your budget. It’s easy to use and very efficient. It offers the capability for team review of scheduled content, and you can bulk schedule posts to be shared again and again.
Biggest drawback: Buffer doesn’t provide any top-level analytics of your profiles, it only reports on the actual likes, comments and shares that your scheduled posts received. So you can see which posts are doing better than others, but you can’t see your month-on-month growth. It does not include any listening tools or trending analytics, and you can’t pull reports with an overview of how your account is doing.
Social media profiles: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Cost: Free for a starter plan with 3 social media accounts for 1 user with 10 posts. Pro plans start from about R211 ($15) per user per month
Biggest selling point: Hootsuite is the only tool that allows you to schedule videos on YouTube, as far as I’ve seen. This is a feature that many people and agencies find useful because it cuts your necessary social media tools down to one, meaning that you only need to use Hootsuite to schedule every single social media post.
Biggest drawback: Hootsuite is quite cumbersome to use and it doesn’t allow for easy scheduling or bulk scheduling of posts. You can set up your account with different streams and feeds to enable you to see what’s new in each section (for example, your latest mentions), but it doesn’t give you an overview of your account performance or any detailed analytics or custom reports.
Social media profiles: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Cost: Free for 3 social media profiles with 2 RSS integrations. Pro plans start from R439 ($25) per user per month.
Biggest selling point: It’s free. Tweetdeck only allows you to schedule tweets on Twitter, but it’s a highly popular tool because it’s completely free to use. You can add as many Twitter profiles and users as you want, and it allows you to schedule, review and tag your tweets.
Biggest drawback: It does not provide any analytics tools. You can’t track your URLs, so you can’t see how much traffic you’re driving from Twitter to your website, and it doesn’t include any listening tools or reporting capabilities. You can get loads of analytics from Twitter directly and you can see your traffic on Google Analytics, but that means that you’re already using two to three tools just for your Twitter profile.
Social media profiles: Twitter
Biggest selling point: This handy tool allows you to set up hashtags to listen to and search for on social media, so if you have a unique hashtag that you’ve set up for a campaign, you can use AgoraPulse to track the number of times that this hashtag has been used by your own accounts as well as other accounts on social media.
Biggest drawback: For a tool that does almost everything for you from scheduling to handling inbox messages to listening to your hashtags, it’s a shame that it doesn’t incorporate URL tracking (and shortening) to allow you to accurately see the traffic that you’ve generated for your website from your social media efforts.
Social media profiles: Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Cost: From R550 ($39) per user per month
Biggest selling point: Edgar allows you to set up categories or content pillars at specific intervals throughout the week, and then fill those slots with content. If the queue becomes empty for a specific category, Edgar will recycle your older posts to fill those slots to ensure that your feed is never empty. It works on the assumption that a small number of people see your content the first time around, so sharing it again is a bonus and it helps to get the best return on investment for your content. You can also set your posts to expire at a certain date and time to ensure that your promotions and competitions are not shared again after they have run their course.
Biggest drawback: Edgar does not provide any detailed analytics of your account performance and it does not allow you to tag your content for reporting purposes. The analytics of this tool is a massive drawback because you will need to rely on the cumbersome Facebook Insights to see if your efforts are effective.
Social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (scheduling only).
Cost: From R695 ($49) per user per month
Biggest selling point: OnlyPult is an Instagram-first scheduling tool that allows you to schedule single, multiple, and gallery posts plus Instagram Stories (still in beta) on this popular platform. The functionality to schedule on Facebook is still in beta, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on this feature for the time being. This platform is easy to use, and the calendar and planner can be integrated to allow you to see your entire Instagram strategy laid out on one page.
Biggest drawback: OnlyPult does not provide the capability to schedule posts on other platforms nor does it provide much in the way of insights and data analytics. It does allow you to see your Total Followers and the growth thereof, the number of engagements that you’ve generated and it gives you information on how to optimize your efforts by advising on the best time to post, and the top tags for interaction.
Social media profiles: Facebook (Beta) & Instagram.
Cost: From R212 ($15) per user per month
There isn’t one tool out there that’s perfect for everyone to use because all of our needs are different. This list of tools merely hopes to shed some light on the pros and cons of the most popular tools out there to give you a better idea of which one might be perfect for your needs.
This list is in no way exhaustive and there are many more great tools out there that I haven’t included in this list. If you’re using another tool that you think is fabulous and deserves to be added to this list, please comment below.
I hope you find this analysis and these tools helpful to create efficient social media marketing efforts for your business.