This summer I was coming into a new job at a prestigious event venue to be their social media manager. They had horrible engagement previously and we were starting with a blank slate. I knew about social media management from my several classes on it, but in terms of tools, all I knew was Hootsuite. We tried Hootsuite, we liked some features, but it wasn’t for us. Thus began a journey through numerous free trials and budget expansions until we finally settled on a program five months later.
The search for the right tool was so difficult because the available resources are simply overwhelming. When you search for social media management tools the number of resources that will show up to help you decide are numerous, yet none are perfect or always up-to-date. There is no qualitative measure to decide on this tool. Your favorite tool will be totally dependent on your personal opinion, as well as what features you value over others. For example, Hootsuite and Agorapulse do almost the exact same things, but I am not a fan of Hootsuite’s layout and adore Agorapulse, yet some people feel the opposite.
The first thing you need when finding the right tool for your company is strategy. How big your team is will largely impact cost points, as well as the priorities for some features, and sometimes limits which tools work. Some social platforms behave better with different tools. Different types of content work better with different tools as well. Finally, when it comes to monitoring your feed, how important is that to you? Below I have ranked four types of social tools that are popular for the purposes I outlined.
Buffer is an amazing social posting application. It works wonderfully for harvesting social media content with browser extensions, which let you snip images and pages and post them anytime to any of your platforms. It also integrates with Instagram better than any platform I’ve used, posting videos and images directly, and carousels and stories indirectly through push notifications. That being said, listening tools are lacking, and the analytics are mediocre. Post recycling is not automatic, and you cannot make post categories. Buffer is my favorite tool for a single feed of posts similar across multiple platforms, but lacks listening and flexibility for larger businesses.
- Best for Instagram
- Clean and simple functionality
- Great content harvesting
- Poor automation
- Lacking Listening
- Not good for big companies
Hootsuite is the first name that many think of when they come searching for social media management platforms. They utilize a multi-column, multi-dashboard setup, which lets you see your important feeds all in one place. However, the layout is clunky and dated. The listening tools are powerful, but it can be hard to connect the integrations and then find where they are. You can accomplish almost anything you need with Hootsuite, but post recycling and other more advanced features are not present. Hootsuite is a lot to handle, but if you can, it has the potential to save you a lot of money and provide great functionality.
- Very flexible
- Fantastic listening
- Can work for anyone
- Messy setup
- Integrations are not intuitive
- Horrible inbox and analytics
For my events marketing position, Sendible was a fantastic tool to coordinate posts, seek approval, create different queues for different events, and then automatically recycle those posts over and over again during the times you schedule. This is excellent for large companies running multiple campaigns, and makes the process easy to stay on top of.
Sendible is also perfect for agencies and working with several team members on large projects. Managers can create different permission levels, so if you are working with different departments posting different things in different places, they never have to interact. They can simply place things in their queue. Additionally, Sendible gives everybody their own dashboard. This can be convenient for project management, but it can also make it difficult to collaborate on the same project for one business. When I was working on this are constantly switching back and forth between dashboards.
Where Sendible falls flat is the program’s listening tools. They are comprehensive, but cannot be sorted. For example, if you are listening for mentions of your brand, be prepared to scroll through everything that mentions it, even your posts. Sendible is a good program overall, and I believe it is perfect for large, team-based companies or agencies, but for a single company, the next option does everything Sendible does and better.
- Great for agencies
- Multiple recycling queues
- Simple and flexible posting schedule
- Miserable on mobile
- Poor listening
- Doesn’t post across platforms simultaneously, queues can get staggered
Agorapulse is by far my favorite social media management suite I have used and it isn’t even close. This program does it all.
Need to collaborate with a team? It lets them do everything and then simply ask the manager for the okay.
Need to read your DMs? A clear, sorted inbox makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Listening for mentions of keywords or hashtags? The most powerful listening tool on the market is here, sorted by platform, and allowing you to view the full post in a new window or reply, like, and comment right there in-app. Plus, you can check off and clear out your queues for everything you have already seen, so then you don’t see the same post over and over again. Additionally, you can assign anything the scanner finds to a member of your team, so questions can be answered by the person in charge of that specific department.
Agorapulse also posts easily in category-based queues just like Sendible, recycling them when you ask for it.
You can set a certain category to be mentioned on a specific day at a specific time (such as “Throwback Thursday” or “Trivia Tuesday” posts). Agorapulse has the power and functionality of every major social media posting platform in a clean, easy-to-use setting.
- Clean interface
- Task lists that you can check off as you go
- Posting across all platforms or specific platforms in recycling category queues
- Fantastic inbox
- Lacks major differences between users for agencies
- Not much 3rd party support outside RSS feeds
So, now that you’ve heard my two cents, what is your opinion on these social media management tools? Is there one you like over the others? Is there one that I missed on this list? Leave your opinion in the comments below!
This post was originally written for the UMSL Business Blog.