If you’re marketing something on social media – whether it’s yourself, your brand, or both – you’ll no doubt be aware that there’s a huge range of social media management tools out there.
These handy tools can help you with everything from scheduling posts to assessing ad performance. With so many to choose from, it can be tricky to assess which ones will work best for you. Which tools you choose to use will depend on what you’re trying to achieve and how much you want to spend.
What are the best social media management tools? How much do they cost? And what exactly do they do? We’ll answer all these questions (and many more) in this all-in-one guide.
Social media management tools (also known as social media management software, social media marketing tools, or social media management platforms) can be anything from a simple photo editing app, to a one-stop, do-it-all dashboard for planning, posting, and reporting on your content.
The best social media management tools help marketers, business owners, and content creators spend more time on creative and strategic work, and less time on the operational aspects of managing social media accounts.
Some tools focus on very specific functions related to social media marketing. For example, they’re incredible for creating and scheduling posts. Other tools are all-rounders that do everything – creating, scheduling, publishing, monitoring, analysing, engaging, and collaborating. But they may not do all these things equally well.
While there are social media management tools out there to do almost any social media-related job imaginable, generally speaking, the tools fall into five main categories:
Managing social media accounts can feel incredibly overwhelming, especially when you’re dealing with multiple accounts across multiple platforms. Having access to at least one or two good social media management tools is vital – not just to ensure your social media marketing is effective, but also to save your own sanity.
If you’re just starting out and trying to grow your presence, then a tool (or tools) with scheduling, publishing, and reporting functionality is the bare minimum you should aim for. Why? Scheduling and publishing because it’ll help you streamline posting and be more efficient. Reporting, because if you don’t know what’s worked and what hasn’t, it’s impossible to improve your feed.
If you’re managing a bigger presence, then having tools to help with all of the functions listed in the section above will bring added efficiencies.
How much do social media management platforms cost? This is the big question. A tool could be all-singing and all-dancing, but if you can’t afford it, then it’s of no use to you.
We’ve highlighted the prices of individual tools in our rundown of the best social media management tools below. The majority of these tools are available as SaaS (software as a service) platforms. That means if you want to go beyond using the free version available, there’s usually a subscription fee to pay monthly or yearly. The costs will increase depending on the number of users, the number of social media platforms or accounts you want to connect, or both.
You can access some social media management platforms for free in what’s known as a ‘freemium’ model. In other words, it’s a paid-for tool that offers a free version. We’ve highlighted the best one (in our opinion), and it’s worth bearing in mind that using free tools (or free versions of paid-for tools) may limit the functionality you’ll have access to. This might be OK if you’re only managing a small presence.
If you’ve got a large social media presence with multiple accounts on multiple platforms, you may find it’s worth paying to simplify your day-to-day job.
So you’re convinced you need the tools, but which ones should you choose? We’ve scoured the web to bring you the best tools across all the main categories:
Want a tool that manages as much of the social media work as possible? These are the ones to try:
Hootsuite is one of the biggest and most well-established social media management platforms. And with good reason. Its host of tools allows you to work seamlessly across multiple accounts and platforms, making it a good choice for medium-to-large companies and agencies that manage multiple profiles for clients.
Price: From £39 per month for their ‘Professional’ subscription. They also offer a 30-day free trial.
Great for individuals and small businesses, Buffer is another all-rounder platform that comes with powerful scheduling functionality as well as some great analytics – e.g. Google Analytics integration. It also has some nifty functionality to create landing pages for lead generation.
Price: From FREE (yep, that’s right). But it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll only get the basic features in the free plan. The ‘Essentials’ and ‘Team’ plans are reasonably priced at $5 per month, and $10 per month respectively.
By far the priciest of our recommended all-rounder social media management tools, Sprout Social has powerful scheduling and analytics tools bigger businesses may need.
As well as working across all major social platforms, with the ability to handle multiple accounts and profiles, it also offers brand listening and content curation. It’s great for managing customer service responses too, thanks to its ‘Smart Inbox’ feature.
Price: From $249 per month
Want the benefits of social media management software without the cost? This is our top pick:
Postly is available on a ‘freemium’ model (it also has paid-for options). But the reason we’ve picked this as the best free social media management tool, is because it offers the most comprehensive set of features on its free plan.
Features (available for free):
The free plan has almost all the features of the paid plans (the only one missing is recurring posts), but it has usage limits. On the free plan, you only get one workspace, 10 social accounts, and the ability to schedule 20 posts at a time.
Price: FREE (paid plans also available)
Want beautiful images and engaging videos, but don’t have a multimedia team on tap? These handy tools will help you create some truly killer content.
Even complete design novices can create gorgeous content using Canva. With simple-to-use templates, the ability to upload images, lots of free graphics and icons, and plenty of font choices, it makes designing stand-out image and video posts for social media an absolute breeze. (Warning: it’s a bit addictive…)
What’s more – and this is a big bonus – many of its core features are available for free.
Price: From FREE
Ripl is similar to Canva in that it allows you to create multimedia content even if you’re a multimedia novice. Built squarely with video posts and ads in mind, it’ll help you create video content from static photos, and offers posting and tracking functionality too.
Price: From $8.33 per month for their ‘base’ plan (which doesn’t include scheduling posts)
It’s important to mix up your social media posts by sharing interesting content from other sources, and that means curating content. This could entail spending hours sifting through countless sites, but it doesn’t have to with these time-saving tools.
If you’re guilty of emailing yourself interesting articles or keeping a million tabs open so you don’t ‘lose’ some great content, Pocket is for you. It helps you save and categorise content, and makes curated recommendations based on your preferences so you don’t have to go trawling the internet for stories.
Price: From FREE (and it’s likely you’ll only need the free version).
Feedly bills itself as ‘the cure for information overload’. Its smart AI features can help you track content and insights from across the web without having to read everything. Not only can you save articles to share later, but you can share content immediately to Twitter, send to Buffer to post, and save it to your Pocket account, among other things.
Price: From FREE. The paid-for versions include more features and no ads.
Some of our recommended all-rounder tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, are great options for social media scheduling and posting. If having access to powerful scheduling functionality that saves you time is your number one priority, here are a couple more worth checking out:
MeetEdgar stands out from the crowd with its impressive automated scheduling tools. For it to work, you need to provide it with ‘evergreen content’ (content that doesn’t go out of date). It then automatically pulls posts from your content library to keep your social feed fresh every day.
Price: From $24.91 per month, but that’s only for limited functionality. For entrepreneurs and small businesses, you’re better off choosing their full plan at $41.58 per month.
Another all-rounder, SocialBee is a social media marketing tool that can manage all your social media output. We’ve chosen it as one of the best scheduling tools specifically, because on top of the typical post creation, scheduling, and analytics, it also offers similar functionality to MeetEdgar – i.e. allowing you to create an evergreen content queue. In addition, its calendar and planning dashboard are super easy to use.
Price: From $19 per month.
Knowing how your content is performing is vital if you want to grow your social media presence and see a return on your investment (ROI). In fact, it’s so important that we’ve written a whole post about the best social media analytics tools.
Many of the tools we’ve already covered above, like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, SocialBee, and Postly have great analytics functions that can help you understand how your content is performing. But another worth mentioning is…
But isn’t Google Analytics for websites? Well, yes it is. But it’s also a really important tool to help you understand how your social media work is driving traffic (and hopefully conversions) on your website.
With relevant quantitative data, Google Analytics can help you identify which social media platforms drive the maximum, targeted traffic to your site. And it’s possible to find out how these social media users interact with your website once they arrive. This is crucial for helping you determine your social media ROI.
It’s worth bearing in mind that many of the tools we’ve already discussed have integrations with Google Analytics, so keep an eye out for this functionality.
Price: From FREE. And the free version is suitable for businesses of all sizes, however you may need to get some support setting it up if you’re not a tech whizz.
Influencer campaigns are incredibly effective tools for social media managers to see real ROI and return on ad spend (ROAS) from their work. Influencer tools are the new kid on the block when it comes to social media management platforms. They’re designed to help both influencers and the brands that work with them to manage their relationships with ease.
So, whether you’re a talented creator who’s managing multiple sponsorship opportunities or a company wanting to work with the most influential social media creators, this could be the tool for you…
Can’t blame us for giving ourselves the top spot here, right? In fact, we take the only spot as our software is entirely unique. We help brands manage creator marketing campaigns with an end-to-end suite of marketing tools. And we help talented creators find exciting new collaborations, manage their sponsorship opportunities, and get paid.
To get a better idea of how it works, take a look at our case studies.
Price: FREE for creators and from FREE for brands. Find out more.