Social media marketing has been mushrooming into a major subject and now tools for the trade are sprouting everywhere, from the Twitter management app Tweetdeck to the multi-purpose client Hootsuite.
The need for tools for social media management cannot be overstated as keeping up with different channels and profiles can be overwhelming. You need to post timely messages at strategic points of the day, monitor online conversations about your niche and brand, and reply to complaints from disgruntled customers. Managing online accounts is time-consuming and can leave you little to no time for other tasks.
Check out this list of the best social media management tools, which will streamline your profiles for more efficient social media processes.
5 Top Tools for Social Media Management
You can register up to five of your profiles and several platforms can be integrated, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, WordPress, Myspace, and mixi.
The layout of all integrated accounts is streamlined so that you can efficiently monitor and update them. If you need to send out the same message from multiple accounts, Hootsuite lets you do that just by clicking the specific accounts of your choice. You can also schedule messages to dispatch them at pre-defined times.
Hootsuite is one of the social media management tools with the most comprehensive analytics reports, but they’re expensive. Reports can be purchased through points that can cost up to $50, which you have to pay on top of the pro plan monthly charge of $8.99. Medium to large-sized businesses may be fine with this rate, but for small businesses and individuals, this is way too expensive.
It’s easy to ignore the expensive reports if you’re satisfied with the free Ow.ly analytics, which include the number of clickthroughs, the location they come from, and the referrers. However, this could be another con because you’re forced to use the Hootsuite-owned URL shorteners ow.ly or ht.ly. Not only does this mean broadcasting that you’re using Hootsuite, you can only monitor clickthroughs added within the social media client. This is a cause for concern if you also use social media management tools like Buffer and TweetDeck.
That’s not all. Custom URL shorteners are too pricey – $49.99 a month.
You can integrate an unlimited number of Twitter accounts and the service is completely free. There are many options for URL shorteners, it accepts your bit.ly API key, you can schedule tweets, and you can post the same message to multiple profiles. If you choose not to use a URL shortener, naked links are automatically shortened.
A streamlined layout lets you create separate columns for hashtags, mentions, trending topics, and Twitter users. You can set pop-up and sound notifications when someone you follow tweets or when a term you monitor is mentioned. It’s easy to run TweetDeck in the background and still receive pop-up alerts when your brand is mentioned.
The app can be accessed via the downloadable desktop software, browser extension, or tweetdeck.com.
The newest TweetDeck version is highly improved. You can now paste text into tweets, both direct messages and tweets can be scheduled, you can choose from black or white as the background color, and there are keyboard shortcuts for commands like composing and sending a tweet.
TweetDeck used to support Facebook, but now it’s for Twitter only, so look elsewhere if you want to manage other social networks as well. Or use it alongside other tools for social media management. Options for tracking are limited since there’s no built-in analytics feature.
While relatively fast, TweetDeck can slow down if you track multiple terms in real time.
User options are limited, but this is perhaps what makes TweetDeck attractive – its simplicity.
3. Sprout Social
This is one of the most affordable and useful tools for social media management around – the $39/month and $59/month plans are great for small businesses, while the $99/month is recommended for large companies. If you’re unsure about the service, there’s a 30-day free professional or business trial account.
Analytics is pretty awesome. Reports combine impressions, shares, engagement, and your fans, followers, and influencers’ demographics. You’re able to examine which posts are influential, craft messages so they target prominent demographics, identify which social media websites are worth investing on, and spy on your competitors’ daily mentions, engagements and followers.
The RSS feed reader and Google Analytics integration is quite attractive as you won’t have to switch between tabs on your browser.
Sprout Social supports team management. You can review posts from your team members before publishing them. You can schedule posts from your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, and even choose a specific demographic for your message based on location and language.
You can view sent messages, which come with details on likes, comments, clicks, shares, and even negative feedback.
The Discovery tab displays Twitter followers you don’t follow, and people outside your Twitter network who have mentioned you. Also under the Discovery tab is a list of inactive followers and tweeters who don’t follow back, making it easier to clean up your follow list.
The site is noticeably slow unlike other heavy-laden tools for social media management (Sendible isn’t this slow despite its massive services integration).
The Twitter search gives useful results, but the Facebook search flat out doesn’t. On the other hand, Facebook’s search API on the social network itself is already disappointing.
Engagement information on sent messages and published posts is delayed and inaccurate.
Sendible is like Hootsuite, but so much more. Out of all tools for social media management, it’s by far the most comprehensive. Not only does it handle social media, but also SMS, blogging, and email marketing.
The multiple accounts of Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are nothing; Sendible lets you manage multiple services of a single social network – schedule Facebook status updates, Facebook notes, Facebook Group messages, and more. Paid accounts can post the same message repeatedly at pre-specified times within a set length of time. Supported social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare, Bebo and Plurk. Supported blogging platforms include WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Tumblr, SquareSpace, Blogger, Sendiblog, Ning, TypePad, MetaWeblog, and MovableType.
The search feature retrieves information from trending news, blogs, Twitter and Flickr. Social media monitoring through Sendible allows keeping track of keywords and your brand in comments, blogs, microblogs, LinkedIn Group discussions, and review sites like Yelp.
You can post on bookmarking sites straight from Sendible. Bookmarking services include Delicious, Diigo, Identi.ca, Instapaper, and Pocket.
The email autoresponder and SMS service—something you can’t find in other social media management tools—lets you disseminate automated emails when subscribers opt in or when the service detects events, and you can send automated replies on Twitter and automatically retweet posts based on specific keywords. You can import email contacts via a CSV file or you can import from Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail.
Unlike Sprout Social, Sendible loads pages pretty fast even with this much online service integration. Price rates start at $39.99 per month, and the rest of the plans are at $69.99, $99.99, and $499.99 per month. The $500/month plan sounds overwhelming, but it also comes with a dedicated support service, unlimited custom reports, you can have 20 team members within one account, and you can replace the “via Sendible” message in every shared post. For such a useful app, it’s actually affordable. There’s also a free 30-day trial.
Sendible is one of the tools for social media management that can seem confusing at first, especially with the Gmail-like interface with so many buttons around, so you’re going to need some getting used to.
It would be great if Sendible integrated other more popular bookmarking sites, specifically Reddit. You have to buy credits to use the SMS feature, so it isn’t free. Each new account starts with free email credits, but you have to buy additional.
The Facebook News Feed stream doesn’t show page and friend activity, and updates are delayed.
This is one of those social media management tools that provide so much power, and with great power comes great responsibility. It’s easy to abuse the client, and you may end up annoying your friends and followers with a flood of updates. Of course, this is just a minor setback since Sendible is designed for the seasoned online marketer.
Unlike other tools for social media management in this list, Sprinklr is designed for large corporations and global brands. Some of its clients—such as Dell, Microsoft and Virgin America—manage over 100 social media accounts for multiple business units and product lines. Sprinklr is huge and the only reason we don’t hear about it is that it has always kept quiet about its customer acquisitions.
It’s the perfect tool if your social media campaign involves outbound social campaign, inbound response management, and analytics that focus on optimization.
Like Sendible, Sprinklr supports various websites—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare, Foursquare, Flickr, and blogs to name a few. Users can view, like, and comment on Facebook posts inside the tool. The social media client has this algorithm that generates an influence score, spam score, and engagement score for every team member. These scores can help brands prioritize message responses, especially when negative comments can damage a brand. They can also help prevent social media blunders, such as mistakenly posting a hate tweet on the wrong account or tweeting an insensitive message about a delicate topic.
Several options for viewing messages are available—you can create a dashboard with numerous columns, like in social media management tools Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. Or, you can read messages in an inbox-type view. You can also let the platform moderate certain terms while monitoring by adjusting streams so they exclude competitor name or profanity.
One thing that sets the platform apart is that you can send messages to team members who also manage the account. This is useful when, say, someone from the content department wants to ask the SEO guy an urgent question, or if someone in the team posts an inappropriate status message that should be taken down fast.
Managers are also able to read messages from team members before publishing them, and as with other social media management tools messages can either be scheduled to a future time or posted immediately.
Lastly, Sprinklr’s built-in analytics provides very detailed reports. Different aspects in social performance are covered, e.g. clicks, impressions, comments, reach, retweets, likes, replies, audience growth, and so on. You can even interlink these data with Google Analytics or some other analytics program.
Sprinklr is perfect for large organizations. In fact, the social media marketing firm rejects a few businesses daily because they’re not big enough, according to reports. On the other hand, there are always other options if you have a small business – Sprout Social and Sendible are amazing.
Considering Sprinklr is for large corporations, its features are geared towards intermediate and advanced users. Hootsuite, for example, is more user-friendly.
These are only five of the best social media management tools and there are more out there, but with so many useful and stellar features, you won’t need anything else other than the tools for social media management listed above.