Logging into Instagram or Facebook for a few minutes, to post an update or two, won’t cut the mustard today. You need a consistent on-brand presence. Social media managing tools get this done optimally.
These micro-tasks need to be completed everyday, in some cases. But you can simplify your workload. The key to avoiding ‘burnout’, in the race for better engagement, is to minimize energy out and maximize ROI.
The best SMM tools handle your entire social media presence. They reduce complexities and keep your activities in line with your strategic vision: schedule posts, gain engagement metrics and keep tabs on the competition – whether as a small online creator or burgeoning business.
Best Social Media Management Tools in 2020
We sifted through the most trusted data, to bring you a summary of each best social media management software, with strengths and weaknesses.
These tools, which include the best free social media management tools, streamline every key aspect of your social media management campaign: from getting deeper insights into the numbers, to smoothing out the posting and scheduling process and engaging with your followers.
- Schedule Unlimited Messages
- Up to 10 Social Profiles
- Auto Scheduling/Publishing
- Publishing Calendar
- Content Creation Apps
- Reports on Standard Plan
- Central Social Inbox
- Specialist Product Training Available
- Ad Spend: Boost Organic Posts
- No TikTok Integrations
Hootsuite is a specialist social media management platform where you can see, manage and grow all of your social profiles in a single dashboard.
Trial: limited free plan
Hootsuit’s Auto Scheduling gives you a round-the-clock social media presence. Set a schedule and fill in as you go. Hootlet is a very handy accompanying browser extension.
Post using content you come across as you browse the internet. Share content right from your browser window, selecting a slot that’s yet to be filled in your scheduling calendar.
A default reports template that gives you key analytics for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. If you pay for the Team plan level, you’ll be able to customize these reports, visualizing and organizing this data in a way most relevant to your team.
HootSuite has 20+ integrations including YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook.
The Professional plan gives you the essentials for $19/mo: 10 social profiles and unlimited scheduling. It’s one of the best social media management tools for small businesses. For $99/mo on the Team plan, this increases to 20 social profiles, with custom reports.
- 8 Social Accounts
- 100 Scheduled Posts/Month
- 5 Major Social Integrations
- Schedule Calendar View
- Tailored Post Composer
- Quick Sharing: Browser Extension
- iOS/Android Apps
- Use Zapier: 60+ Integrations
- Self-Service Knowledge Base
- No Engagements Dashboard
- Starter: No Instagram Stories
If you primarily want post scheduling and do not need a single dashboard to see all of your social network engagements, Buffer is a great choice.
Trial: 14-day (free)
Buffer has exceptional planning and scheduling mechanisms. Create a posting schedule with a calendar of you using the Tailored Posts composer which quickly customizes each for the social network you are targeting.
The calendar view lets you toggle between a month/a week, see engagement metrics at a glance (of what you’ve shared), and move posts around/edit.
See basic information about what you have posted, when they were posted and how well they performed. Overall, Buffer is not exceptional for engagement metrics but enough for a basic idea of your progress.
Buffer’s main social integrations: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Zapier can be linked, for even more integrations.
But they do not yet have an engagement dashboard, which they are working on as a future update called ‘Grid View’.
The Pro plan gives you what’s needed to get started – for $15/mo gets 8 social accounts and 100 scheduled posts per month. This increases to 2,000 scheduled posts for $65/mo with two users instead of one.
#3 Sprout Social
- 5 Social Profiles
- Central Inbox
- Schedule and Draft Posts
- Calendar for Social Content
- iOS/Android Mobile Friendly
- Advanced Reports
- CRM Integrated
- Buy Premium Analytics Addon
- Long Free Trial
- Standard Plan: Limited Reports
One of the top best social media management tools for teams of any size, with deep analytics that can be added even to the standard plan for an extra cost.
Trial: 30-day (free)
Draft, schedule, queue and publish posts to each network using the browser extension or mobile/web app. Their ViralPost feature advises you on optimal times to post, for max engagement.
And set permissions, so that individual team members have schedules to draft/submit posts, with a managerial approval pipeline.
They have exceptionally detailed social analytics. See key insights on your network, profile, and message-level activities for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Track your team for KPIs: individual responsiveness/engagement scores.
You’ll get integrations for Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
The Standard plan gives advanced essentials for $99/mo, which comes with 5 social profiles. This increases to 10 social profiles on the Professional plan for $149/mo. No credit card is needed for the 30-day free trial.
- Publish Directly to Social
- Build Landing Pages
- Schedule Posts
- Best Posting Time Suggestions
- All-in-One Social Inbox
- Contact Activity History
- Comes with Integrated CRM
- Superb Marketing Automations
- Ready-to-Go Social Reports
- For Burgeoning Companies (Very Expensive)
- A General Marketing Tool
HubSpot’s solution is for middle to large companies – it’s more than a social media marketing tool: it is a powerful sales and marketing tool, providing streamlined tools for driving traffic and engagement like conversion-optimized landing pages.
Trial: 30 days (free)
Schedule posts in a central messaging hub, for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Manage contact information in its CRM: see every interaction you’ve had. Use this data to inform your campaigns. See all of your brand mentions and track conversations.
Engagements are automatically sent into your dashboard. Link to and build landing pages, and manage your leads, to drive more traffic to your website and services/products.
HubSpot makes key suggestions. Schedule your social posts to be published not only at the right time but to the right people.
HubSpot even suggests ways and provides design templates to keep your content engrossing: consistent formatting, tips on relevancy/engagement and optimizations for sales funnels.
If you want social media management capabilities – which includes 50 connected accounts, 10,000 posts/mo and post scheduling for up to three years in advance – you’ll need to get onto the Professional plan which costs $800/mo.
- 10 Social Profiles
- Addon Profiles
- Smart Inbox with Filters
- Leave Internal Team Notes
- Unified Multi-Team Calendars
- FaceBook ROI Calculator
- Integrated With YouTube
- Growing SMBs to Enterprises
- Social CRM Integrations
- Expensive for Newer Businesses
A powerful solution for growing SMBs all the way up to agencies and Enterprises with very large teams and many profiles – also has integrations with YouTube.
Trial: 28-day (free, no cc)
Schedule content in advance using a specific date/time. You can also set posts to go out every hour, day, week or month. For content that is evergreen, the queue feature lets you share it repeatedly.
Using AgoraPulse, you can see detailed performance insights. Destroy the need to log into social media to check analytics. One of the best social media management tools for this.
See conversion rates, community growth, customer service, engagement, response rates, and your reach. Filter it down to a specific date range, such as the last month. And you have the option to download reports to PowerPoint, with white-label custom branding.
See engagements on a central dashboard for your entire social media, which is integrated with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.
The Medium plan gives growing small businesses powerful solutions for $99/mo: 10 social profiles, 2 users, unlimited scheduled posts. This increases to 25 social profiles/4 users on the Large plan for agencies at $199/mo. The Enterprise tier ($499/mo) supports up to 60 profiles/20 users.
- 12 Platforms/Services
- Up to 10 Queues
- Bulk Scheduling
- Central and Priority Inbox
- Set Google Alerts
- Evergreen Recycling
- Group Training Sessions
- Posting Time Suggestions
- Live Chat (9am-8pm GMT)
- Starter: Only 8 Reports
Using one dashboard, manage and monitor your brand and key KPIs – making engaging with your audience simple.
Trial: 14-day (free, no cc)
Schedule content in bulk or individually. It’s then placed onto an interactive calendar, where you can drag-and-drop posts, moving them around to the best-suiting position. If you have a particularly well performing piece, use the repeating schedule to recycle it.
There’s also a content recommendation feature that checks current trends and suggests the content that’s most likely to engage.
Use the RSS Auto Posting to select appropriate quality material to post at consistent intervals during the day.
Use the premade templates in order to distribute reports for team members and clients. You’ll get a precise look into your social media activity, customizable using more than 250 modules. You’ll also be able to send them automatically via email.
There are a lot of social media integrations, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. The upper levels even let you publish instantly to Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr.
The Starter plan gives you essentials a solopreneur would need, on the Starter plan for $29/mo, letting you manage 12 different accounts for 1 user. This increases to 48 accounts for 3 users on the Traction plan, for $99/mo. The most popular tier is the Growth plan, which gives you 105 accounts for 7 users at $199/mo.
- 25 Social Profiles
- Web Reports
- 2 Facebook Ad Accounts
- Content Discovery/Curation
- Bulk Scheduling
- RSS Feeds
- 200 Posts per Day
- 2,500 Posts in Queues
- 3 Team Members
- Starter: No Social Inbox
An efficient social media management platform for SMBs and small agencies.
Trial: 14-day (free)
Add up to 2,500 posts for the Starter plan. Assort them into a queue. Draft your posts until they are the publishing stage.
Save yourself invaluable hours by publishing your social analytics into a PDF that can be white-label branded. The downloadable PDF is only available after the Starter plan, but you can view your results on the web.
The content curation and discovery tool analyzes all of your activities to find the most evergreen content that could repeatedly generate high engagement levels.
The Professional plan gives you essential tools for $30/mo with no credit card required for the free trial: get 25 social media accounts for three members. This increases to 50 social media accounts for five team members at $50/mo on the Small Team plan.
The Agency level costs $100/mo with 100 social media accounts for ten team members. There’s also an Enterprise option which requires you to speak to the sales team.
What Makes a Great Social Media Management Tool?
The best social media management tools amplify your social media traffic, driving it to your website and keeping your audience updated.
So you want a tool that can help you schedule consistent, on-brand posts to the specific networks you’re targeting. You’ll also need to identify content and campaign types that best suit your audience, so you can replicate it in the future.
The best social media management tools let you manage this and your entire presence on social media from a central hub.
Most social media management tools on this list at least target the big two: Instagram and Facebook. A few packages also have integrations for niche or “emerging” networks (eg. visually oriented ones like Instagram/Pinterest/TikTok).
Which Social Media Management Tool Is Best for You? ⚙️
Before choosing the right management tool, hone in on what social media channel is most effective at engaging your audience and suiting your style of content production, sales, marketing and branding:
- TikTok – Viral video sharing – 500 million monthly active users.
- Pinterest – Visual discoveries – 250 million monthly active users.
- Instagram – Visuals – a billion+ monthly active users.
- Snapchat – Temporary visuals – 300 million monthly active users.
- Twitter – Blogging, conversations, links, news – 326 million monthly active users.
- Facebook – Blogging, relations, shares, likes – 2.23 billion monthly active users.
- LinkedIn – Business-oriented networking – 260 million monthly active users.
Where Should Your Brand Be?
From there, these are key metrics to consider.
Figure out (which may take experimentation, using trial periods) what features are the most essential for your campaign.
There may be specifics you can leverage to great effect, depending on your campaign style, such as special tools for managing your ‘stories’.
#2 Business Strategy
Giving some thought beforehand as to how to use social media elements as part of your marketing plan will help you to be more effective in your decision making of the tool and how to best use it. Otherwise, you may be spinning your wheels.
#3 Content Publishing
Likely, you’ll want tools that help you to schedule, monitor and analyze your progress, with a publishing calendar overview that helps you organize your tasks over the year and avoid conflicting schedules (very useful if you’re running live interactions with your followers).
#4 Content Creation
Can your tool eliminate the need for a professional social media content creator, even down to automating dull tasks like getting the dimensions of an image correct? Some providers even offer ghostwriter services.
#5 Influencer Targeting
Does your management tool have ways of identifying and optimizing contact with social media influencers? Converting an influencer into an advocate for your company could be a huge boon.
What level of service do you need for your social media management? This will depend on your budget and marketing strategy. Regardless, the one you should choose should have a free trial period, during which you can evaluate their offerings.
What Is Social Media Management?
The creation, publishing, organization and analyzing of content posted on social platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
The target is to increase and accurately assess engagement levels with users on those platforms.. In other words, it’s not enough to post content; you should know what real dent you’re making in your target audience.
Finding the Right Long-Term Solution
Your reach should be a long-term focus.. Generally, SMBs want to reach a niche audience. No longer can traditional marketing and advertising get such reach. You want to balance this against the cost, long term, perhaps using a mixture or paid and free tools.
Analytics: More Than Numbers 🤖
The best social media management tools give good reports that are an accurate assessment of how valuable your social marketing plan is. See, through concrete numbers, what you have achieved.
The most important part of this is that you have clear data on how to act in the future, continuously learning lessons from the changing landscape and how to best adapt your campaigns and other activities.
CRM stands for customer relationship management. The term ‘Social CRM’ is sometimes used for the integration of a social media management tool with a CRM.
A Social CRM creates a comprehensive customer profile your team can put to use for marketing, sales, and customer service – which includes a history of their activities. It’s also possible to collect wider communication channels such as phone, email and text.
What You Need to Know About Social Media Management Tools (Technical Section)
Automated Posts to Multiple Social Media
Scheduling posts to each channel simultaneously can save an immense amount of time. Perhaps your tool goes further, by ‘multi-customizing’ each update to specifically suit the platform being targeted. For instance: for one post, can you add Instagram hashtags AND Facebook location-tags?
Building Social Media Influence 📱
- Quality – Is your work top-tier?
- Relevance – If not, does it hit a concrete pain-point?
- Style – What one/two standout things make you unique?
- Fame – Can you incorporate high-status people/branding?
- ‘Fanart’ – Are you tapping into pre-existing preoccupations?
- Sex appeal – Cough.. Are you using this ancient fixation (subtly, in most cases)?
Is Your Work Unique Enough That It Captures Attention, Without Being So Unique People Feel No Need to Engage?
Here are some metrics that could help you figure that out.
#1 Return on Investment Data
ROI is calculated by a simple formula: Profit / Investments X 100
The resulting percentage figure is your social media ROI. Some of the best SMM tools in this list, like HootSuite, automatically measure your ROI across owned, paid and earned social channels.
#2 Customer Response Rates
- A Simpler Formula – The number of views your post/page receives in total divided by the number of engagements it receives makes up your engagement/customer response rate.
For instance: a Facebook page viewed 1,000 times with 100 engagements has a 10% engagement rate.
- Brand Awareness and Sentiment (Sentiment Analysis) – Social media ‘sentiment’ describes feelings and attitudes that social media users have about your brand. When brands pay attention to what is being said about them, they increase their chances of social engagement versus detachment – and can sooner detect negative moods.
An example is HootSuite’s Brandwatch feature which gives you the ability to analyze 1.3 trillion social posts in real-time through the use of keywords to detect meaningful patterns that might be overlooked.
What Should I Look for in a Social Media Management Tool?
#1 Reporting – a tool that lets you/social media specialists review and track the social buzz circulating around your brand – or in your industry and competition. Look for trends, things you’re doing well.
#2 Engagement – the more engaging your content/brand, the more successful the relationships with followers. You should be able to quickly respond to engagements and identify/take advantage of opportunities.
#3 Integrations – can you use TikTok on Twitter optimally without needing extra steps to get content published or to retrieve data?
#4 Scheduling – place more of your attention on creative content creation and engagement, rather than the mundanity of manual posting.
#5 Alerts – Get instant warning if there’s a sudden influx of mentions.
Can You Send Automated Messages on LinkedIn?
Yes, automated messages save you a hell of a lot of time on LinkedIn! This guide (see the buying section) we wrote last week, showing you how to use automated messaging properly.
Poor practices (like spamming) could get you banned. Stick within the proper quotas and you should be fine.
Is Hootsuite or Buffer better?
For small businesses, Buffer might just take the win. It’s simple to use and can generally do what you need it to do. Whereas, HootSuite has robust solutions which cover more angles than Buffer and may be more suited to medium and bigger users.
What Is the Best Free Social Media Management Tool?
There Are Free Trial Period for All of Our Products, but Hootsuite Has a Free Plan Level Which Is Pretty Generous and Lets You
- Manage three social profiles in one hub.
- Schedule up to 30 posts ahead of time.
- Get leads using social contests.
- Integrate with 150+ free/paid apps.
Best 4 Social Media Management Tools for Small Businesses
HootSuite is targeted primarily at small to medium-sized businesses. They rank as the best-value solution, in our books. Buffer is similar, and has fantastic scheduling tools though less in the way of engagement ones.
SproutSocial could be a good solution all the way up to an agency size. And SocialPilot falls into the same category.
Best 3 Social Media Management Tools for Enterprises
HubSpot is top of the list, with broad tools that cover every dimension of online sales and marketing. AgoraPulse is not far behind, with generous features that rise all the way to 60 social profiles and 20 users on the Enterprise plan. And while Sendible has tools for solopreneurs, it can also fit enterprises at the upper tier.