I’m sure we can all agree that as a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. Aside from managing your business and working on client projects or new orders, you are also tasked with cultivating client relationships, finding new leads, and marketing your business.
While social media can greatly help your marketing efforts, it can also be a huge time sink, especially if you manage multiple profiles. After all, with everything else that you need to do, who has the time to log into each individual platform and spend a significant chunk of time creating status updates, tweets, pins, and more?
Considering time is money, you can't afford to waste a minute of your day. But you also can't afford to ignore the benefits that come from having a solid social media strategy.
And part of that social media strategy includes making sure you're getting the best possible return on your investment and utilizing your time in the most efficient way. And the secret to that is to use a social media management tool.
Social media management tools come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the most basic ones that allow you to quickly analyze a simple set of data or schedule a week's worth of content across social media profiles; to more advanced tools that will let you track your best performing content, monitor your brand mentions and keywords, and a lot more.
Then, there are also tools that don't belong to the social media management category but they work alongside them to ensure your social media profiles paint the perfect impression of your brand.
In this article, we highlight a number of helpful tools which will save you time, help you work more efficiently, track results, and improve your social media efforts.
The Right Social Media Tools + Business Strategy
Before jumping into this post to find the best social media management tools to optimize your social media workflow, read the article below. It's important to make sure you have a solid initial social marketing strategy that fits your small business goals first:
The right social media management tools will help you put your marketing strategy into action efficiently and consistently—with a streamlined, time-saving workflow.
Basic Social Media Scheduling Tools
Let's start our list with the most simple tool, TweetDeck. TweetDeck is the official Twitter scheduling tool to monitor and manage your Twitter feeds. This free tool allows you to create a custom dashboard where you can monitor your messages, create a feed of your Twitter lists, notifications, mentions, trends, and more.
You can also schedule tweets. TweetDeck is completely free and focuses exclusively on Twitter so it's a great choice for small businesses who are just getting started with social media and want to engage with their followers on Twitter.
PostPlanner is aimed at those who focus on Twitter and Facebook. Their free plan allows you to connect one profile and schedule up to five posts/day. The paid plans start at $7/month and offer 10 social media profiles and up to 100 scheduled messages.
The features that make PostPlanner stand out include the ability to identify trending content for sharing, recycle content for optimal sharing, do a competitive analysis of similar social media accounts, and find suggested status update ideas. The best part about PostPlanner? Canva integration which makes it easy to create graphics for your social media posts.
Buffer allows you to manage multiple social media profiles at once and it has both a free and a paid option available. The free plan allows you to select one profile per network and schedule 10 posts and tweets at once. Plus, it allows you to connect Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages, and Instagram.
Upgrading to the Awesome plan for $10/month, allows you to connect multiple social media profiles per network and add 100 posts and tweets to your queue as well as schedule Pins for Pinterest.
Buffer also gives you access to a set of basic analytics to track the number of clicks on your links, the number of shares, and overall user engagement. A nice feature is their image creating tool Pablo which makes it easy to create a custom image to go with your tweet or post.
Hootsuite is another tool you can use to manage multiple social media profiles. It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, as well as allows you to connect a WordPress blog. There are also free and paid apps which let you add more networks such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and more.
Their free plan offers up to three social media accounts and access to a basic set of analytics. Paid plans start at $8.99/month and allow you to connect up to 50 social media profiles, add one team member, and bulk schedule your messages.
Unlike Buffer, their free plan doesn't limit the amount of social media updates you can have at one time. HootSuite also includes a customizable dashboard where you can monitor mentions, specific hashtags, messages, lists, or other user profiles.
Edgar is a premium social media management tool which allows you to create various categories for your social media posts and schedule them. Once all your updates have been posted, Edgar will re-add them back to your queue which is a great way to keep your schedule full and constantly bring fresh eyes on your content. This makes it stand out from the rest of the tools on this list. Be warned though that Edgar's pricing starts at $49/month which some consider a bit too pricey.
Advanced Social Media Tools With Scheduling, Reporting, and Monitoring Features
SproutSocial is an all-in-one social media management platform. Their main focus is to help businesses build lasting and meaningful relationships with their customers so it's no surprise they offer an advanced set of features.
The platform integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. On top of that, they offer a number of third-party integrations such as ZenDesk, UserVoice, and Salesforce which allows you to manage all your customer support and relationships inside a single dashboard.
The most notable feature is Smart Inbox which lets you see all your important messages and alerts at a glance. You can even use it to monitor keywords that relate to your brand or your industry. Their basic plan starts at $59 per user per month.
Rignite touts itself as the social media management platform for small businesses. Their tool set includes tools for social media monitoring, analytics, engagement, goal-oriented marketing and coupon campaigns, and for running contests and giveaways on social media.
Ecommerce businesses will appreciate their integration with Shopify which lets you track successful sales and coupons that happened on social media. Rignite’s monthly plans start at $28 per month per user.
Sendible allows you to schedule not only updates for your social media accounts but also for your blog. And on top of that, it suggests the best times to post for optimal engagement. Other features include the ability to plan a content calendar, assign tasks to your team members, and use their Social CRM tool to facilitate customer relationship management.
Their third-party integrations include WordPress, Canva, Dropbox, and Google Drive which help you manage and publish your content. Their pricing starts at $59/month.
9. Audisense (formerly SocialBro)
Audisense focuses on audience insight. It's an official Twitter partner that helps you grow your Twitter audience and maximize your strategy. With its set of tools, you can monitor your competitors and analyze their social media posts, find targeted influencers, as well as people who engage with your brand the most.
All of this allows you to create highly-targeted Twitter campaigns to deliver the content your audience will enjoy the most at the best possible time. If your Twitter community is less than 5000 users (combined followers and following), you can use Audisense with the most basic set of features for free. Paid plans start at $31/month.
Mention is a brand monitoring tool that lets you see in real-time when someone mentions your brand or any keywords associated with it. When you connect your social media accounts, you can immediately react and favorite a tweet, comment on a Facebook post, or email a mention to a colleague.
Mention even lets you connect Buffer to add replies automatically to your queue. Paid plans start at $59/month for small business owners and it includes five alerts, 5000 mentions, three users, analytics, segmentation tools, and more.
Timesaving Tools to Curate Content and Automate Tasks
Zapier is not a social media management tool but it allows you to connect any two apps together. When you sign up for Zapier, you can create zaps which allow you to save time on various tasks that don't necessarily have to be done manually. For example, you can create a zap that automatically posts your MailChimp campaigns to your LinkedIn profile or company page, sends your new blog post to your LinkedIn profile, automatically adds new Facebook ad leads to your AWeber account and more.
Zapier offers powerful automation features and integrates with hundreds of apps which makes it an invaluable tool in any small business owner's arsenal. Their free plan allows you to create three zaps while a more advanced plan is available for $20/month.
Learn more about how to work with Zapier and set up app workflow integration:
- What Is Zapier? How to Automate Your Business Tasks BetterHarry Guinness31 Aug 2016
- How to Master Zapier Integration to Automate Your App WorkflowsHarry Guinness29 Sep 2016
A part of your social media strategy involves curating content and sharing it on your social media platforms. Pocket is a handy tool that allows you to save interesting links, images, and videos so you always have a handy list of engaging content.
You can add tags to your links to organize various content in your Pocket account. Once you have a decent collection of content, set aside time each week to go through the links and add them to your social media scheduling tool of choice. When you're done, simply archive the links so you can add more fresh content.
It's been proven time and again that content with images performs better on social media. Canva is an excellent tool for small business owners that lets you create gorgeous graphics even if you have no design experience.
Canva is completely free and has a number of different templates which are the perfect size for social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and others. Canva even offers an impressive number of icons and images that you can use for free. This makes it a breeze to create branded graphics to go along with your social media posts.
Connecting with influencers and others in your niche is a healthy way to grow your online presence and get your brand noticed. However, keeping track of various blogs can be tedious.
Luckily, Feedly makes it easy to add all the blogs you want to keep track of to one central place. From there, it's easy to read the original post, click through to leave a thoughtful comment, and share it with your audience.
What's more, Feedly, integrates with HootSuite and Buffer so you can schedule articles to be shared later on selected social media profiles.
How to Choose the Right Tool for Your Social Media Strategy
Choosing a social media management tool is no easy task. Which tool you choose largely depends on the number of social media profiles you manage, your budget, and goals you are trying to accomplish.
If you are just getting started, a simple tool like Buffer or HootSuite is great to get your feet wet and familiarize yourself with planning content, scheduling posts, and getting basic analytics.
If you're looking for more specific features like targeted influencers to follow, monitoring your social media campaigns, or want to monitor your brand, then consider upgrading to a more advanced tool like SproutSocial or Mention.
Regardless of your choice, make sure to take advantage of supporting tools such as Feedly and Canva to facilitate creating custom graphics and finding curated content to share. With a little planning and some basic legwork, you'll be ready to take your social media efforts to a whole new level.
If you need to develop your social media strategy further, then dig into our multipart, kickstart guide to social media for small business.