Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest marketing platforms you could find these days. It can benefit both individual bloggers and enterprise-level companies, thanks to the instant feedback gathered, comprehensive analytics or reports available, and an affordable method of gathering a wider audience for your blog or business.
The problem with having an account on every social media network is that the tasks can quickly add up, especially if you’re a single person assigned to handle all these accounts. The solution? Social media automation tools allow you to schedule, publish, and customize social media posts from a single platform one time, then it does the job for you.
If you’re looking for a platform for your social media activities, here are the 10 most popular ones you could choose from, along with each one’s pros and cons:
1) Hootsuite – As one of the leaders in social media automation, you can expect Hootsuite to cater to every need you have, from scheduling posts to audience engagement, monitoring of brands to extensive reports.
- Strengths: Hootsuite’s dashboard has an advanced dashboard that allows its users to monitor and engage with people mentioning their brand. It also has 150+ apps in the App Directory, which extends its features when you need it to. Hootsuite’s advanced search and analytics functions are highly efficient, especially if you’re taking social media seriously business-wise.
- Weaknesses: The downside to Hootsuite is that it provides users with limited scheduling (choose from “post now” or another scheduled time). When compared to other tools that allow you to scheduling for multiple (up to over 100) time slots, the two options given by Hootsuite can be disappointing.
- Pricing: Hootsuite has a free account that allows one user to manage 3 social profiles and schedule only 30 posts. Paid plans start at $9.99/month (50 profiles, 1 user, 350 scheduled posts) with advanced features like bulk scheduling and real-time analytics with access to the App Directory. Other plans include $99/month (team), business ($499/month) and enterprise-level account with custom fees.
2) Buffer – If you’d like the best social media automation, Buffer is another choice you have to consider after Hootsuite. It’s an all-in-one tool used by over 400k marketers around the world. If compared to Hootsuite, Buffer provides more profiles and scheduling time slots, but like other tools on this list, it still has some downsides.
- Strengths: Buffer is known for its exceptional scheduling feature, which allows users unlimited options for scheduled time slots. Interestingly, if you’re starting out with social media and don’t have a clue when to publish your posts, Buffer’s Optimal Timing tool will significantly help. Plus, Buffer’s campaign tracking and analytics/reports function (available on team plans) is advanced enough to make the most out of your marketing or engagement efforts.
- Weaknesses: Buffer doesn’t let you link to Instagram, Tumbr, Snapchat and YouTube from the platform. But the most disappointing thing about Buffer is that you won’t be able to see your messages and send replies to all your followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.
- Pricing: Buffer has a free account that lets a user add just 1 social account and schedule up to 10 posts at a time. The “Awesome” plan (starts at $10/month) is also for a single user, but with 10 social media profiles and up to 100 scheduled posts. Team plans small (starts at $99 with 5 users and 25 profiles), medium ($199 with 10 users and 50 profiles) and large (starts at $399 with 25 users and 150 profiles) allow members to schedule up to 2000 posts and access analytics.
3) SocialPilot – Build for social media professionals and agencies, SocialPilot lets you “auto-pilot” your social media tasks on the popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and even pages (Facebook, LinkedIn).
- Strengths: SocialPilot has a lot of nifty features, including bulk scheduling, social media calendar, client management (invite clients to the dashboard), and custom URLs/branding. But what I like most about SocialPilot is the content suggestion function, which ensures you never run out of things to share on your accounts.
- Weaknesses: SocialPilot’s analytics feature isn’t the most comprehensive, since you won’t be able to track your posts. In addition, you can’t upload videos and pictures have a size limit.
- Pricing: If you want to check out what’s in store on SocialPilot, you can sign-up for a free starter plan with up to 3 profiles, 10 posts daily and up to 30 scheduled posts in queue. Paid plans start at $8/month (basic plan with 10 profiles, 50 daily post and 1k scheduled posts), $16/month (growth hacker plan with 100 profiles, 200 daily posts, 2500 scheduled posts and 5 users), and $25/month (business plan with 200 profiles, 500 daily posts, 5k scheduled posts, 20 users and personalized onboarding).
4) Sendible – Sendible is a complete social media automation platform that lets you monitor your brand, engage with your audience, and conduct testing with its advanced analytics. It links the most popular social media accounts easily, and even allow you to publish directly to Blogger, Tumblr or WordPress on its higher-priced plans.
- Strengths: Sendible also has a content recommendation engine, giving you the most share-able content options for times you’re running out of content to share. Sendible focuses on engagement – you can reply to messages, retweet, comment, like, and converse on all your social media profiles straight from the dashboard. It also has strong monitoring (for hashtags, keywords, search, etc.) and competitive reporting.
- Weaknesses: Sendible takes weeks to recommend an “optimal time” for posting. In addition, you may have to shell out around $100 monthly if you want to take full advantage of Sendible’s useful functions.
- Pricing: Sendible offers a 30-day free trial, then starts from $49/month when you wish to subscribe to the paid plan.
5) Sprout Social – Like all the 4 previous social media management tools, Sprout Social has everything you need for scheduling, publishing, engaging audience, and reviewing campaigns via tracking or analytics.
- Strengths: Conversation is a strong feature of Sprout Social, and its Single Stream Inbox lets you keep messages organized with the archive/hide feature, custom tags, filter, and live-update activities to ensure other team-members won’t touch messages that are already being answered. Sprout Social also has a solid analytics tool.
- Weaknesses: The biggest downside of Sprout Social is the lack of social networks you can add. But if you only need the most popular ones (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+), then you’re all good. Also, Sprout Social only has two apps available – UserVoice and Zendesk.
- Pricing: Sprout Social isn’t the most budget-friendly social media automation tool around. It starts with $99/user/month (Premium) and goes as high as $249/user/month (Enterprise).
Other notable social media automation tools include:
- Crowdfire – For Instagram and Twitter.
- BuzzSumo – Influencers search lets you find follow-worthy people based on area, topic or location.
- Scoop.it – Best for discovering content to share
- Falcon.io – Best for audience engagement
- AgoraPulse – Another strong contender when it comes to engagement capabilities
- Post Planner – Very useful for finding, planning and publishing content, photos and statuses
- Zapier – For businesses that require a more customized social media management tool, Zapier provides a way to link web apps together.
- Missinglettr – After linking your blog’s RSS feeds to the platform, Social Jukebox creates posts for sharing on social media for you. It sends you an email notification about the crafted posts, and you’d only have to edit, delete, approve, or schedule as needed.
- CoSchedule – This calendar-type tool is ideal for social media agencies with 2 or more users. Also recommends optimal time of posting and fills gap in schedule with ReQueue function.
- SociAlert – Best for those who focus on Twitter. It automates hashtag search for possible engagement.
- Tailwind – Pinterest and Instagram posts scheduler.
- Oktopost – Impressive analytics function
- Tweetdeck – One of the oldest social media management, but as its name suggests, Tweetdeck is only for Twitter. But if your focus is on Twitter, this tool is hands-down the best among the rest.
- IFTTT (If This Then That) – For advanced users who love creating custom commands, such as share Facebook photos to Pinterest. (If you post a photo on Facebook, then share it on Pinterest as well)
- eClincher – This one has one of the most organized tabs and advanced hashtag/keyword listening.
- Zoho Social – For businesses running on Zoho and its wide range of services/products, using Zoho Social makes it seamless to link your business to social media.
The Bottom Line
Social media automation lets you skin the login/log-out process completely and start cranking on your online presence. It’s a convenient way to manage several online properties in one dashboard, allowing you to keep your branding consistent all throughout. Automating your social media tasks also gives you a manageable way of finding new audience, connecting with your followers, and extending the quality reach.
Marketing-wise, the analytics section of these social media automation tools serve as exceptional resourcing for trying out campaigns until you figure out a plan most beneficial for your blog or business.
Like other types of automation tools, it’s important to keep a hint of personal touch intact. You wouldn’t want your followers thinking that the ones manning your social media accounts are bots. So make sure to balance automation with personalized content.