It can be overwhelming determining which social media management tool is right for you because of the large number of software options available. The best way to choose the right tool for you is to start with clarifying your priorities and goals when it comes to social media. How many social media outlets can you realistically create content for on a consistent basis? How many hours per week do you want to devote to social media? How much of your budget do you want to devote to social media? Once you answer these questions it will be easier to search through the software features that will coincide with your priorities.
Your social media management tools should help you capture the eye of new followers and drive engagement with your current followers. To do this, you need to post often and know when to post at the best time. There are a few features that will help you do this.
- Platform integration. Keeping up with your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and other social media sites is too much. When looking for a social media management software, make sure it enables you to manage all your social media platforms from one single dashboard.
- Content calendar. A visual content calendar helps you plan all your social media posts and social media campaigns and for a specific period of time. This helps save time, organise your social media marketing plan, track how your social media content is performing and helps create consistency in posting. This will help you plan a week’s, month’s or even a year’s worth of social media content all at once.
- Scheduling tools. Scheduling tools are one of the most important features of a good social media management software. Once you have mapped out what you will post in a certain time period, it is helpful to schedule those posts all at once. Automatically scheduling posts ahead of time frees up your time to concentrate on creating engaging content.
- Post optimisation tool. Scheduling great content won’t move the needle unless you are posting it when your ideal audience is online to see it. Because social media audiences vary, so do optimal posting times for your specific social media audience. Finding a social media management tool that is able to share your content at a time that fits best for your unique audience will ensure your content gets in front of as many people as possible.
- Analytics and reporting tools. Analytics is critical in determining what social media strategies are working and what social media strategies are not working.
- Keyword monitoring. No one can be on social media all the time, which is where keyword monitoring tools come into play. Keyword monitoring allows you to find all the conversations where your brand is mentioned so you can join the dialogue if you choose.
Managed account types and amounts
These days, most social media management software companies integrate with the top social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. SocialPilot was one of the first to integrate with the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, however, slowly but surely, most of the other software platforms have as well.
Not all social media management software platforms integrate with the multiplatform messaging app WhatsApp. While some platforms such as Buffer and SproutSocial allow users to schedule and push text, images, audio, video and PDF automatically to their customers on WhatsApp, other platforms such as Zoho Social do not.
Company size / team size
Company size will help determine what features you need in your social media management software. For example, if you are a solopreneur in charge of managing your own Instagram and TikTok accounts, you will have much different software needs than a social media manager managing all eight separate social media platforms for 10 different brands.
Solopreneurs or time-strapped marketing managers in charge of their company’s social media channels will look for a software platform that has several automation features. Automation tools help save time by scheduling posts in advance, automatically sharing new blog posts to your preferred social media platforms and customising posts per social media platform. Along with the set-it-and-forget-it social media scheduler, an affordable price is also important for small businesses. Some social media management software such as Buffer have a robust free plan that might be more than suitable for solopreneurs or small businesses to manage their social media accounts.
Social media managers who run large accounts or those who manage accounts for several companies or brands tend to work with teams. If this is the case for you, it is important to find a social media management software that will allow team members to work together without stepping on anyone’s toes or doubling efforts. Some team collaborating features to look for when comparing social media management software are:
- Assign roles to different team members
- Assign tasks to different team members
- Account permissions to give team members different levels of authority over the account
- Collision detection tools to avoid a situation where multiple team members send duplicate or conflicting responses when replying to the same message
Reporting and analytics
If you are going to put time and energy into creating social media content, it is important to know if that social media content is working for you. Most social media management software include reporting and analytic tools. These tools can help you decipher your social media strategy’s return on investment. It can answer questions such as whether it is advantageous to continue to post on Twitter, what social media post garnered the most engagement, how many followers you gain every month on Facebook and which network drove the most brand awareness for a particular product launch.
Hootsuite’s reporting capabilities are some of the best on the market. The platform gives users a 360-degree view of all social networks from one dashboard where you can set performance benchmarks and monitor improvements over time. Hootsuite users can also create customisable reports, get updates on the best times to post to optimise the best results and easy-to-read graphs on how your social media channels and campaigns drive leads, conversions and sales.
Sprout Social is another platform with power analytics and reporting tools. The software enables users to set certain demographic and geographic measurements to measure how their audience is engaging with their content. Sprout can monitor keywords across all social media alerting users when their name is mentioned, analyse audience growth, demographics, engagement and impressions across all social media platforms. Sprout Social even allows users to compare their social media performance to their competitor’s social media performance.
Free vs. paid software
Several top social media management software platforms, including the ones we outlined here, have a forever-free plan. Generally, these plans have limited features and functions. They may limit the number of social media accounts you can post to, limit the number of users allowed on your plan or restrict access to analytics. For example, Buffer’s forever-free plan allows users to schedule content on up to three social media channels. Zoho Social’s free plan is more robust, allowing users to post to seven social media channels as well as access Zoho Social’s browser extension, zShare, and the ability to add one team member to their Zoho Social Portal.
While these limitations may not be an issue when you are first getting started, they can limit your ability to scale unless you upgrade to a paid plan. When signing up for a free plan, it is important to research the software’s paid plans. Do they contain the features you think you will need as you grow your business? How affordable is its basic plan versus its most expensive plan? When making a business plan for the next five years, when do you think you will need to upgrade to a paid social media management software and what software features do you think will be most important for your business? Try to find software that has a free plan for the time being, but also has paid plans that will help you meet your company’s future goals.
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