It's 2018 and it's more important than ever for businesses to have a strong social footprint. Social media can drive traffic, sales, and can increase the overall value of your brand.
That said, it's often unrealistic for many small businesses to outsource social media management. That means more time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn and less time doing what you do best - running your business.
Luckily, there are many tools at a variety of price points available to make social media scheduling quick and easy. Plus, the built-in analytics features of many of these tools will help you see what content and products your audience is interested in and interacting with, enabling you to create products and services to better serve your customer base.
The best part about a social media management tool? Bulk scheduling. In just a matter of hours, you could have your social media content scheduled for the next month or more! Being able to schedule all of your social media for the week or month ahead of time means that you'll spend less time on these platforms and more time focusing on your business.
Let's get into the nitty gritty of each of these platforms, shall we?
Hootsuite is one of the original social media scheduling tools and remains one of the best options for individuals and small businesses. The platform allows you to schedule your content and engage with your audience on over 35 social media platforms.
Hootsuite also has a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, allowing you to quickly share links or add to your social queue without leaving the website you are on or requiring you to log in to the platform.
Free Trial? Yes, Hootsuite has a 30-day free trial, though a credit card is required.
Cost: Hootsuite has a free plan with limited scheduling capabilities (3 profiles, maximum of 30 scheduled pieces of content per week) though it could be plenty for the small business owner who is willing to schedule content once per week. Paid plans start at $19 per month. All pricing can be viewed here.
Buffer was initially one of Hootsuite's main competitors and for good reason. This easy to use, intuitive tool allows you to pick a schedule for your content and then add content to your queue to be posted at those pre-selected times. Buffer also has a fantastic browser extension, making it easy to share content as you find it or add it to your queue for later.
Free Trial? Yes, Buffer offers the Starter Pro plan free for 7 days and each of the Business plans ($99 and up) free for 14 days.
Cost: A free plan is offered, though only 10 social media posts may be scheduled at a time. The next tier is the Starter Pro plan which is priced at $15 per month. Plan pricing increases from there with additional accounts and features added.
If easy to use and aesthetically pleasing are at the top of your list of requirements for a social media scheduling tool then CoSchedule might just be for you.
In addition to social media post scheduling, Coschedule offers ReQueue, a built-in automation tool to re-share your most valuable content at a later date. This saves you time by filling in your social media calendars automatically with the most relevant content.
CoSchedule also offers workflow management, a marketing calendar, marketing campaigns, and is integrated with over a dozen tools you may already be using (Mailchimp, Google Docs, and bit.ly, to name a few).
Free Trial? Yes! 14 days free, no credit card required.
Cost: Plans start at $40/month billed annually or $49/month billed monthly.
Meet Edgar was one of the first scheduling tools on the market to recycle evergreen content (similar to ReQueue from CoSchedule). With Meet Edgar you create a library of content that Meet Edgar then shares and re-shares automatically at the best possible times for your brand. Sound like what everyone else is offering? Maybe. But they've got some seriously rave reviews with many business owners saying that Meet Edgar saves them 10 hours a week. Meet Edgar is streamlined and powerful.
Free Trial? Yes, Meet Edgar has a 30-day free trial. No credit card required.
Cost: $49 per month. No tiers; it's the same price for everyone.
Sprout Social describes itself as a social media management and engagement software. Featuring one streamlined social media inbox, it ensures that no social media messages will be missed. Sprout Social is most often chosen by larger companies who have lots of hands in the bucket and need to assign tasks to team members or export performance reports into aesthetically pleasing PDFs.
Free Trial? Yes, Sprout Social has a 30-day free trial of all of their plans.
Cost: The least expensive plan will run you $99 per user, per month. For larger entities, the Corporate ($149 per user per month) or Enterprise ($249 per user per month) options may be a better fit.
Social Pilot primarily helps teams organize the responsibilities of social media publishing. Social Pilot sets itself apart with its content curation within the platform, making it easy for you to find appropriate content to share with your audience. With a built-in scheduler, extensive reporting, and a helpful social media content calendar, Social Pilot is the choice of many high profile digital marketing teams.
Free Trial? Yes, a 14-day free trial is available.
Cost: Social Pilot does have a free version called Social Pilot Lite, which allows up to 10 social media posts per day and up to 30 posts scheduled total. For some small businesses, this may be enough. Their smallest plan is $100 a year or $10 per month with their most expensive plan being $1000 per year (for agencies).
So what social media management tool is right for your business?
This depends on what you're looking for, of course. Some questions to ask yourself to get started:
- Will you be the only person managing the social media or will multiple team members be posting and planning? A platform with team management and communication or task features might be best if you have a team of people involved.
- How far in advance do you plan promotions for your business? If you already have your promotions planned for the year, you may be best served with a product that allows you more bulk scheduling or perhaps a more visual calendar to see months down the road.
- Do you just need social media scheduling or are you looking for a platform that has more features? If you intend to manage your social media yourself, you may want to take the tools with task management or communication features out of the running and focus on those that are made for more scheduling and planning.
Okay, so you've narrowed it down to two. Now what?
Try them! The beauty of every social media management tool above is that they all have free trials. It's well worth it to take the time to find the tool that will work best for you - saving you hundreds of hours throughout the year once you implement its regular use. Cheers and happy posting!
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