When it comes to your digital roots, social media is a big piece of the plan. You’ll need to think about how your brand will use social media as you establish your digital roots for sure. But, you’ll also need to think about how social media will help you nurture your digital roots, create a strong digital presence, and help your business grow. Social media can be an overwhelming time suck if you don’t have a plan and the right tools in place. The first step to owning your social media presence and managing your time is to choose the right scheduling tool and management platform for your business.
As Instagram continues to grow in popularity, having the perfectly curated Instagram feed is key to a great social strategy. Later was built for the Instagram world, but it also works with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest making it a one-stop-shop for scheduling social posts. Its drag-and-drop calendar scheduler makes it easy to plan out weeks (or months) of social content at a time.
A convenient app version gives you access to your account right from your phone. Perfect for uploading your phone photos to your media library. While it isn’t quite as easy as scheduling on a computer, if you need to post on the go, it’s good to have the option.
You’ll also get access to your analytics so you can keep track of how you’re doing.
The free version gives you all the essentials for posting for one brand, but we love some of the premium features too like hashtag suggestions. At $16 per month for the premium level, this solution is great for businesses looking to take their social media to the next level without breaking the bank.
Free Version = Unlimited Free Trial
If B2B connections are important to your business, you may want a tool that offers LinkedIn posting. Buffer’s Publish product helps you manage all your favorites – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and B2B fave LinkedIn. With similar features to Later, Buffer is a great option for businesses looking to keep all their social media organized in one place.
One downfall – no free version. They do offer a 14-day trial but make sure you’re ready to really test it out during those fourteen days. We all know how quickly two weeks can slip away when you’re busy and as with any tool for your business, you want to have the time to evaluate your options before making a choice. That’s why you’re here reading this blog, right?
Buffer’s Pro plan is super affordable at $15 per month but that doesn’t get you access to the Instagram hashtag manager, Instagram stories, or options for additional users. The next step up is a bit one to their $65 per month premium plan.
14-Day Free Trial
Hootsuite is an old favorite. They’ve been around for a while and they’ve really figured out how to tap into all aspects of social media. From basic scheduling features to custom URLs and ad management, with nearly 40 features on their comparison grid, Hootsuite’s got it all.
One of the things we love about Hootsuite is there focus on more than just publishing content. With tools to monitor, share, and engage, Hootsuite helps you put the social in your social media.
But, as we know, more usually costs more. From a very limited free version to a robust business version, if you’re looking for sophisticated social management and solutions for businesses with many social accounts, take a look at Hootsuite’s options. That’s not to say that you need to be a big business to use Hootsuite, but for their basic services at $29 per month, there are much more affordable and free versions out there.
30-Day Free Trial
Social media should be part of the strategy for all businesses. For businesses where social media is core to your strategy, you may need a more robust social tool. Agora Pulse has you covered, but it does come at a cost. At $79 per month, this tool is one of the most expensive on our list. But, boy does it have all the bells and whistles. This basic level comes with 10 social profiles and 2 users which is probably plenty for most small businesses, but the platform can easily grow with you as your team grows.
Agora Pulse goes way beyond just scheduling and posting. With robust tools to engage through social, monitor comments, and even track customer engagements on social media with a Social CRM. This tool is designed for a social business. So, if you’re looking to Instagram or Facebook to be the primary source for selling your product or you plan to have a significant amount of your customer interactions on social platforms, Agora Pulse may be the way to go.
In short, this is a powerful tool for businesses focused on social.
28-day Free Trial (a 14-day trial that you can renew for an additional 14 days.)
Another more robust option for small business social media is Sprout Social. For a small business social media manager looking to manage multiple brands or locations, Sprout Social can simplify your life with a social inbox, CRM tools, and tools for running Facebook promotions. If you’re a social media manager managing your social initiatives by yourself, the Standard plan at $99/month is probably all you need but Sprout Social also offers a Professional and Advanced option for larger social media teams.
We love that Sprout Social also includes reputation management in their platform as the two go hand-in-hand. You can monitor and manage Facebook and Google Reviews and it’s included in their Standard Plan. When you can check off your social media management and your reputation management all with one site, that’s a win.
Sprout Social also offers a resource library with loads of resources, news, training on their tool, and general social media tips.
30-Day Free Trial
Sked Social (Previously known as Schedugram)
Born out of frustration from businesses across the globe that they couldn’t schedule posts to Instagram, Schedugram was a lifesaver for busy business owners before Instagram opened up their API to allow social management tools to directly schedule to the platform.
Sked Social touts their tool as a solution for “Instagram First” brands. While they offer connections to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google My Business, their more advanced features revolve around harnessing the power of Instagram for your brands. The Fundamentals plan at $25/month offers most of the tools you’ll need including link in bio integration and auto-posting for images, video, carousels, and story posts. If you are using Instagram as a tool to drive traffic to your e-commerce catalog, you’ll need to upgrade to the $75/month Essentials plan to include shoppable tags.
7-Day Free Trial
How to Choose a Social Media Management Tool
Not all social media tools are created equal, but there are many great options out there and if you’re manually posting to all your social sites with no schedule and no access to even basic analytics, any social media platform will be a vast improvement. Sometimes you need to try a few to find the one that is perfect for you. You also don’t want to spend all your time setting up one tool, just to switch gears in a month and have to set up another. Here are some basic steps to getting started:
- Make a list of the most important features to you. Don’t make this list to long and focus on what’s really important.
- Eliminate any tool that doesn’t include your top features. No matter how cool the platform looks, if you still must do something manually, it’s not the tool for you.
- Sign up and explore free trials. Choose three or less to really explore. Don’t spend a lot of time setting up all your different social accounts and scheduling weeks’ worth of posts. Take your most important social network and go through the process of scheduling content. Make sure the platform is intuitive and if you’ll be using the tool on mobile, download the app and check that out too.
- Start off monthly. If you’re still not sure this is the platform for you for the long haul, pick the best option, and choose a monthly payment option. You may pay a bit more but if you find it’s not working for you after a couple of months, you can easily cancel and try another platform.
Now, get to it. Harness social media and watch your business grow!