Which social media management tool is the best?
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
With so many social media management tools to choose from, finding the ideal one for your needs can be complicated. Does it have the features you're looking for? Is the tool easy to use? Will it help you become more productive, while also helping you save time?
Ian Anderson Gray of the Seriously Social Blog, in partnership with G2Crowd, has created an infographic rating the top five social media management tools on the market, based on customer reviews. In this post, I'll look into each of these tools in order to find out which ones are the best.
What to look for in a social media management tool
Before starting to look for a social media management tool, consider first what your goals are and what you're looking to achieve from social media. We all have different needs from social dashboards, so what could be perfect for one person might be irrelevant to another.
Once you are clear on what your goals are and you can identify which features you need, it's much easier to find the perfect social media tool for you.
Here are some of the most common features to look for in a social media management tool:
- Monitoring capabilities: how many keywords and hashtags can you monitor?
- Social Networks: which social networks are compatible, and what can you do on each of them?
- Customer relationship management
- Team management features
And now, let's look at each of the five top tools:
Hootsuite is probably one of the best-known social media management tools since it came out in 2009 as one of the first social dashboards.
One of the biggest features that makes Hootsuite stand out is that it works with more than 35 different social networks, making it perfect for those who have to manage accounts for some of the lesser-known social networks. One of my biggest complaints regarding Hootsuite is that although it's not a bad a tool by any means, it hasn't evolved enough over the years to add some of the useful features that many others social media management tools have included.
Engagement on Hootsuite is quite straightforward. You can easily reply to messages and mentions from your dashboard, see past conversations with any user so you're never out of the loop and even set up prewritten responses to quickly respond to common queries.
You can also set up monitoring for keywords and hashtags and even search by location or language. In terms of publishing, posting new updates and scheduling them is fast and easy — they even have their own URL shortener you can use.
As a downside, Hootsuite doesn't have the best analytics reports. If you really want to get into the thick of your social media to see what you're doing right and what not, you might need to use a separate, analytics tool as well.
Agorapulse is the winner among the five tools rated in the infographic, snatching first place in most categories. Although lesser known, Agorapulse definitely deserves one of the top spots.
One of the features I'm seeing a lot in different dashboards — and that Agorapulse does beautifully — is the so-called social inbox. In order to make sure you never miss any notifications, you get all of your social notifications from all networks in one place/inbox. That way, you can easily go through your mentions and clear out your inbox.
Publishing updates is quick and effortless, and you can also schedule your content and visualize it in an editorial calendar. In order to help you save time, Agorapulse also queues your evergreen content so you save time while getting results from your older content.
In terms of monitoring, you can track shares, mentions, keywords, hashtags and places, respectively for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Their analytics are also pretty good, and you can export them to PowerPoint in case you need to present them.
Agorapulse has a strong CRM tool that allows you to discover potential brand ambassadors and influencers, helps you categorize your audience and automatically qualifies users in your list if they've engaged with you or published about you.
Sprout Social is another top tool that's similar to Agorapulse in terms of features. Just like Agorapulse, Sprout Social has a social inbox where you can tag messages and assign them to other team members.
You can publish content easily, as well as schedule updates — the best part being that you can schedule for different days and times, all at once:
The Sprout Social analytics are also pretty strong, with actionable metrics and beautiful graphics. My favorite part, though, is that if you're working with a team, you can check out individual analytics for the members of your team.
Sprout Social also has a pretty good CRM tool that helps make engagement easier. You can see users' profiles in more depth than just their social profile, as well as see your conversation history.
Sendible is another full-suite social media management tool and, although it's not among the top as rated in the infographic, it's still a really good tool. Sendible also has a social inbox for keeping track of notifications and mentions from your social accounts.
When it comes to monitoring, Sendible has the upper hand as it takes it further than just watching a few hashtags on Twitter. With Sendible, you can monitor and react to mentions from anywhere on the social web. This is great for customer service, as well as for discovering potential leads.
You can also use Sendible to publish and schedule to social media and blogs, as well as use RSS Auto Posting to make sure you are publishing great content throughout the day.
When it comes to reporting, Sendible lets you use drag and drop to custom build your own analytics reports, containing the stats you want. You can also integrate with Google Analytics.
The CRM tools are built for generating leads, so you can actually automate and generate new leads even when you're not around, and then reach them via email or SMS, not just social media.
Although technically Buffer is a social media management tool, it doesn't have all of the features the previous tools have. Buffer is a tool dedicated to helping you publish better content, at the right times, to multiple social networks, so you can really improve your engagement.
Even though it doesn't do nearly as much as the other tools, there's a reason why Buffer has become so popular and well-known: It makes publishing easy and efficient, and it brings in results. The integration with Pablo also helps, as you can easily and quickly create your own images to share on social media.
It's difficult to say with absolute certainty which tool is the best, although I would say I am partial to Agorapulse and Sprout Social. But, at the end of the day, you also need to consider which social networks you are using, what you are using them for and which features you need to help you bring your social media strategy together.
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