First, let’s look at what makes social media management tools so important to those who use social media for promotional purposes.
The main thing to look for in a social media management tool is if it makes you more productive and efficient.
Does it take you less time to manage all of your social accounts? Are you creating better social media campaigns and generally getting better results by using the tool? Is it making the process of managing multiple accounts easier?
With those end goals in mind, you’ll want to examine the following features in social media management dashboards:
- Multiple accounts: Can you manage multiple social media accounts across all major platforms?
- Team collaborations feature: Can multiple team members work on the same accounts? Can you assign tasks to team members?
- Analytics: Do you get detailed analytics reports on your social media activity?
- Monitoring: Can you monitor keywords, other accounts, hashtags, etc.?
- Scheduling: Can you schedule posts for when you can’t go online?
Now, let’s look into each individual tool to see how they fare against each other.
Agorapulse is one of the best social media marketing tools on the market.
The Agorapulse dashboard is very straightforward. Switching through all your accounts is easy, as they are all clearly listed on the left-hand side of the dashboard. All of its features, such as the social media inbox, monitoring, and publishing, are all at the top of the dashboard and easily accessible.
One of Agorapulse’s best features, in my opinion, is the social media inbox, because it makes it very easy to check all of the social media updates that require your attention. It works very much like an email account would –as you go through your inbox and read your notifications and respond to them, the queue grows smaller. You can create automated moderation rules, meaning that Agorapulse will then tag, flag, hide or assign content so that you get all the most relevant messages in your inbox.
Another big feature is publishing and scheduling. You can publish posts to any of your networks, as well as schedule them, but the best part is the editorial calendar. Basically, you can schedule all of the updates that you want and see them in a beautiful calendar that makes it so much easier to stay organized and plan your social media updates.
Next comes the monitoring tool. You can use it to monitor all of your shares and mentions on social media, find out when someone mentions your Facebook Page, create searches for certain keywords on Twitter and monitor hashtags and places on Instagram.
When it comes to reporting, Agorapulse has created some of the most beautiful and detailed analytics reports among social media marketing tools. The reports focus on your audience, engagement and brand awareness – some of the most important metrics, especially to clients. Another really cool thing is that you can see how many posts and comments you’ve reviewed and what your response time and rate are.
I think that the feature that sets Agorapulse apart from most other dashboards is the CRM function. This feature makes it very easy to keep track of all of your followers and friends and find out who your most engaged users are. You can also use Agorapulse to find out who your influencers and brand ambassadors are and who among your followers has the most followers themselves.
The more followers and friends you have, the more difficult it is to keep track of them, but with Agorapulse you can add custom tags so that you know who is a prospect, who is an influencer and so on. You also can see exactly what you’ve talked about with each user so that you’re never out of the loop.
Overall, Agorapulse is a truly great dashboard and the interface is easy to use and all of the features that we’re all usually looking for in a social media marketing tool are all there.
Post planner used to be the tool for scheduling Facebook updates. Now, this is a much more widespread feature, so Postplanner has evolved quite a lot to include more cool features. Its main focus is now on helping marketers increase their engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
With Postplanner, you can easily identify the top-performing content for any hashtag, topic or social media account, ranked by their virality. With this information, you can more easily come up with updates that will increase your engagement, reach and ultimately your traffic.
It’s also a pretty good content curation tool; all you need to do is add your favorite social accounts, blogs, hashtags and keywords to have a list of awesome content that you can easily share, as well as use for inspiration for your future posts.
Post Planner helps you decide what the best content is with their star rating so that whenever you see a post with 4 or 5 stars, you’ll know it stands a better chance of getting you more engagement. The content is also categorized by Photos, Articles, and Statuses so you can easily diversify your updates and keep your audience more interested and engaged.
In fact, PostPlanner claims that its features have helped marketers and other users get 650% more engagement than any other of the top social media marketing tools.
Scheduling content is also very easy. Their Plan feature lets you quickly schedule posts for Facebook and Twitter and arranges them in an easy to use calendar. You can also schedule reoccurring updates and use their cool Re-Cycle feature to revive all of your top updates so that you can make the most out of them.
Buffer is a social media management tool designed to help you post more easily to your social networks. It works for both individuals as well as teams that want to collaborate.
Buffer is first and foremost a publishing tool that aims to help you increase engagement, reach, clicks and ultimately traffic to your website. It works with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn.
You can use Buffer to publish and schedule content, curate your favorite websites and blogs to easily share new content with your followers, see quick analytics for each of your posts and get more detailed analysis with the Business plan.
One of Buffer’s best features, in our opinion, is its integration with Pablo by Buffer. With Pablo, you can more easily create images to share with your audience. This is really useful, as images help increase engagement and traffic.
Buffer is a great tool, but mostly for those who are looking to increase their engagement, as it doesn’t have the full suite of features other tools like Agorapulse or Sendible. As you upgrade to Business or Enterprise plans there are more features, but the prices are also much higher.
Sendible is a full-feature social media marketing tool that allows you to engage with your audience, schedule updates, monitor social activity and measures your results. It works with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and blogs/publishing websites.
You can post updates to any network or multiple networks from the same ‘compose message’ box, similar to Hootsuite’s. Another similar feature to Hootsuite is how you can select to have your updates published automatically at the times they consider best for boosting engagement and reach.
Sendible also has an RSS Auto Posting feature that posts relevant content at regular intervals throughout the day so you’re always providing awesome content for your audience to engage with. If you have a blog, Sendible will automatically share any new posts to your social networks.
There is also a cool calendar where you can oversee all of your team’s publishing activity on social media that you can also easily re-arrange by dragging and dropping updates.
Its monitoring feature allows you to keep track of any mentions of your brand, while also creating an automatic sentiment analysis that highlights any messages that need your attention immediately. What’s cool about this is that Sendible doesn’t just find Twitter mentions, but mentions from all around the social web, so that you know everything being said about you online, and the overall sentiment behind it.
When it comes to CRM, Sendible strives to find your prospects and opportunities. In fact, if you want it to, it can look for prospects and leads constantly and even start conversations for you with the Twitter welcome messages and Twitter auto-replies.
Another cool feature (just like Agorapulse) is that you can see all past conversations you’ve had with different users that are great for finding new leads and improving connections. You can even import your email lists or create new ones so that you can reach the prospect you’ve found via more traditional marketing channels like e-mail and SMS.
Sendible also provides pretty good analytics that you can customize. It also integrates with Google Analytics so that you can easily see how your social media and email campaigns are helping you improve your website traffic.
The interface is easy to use and it has some cool extra features such as email and SMS marketing integration.
SproutSocial has a very clean, easy-to-use interface. It connects with all of the major social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Google+.
When it comes to engagement, SproutSocial has a feature very similar to one of Agorapulse’s: the Smart Inbox. Just like with the aforementioned tool, SproutSocial’s Smart Inbox gathers all of your social messages in one place that’s easy to manage and make sure you’ve responded to everything that needs your attention.
You can schedule posts for all of your accounts from one box (similar to several other tools), which are then placed in a shared content calendar where you and your team can review and edit all of the upcoming updates.
You can also get pretty good analytics reports for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but one of the features that make it stand out is that you can also review each of your team member’s activity and engagement.
SproutSocial is definitely worth a try; the interface is beautiful and intuitive and it has good tools for engaging and scheduling updates.