Social media management tools: where do you even start?

New to all this? Start with our guide to social media marketing.

The first time I used a social media management tool, I was working for a B2B tech magazine. Yep, this was back in the day when people still read things on paper.

I was by no means a digital or social media expert—I studied “print journalism.” And since managing social media accounts was only a small part of my day, I needed a tool to make my life easier.

So I did some research, tried a few programs, and finally settled on Hootsuite. Best decision I ever made.

Now I could easily schedule comments, keep track of mentions, and follow hashtags. And I still had a few hours left in the day to interact with real people. Our social media accounts were finally useful because I had the right software to help.

These guys just found the right social media tool. Or maybe not. But looks like fun, right? Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Hootsuite may or may not be the best option for you. But finding the right tool for your needs is essential.

It starts with figuring out what you want to accomplish.

Why use social media management tools?

Social media is about listening to your customers as much as it’s about promoting your own content and products. That’s the theory, anyway.

But many businesses’ social media feeds are just long lists of posts about themselves. There’s no engagement, no interaction, and they don’t even bother to respond to customer comments or questions.

You don’t have to be that business. The right social media management tool can help you engage with your customers by liking and commenting on their posts. It can also work out what content they’re interested in so you can tailor your output to your audience.

Have followers in different timezones? Social media tools let you reach the right people when they’re online. And all with a bit of personality.

Let’s start with some top tools, then we’ll dig into the features.

Top 11 social media tools for marketing

Here’s our list of leading social media management tools in 2019:

The free version has tons of useful features, so you can easily manage your company’s social accounts without burning your entire marketing budget. You can even create Facebook and Instagram stories from within the app.

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You can create custom posts for each of your social networks using its “Tailored Posts” feature.

This app allows you to convert email text into social media updates, receive an email digest of keywords you’re tracking, and find targeted users to follow.

Comes with a social media content calendar, so you can easily see all of your scheduled posts. There’s also a content curation feature to help you find and share relevant content.

With Sprout Social, you can save replies to commonly asked questions, and get Message Spike Alerts when there’s a major jump in mentions or keywords related to your brand or industry.

Tweetdeck lets you manage multiple Twitter accounts, build collections of Tweets, and view multiple timelines at once.

Add posts to a “queue” to have them automatically posted when you want, and manage comments from your Instagram and Facebook posts.

This app lets you add other personal or company social media accounts to your dashboard without giving everyone access. You can also create hierarchies to better manage tasks.

Set up an RSS feed to automatically publish blog content to social platforms, and define rules to flag broken messages.

You can schedule paid and organic posts in the same calendar, as well as merge your social media and CRM data.

This Facebook Messenger marketing platform offers a free chatbot builder to help you engage your audience and qualify leads. They’ve also got a great learning center for Facebook ads, chatbots, and growth marketing.

There are other tools out there, but that should get you pointed in the right direction. Now what can these tools actually do for you?

Benefits of social media marketing tools

Here are some of the main features of social media management tools that help you overcome your business challenges.

Schedule posts at just the right time

Want to post that new article at 6pm, right when you’re planning to be in the gym? Going to be out of office the rest of the week but want to keep your content flowing? Noticed that your posts perform best at 2am, but prefer to be sleeping at that time?

Use a social media tool to automatically schedule a post for those inconvenient hours.

Or even better: let the software pick the time that it thinks is best based on past performance. But keep an eye on your posts to make sure they’re working how you hoped.

Sprout Social's social media scheduling feature.

Know what to post with analytics and reporting

Need to know how many likes, shares, comments, views, and link clicks your social media posts have had? Not sure how your Facebook marketing is going? Want to drop your daily visits to Twitter Insights and get all your data in one spot?

This is where social media analytics and reporting comes in.

If you’re just starting out with social media, it can be difficult to know what to post. But once you know how your posts are performing, you can work out what resonates with your audience and do more of that.

Equally important is learning what doesn’t work. It’s a big step toward improving your social media marketing strategy.

Buffer social media reporting.

Stay in touch on the go with mobile apps

Your marketing team’s at a conference. They’ve seen some interesting innovations and heard some inspiring presentations. But how easily can your team access, analyze, and share content from their iOS or Android devices?

Social media management mobile apps make it easy to stay on top of your channels when you’re on the move. Don’t let going remote be an excuse for being out of touch.

Keep an ear on the buzz with social media listening

What are people saying about you? Social media management tools let you monitor social media mentions of your brand name and other keywords you care about.

Listen for conversations that impact your brand, like customer complaints or trending industry news.

This helps you respond quickly to any negative comments. And it makes it easy for you to add timely, valuable input to relevant conversations.

And it sure is nice to keep up with all those positive mentions too. 🙂

Hootsuite social listening tool.

Integrate with the other tools you use

With the right tool, your social media info can flow seamlessly between your social media accounts and other apps like your CRM, customer success software, or email marketing system.

Let’s say you’ve received a complaint about your product or service on Twitter.

If your social media accounts aren’t connected with your customer service system, your customer success team won’t be able to respond effectively. Integrations ensure that relevant info is shared.

Remember: if there’s a specific product you need your social media tool to work with, check that program’s website to see if it’s listed there.

Collaborate to stay connected

Consistency is key to social media marketing success. If you post ten times one day, then not at all for the next three weeks, your followers will forget about you.

You also need to be on the ball when responding to interactions and messages across channels. That’s why you need multiple people to help manage your social media accounts.

Even if you’re a small business or startup with a single social media manager, these people get sick and need the occasional vacation. The right software helps multiple people share the social media responsibility.

Agora Pulse team collaboration.

Get started with a free trial

This isn’t technically a feature, but it’s important to try before you buy—and social media management tools are no exception.

Free social media management tools and trials are pretty common. So you can try out the basic features of a few alternatives and make an informed decision.

Choosing the right social media solution

It’s tough to choose the right social media management tool when there are so many on the market. They all have similar features, and they all promise they’ll transform your business beyond your wildest dreams.

So, instead of suffering from choice paralysis:

  • Make a realistic list of all the problems you want the software to solve
  • Research each feature to see how it can solve the issue
  • Ask software companies to demo how their product can help you overcome these problems
  • Sign up to a free trial, or free version of the software

So little to lose, so much to gain. Because with the right social media management tool, you can go from one-way monologues to meaningful conversations with your audience.

→ Looking for unique ways to engage your social audience? Get started with a social media quiz.