Social media is an important tool for your business. It allows you to connect directly with people who are interested in your brand. When used correctly it can help increase your brand awareness, drive conversions, and even grow traffic to your website. As most social media is free, the only thing you need is time to post on all of these channels. There are plenty of social media tools to help you manage multiple accounts at once and get the most out of every post.
Why Your Small Business Needs Social Media Management Tools
Every social media network allows its users to post from either their desktop or phone, whether that’s through applications or a web browser. You might wonder, then, why it’s worth investing in a platform that handles social media management for small business accounts. You could easily log in to Facebook or Instagram directly, write your message, and post away.
But consider the steps required when posting a social media update. You need to write copy, find images, login, copy and paste your copy and photos, then hit publish. And before you even get to posting, you need to spend time writing and taking photos. Even if you’re organized, you still need to create all your copy in advance, drop them into a spreadsheet, and then pull from that document every time you want to push an update. Plus, you’ll need to go back into your doc and mark off the posts you’ve already published so you don’t put them up twice. That’s a decent amount of work.
If there’s one thing most business owners can agree on, it’s that they barely have enough time to manage business-critical tasks in the first place, let alone curating social media accounts. Thankfully, the tools that help with social media management for small businesses take most of the manual labor out of the posting process—here’s how.
1. They Organize All of Your Accounts in One Place
Jumping between social accounts is a pain, especially if you have a robust social media strategy for your small business and publish across several platforms. Social media management tools allow you to manage each of your accounts in one place, which means that you get a bird’s eye view of what you post, as well as each reply, share, and direct message you get. This beats jumping between tabs in your browser and hoping that you’ve published each message successfully.
2. They Let You Schedule Your Posts
Most social networks don’t make it easy for you to schedule posts to go out in the future. Even when some of them give you an option to schedule, they don’t give you an easy way to look at all of the posts you’ve queued up to go out later. The best social media management tools for small business owners provide you with a robust calendar view of your posts. You can look at a daily, weekly, or monthly breakdown of your scheduled content across each channel (or individually, if you want to monitor one account at a time).
3. They Allow You to Delegate Posting Duties Safely
The cardinal rule of social media for small businesses is to limit the number of people who know your account details, such as the email address and password associated with your accounts. Any time you give out your credentials to employees, you open yourself to the risk of a misfired post, an unsanctioned message, or even a potential business social media disaster. Tools designed to help run social media management for small business owners add a layer of security between employees and your accounts, since they don’t need access to your credentials to post.
4. They Let You Approve Posts Before They Go Live
Sometimes it’s not enough to keep your employees from having the passwords to your social accounts. It’s also a great idea to make sure that the posts they create are ready for public consumption before they go live. Several social media management platforms feature authorization options that add an extra layer of review before posts go live. You (or another employee) can monitor every post before it publishes, which prevents potentially embarrassing status updates from going online.
5. They Give You Better Analytics
If you don’t measure your social media stats, you’re flying blind. Worse yet, you’re missing out on valuable market research about your customers. Every major social media network provides you with a peek into the basic social media metrics for your account, such as likes, follows, and engagements. But great tools for social media management for small business accounts let you go deeper: they offer you broader historical data on your post-performance, follower acquisition trends, and can even show you who your most influential followers are. These insights can help you maximize your social efforts, and pinpoint exactly what’s working for your brand accounts.
6. They Make Social Media Customer Service Simpler
Social listening and customer support are two major pillars of a modern social media strategy for small business owners. Your social channels give you an unrivaled opportunity to speak directly with individual consumers, address their concerns, and create conversations that turn potential buyers into loyal customers. Even the least expensive social media management tools for small businesses include functions that let you reply to comments and direct messages. More sophisticated products can even help you measure the number of positive and negative mentions of your brand, as well as the time it takes for someone within your team to reply to a customer service query.
Social Media Management for Small Business Owners: What to Look For
Now that we’ve established why social media management for small business owners is important, let’s explore the features and functions you should look for in the social media management tool of your choice. There are plenty of options to choose from out there: some are bare-bones products that are usually free or inexpensive but offer limited functions, many are in the middle of the road in terms of features and cost, and a few are loaded with features but come with a hefty price tag.
1. The Features You Need
The most obvious place to start when comparing social media management tools features. You’ll want to strike a balance between having the features you know you’ll need for your social media strategy and the annual subscription cost of your social media management tool. If your company’s social media presence is in its early stages, you won’t likely need a feature-packed product. Instead, focus on the basic elements, such as post scheduling, multiple user support, and analytics. You can always scale up to a more feature-laden option once your strategy is more established.
2. The Number of Seats You Get
Most social media management tools allow a certain number of people to use the platform at any given time. In social media parlance, these are called “seats,” since anyone can use them (but only one person can sit in them at a time, metaphorically speaking). The number of seats you get with your social media manager varies, depending on your level of service and the price of your plan. Be sure to get enough seats to accommodate the number of employees you expect to use your social manager—too few could make it difficult for employees to access the system, but too many could make you pay more for services you’re not using.
3. Client Support
Learning how to use a new social media manager can be a challenge, even for seasoned social media veterans. Each platform’s features have nuances that are unique unto themselves, and it’s not always easy to find all of the functions you’d like to use. Most social media management tools come with a certain level of client support to help you overcome the learning curve. Some provide a set number of hours every month, while others might give you unlimited assistance. A good number of providers also create webinars and are willing to help you train your team on their platform, too.
The social media management tools for small businesses vary in price, both between providers as well as the levels of support and functionality each platform provides. Thankfully, most social media managers provide upfront pricing for their standard packages, so you can see what works within your budget. In some cases, you may even be able to negotiate terms with your prospective social media management platform. Be sure to compare the features you need versus the amount of money you’re willing to spend. Plus, if you right-size your platform to fit your business, you could devote more money to social media marketing and take your social presence to the next level.
The Best Options in Social Media Management for Small Business Owners
Once you’ve accounted for your social strategy, the features you need to execute it, and the budget you can spend on a social media manager, it’s time to dive in and compare your options. As we mentioned earlier, every social media manager for small businesses offers different features and pricing. Here are some of the best tools to consider for small business social media management based on the financials, features, and ease of use.
1. The Best Entry-Level Social Media Manager: Hootsuite
Hootsuite was one of the first social media managers that let users monitor and post to all of their social media accounts in one place. The platform remains competitive to this day in terms of features, ease of use, and pricing. Users can manage their Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube accounts seamlessly within one environment. Plus, Hootsuite offers intuitive analytics, team management, post-approval processes, and social listening tools. Multi-user plans start at $129 a month, which gets you support for 20 social profiles and three user seats. Larger plans start at $599 or more, depending on your needs. If you are the only person who needs access to the account, you can opt for the $19 a month plan, but note that you will not have any additional seats in the program unless you upgrade.
We chose Sprout Social as our best overall due to the platform’s usability, publishing features, and analytics across all major social media platforms. This provider also offers one of the longest free trials in the business.Pros
- Excellent user dashboard lets you manage your social networks in one place
- Utilize Social Media Optimization tools
- Analytics and reports help you manage your user engagement and return on investment (ROI)
- Scheduling tools make creating posts a breeze
- Free 30-day trial
- Expensive standard plan
- Limits to how many social profiles you can manage
We chose Sprout Social as the best option for businesses based on the array of scheduling tools and analytics they offer, their mobile app for iOS and Android, and their paid promotion tools to help you expertly boost Meta posts. One major benefit you get with Sprout Social is a 30-day free trial with any of their plans. If you’re unsure of the value of this software, this free trial gives you a full month to try it out.
This software currently supports all the major social media platforms, including Meta, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, making it an excellent choice for all-in-one management. There are three paid plans to choose from:
- Standard: $89 per month
- Professional: $149 per month
- Advanced: $249 per month.
Sprout Social says their Professional plan is most popular since it lets you manage up to 10 social media accounts in one place. It also comes with an all-in-one social box, social content calendar, response rate and time analysis reports, analysis tools for Twitter hashtags, and plenty more valuable tools. With any of their plans, you also get a mobile app to manage your social media accounts on the go.
The Standard plan includes many of the features of the Professional plan, yet you can only manage up to five social profiles if you choose this option.
Zoho stands out as an all-in-one tool consumers can use to run the social aspects of their business in one place while managing their email, projects, accounting, and webinars. Pros
- Zoho offers a CRM product that lets you manage your email, projects, accounting, and more under one umbrella
- You can integrate their social media management platform, which works with all major social media networks
- Social media planning for individuals starts at $10 per month
- A free edition with limited features is available with an option to upgrade
- Plans for agencies start at $230 per month, which is on the expensive side
- Plans for individuals and businesses only include one to three team members, with more users requiring an additional monthly spend
Zoho made our ranking as the best all-in-one tool based on the CRM product they offer in addition to social media management software. You can utilize Zoho to store and manage your email, create and oversee products, and take care of accounting all in one place. Zoho also offers comprehensive social media management software you can buy separately or integrate for full all-in-one management.
When it comes to their social media management software, Zoho offers three plans for businesses:
- Standard: $10 per month
- Professional: $30 per month
- Premium: $40 per month
Each plan lets you publish and schedule posts across multiple platforms, access summary reports and analytics, and access a Bitly integration & URL shortener. The Standard and Professional plans are limited to one brand and one team member, but both plans let you add additional team members or social channels for an additional cost.
A free plan with limited functionality is also available. With the free plan, you get access to one team member and brand and the ability to publish multiple posts in one place. Zoho also offers social media software for agencies that manage at least 10 different brands under their business umbrella.
Prices: Forever free plan, $5, $10, add $10 per month per social channel connected (with a 14-day free trial).
Description: Buffer is an intuitive, streamlined social media management platform trusted by small businesses and individuals to help drive meaningful engagement and results on social media.
We have a suite of products for publishing, engagement, analytics, simple landing pages, and team collaboration. Our products are carefully considered and highly refined to help social media marketers and teams work more efficiently and effectively.
Unique value: What we’ve heard from our customers is that they love how clean and intuitive our tools are, how friendly and timely our customer support is, and how helpful our content is.
Prices: Free, $79 per month, $159 per month, plus enterprise options
Description: Like the social media management platforms mentioned above, Agora Pulse is also an all-in-one social media platform with scheduling, responding, and reporting features.
Unique value: Unlike the rest, Agora Pulse has several unique features such as competitor analysis and Facebook contest apps at a very affordable price point.
Prices: $29, $99, $199, $299 per month, and enterprise pricing (with a 30-day free trial)
Description: Sendible is a social media management tool built specifically for agencies with several clients. On top of most features that social media management tools provide, Sendible allows you to customize your dashboard according to your branding to attract new clients.
Unique value: Sendible has some impressive integrations such as the Canva graphics editor, royalty-free image search, and YouTube search. It also provides some automation for those who want to save time on repetitive tasks.
Prices: $49, $99, $199 per month, and enterprise pricing (with a 14-day free trial)
Description: Like most social media management tools, eClincher allows you to schedule and publish posts, respond to social messages, and analyze your social media performance.
Unique value: What makes eClincher different from other tools is that it enables you to auto-post with smart queues and RSS feeds, has a media library for your images and lets you search for social media influencers.
Prices: Free, $19, $78, $199, $499 per month (with 7-day free trial)
Description: MavSocial is a social media management tool with a focus on visual content. For the higher-priced plans, it seems that you can also manage your Facebook ads with MavSocial.
Whether you operate a small business, are in charge of social media management in your company, or are an individual looking to improve your online presence, there is no denying the importance of social media tools in today’s digital age. A variety of development companies all over the world have worked tirelessly to create top-tier social media tools that can assist businesses in maintaining their online reputation and acquiring new customers.