You’ve been plugging away on your business social media accounts for months because every article you read tells you it’s a great free way to build awareness of your brand or direct sales to your website. But you need sleep! You need some time off! How can this social media stuff be so time-consuming?!
Fear not. What you need is a decent social media scheduling tool. There are plenty to choose from, so here’s a quick look at some of the best so that you can decide which is most likely to suit your needs. Please note we’re only going to look at the lower tiers of social media management which will be most appropriate for start ups and small businesses, and that prices and features offered can and do change all the time.
Please note, scheduling should not be a ‘post and run’ option for your business. Nothing replaces engagement and building a relationship with your audience. Scheduling is just to guarantee you have content being published even if you fall down a manhole, or win the lottery that morning.
Probably the best known, and a very flexible tool for a wide range of users. Over 10 million professionals use it.
Free for up to 3 accounts, then the next level is Pro which will allow up to 10 accounts. Pricing is difficult to find, as they don’t publish it on their site. But at the time of writing the Pro account is $29 per month.
- It has an easy to view vertical layout.
- You can search by hashtag, social monitoring & social listening is possible.
- It has very good functionality on the Basic plan.
- There are good collaborative features for Team functions – but only on the highest tiers.
- It integrates with lots of different social media platforms.
- It gets generally very good user reviews.
- It has reasonable analytics at Pro level.
- You are unable to upload duplicate tweets in bulk.
- It has no content library function.
- The interface design is rather clunky.
- It can be complicated to work through all the functionality.
- It doesn’t support Pinterest.
If you don’t use Hootsuite, you’ll probably use Buffer.
Free for an individual who can have one account per platform but only 10 scheduled posts per profile which will seriously limit it’s use for a small business. The next level is $10 per month which allows you 10 accounts and up to 100 scheduled posts per profile. However the next level is a huge jump to $99 per month.
- It has an attractive & easy to navigate interface.
- There is the ability to easily rebuffer.
- There is the ability to add RSS feeds to add content within Buffer.
- Neither of these options cover analytics.
- It doesn’t cover Pinterest in the free version.
- The content library function no longer exists.
- It has less functionality than Hootsuite.
This might be your choice if you are solely looking at Pinterest & Instagram rather than Facebook & Twitter. It’s the official Pinterest marketing tool and is very comprehensive, pointed at bloggers and small businesses.
$15 per month
- There’s lots of shortcuts like multi-board pinning,
- It enables bulk image upload,
- There are good analytics,
- There’s an innovative browser extension for Chrome, Firefox & Safari to enable you to pin from any site,
- It has a drag & drop controlled calendar,
- There are good insights & monitoring.
- This cost only covers one account – to add extra you must pay more,
- This is not a one-stop shop social media marketing solution.
A Solo account is $20 per month for up to 4 profiles & 10 categories, Business account is $40 per month for up to 10 profiles & 20 categories. You can customise if for example you wish to add more categories but don’t need 10 profiles.
- It has a drag & Drop calendar.
- There is a content library for repeating posts which can save you a great deal of time if you have lots of evergreen content.
- The queuing facility which means you only need to add the post once but you can amend slightly while in the queue for evergreen content.
- SmarterQueue has the ability to add content from other sources using keyword search.
- There is a colour coded category system so that you can set up your schedule to have different kinds of category posting at different times. Examples of categories are articles, tips, own blog posts etc.
- You can pause posting if there is an emergency.
- It’s more expensive than some other tools for number of profiles.
- It takes a long time to set up the account & content (but this is a one-off).
- Retweets can’t be added to the queue.
- You can’t schedule GIFs.
- You can only upload one image per post.
- You can’t upload native video for scheduling.
Free for up to 3 accounts, then $25 per month for up to 10 accounts
- It has a content library & queue for evergreen content.
- It’s very good value.
- It has the ability to set up libraries for RSS feeds, the free version allows up to 100 content items which is enough for one account for up to 3 weeks.
- There is the ability to select how often to repeat evergreen content.
- You can’t add video on the Standard plan,
- Currently it doesn’t cover Instagram or Pinterest although functionality on these is meant to be added soon.
ContentCal is the new guy on the block who has managed to knock one of the 15 tools out of this updated list. Having just won ‘Best Newcomer’ at the B2B Awards they bring some serious credentials. The outstanding point is their calendar which allows you to ‘placemark’ an event, incorporating some of the planning features of a tool such as Trello. This makes it great for collaborative work where the whole team can easily see both what content is approved and what may be coming up.
There is a big jump from the Individual plan, which is free but only allows one of each account, to the Business plan which is for teams and starts from £49 per month. But this is a great tool if you are dealing with multiple accounts and want to integrate a planning tool as well as a scheduling tool.
- It’s extremely cost-effective for teams who can only get similar features from top tier social scheduling tools. Team workflow can be customised to fit your team’s needs. And if you have different calendars, you can have a different workflow approval system for each.
- It’s very clear calendar feature is among the best in social media scheduling tools. If you like your social media calendar to actually LOOK like a calendar ContentCal is for you.
- It has a great planning feature where you can look further ahead in the year than you might schedule posts for, and add information which will be useful for your whole team. You can create ‘placeholders’ which act rather like a digital sticky note and remind you what’s happening on a date before you are ready to create a post to schedule. For each ‘campaign’ you also have an area where you can add useful information; videos or images can be stored here ready to be used by the team at a later date. Each campaign can be given a header photo so that they can be easily distinguished on the calendar.
- This planning feature is another boon to teams, because there is no need to search an email trail or Trello board. You have a complete correspondence trail right there on ContentCal.
- ContentCal has a ‘Pause All Content’ button which can be used if something which has happened means you don’t want content being posted.
- While videos can be stored, they need to be re-downloaded by each team member each time they are used.
- ContentCal doesn’t support Pinterest, Snapchat or Facebook groups – you can still plan content in the planning boards, but it can’t be scheduled as there is no integration for these platforms.
- The analytics are not very robust.
- The pricing is expensive if you fall between the Individual and the Business plans.
- There is no integrated link shortener.
If you want to spend more, or you need more functionality and bigger teams than these options offer, you will need to look at the more expensive Hootsuite options, Agora Pulse, Sprout Social or Meet Edgar. But these are in a different ball park financially and are only for larger companies or those with a large budget.
Almost all social media management platforms will allow you a free trial. Try your favourites, give them a go before deciding where to splash your cash. You are rarely tied into a contract but setting up in a new platform can be a lengthy process so it’s best to get it right.
And as always, if you need any help with your social media management, we are here.