social media management apps

Best social media management apps in 2021

Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses. You can use it to find new customers drive traffic to your website , and keep in touch with existing clients. But managing all the different social networks using their consumer apps is, at best, time-consuming and slow, and, at worst, next to impossible. If you really want to run your social media suitably, you need the right tools.

Social media management tools enable you to automate, analyze, better control, and dive deeper into your social media accounts. These apps can post the same updates on all your social accounts, schedule future updates, and help you find the most appropriate and effective content to post and times to post it.

In this article, we are reviewing 10 of the best social media management software solutions. Or at least what we consider are the top 10 at the moment. These can help you with everything from scheduling to automatically sharing old content, creating social media images, analyzing performance, and more!

social media management apps

Hootsuite

Hootsuite social media management tool

Hootsuite is one of the best social media management tools for creating and managing business campaigns. Instead of managing all the platforms manually, you could just open Hootsuite and deal with them from a single dashboard.

You can monitor and post to several networks including both Facebook personal profiles and business pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. And with its built-in custom analytics system, the ability to monitor selected keywords plus the option to conveniently schedule posts whenever you want (and do this all for free), HootSuite sets the bar high for competing social media management tools. Pro and enterprise plans are also available.

Hootsuite dashboard

Standout features:

  • Has a limited free plan
  • Schedule campaigns via different social media platforms from one dashboard
  • This web-based tool is compatible with major social media channels
  • It offers free courses to help you with social marketing campaigns

Buffer

buffer social media tools

Buffer is one of the longest-running social media management tools aimed primarily at scheduling posts. It supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and Pro users can schedule Pinterest updates too. Free users can connect up to three social accounts, including Facebook Pages and groups. When starting with digital marketing back in 2016, our first tool for social media management was this one!

When you first connect a social account, Buffer will create a schedule for you. By default, Buffer creates four slots per day: in the morning, around noon, late-afternoon, and later in the evening for the time zone you’ve selected. Head to Settings > Posting Schedule to tweak this at any time, delete or add time slots, or disable a whole day. The more slots you have, the more updates you will need to schedule, but scheduling updates is easy with Buffer’s intuitive dashboard, mobile apps, and browser extensions.

For scheduling content from the web, Buffer offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Click the Buffer icon in your toolbar (or use a keyboard shortcut), compose your update, and click Add to Queue to schedule. There are also mobile apps available for both iOS and Android, so you can schedule on the go. We tested the iOS app and found it easy to add updates using the Buffer Extension, which lets you “share” content straight to Buffer from virtually any other app. Your queue, sent posts, and posting schedule are all ready from the app, and composing an update is a matter of tapping the big plus button at the bottom of the screen.

buffer reporting

Buffer includes limited insights into post performance (none for free users). You can see the number of impressions your post achieved, the number of clicks on any links you included, comments, shares, and overall reach. Since Buffer works primarily for scheduling updates, this is a small part of the package. Buffer also offers Buffer Analyze, which has significantly deeper analytics into things like engagement metrics, follower demographics, and organic vs. paid posts, but it costs an additional $35/month.

Buffer can be a collaborative platform if you’re willing to upgrade to a more expensive plan that removes the need to hand out credentials and allows you to approve new posts before adding them to the queue.

Buffer Price: Free plan includes one user, three accounts, and 10 queued posts per profile; from $15/month for the Pro plan that includes one user, eight accounts, and 100 queued posts per profile.

Later

world’s favorite Instagram marketing platform

Later is a social media management scheduling app for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, with one small catch: it’s only for posting images and other visual content. What sets it apart from many of the other social media scheduling apps is that Later has a free forever plan that’s robust enough for a lot of small businesses.

Later counts one Instagram account, Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Pinterest account as a “social set.” On the free plan, you get one social set with 30 scheduled posts per social profile, and a single user.

While Later can post images to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, it’s with Instagram that it really stands out. On paid plans, as long as you have an Instagram for Business account, you can collect media and add it to your Library from stock photos; through Instagram by pulling content from specific hashtags, mentions, or tags; or by allowing invited contributors to upload their own photos. Just click on the Collect Media tab to dive into the options.

Paid plans have even more options on what they can post: you can share images, videos, stories, and multiple photos in one post.

later scheduling post dashboard

Later isn’t the fastest app, but its posting calendar looks great, and it’s simple to use. Just upload some photos to your Media Library (or use any of the other options for collecting them), and then drag and drop them to the time you want to post. If you’re bulk posting, I’d suggest doing this in Month view. Enter a caption or click Saved Captions to pull in something you’ve written before. On paid plans, you can use Hashtag Suggestions to automatically generate more hashtag ideas so your posts will have more reach. Finally, click Save to schedule the post.

If you’re only concerned with visual marketing mostly on Instagram, it’s hard to argue with what Later offers. It doesn’t have all the features of some of its competitors, but it works great—and even the paid plans are very affordable.

Later Price:  Free for one Social Set, 30 posts per profile, and limited features. From $12.5/month for the Starter plan with more media types, analytics, and automated features.

Tailwind

Tailwind is the social media scheduling tool that gets real results in less time.

Tailwind is a social media management toolkit for Pinterest and Instagram. It’s perfect for bloggers, small businesses, agencies and large enterprises.

As we described before, engagement on Pinterest is slightly different compared to Twitter and Facebook. People don’t comment as much, and Repins are more of an engagement signal.

To boost Pinterest engagement, Tailwind introduced its Community feature. (Note: It’s still in beta.)

A Community lets you meet and grow with other marketers in your niche. You add your own content to a Community, and your members view, schedule, and share your content with their own audience. And as it’s a Community, you share the other content too. It’s a win-win.

Regarding scheduling, Tailwind has some powerful features and shortcuts to help you schedule pins and posts each day.

tailwind toolbox

Tailwind’s Smart Queue helps you pin and post at the best times, so your audience gets content when they’re looking for it. To start with, Tailwind recommends the best time when it knows people are active. But over time it evaluates the optimal time based on your history and audience engagement.

You can populate your schedule days or weeks in advance, by adding content in bulk from your desktop or mobile device. Tailwind also tracks your best performing content so you can reuse it again.

Regarding recording, Tailwind lets you track key performance indicators to evaluate if your marketing strategy is working. For Pinterest, you can measure followers, engagement trends, and virality by pin, board or category. (For Instagram, you can find influential followers and connect with them to broaden your reach.)

Tailwind also keeps you informed of progress with customizable reports and notifications via email.

Regarding Instagram, Tailwind offers a very competitive advantage over different other tools. Tailwind includes hundreds of features that help you ultimately to save time and get better results with smart insights.

Pricing: Tailwind pricing is per account, so if you want to use it for both Pinterest and Instagram, then you’d need two accounts. You can get a 33% discount plus unlimited scheduling if you purchase the annual plan. But there’s a free trial of 100 pins on Pinterest and 30 posts on Instagram to get you started. Prices from $9.99/month per account or $119/year per account

Sendible

Elevate your brand story on social media.

Sendible makes it easy to engage with your audience, monitor your brand and track results from one dashboard.

For example, the Priority Inbox brings all your social messages from multiple networks and profiles into a single stream. From there you can identify important messages and take action. Only the unanswered messages remain in the inbox. This is a great social media management feature because you can do social media monitoring with Sendible.

Regarding scheduling, Sendible lets you schedule your content either individually or in bulk. Everything is stored in the interactive calendar, so if anything needs adjusting you can drag-and-drop the content accordingly. Once you discover your best-performing content, you can recycle it with repeating schedules.

Sendible also takes care of content curation. The content recommendation engine analyzes posts already shared on social media and suggests the best content most likely to generate high follower engagement.

There’s also an RSS Auto Posting feature, so you can publish relevant quality content to social networks at regular intervals throughout the day from your blog and other favourites.

Sendible RSS autoposting

They have a range of pre-designed templates to help you create in-depth social media reports for your clients and team members. The ready-to-go social media reports provide an instant snapshot of your social activity. Alternatively, you can create your own report by choosing from over 250 modules. Once your reports are looking good, you can arrange to send them via email on a regular basis.

With Sendible you can connect to most social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and more. On the advanced plan, you can even publish directly to WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr.

Pricing: Sendible offers a range of subscription plans based on the number of users and services that you want. They also offer a fully-customizable, white-label solution for larger teams and agencies. If you’re not sure what you’ll need, you can start with a 14-day free trial and then upgrade or downgrade.

Prices start from $29/month or $288/year (basic plan offers scheduling with re-queue functionality and a complete social inbox).

6. ContentStudio

Powerful content marketing and social media management platform

Contentstudio is a multi-use social media management and content marketing tool that allows you to discover, compose and share the best content. Here are some of its features:

  1. The content curation and automation tool is very effective and is a feature that ContentStudio’s competitors do not have. 
  2. The ability to schedule repeat posts with different content for each social media platform is superb. 
  3. The Evergreen tool gives you the ability to set up a “set and forget” posting schedule for content you want to go out at specific intervals. 
  4. The content discovery feature is easy to use, great for finding engaging content to post, and syncs with the automation posting tools. 
  5. Integration with other tools such as Pocket, content spinners, link shorteners, Feedly, and Replug put your marketing efforts into overdrive. 
  6. Ease of use of the whole platform and constant improvements from the development team.

Integrations: ContentStudio gives you the option to use naked URLs (no shortening or tracking) in social posts. If you prefer a link shortener and/or tracking abilities, you’ve got the choice of Replug.io (see below), ContentStudio’s own shortened links (Cstu.io), the well-known Bit.ly link shortening service, and Firebase Dynamic Links.

Pocket, an app that lets you save content for offline reading later, is a great tool for content creation and a source of ideas. ContentStudio integrates directly with Pocket so you can automatically schedule articles you save for posting later.

Replug is an app for adding a call-to-action to any link you share. The call-to-action gives readers of the content a chance to connect with your business (via the web or a phone call). Replug’s re-targeting pixel feature lets you create Custom Audiences from people that clicked on your shared posts. Great for re-targeting in Facebook ads or Adwords later. Integrate Replug automatically with your scheduled posts and you’ve got an extra layer of marketing power.

Connect Feedly, a feed reader for curating content, directly into ContentStudio with a single click. You can then add new content picked up by the source directly into your content marketing plan.

We use this along other tools described here as social media management for this blog and other ones.

contentstudio content feed

ContentStudio’s Content Feed

There are two parts to the Search tab: Content Feeds and Insights. Let’s look at Content Feeds first.

This is one of the areas where ContentStudio really shines. The Content Discovery section is great for finding fresh content and trending topics across multiple platforms quickly. Currently, the searchable platforms or Internet areas are:

Looking for the most popular Facebook posts on CrossFit ‘by engagement’, that also include links, photos, or videos? It takes mere seconds to filter down to relevant content and video marketing content.

Pricing: The Pro plan costs USD$ 29.00/month and it gives you 10 social accounts to add and 10 automation campaigns.

7. Promorepublic

promorepublic team

PromoRepublic has a strong design focus. Unlike most of these social media management platforms, you can design beautiful posts without leaving the app, with no need to open any separate graphics software. Indeed, PromoRepublic has much of the look and feel of Canva, but within a social media management app, allowing you to schedule and share your designs.

It caters for businesses of all sizes – from small ones to agencies and freelancers, to franchisors and multi-locational brands. You can use it to schedule and share posts with all the major social networks, including importantly for such a visual app, Instagram, and Pinterest.

You can set a posting schedule for different types of posts. PromoRepublic suggests a suitable posting schedule for each of your social networks, but you can easily modify this anywhere you want your posting to go.  You can select a country and time zone for each social account, which is particularly useful for agencies and freelancers who operate social accounts on behalf of others.

You can organize your posting schedules across a centralized calendar. The calendar is quite flexible. You can show your content (both past and planned) and modify your display (weekly, monthly, or a specific day) to customize it how you desire. You can also display a calendar of upcoming events. It is surprising how many designated days there are in a year. I am writing this on World Population Day. Tomorrow is both Paper Bag Day and Eat Your Jello Day (along with 18 other “days.”) While most of these days may seem fun, even silly, they give you ideas for posts you can create in recognition.

Indeed, post Ideas is right at the heart of Promo Republic.  It advertises that it comes with 100,000 post ideas, and these cover a wide range of topics. Most of these post ideas come pre-designed, with eye-catching graphics. And because PromoRepublic includes a full graphics editor you can easily modify and customize their post ideas to suit your business.

promorepublic post ideas

When you click on the Post Ideas page you see content relating to upcoming events, content recommended to you, animated content, articles, quotes, contests, and much more, including quite a few designed for specific social networks. It even suggests possible Facebook covers and Facebook Ads.

Another useful feature of the inbuilt graphics editor is that you can select the appropriate dimension of what you want to create with a single click, whether it be a Facebook post, Facebook ad, Facebook cover, Twitter post, Instagram post, Instagram Story, LinkedIn post, Pinterest Graphic, Shopify post, or merely a simple square graphic. If you don’t want to follow a recommended size, you can select your graphic dimensions by simply typing on the size you desire.

Not everybody has the time and skill to design emotionally appealing social posts as some times this task is time-consuming, even with an smart editor as there is here. PromoRepublic offers a design service, where you can get custom templates for your business. This could reduce the amount of work significantly.

Of course, you’re going to want to know how successful your posts have been. You can discover the success of each of your posts and easily repost your most successful ones. 

One particularly useful feature for larger businesses, agencies, and freelancers running multiple social accounts is that you can separate your content across different workspaces. You can also set up flows that make it easy to work with a team, incorporating any approvals where necessary.

8. Publer

publer social media management

Publer is a social media management tool that lets you post, schedule, and analyze your posts on all major social channels. It also allows you to collaborate! It’s intuitive, collaborative, and it has an interface that’s easy to navigate and scheduling modes that can cut down a huge chunk of your time when planning for social media.

Publer makes posting on social media so much easier with the ability to schedule up to 500 posts at once and automatically recycle content. You can boost engagement by scheduling different types of callback actions like follow-up comments, auto shares, and auto deletes.

On top of that, Publer lets you watermark all your photos and videos with your logo to make sure shares are benefitting only your brand.

Plus, Publer’s analytics give you a combined overview of all your channels, while the team function lets you keep projects separate and control permissions for optimal collaboration.

Bottom line: Publer will help you increase your social media reach and engagement.

Pricing: I think Publer’s free plan offers higher limits. For instance, Publer’s free plan allows you to connect up to 5 social accounts, whereas tools like Buffer and Hootsuite let you connect a maximum of 3 social accounts with their free plan. If you need Publer for 10 social accounts then the price jumps to $18.00/month.

Why do we love Publer? For starters, it integrates directly with Canva, meaning that users can curate and personalize as many illustrations you want ( regardless of the plan you have) on Canva and automatically save your work on the Media Library.

Predict all your evergreen content on the calendar with Publer
Predict all your evergreen content on the calendar with Publer (animation by Publer)

What makes a great social media management tool?

With so many social media apps to choose from, many of them with specific, niche features, we set out some pretty firm criteria on what makes a great social media management tool.

Each app had to either support a wide range of different social networks, so you could control your complete online presence in one place, or it had to be a particularly powerful solution for a single social network . Because of the differences among all the social networks, it’s mostly an either-or situation. The apps that make it easy to post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn simultaneously don’t offer the deep analytics that a Twitter-focused app does. The different social sites just don’t give developers the same tools across the board. If you’re not sure which social media apps to use in the first place, here are some tips on how to choose the best social media platform for your business Social media is a time-suck for individuals and it’s the same for small businesses. Running your social media accounts shouldn’t be a hands-on job.

Scheduling future posts and updates, so you can batch all your social media work into one or two blocks a week, is absolutely essential. And it’s one of the key features all these apps have.

There’s no point just posting randomly into the void. For good social media marketing, you need to be able to assess how your different updates perform in general, and compared to each other. Every app on this list offers some performance analytics on the updates you post with it, so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Some go further and let you analyze your followers and other details from your social media accounts.

Some apps offer social media monitoring and “listening” features so you can automatically analyze what people are saying about your business, keep track of your competitors, and otherwise turn the firehose into meaningful information. These features are more costly for services to offer. There are other apps specialized on social media monitoring such as Semrush, Awario, Brand Mentions, PeakMetrics, or Mention.

Finally, all the apps had to be cost-effective for small businesses . There’s no point paying for a load of enterprise- or influencer-focused features that don’t help you run your social media better. Price didn’t matter for inclusion, so much as value for money.

It’s also worth noting that every app has a free trial or even a totally free plan. Don’t decide on one based just on our observations; try the two or three that sound like they will suit you best, and go from there.

Which social media management tool is best for you?

Our advice is simple: check out as many free trials as you need, and go with the tool that fits how you like to work most closely. It’s much easier to add a new tool into your existing workflow than try to fit a new workflow around the tool you’ve just paid for.

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