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The Best Social Media Tools (Free & Paid)

By Scott Max

Today, social networking is so widespread that it's strange not to see someone on the street checking out the latest Instagram, for example.

Dead hours become "well spent" when you comment on a Facebook post or follow the thread of your favorite twitterer.

Skip to the Top 10 Social Media Tools

And this, companies know how to make good use of it, to such an extent that they have seen the need for programmes to manage social networks: the scope they can have through the Social Media Management profession, becomes amazing.

In many cases, digital marketing is already more relevant than traditional marketing: prospects and clients are increasingly on the web, and not on television, for example.

For this reason, we feel it is necessary to draw up a list of the 10 best tools for managing social networks that you can find online.

To begin with, we have to develop a series of concepts, and then go through each of the tools, their advantages and disadvantages (it is rare to see a programme that has everything).

Let's get started!

Why manage social networks?

The key lies in metrics (numerical data that express the scope of our actions on the networks). In this way, we can know first hand and immediately if the company is meeting its objectives, provided that it has established a previous strategy, of the

which we will talk about next.

What is a social network strategy?

Although the word strategy evokes military manoeuvres for invasion or defence, this term is also used when drawing up a roadmap, objectives to be covered by an organisation, using programmes to manage social networks.

The steps to follow are these:

Who are we? Assessment of the initial situation

And it is logical: to know where to go, you must first know where you are.

So, when establishing a plan of action in social networks, you must be clear about a series of concepts:

Company mission and vision: company philosophy, company know-how.

Marketing mission and vision: they must go hand in hand.

How are we doing?

Once the previous step is clear, the time has come to diagnose our social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn...) for the first time, at the level of:

  • Budget for social media: it is essential to clarify that in order to carry out digital advertising for our business, cash is needed, so if you consider that you do not need to invest in digital marketing, think again.
  • Previous existence of strategy: was your company already following a strategy before? If so, how did it go? Stop for a moment at this point, to reflect on the benefits and drawbacks of that roadmap already in place. If you think it is necessary, redraw another strategy, there is always time for that.
  • Campaigns: calculate how much of the company's budget has already been invested, and analyse the ROI (return on investment) obtained: has it been profitable? Should we continue with this campaign, or start again, following another pattern? We are about to use programs to manage social networks.
  • Engagement analysis (degree of interaction of a consumer with your brand): think, when my company is establishing a series of actions regarding digital marketing, has it thought more about the audience, or about making money at all costs? Remember that it's not what you give people, but that you cover the needs of the public with your products or services. And that must be reflected in the interaction analysis. Do you have a Community Manager who knows how to interact correctly with your audience? Do you manage to increase the ROI?
  • SWOT analysis at digital marketing level: carry out an in-depth investigation of the internal characteristics (strengths and weaknesses), as well as external elements that affect your company (threats and opportunities), in order to manage social networks correctly.

What is my ideal client like?

To know what people want, you need to establish your ideal customer, the personal buyer, which is called in digital marketing. And how do we define it? For that you need to carry out a market study (don't worry, it's nothing complicated):

  • Talk to your customers and prospects: the best way to know what someone wants is to ask them directly.
  • You have to be in the loop: investigate your most direct competitors, surely your buyer person is very similar to them.
  • Analytics, always: look at the psychological and demographic profile; what type of person usually enters your website? Are they men, women, teenagers, adults, workers, unemployed? This point is fundamental. To do this, you will have to become an expert in Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics when handling programs to manage social networks.

What's next? Sit Down and Execute

Once the mission and vision of our digital marketing is clear, as well as how we are doing and the buyer, it is time to put together your strategy.

Objectives: find the why that gives meaning to your actions

Make a detailed list of what you want to achieve with your company's social media management:

  • Strengthening your brand.
  • More prospects and customers (more sales).
  • More satisfied customers.
  • Loyalty of the same (this can be complementary, but absolutely necessary, because if you look at the numbers, it costs much less to make a customer loyal to you than to get a new one). 

What social networks do I focus on?

There are clearly many, so you will have to segment which one suits you best, depending on your type of business. And wait, there's still a little way to go before you can use social media management programs.

  • Facebook: the most famous social network with the largest database of all. Most likely your personal buyer is a user of it, so you could use a page here, as well as being able to run good campaigns through Facebook Ads.
  • Twitter: key to know what people are talking about at every moment. Its system of short tweets and threads, allows you to expose short ideas quickly.
  • LinkedIn: the professional network par excellence. Here you can register your company, briefly explaining what you do, and why you do it. You can also interact with more companies, and it is perfect for hiring personnel.
  • Instagram: currently belongs to Facebook, but the user profile is slightly different from the previous one. Here you can successfully perform a sales funnel (conversion funnel: a user goes to lead-registration, then to prospect, and finally to customer).

As you can see, not all social networks have the same scope and are good for the same thing.

Content: the bulk of your business in digital marketing

There is nothing worse than offering a product and service, and not having a website or blog showing the benefits of it. It is necessary to educate prospects and clients, that is how sales are in the 21st century.

For this, the role of the copywriter or content writer is fundamental in the company, making sure that he or she is always generating content on your blog or website, so that the user is informed, and why not, ends up deciding to count on your services or products.

One very important thing in this section: avoid publishing in all social networks at the same time. We know that a company is very busy, and has time between its teeth, but the comfort is expensive, since each social network has its own moments to show the content.

The 10 best tools for managing social networks

Having made an intense review of the introduction, we arrive at the key to the article. You are already convinced of the usefulness of using your company's social networks correctly, right?

Now we'll look at the best tools, one by one, looking at the advantages and disadvantages.

Tweetdeck

The first tool we name in this list is this one, absorbed by Twitter in 2011. The key to this website is that it allows you to manage more than one Twitter account on one screen, making the management of this social network easier and faster.

Benefits? A few:

  • Columns everywhere: you can create as many columns as you want to show the content being uploaded on Twitter.
  • Set up alerts: notification by news in each column.
  • Schedule your tweets.
  • Best of all: it's free. Free is not usually good at all, but here is the exception to the rule.

As for the drawbacks, we could define just one:

  • It's only good for a social network: unlike other social network management programs.

One of the best options for managing content on this social network. Let's move on to the next one.

HootSuite

Tweetdeck's direct competence: a good program to manage social networks of any company. Born in 2008, it has been stepping on the right foot, determined to be the reference in this field.

Advantages

šŸ‘ Here you can manage several accounts of your social networks: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn...

šŸ‘ Interact with your followers.

šŸ‘ Gives you performance reports, to see if you are on track with your publications.

šŸ‘ Individual panels for each account.

šŸ‘ Generate content from the Hoot interface

Here is a drawback: the free version is very basic. If you really want to take advantage of this tool, we recommend that you invest in the Pro or Business account.

What can you do as a freemium user?

  • Manage 3 social profiles.
  • Program publications.
  • Obtain basic metrics.

As you can see, very simple things.

Should I switch to the pro account?

If your company is serious (which we imagine it is), it is clearly in your best interest:

  • Manage 10 social network accounts
  • Advanced statistics report of your publications.
  • You can include a collaborator without any problem.
  • You can test it for 30 days, so you can get out of doubts.

Price: 25 euros/month (invoiced annually).

But, there is also a business account, what is it about?

  • It manages 50 RRSS accounts.
  • Real-time statistics.
  • 24/7 support included.
  • You can include 5 collaborators.

In this case the price shoots up to 599 USD per month, charged on an annual basis.

It is clear that you have to think about which plan suits you: the free one is suitable for a company that is just starting up; the pro, for more experienced companies, and the business one, perfect for large companies with a turnover of millions of euros a year.

Let's move on to the following programs for managing social networks.

Audiense: let's go for it

It could be defined as the best tool to manage Twitter (excuse Tweetdeck). And it's not for nothing:

šŸ‘ Detect possible influences on your brand.

šŸ‘ It allows you to create automatic responses.

šŸ‘ Massive sending of MD (direct messages).

šŸ‘ Reports of profiles related to the company you are running.

šŸ‘ Monitor hashtags (hash=pad; tag=tag): this way you can measure the follow up of what is being said on Twitter.

As with Tweetdeck, the disadvantage is that it focuses exclusively on the social network of the little blue bird.

It also has a free version (quite complete, moreover) and 2 paid versions (starter and standard), so you'll have to analyse which one would suit you.

Starter version: for small businesses. Price of 9 euros/month.

Standard Version: for big companies and marketing agencies. Price of 89 euros/month.

Brandwatch

They are called the market's leading listening platform. Let's have a look at it.

Functionalities:

šŸ‘ Detects, monitors and analyses hashtags.

šŸ‘ Audience segmentation and categorisation.

šŸ‘ Alerts on predefined parameters (brand mentions, for example).

šŸ‘ Image Insights: artificial intelligence tool, capable of recognising the company logo without mentioning its name. One pass.

Prices of this programme for managing social networks:

  • Pro version, the most basic one: 649 euros/month for analysing up to 10,000 mentions.
  • Enterprise M version: 20,000 mentions for 099 euros/month.
  • Enterprise Q version: analysis of 50,000 mentions of your brand for 549 euros/month.

As you can see, there are prices for all colours. The important thing here is to see which one suits your situation. In digital marketing it is essential to optimise the budget.

Buffer

A good tool is Buffer, whose first good feature is that it allows you to schedule publications in your RRSS, so that you have all your accounts controlled and in motion.

And since in digital marketing it is fundamental to be engaged in your publications, with this tool, the Community Manager will be able to interact with your users, prospects and clients, in order to give a better service day by day.

What other benefits of Buffer?

šŸ‘ Very easy to use, almost intuitive program.

šŸ‘ Free version, to get started.

šŸ‘ App in the cloud, so you can work with it wherever you want, even with your smartphone or tablet.

šŸ‘ Option to choose the time of publication on each social network (and even get the best time).

šŸ‘ Detailed analysis of each post.

It has more than one drawback:

šŸ‘Ž The free version is very limited.

šŸ‘Ž It is not responsive: you cannot use all the functions offered by the web version of your computer on your mobile phone.

šŸ‘Ž Statistics are not very advanced, and sometimes they even fall a little short.

Let's move on to the next tool for managing social networks.

Agora Pulse

One of the best programs for managing your company's social networks.

Today, more than ever, it is necessary to have programs in which you can manage all the social networks from there. Why? Because of the speed and agility that the market demands. Companies increasingly need to satisfy their customers more efficiently, and that means taking a proactive stance (going one step further).

With Agora Pulse, you will be able to manage your social networks, ensuring that your digital marketing strategy will go up a notch in quality.

Advantages:

šŸ‘ Multiplatform: guaranteed omnipresence in the most relevant social networks.

šŸ‘ Publication and programming.

šŸ‘ Audience analysis.

šŸ‘ Metrics and analysis.

šŸ‘ Information storage capacity.

šŸ‘ Possibility of downloading analysis results in PowerPoint format.

šŸ‘ Publication calendar: no more writing down in the Google calendar the next publication in one of your company's RRSS. In this social network management tool, you can indicate when it is time to upload new content.

As for the disadvantages:

šŸ‘Ž The predefined publication date is the following day, with the possible confusion that this entails.

šŸ‘Ž The prices: many and it does not have a freemium version.

From 39 euros/month the Small version (ideal for freelance), to 239 euros/month (special for large companies).

Business Manager (by Facebook)

A very powerful program for managing social networks, which allows you to save hours of managing your company's pages, as well as being able to efficiently manage your Facebook Ads.

Advantages:

šŸ‘ Management of several Facebook accounts and ads.

šŸ‘ It maintains an evident separation between personal and business accounts, so you don't make the mistake of mixing work and personal life.

šŸ‘ Makes it easier to collaborate with more companies.

šŸ‘ Allows you to manage Instagram advertising (as it belongs to Facebook).

Obvious disadvantages:

Facebook doesn't move a finger for you. It is not interested in helping you, it just wants you to invest in advertising, and only if you do it will promote your business.

šŸ‘Ž Steep learning curve: he takes it in stride.

It shows some mistakes in handling, although the social network fixes them every few months.

Loomly

This social network management programme is mainly a publication calendar. But it also has more advantages, including some that are not so obvious to see around:

šŸ‘ It gives you ideas for publications in different RRSS.

šŸ‘ 15-day trial

šŸ‘ Control the publication layouts, so that your posts maintain a certain style.

šŸ‘ Automatic publications.

šŸ‘ Advanced analysis.

šŸ‘ Tips for optimising the content uploaded.

With these functionalities, Loomly can become your digital marketing partner.

The only drawback we see is that:

šŸ‘Ž it doesn't have a free version, only a paid version (from Ā£12/month, up to Ā£72/month, depending on the needs of your digital advertising strategy.

Iconosquare

We have talked about a lot of software, tools and programs to manage social networks of all, except Instagram. We have already seen that this social network is very useful for a company's sales, as it has 1 billion active users per month. Not much, right?

Well, Iconsquare, a French company born in 2011, helps us in the management of Instagram, giving us measurements and analysis of engagement, in addition to

šŸ‘ Feed viewer (publication board).

šŸ‘ It returns the most popular photographs of our account.

šŸ‘ Comment tracking.

šŸ‘ Statistics: in addition to the above-mentioned engagement, it also provides us with data related to optimisation, community and content, among others.

šŸ‘ It tells us the best time to make a powerful post.

This tool compares the hashtags you use with the most popular ones. Because it's not a question of putting a pad to put, but with criteria and sense.

Only two disadvantages?

šŸ‘Ž That you can't upload images to Instagram, you'll have to use the official app; the other is:

šŸ‘Ž the price: 14-day free trial, and the most basic version costs 29 euros/month invoiced annually.

But hey, I forgive the price due to the solid featureset.

Spredfast (now Khoros)

The latest social network management tool we bring you to the list is Spredfast. It may not be as well known as the previous ones, but let's try to give it a vote of confidence. The aim of this programme is to unite and strengthen your company's social media.

What are the advantages?

It integrates functionalities not so common in other programs, such as the handling of WordPress, SlideShare, YouTube and Blogger, in addition to those already mentioned.

šŸ‘ Conversations and publications are stored in a library

šŸ‘ Accompany the growth of your company, offering advice, strategy and optimization of publications.

Disadvantages?

šŸ‘Ž The price: 15 days of the demo version, and then you will have to pay 50 Euros per month. But, honestly, it seems like it might be worth the investment. Then it's all about testing.

Conclusion: social network management tools are needed

And anyone who says they're not lying: taking care of your presence on social networks is as necessary as if you had a physical shop.

I bet you have all the shelves clean, the window shining and all your products well computerized? Well, in digital marketing, the same dynamic.

However, when it comes to expanding your brand and growing in the RRSS, it is very important to be consistent, that the public notices that you are always there to answer their questions and needs; and here, the programs to manage social networks have a lot to say about that.

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