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The 5 best social media management tools in 2022

By Harry Guinness · November 1, 2021
A hero image with the logos of the best social media management tools

Social media is one of the most powerful tools available to small and medium businesses. You can use it to find new clients, drive traffic to your site, and keep in touch with existing customers. But like many powerful tools, you have to be careful with how you use it. Trying to manage multiple inboxes, post on all the different platforms, and keep things consistent is next to impossible using the regular consumer apps. To do it properly, you need a social media management app.

Use automation to share, engage, and cross-post without lifting a finger

The best social media management platforms allow you to take control of your social media presence in a single place. You're able to easily automate, analyze, and control all your accounts, so you can focus on creating the kind of content your audience loves.

We put almost 50 social media management apps to the test, and here are the five best.

Once you've picked a social media management app, you can make it even more powerful and efficient by automating it. Take a look at how you can use automation to improve your social marketing. Or, if you're focused mostly on Instagram, here are 3 ways to automatically post to Instagram for Business.

The best social media management tools

  • Buffer for straightforward social media scheduling

  • Hootsuite for all-in-one social media scheduling, monitoring, and analytics

  • MeetEdgar for automating your social media posts

  • SocialPilot for small teams

  • Sendible for an affordable option with all the features

What makes a great social media management tool?

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

Social media management apps have one purpose: to make managing your business's social media presence easy and efficient. Most small businesses don't have the staff or the time to waste posting individual updates and checking in on each site a few times every day. With this in mind, we set out some pretty firm criteria on what we felt made a great social media management tool:

  • Each app had to support multiple social networks: at the very least, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Support for other networks or services was a bonus but not essential for inclusion.

  • It's easy to waste time on social media—whether you're posting for yourself or your business. It shouldn't be a hands-on job that takes time every day. This meant we required apps to enable you to schedule future posts and updates so you could batch your social media work into a couple of blocks each week. Also, it was ideal if apps offered access to your social media inboxes away from the distraction of the feed, so you could reply to customers without getting sucked in. 

  • Social media shouldn't be a crapshoot. Different audiences will engage differently with different kinds of content. To make it easier for you to identify what content works for your audience, the best social media management tools will offer detailed analytics on how your posts do. (Unfortunately for marketers, not all social networks allow the same kind of analytics, which means you won't necessarily get the same features for every social network you use.)

  • Finally, all the apps had to be cost-effective for small and medium businesses. There are plenty of enterprise- or influencer-focused apps out there that charge a serious premium for features you'll never use. Price wasn't as much the issue 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 might suit you best, and go from there.


Best social media management tool for straightforward social media scheduling

Buffer (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Safari)

Buffer screenshot

Buffer is one of the longest-running social media tools aimed primarily at scheduling posts, although it's gone through multiple updates, shifts, and iterations. It supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. Free users can connect up to three social accounts, including Facebook Pages and groups.

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 an entire day. The more slots you have, the more updates you'll 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.

While Buffer's free plan is good enough to get started, if you want a more complete social media management solution or to control more than three social media accounts at once, you'll need to pay $6/month per social channel for the Essentials plan. This gives you access to detailed analytics and engagement features, which let you interact with your audience directly from Buffer. (Also, if you want to bring team members on board, Buffer goes up to $12/month per social channel.)

With Zapier, it's easy to link any other service you use to Buffer. For example, you can automatically add new blog posts to your schedule, either directly from WordPress or through an RSS feed.

Buffer new items in an RSS feed

Buffer new items in an RSS feed
  • Buffer logo
  • RSS by Zapier logo
Buffer + RSS by Zapier

Buffer Price: Free plan includes one user, three accounts, and 10 queued posts per profile; from $6/month per social channel for the Essentials plan that offers unlimited queued posts per profile; from $12/month per social channel for the Team plan that offers unlimited users.

Best social media management tool for all-in-one scheduling, monitoring, and analytics

Hootsuite (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome)

Hootsuite screenshot

If you're looking for a complete solution to all of your social media management needs, Hootsuite will cover all your bases. The app is compatible with over 20 social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. More network connections are available through the Hootsuite app directory, though they can be hit or miss.

Hootsuite includes a full scheduler for queuing posts at times of your choosing. You can create your own schedule or use the AutoSchedule function to schedule your updates at optimal engagement times. By uploading a CSV file with prepared updates using the Bulk Composer, you can fill your queue for days, weeks, months, or the duration of an entire social campaign. Once you've filled up your queue, it's easy to view your outgoing posts from the Planner and reorder your update schedule with a simple drag and drop.

One of Hootsuite's strongest areas is analytics, though you need one of the more expensive plans to get the full suite of them. The tool helps you understand social results by drawing on more than 200 metrics to measure performance. Once you've generated reports, you can export them as Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and CSV files for use within your organization. You can run similar reports to measure team or individual performance.

Hootsuite can also help you monitor the social web with custom social streams. These customizable feeds let you watch the social web for mentions, new followers, search terms, hashtags, engagement, and more. You can construct precise streams that include or exclude specific keywords, post types, locations, and languages. As an example, if you're in the business of selling custom portraits, you could target the search term portrait :( filter:images to find negative posts that mention the word "portrait" with an attached image. You could then target these users with your own business.

For bigger businesses, you can assign different levels of  access to various team members to avoid handing out passwords. Your team can use Hootsuite's included content library to compose updates with on-brand assets of your choosing. Hootsuite includes free stock photos and GIFs courtesy of GIPHY, or you can connect Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive to draw on your own resources, or your paid account with services like Adobe Stock. You can even assign tasks to your team members (like responding to comments or incoming messages), then approve the outgoing responses before they're sent.

Hootsuite also integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically thank new Twitter followers or create new messages directly from your task management app.

Hootsuite Price: Free plan includes one user, three social profiles, and 30 scheduled updates; from $39/month (billed annually) for the Professional plan that includes one user, 10 social profiles, and unlimited scheduling; team plans start at $129/month (billed annually).

Hootsuite and Buffer are both robust platforms that offer some similar features. If you're trying to decide between the two, check out our social media management app showdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer.

Best social media management tool for small teams

SocialPilot (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Edge)

SocialPilot screenshot

With many apps in this category, if you want to delegate social media management to someone else in your organization, you'll have to pay a serious premium for the privilege. (You could give them the login credentials to save money, but that comes with a whole host of security concerns.) With SocialPilot, though, the Small Team plan starts at $50/month and includes two other team members and 25 social media accounts. With Buffer or Hootsuite, you'd be paying hundreds of dollars more per year. 

While SocialPilot's user interface is a bit dated, it's entirely functional. The sidebar has tabs for managing your posts and accounts, accessing your inboxes or analytics, lining up content from RSS feeds, and configuring your team and client setup. All the features you'd expect of a good social media management app are there—though it's the Team options that are most compelling.  

Different team members can be assigned roles, based on what you want them to be able to do. For example, you can set things up so content creators have to submit all posts for approval, or allow managers to edit and schedule but still retain final approval for yourself. This allows you to delegate responsibilities to the people you work with, without having to give them free rein. 

SocialPilot also integrates with Zapier, so you can automatically add content to your SocialPilot queue whenever something happens in the other apps you use most.

Social Pilot Price: From $30/month for the Professional plan; the Small Team plan with 3 users and 25 accounts starts at $50/month

Best social media management tool for automating your posts

MeetEdgar (Web, iOS, Chrome)

MeetEdgar screenshot

MeetEdgar is like an autopilot for your social media accounts. It does a lot of the heavy lifting for you and is compatible with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. This isn't an analytics tool—just a scheduling one.

What makes MeetEdgar so different is its automation. The app can find quote-worthy text from links, and then compose updates to go along with them. After pasting your link, simply click Suggest Variations, and MeetEdgar will create four alternative updates based on the contents of your link. You can edit them, delete them, or add your own manual variations, and then click Save to Library. This is the only tool we came across while researching that actually creates your content for you. Better still, it can generate variations on past updates that have performed well, making it easy to recycle updates without duplicating content.

Another standout feature is the ability to categorize your updates. Add different types of content to different categories, so you can better space out content types over the course of your schedule. You may want to create one category for blog posts, another for how-to posts, and another for promotional material. Color-coded categories make it easy to ensure your schedule contains a good range of content that will appeal to different users. You can also automatically add content from sources like your blog or your Medium, WordPress, or YouTube accounts with a quick import.

There's little in the way of analytics tools in MeetEdgar, but the app does implement A/B testing to isolate best practices; plus, you can use the built-in ed.gr link shortener to track clicks. You can schedule content via the web, via the Chrome extension, or using a bookmarklet for Safari and Firefox.

MeetEdgar integrates with Zapier so you can, for example, automatically add your and other folks' articles to your Edgar library for posting.

MeetEdgar Price: From $19/month for Edgar Lite with 3 social media accounts, unlimited media library, 4 categories, and unlimited support.

There are a couple of other apps that also automate your social media in different ways. We loved Meet Edgar's approach, but both ContentCal and SocialBee were firmly in contention for inclusion on this list.

Best affordable social media management tool with all the features

Sendible (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome)

Sendible screenshot

Sendible is a complete social media management package, with one big feature that makes it stand out: its price. It offers more advanced features at a lower price point than almost any other app we tested. 

As you've likely come to expect, a full set of scheduling tools is included. You can queue up posts for all connected social networks, blogs, and mailing lists. Smart Queues make it easy to maximize engagement by adjusting publication times for you, with the option of setting your best-performing evergreen content to be automatically recycled in the future.

These scheduling tools are as good as any in the business. A shared calendar displays all of your pending updates across any networks you have connected, with the option of connecting RSS feeds to curate and automatically schedule future content. 

Unlike many of the more affordable social media management apps, Sendible enables you to monitor social media for mentions of your brand, competitors, or other terms of interest. It's just a matter of setting up an appropriate keyword alert. You can pick which keywords you want to target, optional inclusions and words you want to exclude, and where the posts were made. You can then browse the list of relevant keyword results from your dashboard or have them automatically emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis. You can even choose to just receive the positive or negative alerts.

Similarly, Sendible offers eight pre-built reports (including integration with Google Analytics) even on its cheapest plan, so you can see how well your social campaigns work. You can also see any new comments, mentions, or direct messages sent to your social media channels and address them from within the app. While common with enterprise social media management apps, few other options in this price range offer all that.   

Sendible Price: From $29/month for the Creator plan that includes 1 user, 6 services, and 100 posts per day.

Which social media management tool is best for you?

As with most things, there's no one best social media management app—just the most appropriate for your business needs. We suggest you check out the free trials for any of the apps that look like they could work for you and go from there. 

While we've focused on complete social media management apps, there are also some apps that are designed to work best with a single network—like TweetDeck for Twitter or Later for Instagram—that are worth considering if you want to prioritize your marketing efforts on a single platform. You can also use Zapier to automatically post to your social media accounts, if you want an even more hands-off solution. 

Ready to dive even further into marketing automation? Here are 4 ways to use marketing automation to grow your business.

This piece was originally published in September 2017 by Andrew Kunesh and has also had contributions from Tim Brookes.

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