We are big fans of social media and its many attributes here at the SBA, but lately we have been reading about the large amounts of time businesses and entrepreneurs are spending to maintain their social presence.As such, we decided to do a survey of some of the tools available that are designed to manage social media and hopefully make the work more efficient and effective.
Hootsuite works with almost all of the major social networks including: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages, Foursquare, Myspace and Wordpress. This platform also offers many different types of analytics that allow the user to gain insight on Facebook comments and likes, the number of Twitter followers and mentions, Ow.ly click stats and more. (The types of analytics and reports you are able to generate depends on which plan you subscribe to.)
There are three pricing options available with Hootsuite: Free, Pro ($8.99 per month) and Enterprise (contact Hootsuite for a quote). Features included with the free version are: 5 social profiles, basic analytics reports, message scheduling, unlimited apps and 2 RSS/Atom Feeds. The Pro version of Hootsuite offers 50 social profiles, one enhanced analytics report, advanced message scheduling (includes bulk scheduling), unlimited apps and unlimited RSS/Atom Feeds.
Buffer automatically shares your posts throughout the day based on a timetable of your preferred publishing times (it is also possible to publish a post automatically without using the timetable). Buffer works with only three social media networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Buffer also offers some analytics based on numbers of likes, shares and retweets.
Like Hootsuite, Buffer offers three pricing options: the Free Plan, the Awesome Plan ($19 per month) and business/agency plans (for details it is necessary to contact Buffer directly). The Free Plan allows you to connect one social profile for each of the social media platforms Buffer supports (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to your Buffer account and create one timetable. The Awesome Plan allows subscribers to add up to 12 social profiles (including a page and personal profile from Facebook) and offers unlimited posts and tweets and different schedules for different days.
TweetDeck is the third social media management tool we reviewd. Unlike Buffer and Hootsuite, TweetDeck only works with Twitter and does not support other types of social media. Some of the features TweetDeck offers are allowing users to arrange their feeds into customizable columns, schedule tweets, access to unlimited accounts and utilize filters. It does not appear as though there are any different types of plans or costs with TweetDeck or that it offers any analytical capabilities.
Making the Final Decision
Ultimately, the social media management platform you choose will depend on your needs. If you are only using Twitter and want the ability to schedule tweets, TweetDeck may be the perfect option for you. However, if you are actively using more than one type of social media Buffer or Hootsuite are probably more suited to you.
One final note: the information provided above is meant to be an introduction to the programs and we suggest that before you make any decisions about which platform to use that you do your own research and trials to ensure that the tool meets your needs and expectations.
How do you manage your social media accounts? Do you use any of these platforms? Are there tools we missed that you use?