The 13 Best Social Media Tools (For Beginners and Pros)

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Managing your social media accounts without any help isn’t easy to do, but hiring an assistant or a social media manager can get expensive fast.

Luckily, there are all sorts of social media tools that can make your life easier and allow you to automate portions of your social media strategy.

It’s critical that you choose the right tools, tools that fit the needs of your brand and your marketing strategy, so we’ve compiled a list of the 13 best social media tools out there to help you decide which will work best for you.

A closeup of a variety of social media apps on a smart device — social media tools are critical for businesses and social media managers who want to juggle the plethora of social media apps available in the modern age.

What Are Social Media Tools?

Any software, app, web extension, or system that aids you in your social media pursuits can be considered a social media tool. Here are some common features:

  • Scheduling
  • Customer care
  • Content calendar
  • Analytics
  • Best time to post
  • Multiple accounts
  • Multiple profiles
  • Social listening
  • Automation

With all these features, it can be hard to choose the right tool, so stick to products that offer what you need. Don’t get suckered into an expensive tool just because it comes with loads of features.

Let’s jump right into the tools.

1. Buffer

With the free version of Buffer you can manage:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Linkedin
  • Google+

This version is limited and only lets you schedule 10 posts per month.

The pro plan is just $15/month, but you can schedule 100 posts (and it comes with analytics).

For larger teams, you can subscribe to one of their three business plans, each of which lets you:

  • Schedule more posts
  • Have an additional 5 to 25 team members
  • Manage between 25 to 125 total social media accounts

These plans range from $99 to $399 depending on your team size.

Apart from Buffer Publish, the flagship product, Buffer offers other social media-related products.

One of those products, Buffer Reply, streamlines the customer care process so that you and your team can promptly respond to followers and customers. This product is priced at $50 a month for the professional plan.

Buffer Analyze is another solo product which focuses on the analytics of your social media efforts. This product has not been released yet, but you can sign up for early access to see what all the buzz is about.

The best thing about Buffer is that it can scale upwards as you grow so you won’t have start over with another platform.

90+ Point Checklist to Evaluate Your Facebook Page

2. Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck, for a free service only for Twitter, has some awesome features. First off, you can schedule posts in advance, and you can manage multiple Twitter accounts.

The standout feature is its side-by-side columns, which are completely customizable.

All streams self-refresh, which doesn’t happen on the native Twitter app. Tweetdeck also allows for multiple profiles per account, and you can even assign different levels of access to each individual team member.

Tweetdeck is one of the best tools for managing Twitter and is a great way for beginners to learn more about scheduling.

3. Social Oomph

Social Oomph manages multiple platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • WordPress

There is a free version, but it’s features are spartan.

The most valuable Social Oomph features are behind a paywall. With the professional account, you can manage unlimited Twitter accounts, unlimited Facebook accounts, and schedule blog posts on WordPress.

While Social Oomph doesn’t offer some of the advanced features, like those of Sprout Social, it still does a lot for $17/month.

This is a good tool to dip your toe into social media scheduling.

90+ Point Checklist to Evaluate Your Facebook Page

4. Sprout Social

Whereas Tweetdeck is a single-platform service, Sprout Social is a behemoth that encompasses multiple platforms and services.

With the premium tier, you can schedule and publish posts across platforms like:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram,
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Google+

You also have access to a social content calendar that gives you a high-level overview of your content.

Sprout Social starts at $99 and can go up to $150 or $250 per month, depending on the number of social profiles you wish to manage.

Each account tier throws a little more into the mix, but for small marketers who really need the multiple-platform feature, the $99/month premium tier is probably best.

With Sprout Social, you also get advanced social listening and customer care tools. As your social media team grows, Sprout Social can grow with you to accommodate larger teams.

5. Later

Later’s partnership with Instagram means you’re getting a quality service. Its visual content calendar makes it easier to see your scheduled posts, and you can post directly to Instagram, which is a brand new feature.

With Later, you can repost content from other users, find the best time to post, import media from anywhere, and create posts with direct links to product pages.

With the $19 business account, you can manage:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

You also unlock every available feature.

For marketers who will focus on Instagram but want to keep a tab on other social media platforms, Later is the best choice.

90+ Point Checklist to Evaluate Your Facebook Page

6. CoSchedule

With CoSchedule, you can schedule and publish posts, but its integrations with other services make it a notch better than the rest.

CoSchedule offers an organized marketing plan with the help of a deeply-detailed content calendar. With the calendar, you can see every moving piece at once — your campaigns, timelines, and posts.

CoSchedule integrates with other services like:

  • Asana
  • Google Drive
  • Mailchimp
  • Trello
  • Evernote
  • WordPress

You also get analytics, and it comes with tools for workflow management.

With such an impressive set of features, CoSchedule is not cheap. The essential plan for individuals is $40 a month, but it lacks a lot of the advanced tools. The $60 growth plan for businesses is much better; you can have up to three users and manage up to 10 social media profiles.

There are other, more expensive plans, but they’re tailored for large teams or marketing agencies.

If you need everything organized in one place, seamlessly integrating with other critical tools, CoSchedule is worth trying.

7. Feedly

Sharing content on social media is one of the strategies used to attract followers and drive up engagement.

Instead of searching through Twitter or Facebook for articles that your users may find interesting, try using Feedly instead. Feedly is free to use, and it consolidates all your content needs — there’s also a paid version with more features.

Once you input your interests, Feedly will compile a feed with the kind of content you want. Think of it as a souped-up aggregator.

Feedly also has a neat feature called boards, which makes it easy to organize content.

The paid version isn’t necessary, but for $5/month, you get access to:

  • More sources and feeds
  • Pocket and IFTTT integration
  • Faster refresh for articles

90+ Point Checklist to Evaluate Your Facebook Page

8. Airtable

If you use Excel for your spreadsheet needs, you need to try Airtable. Airtable allows you to view spreadsheets in multiple views so that you always have the information you need in an organized manner.

This is a highly customizable platform that you can use to track your:

  • Content calendar
  • Social media schedule
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Contacts
  • Clients
  • Everything else you can think of

Let’s say you need to track your content pipeline. Start a new base (spreadsheet) and input the name of the article, author, deadline, and what step you’re on — drafting, editing, or revising. Then, tinker with the views so that your spreadsheets transform into a calendar, which gives you a birds-eye view of your content for the month.

You can break it down by author as well so that you can see who is working on what, and what step each author is currently on. This tool could revolutionize how you organize everything, but it does have a bit of a learning curve.

Airtable is free to use — to an extent. Once you grow your business, you could upgrade to the plus plan for $10/month. If organization is a priority, give Airtable a try.

9. Shutterstock/PremiumBeat

As you start to get a handle on your social media, you might start to experiment with other types of content.

By using Shutterstock or PremiumBeat, you can use high-quality assets — images, videos, or music — to create beautiful posts and videos.

Shutterstock has been around for a long time, and they provide royalty-free stock images and videos of almost anything you can think of.

The cost depends on what you’re using the footage for, but sometimes it’s less expensive than creating it yourself.

After you edit a video together, you might need a song: PremiumBeat has hundreds of them for $49. The free music you find on the internet is usually not very good, but PremiumBeat’s music is high quality.

90+ Point Checklist to Evaluate Your Facebook Page

10. Unsplash

Shutterstock has a huge catalog of photographs, but Unsplash is free, and you can use the photos for commercial purposes. Amateur and professional photographers flock to Unsplash to show off their skills, so you’ll find some beautiful, royalty-free images there.

Paid photography services have more variety, but Unsplash’s catalog is perfect for populating your Instagram feed.

You don’t have to give attribution to the photographer, but you probably should. These photographers are looking for their big break, so giving them a shout-out could help them get a paid gig.

11. Social Drift

Engagement is more important than a high following but first you need followers—Social Drift is a good way to get started.

Unlike services that follow your account with fake bots, Social Drift grows your following by engaging with potential audiences. Once you set the parameters, Social Drift will follow, like, comment, and engage with other accounts to increase your follower count. They claim that they can grow your following by 300 percent in the first month.

This service is only available for Instagram at the moment, and it’s priced at $13/week or $39/month. Social Drift also comes with built-in analytics that make suggestions as to how you can increase your follower count.

90+ Point Checklist to Evaluate Your Facebook Page

12. Canva

Before you take on complicated design tasks on Photoshop, it’s a good idea to use Canva, which is more accessible. Some of the assets and templates cost money, but Canva has lots of freebies.

With Canva, you can create awesome images, promotional posts, invites, and many pieces of content that require design work. Canva has plenty of free templates and assets that are at your disposal.

Designers may use more advanced programs, but Canva is the perfect tool for a small team.

13. Lumen5

Short informational videos that rely on stock images and text are increasingly popular on social media. Many videos get thousands of views because they are easily digestible and can be viewed with the sound off.

Lumen5 is a free tool that makes it easy to create social media videos with text overlay. Simply supply the text and images, and it will compile a video. Lumen has a built-in library of free images, video clips, and music that you can incorporate into your video as well.

The free version renders video at 720p, but for $50/month you can render videos at 1080p, add your own branding, and hide the Lumen5 attribution.

Social Media Tools Make Social Media Strategy Easier to Deploy

Depending on your budget, staff size, and commitment, your need for social media tools may differ—take the time to figure out what works best for your team.

In the meantime, make sure that the foundation of your social media marketing efforts, your social media profiles, are optimized, so that when you do get followers and interaction, your Facebook page, Instagram page, Pinterest page, etc., will push them along the digital funnel and get them on your website (or directly making a purchase).

If you’re not sure about the state of your social media profiles, check out the Facebook Page Audit for a detailed breakdown of every aspect you need to consider on your social media profiles.

Check Out the Facebook Page Audit

Adam Fout

Adam might be a little crazy, but we love him anyway.   Weaving beautiful paragraph-baskets into blog posts ain’t easy, but we couldn’t think of a better job for a recovering tech writer.   Follow him on Twitter @adamfout2, LinkedIn, Facebook, or our blog if you like valuable information accompanied by snarky simplifications of complex subjects. If you're feeling adventurous, check out Adam's fiction and poetry on his author website at adamfout.com

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