The key to a solid social media marketing plan is to get the highest possible ROI while wasting the least amount of time. The less time spent, the more marketers have to dedicate to other endeavors like developing real connections with their followers and producing engaging content. This is where social media scheduling comes in.
Would you believe that there’s an ideal time to post each social network? Though peak times for engagement on platforms like YouTube and Facebook generally align with traditional business hours, platforms like Instagram can see high engagement rates in the evenings. Using a social media scheduling tool can ensure that you’re always posting regular content at the right times, but it goes far beyond consistency and a better work-life balance.
Today, most scheduling tools come with built-in analytics that are as good as — if not better than — the ones already included in a social network’s business platform. In truth, they help with every aspect of your overall social media management process, allowing your marketing team to effortlessly coordinate and maximize efficiency. The only issue is that not every scheduling tool is equal. Choosing the right one for your business takes a little bit of research, but these five tools are some of the frontrunners in any industry.
Hootsuite is one of the best social media scheduling tools for a comprehensive, all-in-one plan. Typically used as an enterprise solution, the platform is compatible with 35 different social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest, as well as a number of less popular networks via Hootsuite’s app directory. While the app allows you to schedule posts across all of your social networks at your leisure, you can also use Hootsuite’s auto-scheduler to automatically post content at optimal engagement times, but the main draw of the app is its social stream.
Hootsuite’s social stream is like a one-stop-shop when it comes to monitoring social media accounts, and allows you to engage with your audience across all of your social channels directly through the dashboard. There’s no switching back and forth between different websites to answer consumer questions. You can even track certain keywords or hashtags, allowing you to target people outside your immediate audience.
In addition to the social stream, Hootsuite’s premiere plans include powerful analytics, which use more than 200 different metrics to examine performance, and this information is easily shared across a team. You can export report reports in a number of different formats (think: Excel, PDF, CSV, and PowerPoint files) or grant various team members access without having to share passwords. Unfortunately, Hootsuite is pricier than other popular scheduling tools.
Sprout Social is a favorite among small business and enterprise companies alike because of its ability to streamline the social posting process. It’s eliminated the need to jump back and forth between different networks and allows you to post across platforms simultaneously. Anyone who’s ever tried to manually schedule posts knows that it’d take a huge amount of time to coordinate otherwise. Like Hootsuite, Sprout can also automatically pick optimal posting times, which eliminates the guesswork on whether or not your post will actually see high engagement.
At the heart of it, Sprout’s whole deal is simplification. It simplifies asset management and it simplifies collaboration by allowing companies to give access across teams. You can give various permissions to marketing managers and writers or basically anyone who’s a contributor. It also simplifies measuring your campaigns with custom analytics. You can apply your own tags that help you organize, manage, and report campaigns the way that best suits your business.
Sprout does more than just analyze the content you’ve already posted. It helps managers identify what’s most likely to work in the future. For example, you can analyze top- performing hashtags and use Sprout’s social ad report to specifically increase the ROI of your future campaigns.
While most scheduling tools focus on a brand enacting a strategy across their social channels, Sendible is a scheduling tool built specifically to focus on multiple brands with multiple social channels. In other words: this is the best for agencies juggling multiple clients. There’s no logging in and out, here.
Sendible supports a number of major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, as well as blogging platforms like Medium and WordPress. The key features include the Social Inbox, which lets you track your brand, it’s competitors, and key industry terms (don’t underestimate those buzzwords). To make reporting to clients easier, you can quickly generate in-depth performance reports and automatically send them out to clients on a set schedule.
Sendible also keeps customer service in mind. If you’re dealing with a large social team, you can use the platform to assign social conversations to specific team members who know how to best handle them. No social conversation will slip through the cracks, but the downside is that overall service is pricey and you have to pay per feature rather than per social network.
Previously known as Buffer, Buffer Publish is an industry vet when it comes to social scheduling. This platform was one of the first, and it’s great for those on a budget. The platform allows free users to connect up to three social accounts, including Facebook, Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Pinterest is only available to Pro users.
Buffer’s key feature is that it automatically creates a publishing schedule with four slots — the morning, afternoon, late afternoon, and evening — when you first log in. You can adjust this to your liking, adding slots or taking them away. It also makes it easy to schedule content from the web, but overall, includes very limited insights to free users. You’ll learn the basics, like comments, clicks, and reach, but you’ll need to purchase Buffer Analyze to go deeper.
If you’re looking for automation, MeetEdgar can help. While content is always key, not all businesses have the budget or the human power required to constantly come up with great, engaging posts. Instead, MeetEdgar can do it for you. It’s one of the few social scheduling tools that actually creates the content you’re posting.
MeetEdgar includes most typical scheduling tool features with the exception of analytics. The tool is purely for scheduling, but it’s so much more valuable than that if you’re short on writers or social editors. The platform has the ability to pull shareable quotes from links to create automated updates.
MeetEdgar’s automation works by analyzing a pasted-in link and crafting four possible posts based on the link’s content. You can choose the one you like best, or use the tool to create alternate captions for old content. Why not make the most out of what you already have?
Scott is a balanced risk-taker with nearly three decades of experience starting and growing advertising and marketing agencies. His business acumen is matched with a drive to build creative teams that thrive in open, collaborative work environments. He remains dedicated to helping his talented teams develop unique and effective integrated marketing programs that help employees realize their full potential while serving up impressive business wins for clients.