7 Best Social Media Management Tools for 2021 [Tried & Tested]
In the past few weeks, we were searching to finally include a social media management tool in our marketing stack, hoping to automate our social media efforts and focus on other priorities.
Before we start the journey, we agreed on the main functionalities, our perfect social media management software should have:
- Compatible with major social media channels
- Simple scheduling process
- Option to schedule posts across different social media platforms
- Option to share older (evergreen) content
- Social inbox
- Data tracking and analytics
- Free courses available
- Team collaboration option
- Affordable pricing
- Bonus: integrations with Slack, Canva, or similar tools that we use
We just wanted to save some time and automate our social media workflow, but we realized that these marketing tools could actually be beneficial in many different ways:
- Simplifies your social media workflow, cuts cost and labor time
- Helps you plan your social posts months ahead of time
- Streamlines the posting process by removing the need to shift between platforms
- Gives you useful insights about your posts performances and your target audience engagement you can work with
We figured out that a handful of social media tools out there incorporate some of the functionality above.
So, we decided to spend a day to test some of the most popular social media management tools and summarize our findings below.
Here is a list of the best social media management tools to improve your social media strategy in 2021 that proved worth trying:
Continue reading to learn about our experience testing these digital marketing platforms.
1. Hootsuite: for easily managing dozens of social platforms in one place
Free trial: 30 days
Price: Team plan starts at €99 /month for up to 20 social profiles
Best used for: managing dozens of social media platforms from a single dashboard (best for SMBs & Enterprises)
On my first destination, I encountered a tool named Hootsuite. It promised to have a simple dashboard to curate and schedule content, measure your social ROI, run social media ads, and more.
It definitely sounded like a nice catch!
Once I installed the tool, I was surprised to see that the platform allows you to connect with over 35 social networks.
They were also right about the fast process of scheduling posts.
You can literally create a post for all the social media networks you select AT THE SAME TIME!
This bulk scheduling seems really effective for marketing teams that manage various social networks.
And with their straightforward analytics dashboard, you can easily stay on track with your post’s performance.
Besides data tracking, to keep up with your audience, you can monitor incoming social media messages so that every follower will get their reply instantly. They have an option for Message Assignments to ensure no follower’s message is lost in bulk and read by no one.
For a marketer like me, it was to see that the Hootsuite platform has hundreds of free resources to help you create effective social media marketing campaigns.
You will find a variety of blogs, guides, webinars, toolkits, case studies, whitepapers, and social ROI calculator that can calculate your return on investment in just a few simple clicks.
How can Hootsuite improve your social media campaigns?
- Unlimited number of post scheduling
- Manage posting schedules in bulk
- Connects up to 35 social media accounts
- Scheduled messages to fasten the reply process
- Ad campaign management
- Free courses to improve your social marketing campaigns
- Integration with Slack to share posts and collaborate with team members on social media strategy
2. Buffer: for straightforward social media scheduling
Free trial: 14 days
Price: Pro plan starts at $15/month for up to 8 social media channels
Best used for: scheduling posts for beginners and advanced data tracking (best for SMBs)
In almost each of the posts I’ve read, this tool named Buffer (now Buffer Publish) appeared. It seems like this is one of the longest-running social media tools for scheduling posts.
I was a little disappointed to see that it only supports several social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, Pinterest (for PRO users). However, I realized these networks were actually everything that I needed.
So, once you connect your social account, Buffer will automatically create a suggested schedule for you (4 times per day). You can change these slots however you want.
To get started with scheduling your first post, you need to tap on the time slot and just fill in the details.
For scheduling content from the web, Buffer offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. You can also schedule on the go with Buffer’s app available for both iOS and Android.
While Buffer Publish includes limited insights for your post’s performance, it offers an additional (paid) option named Buffer Analyze (similar to Google Analytics).
As the name suggests, despite the usual data like the number of post impressions, clicks, comments, shares, and overall reach, this feature gives you deeper insights like engagement metrics, follower demographics, and organic vs. paid posts.
How can Buffer improve your social media campaigns?
- An intuitive, streamlined social media scheduler
- Browser extensions and mobile app for scheduling on the go
- Option for more in-depth insights with Buffer Analyze
3. CoSchedule: to centralize all of your blog and social in one place
Free trial: 14 days
Price: Blog Calendar $14 per user monthly, Marketing Calendar is $29 per user monthly
Best used for: Coordinating your blog and social posts (best used for solopreneurs and influencers)
I wasn’t aware of the option to promote your blog and social media post within the same dashboard until I encountered CoSchedule.
Once you sign in, it gives you the option to select the plan you want to use. So you can choose from:
- Blog Calendar: A calendar that organizes your blog and social media.
- Marketing Calendar: A calendar that helps you see, schedule, and share your marketing.
- Marketing Suite: A family of 5 agile marketing products to coordinate your team, projects, and process.
Having in mind my goal to automate my posts’ scheduling, I decided to go with the first option.
Next, you should select the tool you use to manage your blogs like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Blogger, Weebly, or something else.
The onboarding process seems long, but in the end, it will turn out to be really useful because there are so many features CoShedule offers for social media managers, so this way, you will get the maximum of them.
CoSchedule offers you quite a user-friendly and straightforward social media content calendar that works on drag and drop.
And when it comes to scheduling your social media posts, you have 2 options:
- Social Message: One message that will be published across multiple networks on a single day
- Social Campaign: A series of messages across multiple networks over time
They both work the same. You just fill in the post(s) details and drag it to the day where you want the social post to go live.
Same goes for blogs. After you publish a new blog post, you can create a Social Campaign on your calendar to promote your new blog post on social media.
CoSchedule adds your featured image and link text automatically. The one thing you should do once your blog post goes live is to pick the day and time when your social media messages will be published.
As a person who continually creates blog articles, this option will definitely save me some time and prevent me from repetitive copy and paste process.
CoSchedule gives you the option to re-publish evergreen social content that continues to be relevant and valuable to your social media followers. You can even auto-publish social messages on specific days & times for recurring content themes.
The thing that fascinated me is that once a message has been published on your social profile, it will appear on your CoSchedule Calendar even if it was sent using a different external tool or the social media network itself.
How CoSchedule can improve your social media campaigns?
- Simple drag and drop post scheduling
- Real-time blog & social calendar
- Automates your social schedule
- Bulk schedule of your posts
- ReQueue option for re-publishing evergreen posts
4. Later: for scheduling and managing your Instagram account
Free trial: Forever free option (for up to 30 posts per social profile)
Price: Starter plan from $12.5 per month (for up to 60 posts per social profile)
Best used for: Creating and scheduling posts for Instagram (best for SMBs)
If you’re looking for a complete solution to all of your social media management needs (with a focus on Instagram) Later will cover all your bases.
What sets Later it apart from many other social media scheduling apps is that Later has a free forever plan that can work like a charm for small businesses and new e-commerce stores.
With the free plan, you get one social set with 30 scheduled posts per social profile and a single user. Please note that Later counts one Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest account, and Facebook pages as a “social set.”
The scheduling process is straightforward. It functions as a drag and drop. But unlike other social media marketing tools, here you begin uploading an image, drag it to the calendar, and create a captivating caption.
Next, you just need to tap the schedule option. And that’s pretty much it.
With the paid plans, you can upload and share videos and create Stories.
Later isn’t just a scheduling app. The Conversations option allows you to manage your messages and comments on Instagram, and the Analytics option gives you a clearer picture of your content marketing performance.
How can Later improve your social media campaigns?
- Simple drag-and-drop editor
- Option for a quick schedule
- Link in bio tool
- Conversations option to keep track of and respond to all your Instagram comments
5. MeetEdgar: for automating your social media posts effortlessly
Free trial: 7-day free trial
Price: MeetEdgar lite starting at $19 per month (up to 3 social accounts)
Best used for: Systematic approach and minimal involvement when scheduling posts (best for freelancers, side hustlers)
“Stop your “throwing spaghetti” strategy and let an expert octopus step in.” This message welcomes you when you try to sign up for MeetEdgar. Such a lovely greeting!
Once I signed up for this tool, I realized that MeetEdgar is far above an ordinary scheduling tool (although it includes the usual post scheduling features you would expect to see). What makes this tool different is the automation part.
MeetEdgar provides 4 default categories that connect your content to your schedule and keep you organized.
- My blog posts
- Promotions & specials
- Recommended reads
To start your scheduling process, just click on ‘Add New Content’ in the top-right corner of your dashboard, select an account and category, and then paste your link into the text box.
This seems the only tool I came across while researching that can actually create your content for you thanks to the Auto-Generate Variations options (the platform makes few suggested updates based on the contents of your link).
MeetEdgar makes reposting evergreen content really easy. It automatically re-shares posts from your content calendar over time, without you doing any extra work.
How can MeetEdgar improve your social media campaigns?
- Automates for all your social accounts in one place
- RSS feed and advanced content curation options
- Unlimited content library
- Import content in bulk
- Suggested Variations and options
- Reposting evergreen content
Hey Edgar, nice to meet you! 🙂
6. Agorapulse: to keep track of important social media content
Free trial: 15 days
Price: Business plan starting at $79/month
Best used for: Staying up-to-date with the most relevant messages in your social inbox and trending keywords and brand mentions (best for SMBs & Agencies)
Once I encountered Agorapulse, it seemed similar to social media management platforms mentioned above that contain the basic features of scheduling, visual calendar, social inbox, analytics, etc.
The thing that made me go for this tool is that it goes above just a simple social media scheduler. It also has various social profiles you can add with the free trial version – up to 10 social profiles.
Once you connect your social media profiles, they give you these 3 options at your fingertips:
- Check my inbox – to find all your private conversations, posts, mentions, and ad comments
- Schedule content – content curation and customization for every social media network
- Get my reports – to export your metrics as a PDF or CSV
When I clicked on ‘Schedule content,’ it navigated me to fill in the template with my new post’s details. You can add a caption, image, and video. They even encourage you to add hashtags to improve the reach of your post. It allows you to re-queue or reschedules evergreen posts, too.
One feature that grabbed my attention is the Inbox assistant (or social CRM). Basically, you set up a rule – if a selected social profile receives new Inbox items containing the words you will type in the empty box, the message can be automatically assigned to a specific team member, up for review, or be deleted.
On top of that, you can activate the ‘saved replies’ options, too. This way, you can always be on top of your most relevant social media messages that are worth replying to.
You will also find a cool Listening tool where you type hashtags and keywords that are important to you. All matching content will be collected and displayed in the listening tab, so you can assign them to a specific team member to review them and take some concrete action.
This sounds like a great boost for every marketing strategy.
How can Agorapulse improve your social media campaigns?
- Easily schedule posts for each network
- Inbox assistant with saved replies
- A Listening tool to generate all published content with a specific hashtag or keyword
- Mobile app to create content on the go
7. Iconosquare: for social media analytics and scheduling
Free trial: 14 days
Price: PRO plan starting at $49/month (billed annually) for up to 3 social profiles
Best used for: Scheduling automated posts for social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Gaining in-depth insights into social media performance via analytics, and monitoring competitor & hashtag activity.
Finding out the best times to publish content onto your social media channels can bring a significant difference to the amount of views on your posts. Alongside competitor insights, hashtag popularity, and visual analytics, this information can give you the ability to increase your views even more rapidly on specific posts, as compared to traditional posting methods that might publish content at the wrong times, pushing down posts before the majority of users can see them. Wouldn’t it feel better to know exactly when your audience is active on social media? Imagine being able to publish content every time your users are most active (at peak traffic) and grab their attention for a marketing campaign or product sale.
Some of the top reviews we’ve encountered mention Iconosquare as being able to publish social media posts outside of staff hours or during weekends, with the assistance of analytics to continue building followers at the perfect times. Social media analytics on Iconosquare is highly regarded as one of the most useful features when it comes to visualizing performance data, tracking posts & adjusting marketing strategies.
Some of the best features of Iconosquare include:
- Social Media Reporting
- Social Media Analytics
- Comments & Likes Counter
- Real-Time Social Media Post performance
- Hashtag Tracking
- Account Follower Growth measurement
- Daily Lost & Gained followers
- Locations of followers
- Top follower identification
- Competitor performance tracking
- Location based post tracking
- Influential post tracking
- Industry Benchmark
With advanced scheduling & content automation features, Iconosquare helps with social media management by allowing us to easily draft posts and set schedules for any time in the future using a drag-and-drop tool.
Photo and video contests can be run easily as well by selecting 3 hashtags, which automatically collect the videos and images into a beautiful gallery.
We can track up to 30 comments and delete inappropriate comments, mark them as read, or reply to each of them.
How can Iconosquare improve your social media campaigns?
- Easily schedule & automate posts for campaigns with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and report social media performance
- Gather in-depth insights into engagement rates and views of your campaigns with social media analytics
- Monitor your brand and hashtags, respond to users in real-time
- Track multiple competitors in the same niche to understand their performance metrics and improve your campaigns
EmbedSocial: Scheduler for Google My Business Posts (Beta)
At this need of this post, I am only mentioning the ability for our own EmbedSocial platform to schedule posts on Google My Business. We’ve developed this functionality on top of our integration with Google to generate Google Reviews, and some of the users find scheduling posts also a valuable tool for their everyday activity.
This tool is still in Beta and will be available in the EmbedReviews plans.
Over to you
If you want to fix the content chaos and improve your social media presence, we recommend giving it a shot to every social media management tool listed above.
You may never know what tool will bring your digital marketing efforts the biggest value if you don’t try many of them, right?
Please note that we are continually updating this article with new social media management tools, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you want to add another tool to this listing, for example, we can look at tools such as Sendible, SproutSocial, Socialpilot, and similar.
Hope this helps.