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6 top social media management tools

6 top social media management tools Greg Kihlström
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As a social media marketer, you are tasked not only with staying up with the latest trends and networks but also with making sure you are reaching your audiences using the best possible content strategy and methods of engagement. For those of you who are managing multiple social media profiles across different networks and (in many cases) targeting different audiences and demographics, it quickly becomes apparent that a little assistance with organizing your communications goes a long way.


6 top social media management tools


Social media management tools make this kind of organization possible and come in many flavors. This article discusses six tools that help you manage your communication and content delivery across one or more platforms. Their capabilities vary from managing content, to analyzing and reporting on the best times to post, to determining the effectiveness of campaigns.

SocialFlow


Working across Twitter and Facebook, SocialFlow is a tool that has been available since 2009 and provides the capabilities to monitor real-time conversations to schedule and promote posts to audiences based on time of day and other factors. It is a very ROI-focused tool that has three distinct "products," each targeted at a specific audience engagement challenge. It differentiates itself from some of the other tools in this article with its strong focus on paid social media content and strategies.


Sprout Social


This management and engagement platform has been around since 2010 and supports more than 10,000 users, allowing them to post and schedule content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. It works well for multi-person teams that need to collaborate and interact regularly.


Sprout Social boasts customers such as McDonald's, UPS, the 2012 Obama campaign, and more. Despite these big brand names, its pricing positions it as affordable for just about any size business, and its analytics and monitoring tools provide great value.


Buffer


While it is one of the newer offerings on this list, Buffer already has a user base of more than 1 million and growing. It's pretty simple: You fill a virtual queue with all the content that you'd like to share with your followers, and the Buffer app schedules this content to be posted throughout the day. It's great for businesses and people who have limited amounts of time to post or search for content to share and want to spread out their posts over time instead of sending them out all at once.


While it started out only supporting Twitter, Buffer's capabilities have grown to include Facebook, Google Plus, and App.net. This makes it a great, free alternative to more complex tools like HootSuite.

IFTTT


By far the most unconventional tool on this list, IFTTT, which stands for "If This Then That," is a unique and innovative solution to a series of challenges that face just about any marketer. It lets you construct your own automated series of commands (called "recipes") that can be performed as soon as events occur.


For instance, you can have Twitter email you the details of any new followers, automate messages for your fans based on external events or the time of day, automatically change your Twitter profile picture when your Facebook profile photo changes, and more. It works across 84 different channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Gmail, Bitly, Google Glass, LinkedIn, and more.


Spredfast


Focused on the enterprise customer, Spredfast works across many channels including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. It provides management, measurement, and reporting to help social media managers make better decisions about their social media communications and effectiveness by providing graphical reports that can be configured to compare campaigns and other elements.


Spredfast is a very sophisticated tool for measurement and analytics that features some of the best data integration in the industry. To put this in perspective, it has about 250 customers, compared to tens of thousands for Sprout Social or millions for HootSuite.


HootSuite


Since 2008, HootSuite has been one of the top social media management tools for businesses and individuals who communicate across a number of different social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. With over 7 million users as of August of last year, its popularity is unsurpassed.


Beyond managing social media posts, it has the ability to track conversations, measure campaigns (with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights integration), and with both free and paid versions, it offers flexible solutions for a wide range of users.


Conclusion


Whatever your social media management needs are, there is something here for you, from managing a single channel like Twitter, to full-featured management, to a scheduling and reporting platform like HootSuite or an in-depth analytics and measurement tool such as Spredfast. Most of these tools have either free demos or trials that can also help you evaluate and choose the best option for your needs.


Greg Kihlström is VP of digital strategy at Carousel30.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet. Follow Greg Kihlström at @gregkihlstrom and Carousel30 at @Carousel30.



Image via BetaKit.

Greg is a digital strategist and creative director who has worked with top brands on a number of campaigns, including AOL, AARP, Ben & Jerry's, Geico Direct, MTV, Starbucks, The Nature Conservancy, Toyota, TV One and Washington Wizards.

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Comments

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Commenter: Michael Kamleitner

2014, December 16

Congrats for putting together such a helpful list, Greg! Nowadays it's vital to use a SM management tool if you are a media agency or a B2B company. However, it's not easy finding the right tool for your business. I would recommend tools that, apart from providing a calendar for upcoming posts, also have a ‘ticket inbox' which aggregates all community activity and customer messages in a joint inbox. It is a very useful feature, especially when you are dealing with multiple accounts. You can check out Swat.io for this kind of functionality.
Disclaimer: I am the CEO and Product Manager.

Commenter: Michelle Courtright

2014, April 22

I love IFTTT--glad you added it on there! There are plenty of pre-made recipes to adopt and it's been really helpful in ways I didn't even know it could be helpful. Great article! :)