Social media has exploded in the past 15 years. Whether it’s making money on YouTube, getting your Instagram grid layout looking a million dollars, or using some of the most exciting new social platforms, there are countless success stories. Social media management tools can help you in every way – and I’m going to show you the very best ones.
But first, what is social and has it really changed the world?
How social media has changed the world
It’s no exaggeration to say that that social media has completely transformed the world we live in.
Social media is unrivalled as a way of communicating directly with an audience. But many brands have also experienced how costly it can be when it goes wrong.
The most destructive post of all time came from Kylie Jenner.
“Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,”Kylie Jenner, February 21, 2018
Those words instantly wiped over $1.3 billion off Snapchat’s share price.
However, despite the pitfalls, many brands have successfully used social media to transform their businesses.
For influencers it has been game-changing. It’s allowed individuals to connect with their followers in more interesting and authentic ways than ever before.
It’s estimated that Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 233 million Instagram followers, makes $40 million off his Instagram every year.
Nike’s famous Colin Kaepernick post was viewed over 47 million times.
In this blog I’ve laid out the very best social media management tools to help you with:
- Monitoring & social listening
- Keyword and hashtag research
- Content creation
Let’s get started.
Table of contents
Why do brands use social media?
The statistics behind social media platforms are truly incredible.
- Facebook has over 2.48 billion monthly active users, from over 198 countries.
- TikTok is one of the fastest growing platforms. It has 800 million monthly active users. These users open the app 8 times per day on average.
- Instagram has over 500 million daily active users.
- Twitter has 48.5 million monthly active users.
- Linkedin hosts over 575 million professional profiles.
- 5 billion YouTube videos are watched every single day. Over 300 hours of new content is uploaded every minute! The most liked YouTube video has over 6.9 BILLION views!
Each of these social platforms is a global giant. Such is the level of sophistication on these platforms that they’ve also provided advertisers with a rich array of tools, targeting and insights to run more effective campaigns.
Social media metrics can target very specific demographics and give advertisers and marketers a measurable return on their investment.
This makes it a lot easier to justify the spend than traditional media, such as print or outdoor advertising.
In the last year it’s estimated that brands spent over $60 BILLION on Facebook alone.
Why do brands use social media management tools?
There are overwhelming positives for brands being active on social media. But it’s not as easy and many would have you believe.
Content is king, and creating great content is very, very difficult.
It’s an incredibly competitive landscape. Only by creating something brilliant can brands stand out from the crowd.
Then there’s the commercial side, which is what every social algorithm is geared to. Back in the early days, it was far easier to build an audience on Instagram, or Facebook because organic reach was still fairly significant.
Nowadays it’s a different world.
Facebook’s organic reach on business pages is now lower than 2%. This means that 98% of your own followers aren’t seeing your content. Organic reach on some of the other biggest platforms is close to zero.
If you’re not paying for your content to be seen, it almost certainly won’t be.
It’s also almost impossible to ‘hack’ the system.
You can’t trick your way to real views, likes or engagements. The risk of getting your account blacklisted or closed down makes this route impossible for every brand.
Many brands still shy away from running compelling social accounts is because each one is so time consuming.
These days, you need to think about:
- Keyword and hashtag research.
- Community management.
- Paid promotion.
- Time spent analysing your insights and adjusting accordingly.
The social media management tools that I talk about in this article will help you save time and grow far quicker than would otherwise be possible.
What are the best social media scheduling tools?
Lately lets you organize all of your social media in one place.
You can use it to schedule posts in bulk, which saves you significant time.
Better still, it’s powered by an AI algorithm to do most of the hard work for you.
This means that you can drop in links from articles or videos and its AI powered algorithm will do the rest. It’ll auto create pre-written posts from your bank of content, which you can then schedule and post when you want.
Buffer is very easy to use and a simple, cost-effective tool to help you schedule your social media posts.
You can upload all of your social channels (of your clients’ social channels) and schedule all of your content just using this one piece of software.
It comes with an excellent mobile app, so it’s equally easy to use on the go. You can differentiate content depending on the platform, and pick the optimum time to post.
With an excellent UX, it’s used widely by both beginners and businesses across the world.
3. Content Cal.
Content Cal is no ordinary social media scheduler. Its excellent visual calendar make it easier than most to plan your content, and it actually has an approval process.
This alone makes it one of the best social media tools out there for agencies, as well as individuals. Having a client approval process does save time going back and forth, but this extra feature also makes them feel more secure and confident in the content as it gets posted.
This is especially useful for clients that are in highly regulated industries, where a mistake in a tweet can legitimately shave $$$ off their share price. Agencies insure against this, so Content Cal makes a lot of sense if you’re trying to get a more robust sign-off process without all the red tape that comes with it.
Post Planner does need some time to adjust to, but its features are up there with the best. It arrives with the ability to recycle content, and easily view your entire calendar and change times.
It’s also excellent for researching content that has previously performed well so you can rely on great insights when you’re posting. Post Planner is best used for Facebook and Twitter, which some would say are very traditional platforms.
This makes it great for agency use.
Later (not to be confused with Lately), is a very useful tool for helping you plan your Instagram feed so it looks organised and professional.
One of its most useful features is the auto publish option. This means that you don’t have to get push notifications in order to actually publish a post. You can now post in your sleep.
For every brand, the optimum posting time is different depending on your audience and the region you’re targeting. Having this capacity can make a huge difference in your engagement numbers over time.
The paid version allows you to do even more, such as replying to the comments on your photos directly on your computer. This will save you an incredible amount of time and allow you to build a strong community by directly engaging with more of those who comment on your content.
Later also has a really solid analytics dashboard, which is easy to analyse and highly visual in the way that it links specific insights to each photo you’ve posted.
It allows you to see the best time to post on Instagram, right down to the hour.
6. Sprout Social.
Sprout Social really excels as a social media planner because of its in-depth analytics. This puts it head and shoulders ahead of some of the other social media management tools when it comes to optimizing what works – and what doesn’t.
These analytics are arranged in a user-friendly interface, so you can spot trends easier. The data is so detailed and accurate that it’ll become something that you can easily build into your client’s scope of work as they’ll be happy to pay extra for something that gives them so many ideas and insights about future content.
Again, Sprout Social is perfect for agencies, especially those with larger clients.
Social media today is all about engagement. And this is where Agorapulse really stands out. You can use it as a scheduler but you’ll be getting full value when you use it for comments and messaging.
Hands down the best tool for community managers, it pulls all your platforms together so you can respond to all comments and messages, without overlooking a platform.
It also requires less training because of its ability to pull different platforms together, so work becomes less ‘fiddly’ and more focused.
What are the best social media monitoring tools?
Social media monitoring tools are important for collecting research on what topics you should be creating content around, as well as what keywords and hashtags you should be using to promote them.
Social media monitoring tools are also invaluable for collecting insights on your competitors, so you can spot what works well in your niche.
Monitoring tools are crucial for listening in on conversations around your product or services, so you can see what people think of certain features. You can also see which areas you may be lacking, and how you can market to your audience better.
With the amount of data and analytics available on almost every social media platform, failing to properly monitor your insights is like stumbling around in the dark.
Here are the best social media monitoring tools out there.
8. Google Alerts.
Starting with the simplest. Google Alerts allows you to create a specific alert about a certain topic.
This is brilliant for monitoring very specific niches. For example, you might choose to create an alert for real estate in London, and it’ll bring up all the topics related to your alert.
Not only will this inspire timely and relevant content, but you can even set up email lists and addresses related to a certain niche, and auto-email your subscribers with these alerts.
Ideal for monitoring Instagram growth and engagement over time, Ninjalitics pulls the data and presents it in a smart, user-friendly interface.
This is perfect for creating an audit for a client (which is why so many agencies use it). It gives you a wide range of stats, including engagement rate, average likes and average comments.
You can see follower growth over time, daily follower growth (useful for larger accounts), and weekly / monthly stats, so you can identify trends and further insights.
It’s particularly helpful for helping you identify best posting times, by showing which were your most successful posts – all helpfully laid out in a simple chart.
It’s pretty clear what this social media monitoring tool is all about: twitter.
Twitter is one of my favourite social platforms, purely because I use it for breaking news. It’s no longer the most trendy, but is it’s arguably the best place for thought leadership.
Twitonomy is great for seeing what your competitors are posting about very quickly. You can instantly see what their engagement was, what kind of likes they got, and then replicate or even better their content.
You can also use it to analyze a profile on Twitter, where you’ll get all kinds of graphs, insights, data points and trends to help you understand where the profile is succeeding and failing.
Keyhole allows you to track specific hashtags, keywords, and accounts. You can also track various news, forum, blogs and websites.
It’s great for you to track your competitors in a simple, immediate way.
It’s social media monitoring tools like keyhole that will help you create timely, on-trend content that you already know can attract high engagement.
What are the best social media keyword research tools?
Keyword and hashtag research tools have changed the face of social media.
They’ve helped content creators dial down into the search habits of audiences, and create content that is even more specifically designed to each niche.
Keyword and hashtag research is an underrated part of social media management. Here are some of the best tools out there for keyword research.
Every minute over 300 hours of footage are uploaded to YouTube. Over 5 billion videos are consumed.
Today’s YouTube influencers earn millions from their ad revenue, affiliate links and brand tie ups.
To grow your presence in this incredibly competitive landscape, TubeBuddy is one of the best tools out there.
It’s a free google chrome extension, which makes it incredibly easy to use.
Its main features are the deep analytics and insights, as well as its checklists.
The checklists make sure that before you post you haven’t missed anything crucial – a reminder of exactly what you need to do, and how to do it.
It also shows you where your videos rank based on the keywords that you use. This is vitally important in gaining a march on the competition. Keyword research on YouTube is far more important than many people think. TubeBuddy makes it easy to master.
Brand 24 is one of the leading tools to analyze and gain insights from social data.
It allows you to create a list of keywords that are relevant to the services you offer. For example, I might want to know which companies are looking for digital consulting services. Or who is tweeting about needing a digital marketing agency.
It would save these keywords in my list.
Brand24 would send me a daily email with all of this data, so I would be able to engage them directly. Essentially it does all the outreach and trawling, so I don’t have to.
This is invaluable for any company offering any services, but also for speakers, authors, gamers, designers, freelancers, job seekers, or anything else that would benefit from a targeted response.
14. Keywords Everywhere.
Keywords Everywhere is a free google plugin extension that helps you with keyword research.
It allows you to search for any specific term within your niche and see the number of monthly searches. This is crucial in understanding which keywords you should target, and also which keywords are too competitive to worry with (unless your domain authority is incredibly high).
It also gives you a list of related keywords, and their cost per click. This gives you an even better idea about which words to build your content around.
In short, Keywords everywhere is one of the best, simplest free tools for helping you to avoid wasted time.
You’ll know that when you’re spending hours creating content that you really are targeting keywords that will drive traffic to your site.
BuzzSumo is a great app for stoping you wasting time, so you can ensure that you’re efforts will be rewarded.
It’s a content tool that shows you the metrics for similar blogs and articles in your space, so you can see what is popular and what is not.
This can help you make smarter decisions about what to write more about.
One of the major mistakes people across all industries make is the tendency to write more about what they love, without stress testing that idea to a wider internet community. BuzzSumo stops you going down those soul-destroying rabbit holes where you have no idea if there’s an audience for your content.
16. Zoho Social.
This is fundamentally a keyword research tool that lets you gain insights into what keywords you should be targeting on social to help your content go viral.
If you’re not using the right keywords in your social titles and text, you’re only going to get a fraction of the engagement that you could otherwise achieve.
It’s underestimated how many people use things like twitter search to find content, rather than just digest what is delivered on their timeline. Zoho Social is your opportunity to optimize this method of gaining more traction on your content.
17. Your own analytics! (bonus tip)
While not a standalone tool, your own analytics are where everything starts and ends.
It’s incredible that over 80% of those with Instagram don’t ever view their analytics, which puts them behind the curve when it comes to optimizing content.
Your analytics allows you to swipe up on a post and discover how people found your post.
This means you can discover whether the time you put into your hashtags is actually working. Ultimately, social media marketing tools are about saving time. One of the best ways to cut out wasted time is by discovering what’s working and what’s not, as quickly as possible.
What are the best social media content creation tools?
Most social media management tools are designed to help you work faster, or smarter.
However, you’ll still spend the majority of your time creating content. With so many platforms to stay active on, and all in such a competitive landscape, content is still the most important aspect of getting your social media just right.
With emerging areas like voice activated technologies, as well as live video & stories, there’s never been a bigger market for creating content.
Here are a few key social media content creation tools that can take you to the next level.
Anchor is a complete solution for creating and marketing a podcast.
This allows you to compete on the next biggest digital trend: voice marketing.
Already Google Home and Amazon Alexa sit in the homes of millions of people. While it’s incredibly hard to get your content seen online, voice marketing is in its infancy by comparison.
The advances in wearable tech also mean that we are listening to more podcasts than ever before.
Anchor makes it simple to get started and immediately distribute to major platforms like iTunes and Spotify.
Quora is a questions and answers social network.
Millions are using Quora to create thought leadership, by responding to questions in the best possible way.
Many of these answers are then repurposed into blog posts in order to rank on google for targeted keywords.
However, far fewer people are using it for its vast potential in creating ideas for videos. Quora can help you see what is topical in your niche. Then, as well as giving written answers, you can repurpose these into engaging videos that will help people understand a subject in more depth.
Canva is a design tool that is invaluable for social media users looking to create polished and professional posts. It saves you having to understand the complexities of Photoshop.
Its drag and drop interface is incredibly user friendly. It also comes with a huge bank of images, fonts and graphics that you can use, even with the free version.
Canva’s variety of pre-made templates mean that you don’t need to worry about your design skills to get your content looking great. It’s a platform used by millions of social media users, from beginners to businesses.
I personally use Canva all the time to create polished infographics for presentations and workshops.
Canva has a free and a paid version. You can access a free trial for the paid version if you wish to try before you buy.
What are the best social media engagement tools?
The size of your following on social is far, far less important than having an engaged community.
The clue is in the name. Social.
The way to get an engaged community and to build brand loyalty is to talk to your fans and followers. This is why there is such a demand for community managers.
It’s why you see influencers with millions of followers still taking the time to respond to thousands of individual comments on their channels. Here are some of the best social media management tools for nailing your engagement.
Flume makes replying to DMs on Instagram incredibly easy.
It lets you respond from your computer, which is far quicker and easier when writing longer copy. You can filter and search for ‘unread only’, and also filter which messages are from your friends.
Flume also enables you to do hashtag research from your desktop computer. This is a game-changer when it comes to doing detailed searches about hashtag volume.
It’s a simple tool, but it makes some of the tricker aspects of Instagram much easier. It also has the potential to save you plenty of time.
Many chat is a chatbot tool that leverages Facebook to help you build an audience. People will go to your site and be able to subscribe through Facebook messenger.
When you have a blog post or article, you can push it out through ManyChat and you’ll get open rates far higher than anything you’ve experiences on other channels.
In fact, ManyChat claims that its open rates are even higher than email – and in come cases as high as 55%.
What are the best social media subscriber tools?
Your subscribers are the heart of your community.
They are highly engaged advocates of your brand who will help you reach out to different people in the future. The difference between getting a loyal subscriber and letting them slip through your fingers can be as simple as a strategically placed button, or a piece of timely content that really speaks to an individual.
Here are the best tools to gain subscribers.
23. Social Blade.
Social Blade is more pouplar in the YouTube community than any other. But it’s also used across Instagram, twitter and other networks.
It’s a tool that will help you expand your audience by showing your subscriber growth over time. It’s designed to help you find patterns, so you can see what people are responding to, and what they aren’t.
It’ll help you decide how much content to create and how active you should be across all channels to optimize your follower growth.
24. Hello Bar
Hello Bar is a simple tool that can be integrated into your website, usually along the top bar. This will allow you to pick up subscribers easily without being intrusive and compromising the user experience.
Hello Bar is available on WordPress and has hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.
More and more small businesses are realising the value of email subscribers in their business, since email remains one of the most valuable marketing tools there is. Hello Bar makes building an audience even simpler.
Subscribers is not another email collection tool as many would think.
Everyone is familiar with the little box that opens on your browser asking if you want to block or allow notifications. Subscribers allows you to collect browser subscribers, so that when you publish content, you can push it out you those who have registered an interest. They will get notified through their browser.
It’s a smart tool because it’s less intrusive than email, and needs less data capture.
What are the best social media automation tools?
Many of the social media management tools that I’ve already mentioned have a high level of automation to them.
For example, the social media scheduling tools are designed to automatically post so you don’t have to do it manually each time.
But despite that overlap, there are a few tools that stand out for the intelligent ways that they can automate your behaviour to save you time.
Zapier is a clever tool for connecting different platforms and automating activity based on an event.
Confused? It’s actually very simple.
For example, you can connect Facebook and Twitter, then you’ll be able to tweet posts from a Facebook page. Better still, you can automate this by setting up specific rules.
There are a huge variety of pre-configured zaps just like this in the tool, and you can also customise your own. There are also a wide array of platforms you can connect up in different ways.
If you want to set up a number of pre-configured actions to scale your growth, without actually having to manually do anything on social, then Zapier is a brilliant solution for you.
Meet Edgar is perfect for scaling up your social media growth and managing multiple accounts on behalf of clients.
It’ll automatically retweet and mention your content over time. This is a very underrated feature because it gets around one of the biggest failing for people on social media…
Most people create content and only post it ONCE.
However, because of the difficulty of social media algorithms, most people, even if they follow you, will not see the content you post. So the logical solution is to repost and retweet your content up to 8 times a year. This means that it is unlikely to get seen by the same person twice, and even if it does, it’ll be months apart so it won’t matter.
This is a great way of reducing your content creation time by x8, which in turn gives you the bandwidth to create better quality content, and lots more of it.
MeetEdgar is very simple, but well worth it for the time it’ll save you.
If your business is built around Instagram, then Kicksta is one of the best social media management tools you can get. It’s designed to save you hours on building an engaged community by doing the hard work for you.
Instagram’s algorithm rewards those who spend the most time on Instagram. Surprise, surprise! But this means manually liking, commenting and following countless other users’ content. Ideally, you want to be focusing on your own.
Kicksta will help you gain real followers and engagement by automating user behaviour. The benefits are that you won’t be tempted to go down the crazy route of buying followers. You’ll be growing your account 24 hours a day. And you’ll be able to highly target those you follow to gain the most engaged community possible.
Hootsuite is another popular social scheduling tool. I’ve put it in the automation section because of the sheer range of features that it offers.
The reason that there are so many social media management tools to choose from, particularly schedulers, is because most people look at social scheduling the wrong way.
The best way to make more if an impact with your social sharing is to share each piece of content multiple times over the course of many months.
Over 90% of social sharers only share a piece of content once. This means that they have to spend all of their time creating it.
Tools like Hootsuite let you plan your content months in advance. You can space out the same tweet and automatically share it once a quarter, by which time nobody will know it’s not unique.
How will nobody know? Well, the average tweet stays on your follower’s timeline for around 4 seconds. So the odds are stacked in your favour.
Hootsuite is widely trusted, easy to use and offers a wide range of features to give you the flexibility you need.
Crowdfire allows you to manage your followers across several platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.
However, where it really excels is in boosting the reach of your content. It can automatically execute cross-platform content posting, and it’ll even suggest the optimum time to post it.
Designed to save you both time and money, Crowdfire’s range of user-friendly features make it one of the most popular automation tools for individuals and businesses alike.
Summing up the best social media management tools 2020
As social media continues to grow exponentially, there’s a danger that it could become overwhelming for both brands and individuals looking to grow.
Already there has been a trend where businesses rigidly stick to two or three platforms as they don’t have the resources to post across them all.
However, as the number of platforms continues to grow, more marginal social platforms (from an advertiser’s perspective) will refine their ad targeting. They will soon rival the biggest platers for paid social campaigns.
Right now, the big four are: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram.
But in 12 months’ time, platforms like Reddit, Twitch and TikTok may well have joined the club.
To keep pace with the competition, content creators will be spreading themselves even more thinly. The additional content will also come with more research, more insights, more analysis and more time scheduling and posting.
This will only be possible with a range of social media management tools, such as the ones I’ve listed above.
If you already use any, please let me know.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this piece and would like to get in touch, please do. If I have missed any key social media management tools that you use and love, let me know!