Small businesses need to be on social media in 2018. And with that, small businesses need a solid social media management app they can use to manage everything from Facebook to Yelp.
However, picking a social media management app isn't easy. There are a ton of options on the market, and each has a different price-point, feature-set, and list of supported networks.
If your small business is looking for a new social media management app, you're in the right place. We'll break down the most popular social media management apps by features in this article. We'll start by introducing you to essential social media management features for small businesses, and then introduce you to the apps.
Make sure to check out last month's piece where we broke down the true cost of the most popular social media management apps. We priced out each app for small, medium, and large sized companies and organized the data into easy-to-read tables.
Essential social media management app features for small businesses
Small businesses need more than just scheduling capabilities. Here's a list of popular features that many small businesses need for day-to-day social media operations. Make sure your social media management app offers them.
- Powerful scheduling features. This is a core part of any social media marketing app. If you can't schedule content well, why use a social media management app at all?
- Analytics and reporting. Small businesses need to know if their social media initiatives work, and social media analytics let your team see results. Some key analytics features to look out for include engagement analytics, network and account comparison, and daily reports.
- Multiple accounts for each network. You need to be able to link multiple brands and social media accounts to your social media management app. This comes in handy if you have multiple locations with different social accounts, etc. In an ideal world, your social media management platform will allow for at least 5 accounts, but this isn't the case for all management apps.
- Support for all social networks and review sites. It's important that your social media management app supports all of the social networks where your brand is active. This means more than just Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Others include LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Yelp, and Google My Business. If your app doesn't support these, you may find yourself scrambling to find an alternative when a client joins another social network.
- Social listening. Your social media management app should have a listening feature. Use this to keep a constant search going for your brand's hashtags, keywords, and account names. If someone mentions your brand on social media, you're notified right away and can respond accordingly.
- A social inbox. Your social media app should have a great social media inbox where you can view @replies to your brand. Use this feature to respond to support requests, check feedback, and otherwise interact with your customers.
- Automation features. Make sure your social media management app has built-in automation features. You can use these to automate everyday social media tasks. For example, you may want to create an automation that automatically pulls reports every week on Friday, or one that re-posts your blog posts from last week on Twitter.
The applications in question
Let's introduce the contenders! Here are the six social media management apps we're comparing based on feature set for small businesses:
- Social Report
- Sprout Social
We'll give each application a quick introduction and break down whether each application offers the features listed above in the graph at the end of the article.
Let's dive in!
Social Report — best functionality for small businesses
At Social Report, we make it a point to add new and innovative features to our platform on a regular basis. Offer excellent smart scheduling tools, in-depth analytics and reporting, and a social inbox that brings all of your brand's mentions into one easy-to-digest inbox.
But best of all, we offer support for all social networks and even some web services—including ones integral to small businesses. For example, with Social Report you can manage Yelp, Google My Business, Shopify, and more. See our full list of supported networks for more info.
Sprout Social — good social inbox, high price
Sprout Social is a big name in the social media management world, and for a good reason. The company has long-offered new and innovative features like an all-in-one social inbox, keyword monitoring, and more.
But Sprout Social app isn't perfect. It's the most expensive social media management tool in our price comparison article, and lacks support for smaller social networks and business review platforms. As of the time of publishing this piece, Sprout Social only integrates with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram.
Buffer — up-and-coming but lacks essential business functions
Buffer is one of the original social media scheduling apps. It integrates with most of the popular social networks (but not the more obscure ones or review sites). The application recently added analytics and reporting features this year, so it's officially a full-fledged social media management app.
The application is limited when it comes to features, though. The application only supports the "Big Five" social networks, and completely ignores Yelp, Google My Business, and review websites and web services that small businesses rely on.
Agorapulse — solid analytics, limited accounts
Agorapulse is a basic social media management app with solid posting, collaboration, and analytics tools. However, it doesn't support smaller social networks or review sites, its base plan includes just three social accounts, and it doesn't offer any type of white labeling.
MeetEdgar — basic functionality for the Big Three
MeetEdgar is social media scheduling application for small teams. Currently, the application supports scheduling posts to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It has an interesting, self-scheduling content calendar that sorts posts by assigned category.
Beyond that though, MeetEdgar is extremely limited. It doesn't offer analytics tools, support for business review websites, or other features that are essential for small businesses. The app doesn't have the ability to create team member accounts either, and you can't link more than 25 social media accounts.
HootSuite — lots of features, but lacks review sites
HootSuite is one of the original social media management tools, and one of the best known in the industry. It has a full-suite of scheduling and analytics tools that small businesses can use for all of their clients. HootSuite supports 35 different social networks too, but lacks support for any business review websites.
However, HootSuite is still a tough sell for many small businesses. It lacks the ability to re-schedule old content, has lackluster analytics features, and an gets expensive when you add more users.
Social media management apps for small businesses: concluded!
And there you have it: the top social media management apps for small businesses broken down by features. Make sure to assess your small business's needs, look at how your company will grow, and compare the cost of these applications before settling on one app. This will save your business money and frustration in the long-run, and ensure you have the best experience possible.
Need a new social media management app? Try Social Report today.