Manually setting up and maintaining a full marketing plan is not just archaic–it’s also not scalable.

Third party developers have been hard at work creating and releasing powerful tools and platform management options that can help automate processes, gather influencer research, and grow your following.

We’ve broken down our favorite social media marketing tools below into four categories:

 

Some of these could be a stand-in for an organic social media marketing manager–and some of them are just basic tools to make your life easier.

Our advice? Choose based on what you need right now, not what you want, and always try to get that free trial before you start.

Social Media Management Platforms

The best way to save yourself some time scheduling and managing social posts is to enlist the help of a platform management tool. With these tools, you’ll get options for publishing when and where you want–and a few other bonuses you might not even know you needed.

Flow

flow-social-media-advertising-platform

Key Function: Lifecycle social advertising (lead management and targeting)

Integrations: LinkedIn, Facebook, Dotmailer, Hubspot, Intercom, Mailchimp, Salesforce Pardot, Klaviyo, Webhooks, Custom CRMs

Cost: Contact Team

Flow is a tool by Driftrock for audience targeting. You can sync it with an existing CRM, and it gathers customer data that helps to retarget your existing customer base. You can also discover new potential customers who have similar characteristics to your current customer base–invaluable for uncovering new potential leads and prospects.

Socialbakers

socialbakers social media management platform

Key Function: Scheduling social posts

Integrations: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, VKontakte

Cost: Professional plan starts at $20 per social account (5-20), 5 users

Socialbakers is a social media analytics platform that integrates with just about every social media app out there. It offers the ability to analyze performance across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube with customizable dashboards and stunning reports. Socialbakers also has “flexible user rights management”  which allows internal and agency colleagues to collaborate.

Agorapulse

agorapulse social media management platform

Key Function: Scheduling social posts

Integrations: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus

Cost: Small plan starts at $49/month (one team member, three social profiles)

Agorapulse is a social media management suite of tools that allows you to manage all of your social media messages in one place. You can use their “inbox” feature to see what items have been taken care of, what items remain, and who is working on them.  It also provides comprehensive reports.

Using Agorapulse you can basically tie your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts all into one if you wish. Agorapulse can also schedule and publish your posts, track social activity, use social listening, and even keep an eye out for developments from your competitors.

Sproutsocial

sproutsocial social media management platform

Key Function: Scheduling social posts + audience retargeting

Integrations: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+

Cost: Premium plan starts at $99/month per user (up to 10 social profiles)

Sproutsocial is a social media management platform that includes a smart inbox, social CRM, advanced scheduling, customizable analytics and reports, and team collaboration tools. It’s a great choice even for small businesses and integrates across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and others. A useful feature is the ability to “listen” to popular terms and hashtags on social networks so you can stay on top of trends.

PostPlanner

postplanner social media marketing

Key Function: Scheduling curated content + industry news

Integrations: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blog (RSS feed)

Cost: $9/month

PostPlanner is a lightweight platform that uses custom algorithms to review past performance on feeds of content from all of the above integrations (including competitor blogs, if you wish). It enables you to re-share popular content or images on your social platforms, including your own.

Buffer

buffer social media management platform

Key Function: Scheduling social posts

Integrations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, blog (RSS feed)

Cost: Ranges from free (for an individual account) to $399 for a team

Buffer is best for driving traffic, increasing fan engagement, and saving time normally spent monitoring social media. Figure out the best times to reach your audience, consistently schedule content, and increase your overall reach. These powerful tools integrate across multiple social networks, and also RSS feeds. They recently added a feature for scheduling video posts–huge for Facebook.

Hootesuite

hootesuite social media management tool

Key Function: Scheduling social posts

Integrations: Too many to list (see them all here)

Cost: Professional account starts at $19/mo (10 social profiles, 1 user)

Hootsuite is a powerful tool that integrates with over 35 popular social networks. In addition to saving time, it gathers data into a single dashboard where you can automatically find the tools to manage several social profiles and schedule the most effective social content (hello, bulk social post uploads). Another impressive feature is a “robust message approval and permissions” capability that can help protect your brand and reputation while increasing other profile protections and guards against hackers and other threats.

CoSchedule

coschedule social media scheduling tool

Key Function: Managing content + scheduling social posts

Integrations: WordPress, Bitly, Google Analytics, Google Drive, Evernote Google Calendar, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook (Profiles, Pages & Groups), LinkedIn (Profiles & Pages), Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ (Pages)

Cost: Ranges from $30/month (Solo Marketing Plan, single calendar) to $1,600/month (Multi-Calendar)

We’ve been using CoSchedule since 2016 to manage our WordPress posts and schedule accompanying social posts to promote our content. The best feature we’ve found is the ability to drag and drop social messages on different days and allow the platform to pick the right times. At higher levels of membership, there are even more capabilities such as “Requeue,” which allows CoSchedule to send out your social posts automatically over time. If you frequently create blog posts or other types of inbound content, this is a good choice.

Influencer Research Tools

Getting an influencer share your content or brand can give your business a huge boost–but historically, it’s not easy to do. The trick is to identify these influencers in your own industry so that you can take the opportunity to reach out and possibly create a relationship, and these platforms make it easier.

TapInfluence

tapinfluence social influencer platform

Key Function: Managing content + influencer outreach

Integrations: Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook

Cost: Contact Team

TapInfluence is an opt-in marketplace of “content creators, influencers, and over eight years of real-life program data” where you can discover the perfect influencer for your business and rapidly build a marketing program for delivery of fresh content. This tool offers great analytics with multi-channel tracking on Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

Traacker

traacker-influencer-marketing-platform

Key Function: Influencer outreach

Integrations: Standalone

Cost: Contact Team

Traackr is another platform for Influencer Relationship Management (IRM). It’s a great system for managing, expanding, and scaling global influencer marketing and comes with team collaboration features and conversation tracking. This all-in-one tool can help to expand your business network based on data, and help you land the best influencer for your brand. It’s also a great place to get information on Influencer marketing; they have tons of solid content.

Buzzsumo

Twitter app for PR and SEO

Key Function: Content ideation, influencer outreach

Integrations: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Buffer, Pocket, Standard API

Cost: Pro plan starts at $79/month

You might think Buzzsumo’s more about identifying trending news and content, website analyses, and content insights than it is about identifying influencers–and you’re half right.

But in case you didn’t know, Buzzsumo also gives you intel on Twitter influencers who can promote your business’s content.  Big brands are using Buzzsumo, including Expedia, Capital One, Yahoo, IBM, TED, Vimeo, and Ogilvy.

It’s great for content marketers that do double duty as social media managers.

Social Sweepstakes/Contest Tools

 

Wishpond

wishpond social media contests

Key Function: Social media contest management

Integrations: 

Cost:

Wishpond includes 10 Facebook contest apps that make it super easy to create engaging competitions of all kinds. Whether its sweepstakes, photo contests, Instagram hashtag contests, coupons, essay contest, or referral promotions, Wishpond has it covered. Wishpond tools also integrate easily with many CRM solutions, email marketing apps, webinar apps, team chat apps, survey apps, and much more.

Shortstack

Shortstack-social-sweepstakes-management-platform-REAL

Key Function: Social media contest management

Integrations: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Cost: Ranges from free plan to Brand plan ($499/mo)

Shortstack is a contest platform for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that collects leads, boosts contest engagement, and drives sales from landing pages, contest, and forms. Shortstack integrates easily for a number of platforms such as YouTube, MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, Google Maps, and more. The ability to set up a customizable workflow (think “if this, then that”) and edit contest landing pages without CSS makes this an invaluable tool for retail marketers. Embed contests directly on your website or share them on social platforms.

Woobox

woobox social media sweepstakes

Key Function: Social media contest management

Integrations: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter

Cost: Starts at $30/month for Solo campaign and goes up to Enterprise (pricing on request)

Woobox is super powerful. Not only can you create sweepstakes, but you can also custom design coupons, instant wins, photos, videos, hashtag contests, and more. The options for campaigns are actually pretty overwhelming, but if you already know what works best for your audience, then you can manage it easily. The team collaboration feature supports goals assigned to each role on a team and includes specific features for Ecommerce.

Social Image Apps & Tools

 

Canva

canva social media image creator

Key Function: Light social-friendly image creation

Integrations: Standalone

Cost: Free (but in-app upsells)

This is another tool we use on a daily basis. Canva isn’t photoshop, but it is one of the best tools to create social-friendly images in social-friendly sizes. You can upload your own images or buy theirs. There are plenty of upsells within the app, but we find the basic unpaid version has enough functionality for us. Once you’ve created your gorgeous work of art, you can link and share with coworkers.

Promo

promo video tool

Key Function: Light social-friendly video creation

Integrations: Standalone

Cost: Basic plan starts at $49/mo (1 video)

Don’t have a huge video budget? Know you need more social-friendly videos out there? Promo is a great place to get started. You can promote a sale or create a product teaser without so much as lifting a camera. All of the high-quality video content is searchable within the platform, and all you have to do is edit the copy and add music (also available within the platform). Videos are mere seconds long, so it’s great for starting out, but the limitations on customization will stifle if you’re looking to expand.

Landscape by Sprout Social

landscape for image resizing

Key Function: Light automatic image resizing for social

Integrations: Standalone

Cost: Free

Sure, there are plenty of posts out there with all of the social image sizes listed. But wouldn’t it be nice to automatically resize images for multiple platforms? Landscape is one of the best-kept secrets we’ve found, and it’s free. You’re welcome.

 

 

As you dive into the features of a new tool, make sure you actually review the reports and to find out what actions you can take to optimize your ads or even your website.

Good old Google Analytics is used mainly web traffic tracking tool, but it’s also a great way to learn more about your site visitors coming from social sites. You may be driving a ton of traffic from social sites, but are they dropping off at an alarmingly high rate? You’ll see exactly where they drop off (in the “Behavior Flow” report) so you can optimize your site and your ads.

Oh, and one last thing–once you choose a tool, make sure you’re actually getting returns that justify what you’re spending every month.

Did we miss any tools? Add your favorites in the comments.

 

The Retailer’s Guide to Social Commerce Channels

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About the AuthorLeanna graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) in 2012 with a BA in Creative Writing and lived in NYC for two years. In 2014, she returned to her home state of California where she enjoys eating too many fish tacos, skipping winter, and writing quality web content for CPC Strategy. Follow her on Twitter @slylikeasmeagol. See all posts by this author here.