The Best-Value Social Media Management Software
Welcome to the Best Value series, a Business-Software.com exclusive about the software solutions that give you the most bang for your buck. We created this series in an effort to address one of the most common questions we receive from our Business-Software.com community members, “what software is the best value?” Browse the entire series in the Best Value series section of our blog.
Like Goldilocks on the hunt for the perfect chair, we always want to find a solution that’s “just right”—not too cheap or too expensive, with all of the right features. When shopping for software, companies often have difficulty finding a product that fits both their budget and functionality needs. Last week we uncovered the best value business accounting solutions, and this week we’re here to unearth the industry’s best-value social media management tool.
Social media management software can help companies of all sizes by increasing employee productivity, reducing the number of hours spent carrying out social media strategy and measuring ROI and other useful data. Choose a solution that’s a poor fit, however, and your company’s social media strategy might become a black hole in which you waste time, energy and resources. Thankfully, we’re here to help you find a solution that will fit the bill in terms of both price and functionality.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we define and determine best-value software, take a look at our Best Value Introductory post. Understand the process? Excellent! Let’s look more closely at the social media segment.
Utilize Unique Social Media Strengths and Increase ROI
Social media was once an optional platform for companies who wanted to reach out to customers and influencers without dropping big bucks on traditional marketing campaigns. In many ways, social media levels the playing field, as small companies can carve out an impressive presence despite having fewer resources. These days, nearly every successful business, big or small, must create and maintain a social media presence to stay afloat.
Unlike traditional forms of communication, social media is a relatively low-cost, effective way for companies to interact with their customers and market products. Marketing via social media channels allows customers and fans to personally recommend or endorse your products and services to friends and family members. When used correctly, social media can rev up profits and improve public perception.
On the other hand, one of the biggest challenges of creating a successful social media strategy is the lack of concrete procedures and methodology for measuring campaign success. While it may be nice to have 40,000 Twitter followers, it’s not of much use to you or your company if those followers are unresponsive, fail to participate socially and never purchase your products and services.
There are a variety of methods social media strategists recommend in terms of finding and utilizing data and insight that can be turned into actionable items. Some social media management software allows you to assign dollar amounts to social actions, providing a concrete monetary value that correlates with your campaign’s success or failure. Others suggest measuring and tracking the cost per impression, click or site visit. Regardless of your methods, tracking and measuring social success is the key to increasing ROI.
5 Must-Have Social Media Management Features
- Multi-platform Support. Make sure that your social media management software can schedule and post to a variety of social media platforms from one unified platform. Companies who use 3-4 basic social sites (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+) will have little to no issue finding software that meets this requirement; however, those who actively participate on Instagram, Flickr or Pinterest should spend time finding software that can manage and post to these social media profiles.
- Simple, Unified Interface. To keep your many social media channels straight, make sure your software displays information in a way that’s convenient and uncomplicated. Many solutions either use social “inboxes” or streams to present information such as mentions, wall posts, comments and other social actions in a manageable way.
- Collaboration Tools. Depending on the size of your company and the number of people curating and posting social media content, you may need to look for software that contains collaboration tools. From assigning tasks to internal messaging to employee profiles, choosing software with collaborative features ensures that you’ll never forget to post—or worse, keep multiple employees from posting the same content to your customers.
- Analytics and Insights. Since determining social media marketing ROI is particularly difficult, it’s important to choose software that will produce data that your company can use. While social media management software offers a variety of graphs, reports and insights on campaign performance, if the data doesn’t connect in some way to your company’s goals, then it’s a waste.
- Social Monitoring. Another indicator of success comes from how your company, posts and products are perceived on social platforms, blogs, forums and more. To understand and track your social reputation, use software that provides social monitoring and listening tools. These tools can also suggest when to participate in conversations or suggest important people for you to connect with.
At the end of the day, social media marketing can take on many forms, so it’s as important to choose software that syncs with your company’s strategy and methodology as it is to find software with comprehensive features. Since many social media management solutions offer free trials for businesses, test driving the product is a great way to figure out whether or not the solution is a good fit.
To provide you with the best value products on the market, our team sought out 16 of the top-rated, most popular social media management solutions on the market. Each of these products provided, at the very least, all standard social media management features. Keeping prices in mind, we compared each product’s features, add-ons and integrations, eventually paring the list down to the 3 products that stood out from the competition.
- Hootsuite – With 50 included social media platforms, robust scheduling and the ow.ly url shortener, Hootsuite will provide your company will all the tools needed to deploy social media strategy across multiple platforms.
- MarketMeSuite – With access to unlimited social profiles, RSS feeds and the Inbox for Social tool, MarketMeSuite provides users with more than enough features to achieve social marketing milestones.
- Sprout Social – Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox allows users to view all of their profiles and messages in one unified social stream. Add that to the impressive list of beyond-basic features that include social CRM tools, help desk integration and social monitoring, and Sprout Social provides a comprehensive solution.
Each of our finalist products offer a robust arsenal of features that simplify social media management strategy without breaking the bank. Here’s a chart that summarizes our findings with each category of features ranked as meeting or exceeding expectations. Keep in mind that each of these products are a great option, especially for SMBs or companies that are just launching their social media marketing campaigns.
And the Best-Value Social Media Management Software Is…
The results are in — you’ve chosen Sprout Social as the best value social media management software. While each of these solutions provide all the tools your company would need to carry out effective social media campaigns, Sprout Social goes above and beyond, offering customers the most features for less. Like other social media management software, Sprout Social is deployed as a SaaS solution, meaning you can get started within minutes. Mobile applications let you manage social media on the go.
Aside from the basic features, Sprout Social provides users with robust social CRM tools and new methods of measuring social engagement. You can schedule posts to a number of social platforms, view customized reports and collaborate with your coworkers in real time. For $39/month per user you have access to reporting tools, complimentary training and customer support. Upgrade to Deluxe at $59/month per user to get full Helpdesk and Google Analytics integration, as well as complete publishing and engagement tools.
Want more help finding the perfect social media management solution? Check out our Top 10 Social Media Management report where we compare the pricing, deployment models and key features of the top social media management products. For more specific social media needs (ie. social marketing or enterprise social management) check out our full list of social reports on the Research Reports page.