Best Social Media Management software of 2020
Finding the best social media management tools
Social media should be a major part of any company’s marketing and brand image strategies, and the best way to do it is with social media management software.
Trying to coordinate your social media activity across several different social media platforms is challenging, but using the right social media management tools, it’s easy to carry out unified, cohesive social media campaigns to increase your sales, improve your brand awareness, or communicate and interact with your customers.
Why use social media management software?
Social media has become the digital podium for brand communication: if companies have an important message they want to get across, it’s nearly always announced first on social media.
The era where putting together a press release was all you needed to do for major corporate news is long over: effective communication between companies and customers happens primarily on social media.
Social media is a particularly important channel of communication precisely because it is public: if a customer is unhappy about your product or your services, they can easily share it with the whole world. Being able to monitor, respond to, and rectify these kinds of challenges is critical for maintaining the public image of your company.
Your company’s social media presence might extend out across many different social media platforms, especially if you are a company that places a lot of stock in building a sense of community among your customers.
Pretty much any social media management software will support the big three social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), but even a moderate-sized company may well have accounts on YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn and more.
Coordinating your social media campaigns across all of these different channels would be a nightmare if you had to run each account separately—you’d need a whole team of social media interns and coordinators to do it. Using a social media management software can enable you to manage all of your social media content from one platform.
Social media management software also helps you integrate your social media campaigns with other arms of your overall marketing strategy. Marketing campaigns are most effective when they combine different marketing channels: email marketing for people on the mailing list for your newsletter, for example, plus social media announcements and buying targeted social media ads.
When you can tightly coordinate the marketing efforts across all three of these channels, you’ll have far more success: a customer who is on your mailing list, for example, might see your newsletter but not open it.
When she sees the concurrent marketing campaign announcements on social media, she’ll be much more likely to go back and take a look at the marketing email. It’s easy to see how this leads to higher open rates, higher click-through rates, and ultimately more sales on your marketing emails.
Social media is also becoming an increasingly important part of overall customer relationship management, or CRM. Whether someone is a prospective buyer who is somewhat interested in your products, or a long-time customer who has made several purchases, managing your company’s relationship with that customer is a huge part of increasing the probability that he or she makes a purchase.
Especially for companies who cater to a younger market, social media is a prime avenue for increasing interest and engaging with your potential sales leads. Social media management software also helps you follow up with customers who aren't happy with some aspect of their experience, which can help mitigate damage to your company’s image.
Social media management software makes it easy to generate and maintain a community around your brand. The need for social media management software is even more acute for companies whose products or services revolve around an identity or a sense of community among their customers.
Prime examples would be sporting, apparel, and outdoors-oriented companies: think Nike, Lululemon, or Patagonia. These kinds of companies, and numerous others in smaller niche markets, lean heavily on a connection between the brand and a certain lifestyle. Marketing and sales for these brands poses some unique challenges, like the need to interact with major “influencers” (YouTubers, highly-followed Instagram accounts, etc.) who can have an outsized influence on your brand’s success.
One of the best features in social media management software for these identity-based companies is the ability to keep up with the most influential members of your brand’s community.
Who uses social media management software?
In the early days of social media, the company’s social media presence usually fell to a handful of people in the marketing division. Today, it’s far more common to have a dedicated social media team that works in close coordination with your marketing, sales, and customer support or technical services teams.
The connection between social media and marketing is obvious: social media marketing was the earliest application of social media for companies, and it’s still very successful. It’s important to distinguish between two related but distinct aspects of social media marketing: First is the marketing that happens on your brand’s social media accounts.
These are social media posts your team creates, that are shown to your followers. The second type of social media marketing is paid social media advertisements, where you can purchase ads to show to social media users who do not necessarily follow your social media accounts.
These two types of social media marketing are related because often, what you are purchasing is the ability to effectively share your social media posts with people who don’t follow your accounts—think of sponsored tweets or paid Instagram ads, which integrate almost seamlessly into the social media feed of users.
While your social media management software will be primarily used by your social media team, you’ll still want to coordinate with your sales team (and at smaller companies, these duties might be done by the same people).
Social media can generate sales leads, such as getting new people to sign up for a newsletter from your company. In this way, your social media campaigns can hand off new sales leads to your sales team.
When working on major company announcements, you’ll inevitably end up working closely with your public relations team.
It can be tricky to adapt traditional press releases or corporate letters for social media (for example, on Twitter, where you don’t have unlimited space, or on Instagram, where the medium is fundamentally a visual one).
Usually, you’ll end up sending a few drafts back and forth with public relations before a post is approved. The ability to use social media management software to draft up and schedule simultaneous social media posts across different platforms is a big help when your company has a major announcement to share.
Some companies have found success expanding their job searches to include social media, especially on corporate social media channels like LinkedIn. Human resources teams and hiring managers have found out the hard way that the best candidates for open positions at your company often aren’t on job boards.
Channels like LinkedIn are an increasingly popular way to seek out top talent in a particular area, whether that’s software engineering, data science, or, ironically, social media marketing. Your hiring team may want you to keep tabs on top talent via social media, which adds to the list of tasks for your social media team.
Make sure the social media management software you choose supports all of your company’s social media platforms. If your company’s social media presence is limited to just the biggest social media channels today, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can go with pretty much any social media management software and be confident that your social media platforms will be supported.
However, if you also run accounts on social media platforms that are less popular at the corporate level, like YouTube, SnapChat, and Pinterest, you should double check to make sure these accounts are supported as well.
Since unifying control of your social media in one place is the biggest advantage of using social media software, you don’t want to throw that away because one of your company’s important social media channels is not supported by the software you choose.
Social media management software allows you to use the same digital content across different social media channels. Often, for a marketing or promotional campaign, your team will put together a set of digital content (photos, video animations, brand logos, etc.) featuring the new product, new service, or the promotional campaign.
A good social media management software package will allow you to import all of this digital content into a media library and use it in different social media contexts: for example, posting a short animated GIF to your company’s Twitter, a 30-second video to Instagram, and the full video to YouTube.
These media libraries are great both for coordinating your current social media campaigns and for re-using content like your brand logo at a later date.
Social media management software can provide detailed analytics. There are a number of ways to examine the impact of a social media post or a social media campaign; you could track likes, shares, comments, click-throughs, or raw impressions.
Each of these has their respective merits, and the value of each might be unique to an individual platform (i.e. your likes on YouTube might be measuring something completely different than your likes on Instagram). Another huge strength of using social media management software versus manually running your social media accounts is the ability to aggregate analytics data across all of your social media platforms.
Pay attention both to what data comes in (likes, shares, impressions, etc.) and how easy it is to get this data out—your marketing teams and business analysts will likely want to access this analytics data to see how successful your social media campaigns are. Look for API (application programming interface) support from your social media management software if you know you’ll want to export analytics data for further inspection.
Social media management software makes it easy to track clicks. Imagine your company is running a sales promotion—you set up a marketing campaign with great content and set up landing pages on your website to point visitors to your sales page.
When you launch the campaign, how do you know whether it was successful? If all you did was paste the link to your landing page directly into your social media posts, it’s difficult to track important metrics like your click-through rate and your conversion rate.
Social media management software can handle click-tracking automatically, giving you detailed information about the percentage of people who saw your post and clicked the link, and can even give you demographic information about who they are—their age, sex, and where they live, for example.
This information will help you pinpoint what marketing and sales tactics are most successful for different segments of your customer base.
Social media management software also makes it easy to manage multiple accounts on the same social media site. An often-overlooked advantage of using social media management software is the ability to coordinate social media activity across several accounts on the same website.
You might have different accounts for different demographics of your customer base, for example, or accounts in different languages, or a separate account specifically for your customer service team.
Coordinating within a social media channel is just as important as coordinating across different channels, and with any good social media management software, it’s just as easy to do both.
Higher-end social media management software can intelligently use your analytics data to predict the most effective times to schedule your posts. Most social media management software suites provide analytics data, but one of the areas where the higher-end tools differentiate themselves is with the insights that you get automatically out of the software.
A good example is optimal scheduling: while social media activity follows certain patterns globally, those patterns might not be reflected in your customers specifically. Using your own analytics data to predict when to schedule your posts is an easy way to increase the impact of your social media content, and because any good social media management software offers post scheduling, it couldn’t be easier to take advantage of. Look for features like this in higher-end social media management tools.
Q: Should you use social media management software for LinkedIn?
A: LinkedIn doesn’t get the same amount of press as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but it’s still an important platform for businesses, especially because almost all of your new hires will have LinkedIn accounts.
Brand awareness and “marketing” on LinkedIn is less about generating sales, and more about attracting top talent. Many companies pay special attention to their LinkedIn profiles because this is the first impression many potential hires will get about the company.
Your LinkedIn content will generally require less frequent updates, but more care given to presenting a strong and attractive brand image, especially if you are a rapidly expanding company that’s in dire need of talented employees, who will always have several different job offers at a time.
Q: Does social media management software help with CRM?
A: Yes, social media is becoming an increasingly important part of customer relationship management, so much so that many CRM software systems are plugged in to social media.
The buzzword of “social CRM” encompasses the idea that your customer relationships extend to the social media domain, and that even a retail brand’s connection to a customer doesn’t end after the purchase.
Social CRM is particularly important for companies who rely heavily on building a sense of community and identity among your customers, which is why social media management software is important not just for your marketing team, but for your sales team as well.
Q: When do you need social media management software?
A: If your company is just starting out, and you only have one or two social media accounts that post a few times a day, social media management software may not seem like a high priority.
However, it’s better to get started with social media management tools earlier rather than later: if you are wondering about whether you need to use social media management software, it’s probably already time to start using it.
Many of the free or low-cost social media management systems hardly feel any different than posting on the social media website itself, and features like post scheduling and basic analytics are super easy to use and incredibly useful.
The value you can get out of even a little bit of social media management tool usage is so good, and there are so many low-cost or free tools available, that even small companies with only one or two social media channels should seriously consider using them.
Q: What is community management in social media management?
A: Community management is the aspect of social media management that involves direct interaction with your customers and your community on social media.
Customer service, customer care, and CRM all fall under this umbrella. While your CEO might be the official head of your company, your community managers on social media are often the public face of the company: they’ll be the ones fielding questions from customers, addressing problems that come up, and responding to problems.
Good community management is perhaps the single most critical piece of an overall social media strategy—all the flashy digital media content and post impression analytics in the world won’t save you if your customers don’t feel like their voice is being heard and respected by your company.
Q: Is social media marketing more important than email marketing?
A: Business press outlets often run articles about the death of email, especially among millennials, but framing digital marketing as a battle between social media and email is missing the point.
Social media is more immediate, offers a better multimedia experience (just try embedding video in email!), and is a great way to connect with younger customers.
However, social media marketing efforts often get stymied by the deluge of other social media posts on your users’ feeds, and they lack permanence. This is where email marketing comes in.
Newsletters, sales alerts, and promotions should be communicated in email as well as on social media, because email offers a more permanent and more reliable way to get in touch with your customers.
Q: How can small businesses use social media management software?
A: Small businesses can capitalize on the ability to use social media management software to create communities around their brands, and because of their small size they’re at a distinct advantage compared to large corporations in this regard.
It’s hard for a customer to feel a connection with a faceless corporation with thousands of employees, but compare that to a small operation where you can use social media to showcase your products in development and feature members of your team.
Small brands often find social media is incredibly useful for competing against large corporations: beloved companies with a strong community of dedicated customers can become wildly successful when customers and influencers sing the praises of their product or their services.
These sorts of organic marketing are much more effective than a generic marketing campaign that a bigger company can run. For small businesses, using social media management tools to provide a personal touch is the name of the game.
Q: Is it difficult to learn to use social media management software?
A: Among the different types of business software tools, social media management software is one of the easiest to learn. The only snag is that using social media management tools effectively is predicated on your knowledge and ability to effectively use the underlying social media platform.
If you don’t have a good understanding of the features of the various social media platforms, many of the features of your social media management software will seem alien or mysterious.
If you are learning to use social media management software and are finding it difficult, you may want to make sure your foundational knowledge of social media marketing best practices is solid first, before you learn all the different facets of your social media software.
A good social media management software system will help you coordinate your company’s message across multiple different social media platforms at the same time.
The ability to plan and coordinate your social media activity from one central system saves time, increases the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, and strengthens the connection between your company and the community of your customers.