Which social media manager is for you?

Do you have multiple social media channels that you manage to market your blog or business?  We spent the last month doing some intense testing of five social media managers: Buffer, CoSchedule, eClincher, Hootsuite, and Meet Edgar.  Today, we are bringing you what we discovered.

Disclaimer: We either paid for or used the free trials of paid versions of each of these five platforms in order to give you the best idea possible of the advantages and disadvantages of each.  We summarized our findings in a comparison chart, however that is a very narrow picture.  In the chart you will see the pricing plans laid out for solo marketers and smaller business, all the social networks offered for any plans, and the top 3 pros and cons of each based on a subjective decision that we made for a generalized audience.

Buffer

Buffer has free and paid plans with support for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.  There is also a very easy-to-use smartphone app with a great user interface.

From left to right: the account creation; manage your profiles; the graph displaying our Twitter accounts optimal scheduling times; and scheduling a Pinterest post.

From left to right: the account creation; manage your profiles; the graph displaying our Twitter accounts optimal scheduling times; and scheduling a Pinterest post.

Noteworthy Features

  • Smartphone app
  • Optimal or manual scheduling
  • Respondly acquisition, a tool for customer service and brand monitoring
  • Post calendar in multiple views
  • Analytics of content, click-tracking
  • Buffer for Video

Pros

  • One of two options with a free plan, albeit quite limited.
  • Very easy to use.
  • The option for manual or "optimal" scheduling, which find the best times to share content on your own social media by looking at your content's performance
  • Calendar view for those who like different ways to visualize what is scheduled
  • 7 Day free trial for Pinterest on the free plan.

Cons

  • Can only view calendars and content by profile: eg, all Pinterest on one calendar and all Facebook on another.
  • Limit on the amount of posts you can schedule.
  • In order to have posts repeat, you have to do a bit of manual tweaking.

The App

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Includes the following features:
    • Add new posts
    • View your queue
    • Collaborate with team members, manage permissions (only for Buffer for Business users)
    • View feeds from your favorite websites to follow
    • Analytics
    • Create and edit schedules
    • Very easy to use

The Grade: B

Buffer is easy-to-use, definitely offers a lot for it's price points, and would be excellent for a beginner or intermediate level blogger or small business that doesn't need fancy schmancy features.  Having a smartphone app definitely makes it a lot easier for businesses to manage their content on-the-go.

CoSchedule

CoSchedule has paid plans with support for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.  The main attraction is most likely their integration with WordPress and featuring a very beautiful, easy-to-use editorial calendar.

From left to right: account creation and managing profiles; the drag-and-drop editorial calendar displaying scheduled WordPress blog posts and social media posts; the various possible integrations, eg connecting your Evernote account; scheduling a Tweet.

From left to right: account creation and managing profiles; the drag-and-drop editorial calendar displaying scheduled WordPress blog posts and social media posts; the various possible integrations, eg connecting your Evernote account; scheduling a Tweet.

Noteworthy Features

  • Editorial calendar with drag and drop scheduling
  • Differentiation public versus private profiles
  • Ability to assign different team member roles that have different levels of permissions
  • “My Activity” Dashboard with your feed, top posts, tasks
  • Tracking tags for your social media posts

Pros

  • 14 day free trial
  • Integrates well with any CMS platform (WP, Squarespace, etc)
  • Works with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+ (using Buffer)
  • Editorial calendar with drag and drop scheduling
  • Works wonderfully as a plugin within WordPress
  • Beautiful interface
  • Editorial calendar in which you include events — which is nice for multiple team members and to aid in organization.  Only helpful with WordPress integration in terms of the blog posts.
  • Includes tasks and notes
  • Integration with Google Analytics, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Evernote, Bitly
  • Referral program plus ways to save
  • Great walkthrough tutorial for how to use
  • Great customization of accounts, calendar, and settings

Cons

  • No Pinterest or Instagram support
  • You pay per calendar

The Grade: C

CoSchedule is easy to use and quite beautiful and it even has a lot of potential.  Your editorial calendar can be this beautiful all-in-one blog tool with blog posts, tasks, events, and social media content-- but you can get all that for free elsewhere (Google Calendar). For the price point, there are cheaper competitors that offer more social media network support, the analytics, and even integration with other services.  The only thing unique about CoSchedule is the editorial calendar, the integration with Evernote and Google Docs, and the referral program.

eClincher

eClincher is rising up as a social media all-in-one where it boasts scheduling, content curation, analytics, monitoring, and even an inbox (an aspect that sets it apart from the rest).

From left to right: the home page, including my Instagram feed both of my followers and my own profile; the different profiles you can connect; scheduling a Facebook post; scheduling a Pinterest post to two boards.

From left to right: the home page, including my Instagram feed both of my followers and my own profile; the different profiles you can connect; scheduling a Facebook post; scheduling a Pinterest post to two boards.

Noteworthy Features

  • Mobile app coming soon
  • Unlimited posts and scheduling regardless of account
  • There is an inbox that will automatically pull all the @mentions, retweets, new followers, and direct messages from your synced accounts to this page for you to do with them as you please, including responding to them

Pros

  • 14 day free trial
  • Works with many different channels: Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram
  • Includes an Instagram feed
  • Shows you your own feed from your connected accounts
  • The inbox feature
  • Analytics dashboard, including connecting Google Analytics
  • Very user-friendly
  • Photo library

Cons

  • No categorization of content
  • Not one of the more attractive interfaces
  • The inbox does not have a bulk setting, eg “mark all as completed"
  • Not a clear, dedicated location to view all your post drafts and scheduled posts (eg, here is your calendar, or here is your post queue)

The Grade: B

Though eClincher has a lot of great tools to offer, particularly for users of all levels, it has a little bit of a ways to go before being the best.  Personally, as a long time blogger and small business owner from even before Skill Space, we think some of it's cons need to turn to features in order to be a better fit for bloggers and small businesses owners.  Plus, not having a bulk setting for the inbox can be pretty annoying when you have to manually go through each new follower notice and retweet and click "mark as completed."

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an oldie but a goodie that offers countless amount of options for curating content, managing your different channels, and optimizing your time.

From left to right: adding a social profile; Hootsuite Campaigns where they can run and manage a sweepstakes, contest, or gallery for you; the window browser showing the dashboard with two tabs and streams; examples of streams you can add.

From left to right: adding a social profile; Hootsuite Campaigns where they can run and manage a sweepstakes, contest, or gallery for you; the window browser showing the dashboard with two tabs and streams; examples of streams you can add.

Noteworthy Features

  • Create “streams” on your dashboard to have access to different feeds, including your favorites to follow on your social media, your queue
  • Multiple tabs on dashboard
  • Analytics for each social media platform, plus Google Analytics and Ow.ly Summary
  • Build custom analytics reports
  • Publisher allows you to have drafts, view what is scheduled, what requires approvals. Filter by profile or view all
  • Hootsuite Campaigns (for extra money): create sweepstakes, galleries, and contests and have Hootsuite run them
  • Manage your contacts (who follows you and who you are following)
  • Add apps (think plugins) for extra features, like YouTube support and various ways to enhance market research, lead generation, and more real-time marketing.

Pros

  • View Calendar by list, day, week, month
  • The streams allow you to essentially multitask in one tab or more tabs
  • Very easy of use
  • Dozens of options for creating essentially a social media hub in your browser window
  • Advanced posting: Targeting options by country and privacy options
  • Smartphone app!

Cons

  • The interface is certainly not as attractive as others, but it gets the job done

The App

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Includes the following features:
    • Add new posts
    • The dashboard mimics the web browser version's dashboard including viewing your tabs and streams
    • Search Twitter (trending, nearby, recent, or users)
    • Analytics
    • Very easy to use

The Grade: A

For it's price point, the amount of social media channels it supports, and the extra fluff that you can add (the App library, Hootsuite Campaigns, the smartphone app), it's easy to grade this tool an A over the others.  Hootsuite is trying to become an all-in-one social media hub and let's you multitask like a boss.  Plus, it's evident that they are continuing to bring it's users more features as they develop them.  We was originally turned off by the unattractive interface (the design and aesthetics), but when comparing it to the more attractive ones that didn't have as much bang for the buck, we're 100% sold on Hootsuite for now.

Meet Edgar

Edgar is trying to change the face of social media management.  They offer scheduled posting, content categorization, and post recycling all in a beautiful little package.

Top left: setting up your profiles; bottom left: the library or queue with the different categories and you can also filter by social network; right: a partial shot of the weekly schedule.

Top left: setting up your profiles; bottom left: the library or queue with the different categories and you can also filter by social network; right: a partial shot of the weekly schedule.

Noteworthy Features

  • Automatic recycling of content
  • Categories
    • You can schedule individual categories or random content
  • Statistics on your published content

Pros

  • Simple, attractive interface
  • Easy of use
  • Brainless: Update your content and Edgar will just go through the category content in the queue and then start back over again
  • Statistics break the published content down by account it was posted on, the category the post fell under, and how many likes, comments, and shares were received on the post.  It also tells you exactly when the post was sent out.

Cons

  • $49/month for starter (10 accounts) ; $99/month for premium (25 accounts)
  • No options for determining the life of a post (eg, if you only want to run content for one week)
  • No manual reordering of content in a category
  • Does not have Google+ or Pinterest integration
  • Cannot export library
  • Subcategories
  • Advanced scheduling: every other week, once a month, etc
  • Does not auto-predict and auto-schedule itself based on what’s best for your audience, you have to do that yourself
  • No trials, but a 30-day money back guarantee

The Grade: D

Maybe it's because it's more expensive so we're a little bit pickier, but for $49/month we're hoping for a little bit more than what it does: for instance, what about Pinterest and Instagram support?  What about advanced scheduling?  Subcategories?  

Recycling content is a big advantage for busy business owners, but it comes with a downside in terms of Google ranking and SEO.  If you spend an hour a week on social media updates, content creation, and analyses, then you can just do your own recycling on one of the cheaper platforms in our opinion and save yourself that money to go elsewhere in your blog or business.

If more features were added, then we would be more than happy to try Edgar again, but not while there are A and B contenders out there giving us way more bank for our buck.

Summary

If you are a heavy Pinterest user, definitely look into paying for the tools that have Pinterest support.  This also goes for vloggers that use YouTube a lot.  Finding a social media manager that works with what YOU do is immeasurable to quantify.  That is another one of the reasons we graded programs a certain way.  Bloggers and small businesses need to take control over whatever platform that works for them and if a program or tool simply didn't offer the features that would best apply for the majority of bloggers and small businesses, we deducted points.  Simple as that.

Do you use one of the programs?  What do you like or dislike about them?

Did we miss a program on the list?  We'd love to hear all about it and try it for ourselves!

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