With so many social media apps to choose from, many of them with specific, niche features, we set out some pretty firm criteria on what makes a great social media management tool.
Each app had to either support a wide range of different social networks, so you could control your complete online presence in one place, or it had to be a particularly powerful solution for a single social network. Because of the differences among all the social networks, it's mostly an either-or situation. The apps that make it easy to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit simultaneously don't offer the deep analytics that a Twitter-focused app does. The different social sites just don't give developers the same tools across the board. If you're not sure which social media apps to use in the first place, here are some tips on how to choose the best social media platform for your business.
Social media is a time-suck for individuals—and it's the same for small businesses. Running your social media accounts shouldn't be a hands-on job. Scheduling future posts and updates, so you can batch all your social media work into one or two blocks a week, is absolutely essential. And it's one of the key features all these apps have.
There's no point just posting randomly into the void. For good social media marketing, you need to be able to assess how your different updates perform in general, and compared to each other. Every app on this list offers some performance analytics on the updates you post with it, so you can see what works and what doesn't. Some go further and let you analyze your followers and other details from your social media accounts.
Some apps offer social media monitoring and "listening" features so you can automatically analyze what people are saying about your business, keep track of your competitors, and otherwise turn the firehose into meaningful information. These features are more costly for services to offer, so they weren't required for inclusion for the more affordable apps; for more expensive apps, however, they were a must.
Finally, all the apps had to be cost-effective for small businesses. There's no point paying for a load of enterprise- or influencer-focused features that don't help you run your social media better. Price didn't matter for inclusion, so much as value for money.
It's also worth noting that every app has a free trial or even a totally free plan. Don't decide on one based just on our observations; try the two or three that sound like they will suit you best, and go from there.