Did you know that there are 3.48 billion social media users? That’s 46% of the population on Earth! It’s no wonder that social media marketing has become such a popular strategy for companies who are looking to reach their customers more directly. If you want to find new followers and grow your brand, social media is certainly the place to go.
There’s just one problem: writing social posts, finding quality content to reblog, hunting down mentions of your brand, and interacting with your users — and doing it every single day — is a pretty tall order when you’ve got a company to run. What’s a busy business meant to do?
If monetizing social media is eating up too much of your time, you may be interested in social media automation tools.
Reasons to Use Social Media Automation Tools
These tools usually don’t come free, or even cheap, so you might be wondering if it’s really worth the investment just to spare yourself a little extra work. If it means saving money, you’re thinking about just sticking it out and doing it all manually. But social media automation tools have a range of benefits that make them more than worth the cost.
It Saves Time and Money
Who has time to spend all day hunting down posts to reblog, responding to every comment, and thinking up unique topics that will fuel new interest? Certainly not the owner of a business.
Social media is a time-consuming task, one your existing employees are likely too busy for. So you’d have to bring on an entirely new person just to deal with that. The labor costs could be immense.
This is especially true if you decide to use multiple platforms, doubling or tripling the workload.
Compared to hiring more employees, social media automation software is relatively cheap. And you won’t have to rely on someone to manually curate articles, track hashtags, and respond to comments — it just does it for you.
Even if you do bring on a social media manager, the first thing they’ll do is direct you towards automation software that takes care of the most laborious tasks, so they can focus more on engagement and fresh ideas.
It Keeps You Posting Consistently
When it comes to content marketing, consistency is key. (We would know; inbound marketing is one of our specialties!) Whether you post several times per day, once per day, or a few times per week, you need to be consistent with your schedule if you want your followers to stick around.
But when you’re doing social media manually, it’s easy to slip up or get overwhelmed in the workload.
Social media automation tools usually offer scheduling features and let you create your own calendar. You can queue up posts days or weeks in advance, then sit back and watch them go out on time.
It Automates the Simplest Processes
…So you can focus on the important things. Customer interaction is one of the key parts of social media marketing, and it’s not usually something you want to automate. When people reach out with questions, discuss your brand, or leave helpful comments, you want your response to be human.
Large-scale scheduling and post curation, on the other hand, doesn’t need that human touch — yet it often takes up the bulk of your time. Automate it, and you can spend your resources on ensuring positive interactions with users, or thinking up new marketing plans to skyrocket engagement.
The Best Social Media Automation Tools
The results are clear: automation tools are cost-efficient, time-efficient, and help you stay active on social media. There are many programs out there that can help cut down on time, and we’ve collected a few of the best-performing ones.
There’s a little mix of everything here: full scheduling platforms, curation tools, and mention trackers that can all help you keep up with your followers.
If you’ve heard of any social automation tool before, it was probably Buffer. The platform is known for growing fast in popularity thanks to its accessibility, and comes with the full suite of tools you’ll need: a scheduling calendar, detailed analytics, and full collaboration options for teams.
The basic free plan lets you use three social accounts and schedule up to 10 posts at once. Once you get into the premium plans, it can get a bit expensive, since publishing, replying, and analytics are separate subscriptions. But you can’t beat Buffer’s useful features.
Hootsuite is an absolutely huge social media marketing platform with an abundance of features. Created to help collect all your social media accounts in one place, it includes scheduling, monitoring, analytics, collaboration, and content curation features. You could get lost in the amount of features packed in this tool.
It’s also likely the most popular automation software out there, with an impressive 16 million users.
Judging by all the features, you might think that Hootsuite is only suitable for huge enterprises — but there are actually a variety of pricing plans to work with businesses of any size. Their scalable, collaboration-focused plans are more suited to large companies, but you’ll find something for you whatever your budget. There’s even a small free plan to get you started!
With a focus on content and curation, Crowdfire is perfect for locating interesting articles to share with your followers. Use tags to discover relevant content or set up an RSS feed monitor, schedule it for publishing, and even create customized feeds for each social media account.
Crowdfire is fairly cheap compared to other social media tools, and includes a free tier with a smaller post restriction. Upgrading gets you access to in-depth scheduling, collaboration, mention tracking, and RSS feeds.
The premise of Sprout Social is simple: optimize your social media management with simplified content scheduling and publishing, by learning to better engage your followers and build a thriving community, and with the expansive analytics you need to measure your success.
Starting at $99/month, Sprout Social is more suited for established businesses small or large. With the base plan, you get five social profiles and access to the powerful scheduling, calendar, monitoring, and CRM tools. Higher plans get you access to more professional features like better analytics and custom workflows.
With Scoop.it, in three simple steps you can dig up high-quality content to share on social networks. Use your original website posts or discover curated third-party articles, then distribute them across all your social networks with the auto-scheduling tool. Find content to “scoop” using the helpful discovery tool, add your own comments to it, then share with your followers.
You can start free with Scoop.it, but you’ll need to purchase the pro plan to get access to the social media features. This will only cover the curation part of social media automation, so make sure to choose a solid scheduling tool to go with it.
How can you know when people on social media mention your brand by name? Positive or negative, you want to know what everyone is saying about you. Tools like Mention let you track your business and even your competitors, sending you email and app alerts when keywords you specify appear on social media.
With advanced features, you can also tag and sort your alerts, automatically detect the sentiment of the message, and analyze past trends. Mention is free to start with one alert and three social accounts, so give it a try.
Agorapulse offers established businesses access to a professional suite of social media tools. With features for every major platform including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Instagram, managing a multi-account social network is no longer a difficult task.
The best thing about the pricing is that even the lowest plan gets all the major features. That means you have full access to the flexible scheduling calendar, engagement inbox, graphic reports, and collaboration features. Nothing important is locked away.
CoSchedule is another big platform of marketing tools, providing a way to organize not just your social media, but your content creation, assets, and general marketing pursuits. Their social organizer is fully featured and brings everything into one dashboard, including the ability to create a calendar and craft reusable templates to save time.
You can get the entire marketing suite for $150/month, or just the social organizer for $100/month. And if that’s out of your budget, the Editorial Calendar starts at just $20/month and comes with a simple social media calendar.
Social media automation can get very expensive. It’s a competitive market, and tracking down low-cost alternatives is difficult. Post Planner is for those who have a small budget, but still want to make a big impact. Cut out the flashy, complicated features you don’t need and get a solid tool with content discovery, a streamlined calendar, and automation all built right in.
Starting at $3/month, 30 scheduled posts a day, and 300 posts total, this is a very generous and affordable option that nets you a solid post planning platform. It’s a great starter tool that will serve your business for a long time.
IFTTT has a variety of functions. While most use it to connect smart devices and apps together, it can also be used as a social media automation tool. You can link all your accounts, one action triggering another. Post Twitter photos automatically to Instagram, change all your profile pictures at once, and more. You can even have it detect hashtags and trigger an event on a different site entirely when they’re used.
It’s a good idea to have a solid mention tracker and monitoring tool in place. That way, you can know the instant someone brings up your brand — or your competitors. Keep an eye on the competition, engage your positive mentions to give them an even better experience, and play damage control on negative mentions to possibly reverse the situation.
Brand24 also comes with hashtag tracking, keeping you up-to-date on the reach and volume of tags you want to target. And it doesn’t just end within the tool; you can use their analysis reports to track how often you’re being mentioned, then export the data as a file or an infographic.
Plans start at $49/month with up to five keywords, five users, and 5k mentions per month. Upgrade and you get better analytics tools, reports, and even your own consultant on the max plan.
Made primarily as an Instagram scheduler, but with support for other social media like Twitter and Pinterest, Later offers a visual drag-and-drop calendar as well as a way to keep all your Instagram photos collected and sorted. It also supports monetizing your profile and adding sales links to photos!
For individuals who only need basic features, Later is free forever. There are also very affordable plans for anyone from tiny teams to large agencies, if you need video scheduling, story support, or user content sharing.
This is a great choice if you need a dedicated solution for Instagram, and their multi-platform features are just a bonus.
Schedule, monitor, collaborate, analyze. Zoho Social brings all the social media features you need into one elegant dashboard. Queue up content and create a reusable posting schedule, keep an eye on mentions and keywords live, bring your colleagues onboard with the appropriate permissions, and get a custom report so you can optimize your social media strategy even more.
Unlike many other platforms, Zoho Social’s cheapest plan supports collaboration right off the bat. Upgrading nets you the bulk scheduler, monitoring features, client login support, and more social accounts.
Looking for a customizable, powerful content feed full of high-quality articles to curate? Feedly starts with a generous free plan, and it comes with curation of blog posts, news publications, Tweets, Youtube channels, and RSS feeds. Even a mention tracker is thrown in for good measure.
A content feed isn’t all this must-have service offers. You can also organize your content, save articles for later, and collaborate with your team to find and share even more great content. And, of course, you can share anything you find directly to social media. A cheap premium upgrade gets you more sources, better search, collaboration features, and extra feeds.
Focus on What Matters
Running a successful, consistently posting social media account is a big time and money investment. Reblogging and curating helpful content, setting up a monthly schedule, and engaging with your users are all important ways of getting more attention, but they also eat up a lot of precious time.
Reduce the load with automation tools, taking out the bulk of the simpler processes so you can focus on building up a relationship with your user base. It will keep your labor costs down and your social media accounts active and thriving.
If you liked this article, you might also want to check out our list of the best Twitter automation tools for a few more suggestions.