Social media marketing can be chaotic and frustrating. Managing multiple accounts and scheduling post at the most opportune time is a nightmare when done manually.
Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social are some of the most popular social media management apps around. They allow users to manage all their clients’ and personal content on multiple social platforms in one place with relative ease. But it’s important to take note of their similarities and differences when deciding which is the best fit for you.
First, let me say all three applications are great for managing social media accounts. My observations are not meant to discourage anyone from buying one or the other, but merely to paint an honest picture of what you might be getting. These management programs make scheduling social posts simpler, and will easily shave hours off your work week.
It’s important to note that Hootsuite and Buffer do have free options for more basic needs, whereas Sprout can only be fully accessible after purchase. If you’re managing more than your business’s social media, then you might need to purchase Hootsuite’s “Pro Package”, upgrade to Buffer’s paid service, or simply pay for Sprout Social. All this talk about upgrading and purchasing segues perfectly into the next topic—price.
Hootsuite is the frugal route to social media marketing. It’s “Pro Package” is only $10 a month, and is capable of hosting up to 100 social accounts. If you work for a business with the internal resources to market itself, but are still on a tight budget, Hootsuite is a great option for you.
Buffer, much like Hootsuite, offers a no-cost option, but can only manage one business or personal account. This free version will allow you to add your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and even Pinterest, but no more. If you need to add multiple social accounts from the same platform then you’re out of luck.
Buffer’s pricing options are interesting and extremely competitive. Their “Small Business” package starts at $50 a month and allows the buyer to setup 25 different social accounts with 5 admins able to access the social media management tool.
The “Medium Business” package is double the “Small Business” package in all areas: price, number of social accounts, and admins.
Buffer’s “Large Business” package is $250 a month. It allows you to manage 150 social accounts and give admin access to 25 people.
What can I say? Sprout Social is pricey. They offer three packages: “Deluxe”, “Premium”, and “Team.” Deluxe is $59 per month and allows you to manage 10 social media accounts – a pitifully low number. Premium is $99 and can manage 20 social profiles. And lastly, Team costs a whopping $500 and is capable of managing 30 social profiles.
Though Sprout is substantially more expensive than Hootsuite and Buffer, the reasoning behind this is somewhat justifiable. Sprout offers what the other apps can’t—simplicity.
Sprout is the most simplistic, user-friendly social media management app on the market and offers amazing social analytic reports. The other apps offer reports as well, but not quite like Sprout Social. If your business has some extra marketing dollars to invest, then Sprout Social may be worth looking into.
If you were to take the price out of the equation, I would be inclined to vote for Sprout Social without hesitation. Sprout’s user experience trumps Hootsuite’s and is mildly better than Buffer, and eliminates guesswork. Hootsuite’s interface can be more confusing and convoluted. Buffer’s interface is cleaner, more straightforward than Hootsuite’s, but is not quite on par with Sprout.
Now, if you bring price back as a variable, then I have to lean more towards Hootsuite or Buffer. Hootsuite’s “Pro Package” is fantastic for really small businesses that may not see the importance of social media but still want to be involved and efficient. Buffer’s “Small Business” packages are affordable and more simplistic than Hootsuite, and would be a great fit for a small business that is heavily invested in social media.
With all that being said, I encourage you to test all three out for yourself and discover firsthand which best fits your needs and budget.