Marketing Channels, Social Media Marketing

Which Social Media Scheduling Tools Should I Use? A Breakdown of the Best

social-media-scheduling-tools
Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

Have you ever looked at your Facebook or Instagram and realised a month has passed since you last posted? You’re not alone! Many clients I speak to struggle with consistency due to limited time. One of the easiest ways to gain control is to start using social media scheduling tools.

Getting started with these tools, however, can be overwhelming in itself! In the last few years, new scheduling platforms have cropped up on what feels like an almost weekly basis. Knowing which ones to invest in can be hard. So, in this post, I’ll break down some of the most popular social media scheduling tools, to help you make the right call!

Before we dive in, I just wanted to note – this is not an exhaustive list of the tools available! This is a summary of some of the most popular multi-platform options. If, in future, you’d be keen to see posts focusing on each individual platform e.g. platforms solely for Instagram, let me know!

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Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

Facebook Creator Studio

Pricing: Free to manage as many Facebook pages and Instagram accounts as you like!

Platforms Covered: Facebook and Instagram

Pros:

  1. It’s free! This seems like such an obvious pro, but given the high price points of some other tools, this is a major plus. Finding the budget for social media scheduling tools can be tricky for small (particularly new) businesses. Definitely worth exploring!
  2. It allows for seamless creation between Facebook and Instagram. While, as I explored in this previous post, it’s important to tailor content to each specific platform, this can be a great time saver.
  3. Content will be posted automatically at the time you schedule it for – this is not always the case. On some platforms, you will receive a notification and still have to hit publish manually!
  4. Creator Studio allows you to create and schedule content, view your page and account insights, manage your inboxes and it sends you important notifications from Facebook. This streamlines your entire content creation and platform management process!

Cons:

  1. It only includes Facebook and Instagram. As Facebook owns Instagram, this tool works for both. However, if you’re also looking to manage Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
  2. At the moment, the Instagram scheduling only applies to grid posts and IGTV videos – Stories and Reels, which are arguably the most popular forms of Instagram content, are not included.
  3. Like everything else on Facebook platforms, the Creator Studio layout is frequently updated. This can cause some confusion if you’re not all that tech-savvy!

While this post is focusing on multi-platform tools, it’s worth noting that Twitter also has a free built-in scheduler – Tweetdeck. This platform is really useful for when you’re starting out. Simply login through your Twitter account and get scheduling!

SocialBee

Pricing: Packages priced at $19/month, $39/month and $79/month. 14 day free trial available.

Platforms Covered: Facebook (pages and groups), Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google My Business

Pros:

  1. The sheer number of platforms covered by SocialBee is an instant plus. The content creation tools here make it incredibly easy to share content across multiple platforms, and tailor it to suit.
  2. Create content categories. This is incredibly useful! I’ve talked in the past about the importance of splitting your content into relevant categories, from entertaining content to promotional. SocialBee makes it really easy to track that and ensure that you’re not just firing out sales posts!
  3. SocialBee also has a fantastic “evergreen content” feature, which allows you to re-queue popular content. This enables you to make the most of blog posts, articles or product/service pages, without having to manually recreate them. These posts can be paused, reshared or set to expire after a set number of shares. Genius!
  4. Even better: While you can manually schedule your posts in SocialBee, the default is to create a content schedule for each social media channel and have your content posted according to that. This way, your posts go out at the ideal time for each platform without you having to lift a finger.
  5. If you’re managing a Facebook group as well as a page, SocialBee has your back, too!

Cons:

  1. The interface can be a little intimidating for beginners. Due to the number of features, there are a lot of sections and menus to navigate through.
  2. The mobile app is slightly limited, which can make content creation on the go a little difficult.
  3. While Instagram single image and video posts are automatic, carousel posts send a reminder. There is also no capability for IGTV, Reels or Stories (yet).
  4. Pinterest scheduling is available but via a Hootsuite integration. This isn’t a huge issue but does mean you’ll have to have a Hootsuite account. SocialBee state that a free account is fine!
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Photo by Caleb Dow on Unsplash

ContentCal

Pricing: Monthly packages start at $17/month (billed annually), up to $99/month ($79/month when billed annually). Custom price plans are available for agencies. 14 day free trial available.

Platforms Covered: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn

Pros:

  1. ContentCal is great for collaborating with team mates. Comment on draft posts, give constructive feedback and collaborate on content, all within the platform.
  2. ContentCal allows for integrations with a huge number of other platforms. These include Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox and loads more through Zapier.
  3. The Snippets feature is particularly useful! This allows users to create snippets of regularly used text – whether that’s a disclaimer, a batch of hashtags or a post sign off, and add them seamlessly without having to retype every time!
  4. ContentCal is set up to create longer form content too. Here you can create and schedule newsletters, emails, blog content and press releases! Integrate with MailChimp, Medium and more to publish.

Cons:

  1. Depending on how deep you like to dive into analytics, ContentCal is a little limited. This might mean extra time spent exploring analytics through another platform. If you’re looking for all-in-one social media scheduling tools, this might not be it!
  2. The fact that the lowest package does not allow for monthly billing is off-putting for some small business owners.
  3. To publish multi-image posts on Instagram, you need to work via the mobile app – this can’t be done on the desktop version. This, however, is an issue a lot of these platforms face.

Sked Social

Pricing: $25, $75 and $135 per month packages (with discounts for annual billing). 7 day free trial available.

Platforms Covered: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google My Business

Pros:

  1. Instagram Story auto-posting! That’s right – no draft posts with reminders sent, Sked Social posts your scheduled stories automatically. A massive plus if Instagram is a major part of your social strategy.
  2. Sked Social allows you to add product tags to your scheduled posts. If you have an Instagram shop, this is another huge bonus!
  3. This platform also allows you to schedule Reels! At the moment, this involves a push notification on your phone to hit publish, which is frustrating, but this feature is still a real stand out from other platforms.
  4. Access to thorough analytics for each platform within the software itself.

Cons:

  1. The biggest con with Sked is the price point. The $25 a month option is extremely limited, with minimal numbers of accounts and users, and limited access to some of their more popular features. This makes the monthly outgoing pretty steep!
  2. Unlike SocialBee, there is no content category option here, so it doesn’t allow for auto-resharing of evergreen content.
  3. Some users have reported that the uploads can be buggy – which, for such a price, is not particularly reassuring. Other reviews, however, say this isn’t the case!
Hootsuite-versus-Buffer-for-small-businesses
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Hootsuite

Pricing: Monthly packages at £39, £99 and £520. Free 30 day trial available for the two lower tiers, and a demo available for the £520 package.

Platforms Covered: Facebook Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube

Pros:

  1. For anyone using video as a key part of their marketing strategy, Hootsuite allows for YouTube scheduling! Being able to manage and monitor this alongside your other platforms is extremely handy.
  2. Hootsuite is an entire social media management experience. Unlike some other options, which allow you to schedule and not much more, this platform does it all. Create, schedule, monitor, manage messages, view analytics, respond to comments – everything you need!
  3. Via Hootsuite, you can access all of your social media messages in one inbox. This is hugely beneficial if you use multiple social media channels and struggle to keep on top of your DMs!

Cons:

  1. The biggest drawback here is the price. While the £39 a month package works for anyone working alone, you have to upgrade to the £99 a month package to add more than one user. If your small business team members all need access to your social media scheduling tools, this becomes more costly.
  2. Once again, Instagram carousel posts require you to use the Hootsuite app to manually publish when prompted with a notification. Given the price of the packages, this is frustrating.
  3. For beginners, Hootsuite might not be the easiest platform to navigate. With lots of features, it isn’t the most user-friendly platform and has a steeper learning curve than some other options on this list.
  4. Also, you will have to create and schedule each post for each social media platform manually if you want it to go out at the best time for each channel and be able to customise the content. Also, they don’t offer easy resharing of content, so you’ll have to recreate each evergreen post.

Buffer

Pricing: Monthly packages at $0, $15, $65 and $99, with a 14 day free trial for the paid plans.

Platforms Covered: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn

Pros:

  1. Buffer is a user friendly platform, with an interface which is easy to get to grips with. Perfect if you’re starting out!
  2. If you manage a Facebook Group as well as a business page, you’re in luck! Buffer offers scheduling for Groups and Pages on Facebook, and Profiles and Pages on LinkedIn.
  3. Relatively affordable monthly plans, in comparison to some other options! The $15 a month plan allows for 8 channels and 100 posts per channel every month. For many small business owners, however, this would cover what they need.

Cons:

  1. While handy for starting out, Buffer’s free plan is fairly limited. It only allows for 3 accounts and 10 scheduled posts per channel.
  2. For anyone working alone on their social media accounts, Buffer would be fine. But for anyone with a team of people involved in their marketing, Buffer becomes a lot more expensive. Only the $99 a month plan allows for more than 2 users.
  3. As a content scheduling platform, Buffer is solid option. But in order to do more, like gain deeper analytics, or manage inboxes and social media conversations, you need to pay extra! Where other options such as Hootsuite offer more of an all round management experience, Buffer is more basic when it comes to social media scheduling tools.
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Later

Pricing: Monthly packages at $0, $15, $25 and $40 (discounts available for yearly billing).

Platforms Covered: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Pros:

  1. Another Instagram Story scheduler! While this still involves a push notification, it’s a handy and more affordable option if Instagram is a big part of your strategy.
  2. LinkinBio feature – built in to Later is a handy link builder. As Instagram only allows for one link in your account bio, it’s important to find ways to direct your customers to all of your relevant links. This helps you do it in a streamlined, professional looking way.
  3. Later is free for one “social set” – this includes one of each of the listed platforms, perfect for starting out! Particularly if you’re using a platform like TikTok, which isn’t available on many other scheduling platforms!

Cons:

  1. Add-ons of extra “social sets” or additional users are not available on the free plan, and add up quickly on the paid plans. It’s $15 per month for an extra social set and $5 per additional user. Not much for one of each, but if you manage multiple accounts, this adds up!
  2. Later is marketed as “the world’s favourite Instagram marketing platform”. While the other channels are available now in 2021, it is still clear that the major focus here is on Instagram. If that channel is important for you, this might be the right fit! But if LinkedIn, or Twitter, is equally important, this might not be the best option for your business.
  3. Analytics on Later (particularly for non-Instagram platforms) are significantly less in-depth than other platforms. With many of the more advanced features restricted to the more expensive plans, you might find yourself having to use other tools to fully manage your social media.

KEEP READING

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
4 Types of Social Media Content You Should Focus On
Tailoring Social Media Content to your Chosen Platforms
Social Media Timing: An Alternative Guide for Small Businesses
How to Avoid Social Media Overwhelm as a Small Business Owner