Top 5 social media automation tools for efficient and effective marketing workflowsBy Lawrence Dy
Social media marketing continues to command a slice of the average marketing budget pie. In fact, around 70 percent of businesses are moving dollars away from traditional media channels and into options such as social media marketing and advertising. With social’s pie slice increasing in size, agencies and others continue to look for ways to increase ROI while reducing the tedious effort social media management can take.
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Whether you’re managing your own social media pages or selling social media packages to clients, social media automation tools are a must-have for creating seamless processes and keeping you in control of social messaging and conversations are a must. In this article, you’ll learn how these tools automate repetitive tasks such as scheduling and publishing posts, creating and analyzing reports, and replying to comments.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of social media automation tools
- Features to look for from social media automation tools
- Top social media automation tools
- Vendasta’s Social Media tool
- Sprout Social
- How to choose the right social media automation tool
- Frequently asked questions
Benefits of social media automation tools
The goal of these tools is to make social media management easier for individuals, teams, and agencies. Understanding the common benefits of social media automation helps you shop for tools that meet these needs for your organization.
Saves time and effort
A single source of truth about social media campaigns and a platform from which you can launch posts substantially cuts down on how much time and effort you, your teams, or your clients spend managing social.
Imagine you’re managing 10 social media platforms, for example. You could log into the first, make a post, review and respond to comments, and then log out before repeating the entire process nine times.
Or you could automate social media posts, publishing across all your social channels with a single click.
The best social media automation tools reduce efforts across the entire social media management workflow, including monitoring, reporting, and analytics. When your team can quickly see what people are saying, manage comments and responses, and capture results related to various social marketing efforts, they can more effectively launch new campaigns.
In short, teams that automate the tedious aspects of social media management have more minutes and brain cells free to come up with great content or create excellent customer experiences that start on social.
Helps you provide consistent and timely content
Consistency and timing are critical factors for success on social media. Audiences that expect you to post once a day may subconsciously lose confidence in your brand if you ghost them for a week. And the benefits of posting about a flash sale 30 minutes before it ends — or even after it ends — obviously pale in comparison to posting at the beginning of the sale.
Automation reduces friction for social marketing teams, making it easier to ensure high-quality, consistent content. It also lets you rely on data about the best posting times and your own knowledge about business needs and audience habits to proactively schedule posts when they are most likely to connect with your audience in meaningful ways.
Allows for better targeting and engagement with your audience
The role of social media in reputation management, lead generation, and other marketing activities are only effective when you target the right people. Automated tools help you convert marketing personas and other resources into data-driven advertising and content campaigns on social media. Analytics and reporting make it easy to see, often in real-time, how well those campaigns are engaging audiences so you can make tweaks to ensure optimal performance.
Features to look for from social media automation tools
Before you can leverage the benefits of social media automation solutions, you have to find one that provides the right features. The exact features list you want or need depends on your processes and business goals, but here’s a look at some common options:
- Post scheduling: The best social media post automation includes options for scheduling posts in the future. This way, you can come up with dozens or even hundreds of social posts and put publication on autopilot for weeks or months.
- Social listening and monitoring: Social listening tools help you keep up with how people are responding to those scheduled posts so you can reply or take other actions. Understand which posts are performing and which aren’t, gather feedback from commenters, and head off brand reputation issues early by proactively responding to comments.
- Analytics and reporting: When you know which content hits hard with your audience and which posts get lackluster reception, you can tailor future content for a bigger bang. Robust social media reporting tools also help you track link performance and leads, ensuring you understand how your social media efforts support overall marketing strategies.
- Integration with other tools: While the most robust social media automation solutions offer hundreds of features, they’re not designed to manage your entire marketing workflow. Look for options that include AI marketing integration and other integrations to seamlessly connect social media efforts to everything else.
- Content curation and creation: Features that make it easier to create new content can help reduce burnout for your team and support ongoing creativity. Look for options that include AI captions, stock image search, and built-in grammar and spelling checkers to start.
Top social media automation tools
Choosing a social media automation solution can be difficult, as there are dozens of tools on the market. To help you narrow down the search, five of the best social media automation tools are summarized below.
1. Vendasta’s Social Media tool
Whether you’re selling social media management packages or looking for a tool to manage your own portfolio of profiles, Vendasta’s Social Media tool is a great option. You can choose from a wide range when it comes to service levels, including DIY social media management and white-label social media management.
Vendasta’s Social Marketing tool is impossible to cover completely in a short profile, as it has hundreds of features and allows for an incredible number of integrations and customizations. You can start with a free version or opt for Essentials, Professional, Premium, or Custom plans to best meet the needs of your organization. Check out a few of the tool’s capabilities below.
Social media lead generation
One way to generate leads on social media is to show up for your audience when they most need you. Automation tools with high-quality social listening functions let you keep tabs on the conversations surrounding your brand so you can jump in with a timely comment or status update to capture interest or meet audience needs. Vendasta’s Social Media tool makes that level of monitoring possible without stretching your marketing team or requiring tedious profile scrolling.
You can also take advantage of other lead generation tools and opportunities. For example, you can conduct Twitter lead searches right in the tool or use Clickable.bio with Instagram accounts to create shoppable posts that convert leads to customers instantly.
Manage all your comments in one location
A key component of any successful social media tool is the ability to manage all your comments in a single location. No more logging in and out of various profiles to see if comments are awaiting reply. One-stop comment management ensures no one gets overlooked or left hanging.
Pulling comments from all your profiles and pages into a single location also makes it easier to see trends. Take the metaphorical temperature of your overall audience or see how a new product or piece of news is impacting your audience by considering repeating phrases or thoughts in comments across various platforms and profiles.
Multi-location brand management
Managing content for an entire franchise or a small chain of physical locations can become exceedingly tedious without the right automations. Vendasta makes it possible to push posts to multiple Facebook pages at once, ensuring important information hits your entire audience at the right time.
Dynamic content options even let you customize posts for each location, so, for example, Eagles fans in Philly don’t get the “Go Saints!” messaging you intended for New Orleans-area audiences when football season gears up.
Understanding how social media marketing is — or isn’t — driving traffic to your website and other marketing assets is critical to continuous improvement. Vendasta lets you monitor link performance to understand where traffic is originating from. Easily answer questions such as what social platforms generate the best leads or which post topics support more click-through.
Hootsuite is one of the best-known automated social media tools, and it has tens of millions of users. It includes features for automated social media publishing, social activity monitoring and analysis, and social advertising. Hootsuite also has an extensive array of integrations and recently launched OwlyWriterAI, a bot designed to help you write social media captions. A side-by-side view and other dashboard elements lets you track social media conversations with customers across multiple platforms in one location.
Pros of Hootsuite
Hootsuite’s core services are easy to sign up for and integrate, making it a well-known go-to option for individual creators and small businesses. A free option with limited functionality meets simple social media management needs, and you can try any of the paid packages for 30 days for free.
Pricing packages include a customizable Enterprise option that lets you manage 50+ social media accounts with 5+ users. Hootsuite provides robust training materials, including Hootsuite Academy, where you can build social media skills and earn certifications that may add marketability to your services.
Cons of Hootsuite
A number of past and present users think Hootsuite pricing is on the high side and that its social monitoring and listening offerings are lackluster (Trust Radius). The benefits of the Hootsuite dashboard fall off as you add more profiles — it can become cluttered and confusing for businesses managing a number of social platforms and pages.
Figuring out which of Hootsuite’s components is applicable to your team can take time and trial-and-error efforts, and you may find yourself climbing a steep learning curve and wanting to find an alternative before you can maximize return with the tool.
Buffer provides classic social media management tools, including post scheduling, comment reply management, and analytics. Compared to other tools on this list, Buffer is somewhat simple and may work best for smaller businesses or social media teams. The streamlined design of the tool takes a one-page approach to managing everything, and you can also use Chrome extensions to manage some features.
Pros of Buffer
Buffer’s free option lets you manage three social media profiles and schedule a limited number of posts every month. If you have social media needs that exceed that option, the other plans are relatively low cost. A simple user interface makes for a minimal learning curve, and you can probably integrate Buffer into your processes in just a few minutes.
Cons of Buffer
Buffer’s simplicity and low cost mean that it’s not as robust as other options. You may find that you don’t have options to schedule or manage every type of post you want to make or that the reporting and analytics aren’t detailed enough. Buffer also doesn’t come with a lot of built-in content creation tools.
4. Sprout Social
Sprout Social provides a range of marketing and customer relationship management support, including options for managing Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can use this platform to create and schedule posts, monitor and engage with your audience, and analyze social media marketing performance.
Sprout Social offers four plans, including a customizable Enterprise level of service, and you can get started with a free trial.
Pros of Sprout Social
Despite being a comprehensive solution with many features, Sprout Social has a user-friendly interface that cuts down on the learning curve. It also offers the ability to respond to direct messages within the dashboard, reducing the reasons you would have to log in manually to any of your social profiles.
Cons of Sprout Social
Some posting options are limited, and you may not be able to post as many images as you like or easily manage channels like Stories. Many current and former users say they weren’t satisfied with Sprout Social customer support (Gartner).
Agorapulse helps you automate social media activity to better build and engage with your community on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. It has four pricing plans, including a customizable option for larger businesses.
All plans include features such as post scheduling, social media reporting, and the ability to translate messages into other languages.
Pros of Agorapulse
Agorapulse is reasonably priced and may be a good option for SMBs with limited social marketing budgets. It offers extra features such as AI writing and translation to automate more of your workflow, and the interface is easy to learn and navigate.
Cons of Agorapulse
Agorapulse users report that some limitations on how many posts you can schedule at a time or the details you can get regarding paid posts can be frustrating (Gartner). The tool also doesn’t support the level of integrations you can find with Vendasta’s Social Media tool or Hootsuite.
How to choose the right social media automation tool
Taking a logical and data-backed approach to choosing a social media automation solution helps increase your chances of success and satisfaction with any tool. Follow the steps below to support a more positive outcome:
- Consider your budget against a tool’s pricing plans. Start by ruling out tools you know you can’t afford.
- Evaluate features and compatibilities. Make a list of all the things you need and want a social media automation solution to do for you. Use it as a checklist when vetting tools that fit your budget. Eliminate any tools that don’t meet all your must-have needs and consider which tools support all or most of your wants.
- Look for a user-friendly interface and customer support. Consider team member preferences and how your teams normally work. Look for tools with interfaces that support those workflows and are easy to use. Ensure the vendor offers customer support options that work for you.
- Check for integrations with other marketing tools. Ensure you can continue using existing tools by checking for integrations. Ask potential vendors whether they support custom integrations and what type of technical support you can expect.
- Consider Vendasta’s Social Marketing tool for a complete and efficient solution. For agency automation and other social media management needs, consider Vendasta. Start with a free plan that includes access to our fulfillment services and apps in our Marketplace as well as limited team member seats. Or jump right into our most popular Premium plan — book a demo today to learn more.
Frequently asked questions
Can social media automation tools replace human interaction and engagement?
The point of social media is social interaction, which is innately human. So automated social media doesn’t replace the human element, which is a critical element of successful social media marketing campaigns. Instead, you should view automations as tools to reduce tedium in the process and free up human capital for more creative, community-building work.
How much does social media automation cost?
Costs range widely depending on factors such as what tool you use, how many social profiles you manage, and what features you want. Costs for social media marketing automation range from a few dollars per user per month to thousands of dollars a month for enterprise solutions. You can also find freemium plans that let you test the waters with various social media automation solutions.