It can be challenging keeping on top of all of your social media accounts, particularly if you run multiple accounts for marketing purposes. Each network operates slightly differently, and it can be extremely time-consuming going from account to account, making posts, checking messages, and engaging with your followers. There must be a manageable easy to run your entire social network presence, without having to switch between accounts and commit enormous amounts of time.
However, you don't want to miss out on things, either. You don't want to miss a tweet from a customer complaining about your service, or a question asked by a potential customer on your Facebook page. And, you don't want to be opening up your Instagram account at 1 am, just because it is a popular time for a sector of your customer base.
There is a way to streamline the operation of your social accounts. And it doesn't have to cost the Earth either. There are now quite a few social media management tools that help you manage your social accounts in one location. And they generally don’t cost a fortune. Indeed if you have relatively small needs, many of these have free plans and even those that don't, offer free trials allowing to evaluate their worth.
11 Free Social Media Management Tools:
While Loomly doesn’t provide a free plan, it does offer a free 15-day trial, and its cheapest plan is $48 per month (or $36 per month if you pay for a year up-front). That Base plan permits two users and a maximum of ten social accounts.
You can connect all your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts to Loomly. It is a simple process, although, like all social media management software, you have to live within limitations set by the social media networks, e.g., you can post to Facebook business accounts, but not personal profiles.
Loomly asks you to set a workflow that matches the way you run your accounts, whether you are part of a team, or operate your accounts solo.
You can select from three views in Loomly:
- Calendar view - shows all posts spread over a calendar month.
- List view - displays all posts as a list and includes essential information for each
- Post view – allows you to examine individual posts
You can do more than just schedule posts in Loomly, however. It offers an interactions feature where you can manage comments, messages, and track social handle @-mentions.
Analytics are available for each of your social accounts, as well as Loomly's main dashboard containing an overview.
PromoRepublic also doesn’t include a free plan, but it does offer you a free 14-day trial. It’s cheapest plan is also a minimal $9 per month.
The critical point of difference for PromoRepublic is its design focus. Indeed it feels like a merger of Canva with a social media management app. You can design and schedule beautiful posts without leaving the app.
You can use it to schedule and share posts with all the major social networks, including Instagram and Pinterest. PromoRepublic suggests a suitable posting schedule for each of your social networks, but you can easily modify this. You organize your posting schedules across a centralized calendar.
It comes with 100,000 post ideas, and these cover a wide range of topics. Most come pre-designed, with eye-catching graphics. You can easily modify and customize their post ideas to suit your business with PromoRepublic’s full graphics editor.
PromoRepublic is currently trialing brand reputation management. You can request beta access so that you can get live updates about your brand from the web and social media.
As its name suggests, the heart of Buffer is a queue of posts. You continually add posts to this buffer, and Buffer makes the posts at your designated posting times.
Buffer offers a simple Free plan, where you can schedule up to 10 posts across three social accounts. If you have higher needs, plans start at $15 per month.
Post scheduling is part of Buffer Publishing. Buffer offers two other apps (requiring separate subscriptions):
- Buffer Reply – allows you to reply to social conversations and provide support from one shared team inbox
- Buffer Analyze – enables you to measure the performance of your social media content and create reports
You can now also get Buffer All-in-One, which includes all three Buffer products.
If you begin using Buffer Publishing by trialing the free plan, you will notice that the main dashboard has a decidedly spartan look, with only three menu items – Queue, Analytics, and Settings along the top, and the social accounts you have attached on the left-hand side. You can still create (and schedule) up to ten posts. Although you have an Analytics tab, all it does is list the posts you have made over the last week. The free plan does not give you a chance to see Buffer's queue at work, but it does allow you to schedule some posts.
Buffer’s capabilities improve dramatically once you opt for a paid plan, however. They give you a great deal of flexibility when it comes to creating posting schedules (which are essential for the buffer to work). A combination of creating original posts, adding content with the Buffer browser add-on, and uploading posts from appropriate RSS feeds, should provide plenty of material for your social accounts.
Hootsuite’s main app focuses predominantly on social publishing. You need to buy a separate app (Hootsuite Insights) if you want social listening capabilities.
It offers a free plan, with three social accounts, one user, and up to 30 scheduled messages. You gain unlimited scheduling with the $29 per month Professional plan, along with a series of other upgraded features.
The core of Hootsuite is Streams. You set up a tab for each of your social networks on the Streams page, and then you add a series of streams for each social account. You can use these streams as a replacement for the individual social account apps. For example, you might have the following streams from your Twitter account: Scheduled Posts, Mentions, your Twitter Home page feed, list of tweets you make, and a stream for each of your Twitter lists.
You have multiple ways of making posts, including the Publisher screen which features a calendar view.
Although AgoraPulse offers a generous 28-day free trial, it is one of the more professional, and therefore expensive, social media management platforms, once you've concluded your trial. The cheapest plan is the $99 per month Medium plan.
It features an extremely user-friendly interface.
The heart of AgoraPulse is its unified Inbox. It shows your comments, mentions, conversations, and reviews relating to each of your social accounts. The Inbox Assistant allows you to set rules that automatically clean up and organize each account's Inbox.
It includes a Social Listening module that allows firms to keep an ear open for mention of their brand name (or any other term).
AgoraPulse provides a variety of ways to publish content. The default Publishing tab takes you to a calendar, showing the social messages you have scheduled, queued, published, sent to approval, had assigned to you, or failed. AgoraPulse is at its most potent when you use its bulk publish feature. This lets you import a series of posts from a CSV file, a website using RSS feeds, or as a group of pictures to transform into posts.
It provides an extensive array of reports, both globally about your social account usage, and also about specific items of content.
Socialoomph has provided scheduled social posting services since 2008. It offers three paid plans, as well as a free plan. The Free Plan allows a single user to schedule unlimited posts to one social profile (limited to a maximum of three posts per hour). Even the most expensive Business Suite is reasonably priced compared to competing apps.
Socialoomph has a much more spartan interface than its competitors. It does, however, provide numerous benefits, and techies will love it. Most other people will need to make use of the help files as setting up your social accounts is the most challenging part of the entire process.
A central concept in Socialoomph is that of teams. With a free account, you automatically have one team – called “My Account.”
Socialoomph offers a variety of ways to create posts. You can both schedule and queue posts. You can begin posts from scratch; you can bulk import them, you can set up various queues, and collect content from RSS feeds.
You can also use Socialoomph to post to your blog. You can create content for your blog and publish it at set times using Socialoomph’s queue. You can then use another queue to publicize your blog posts across your social channels.
Social Pilot targets a broad audience, with pricing options aimed at everyone from small businesses to large enterprises. They don’t have a free plan, the lowest being the Professional plan costing $30 per month or $25 per month if paid annually. They do, however, provide a free content curation and influencer discovery tool. All you have to do is enter a topic, and they will find relevant content for your niche. They also offer a 14-day free trial on any of their plans.
SocialPilot features a clean and organized interface. The management of accounts is efficient, as you can organize each account into relevant groups. It’s easy to post the same content across multiple channels, customizing things as necessary. Social Pilot makes short work of scheduling, queuing, editing, and sharing all your content.
Meet Edgar offers a single $49 paid plan after a 14-day trial. That plan includes all their features, and you have the option of whether to pay monthly or annually (for a month’s discount).
Meet Edgar is excellent for businesses that want to concentrate on queuing and delivering content. It doesn't offer any social listening capabilities, nor does it have an in-app inbox.
At its core, Meet Edgar helps you schedule different categories of posts across your social networks. Categories are the heart of Meet Edgar. There are default categories; however, you can add to or adapt them to match your posting style.
You create a weekly recurring schedule for each of your social accounts, deciding on the post category for each slot. There are multiple ways you can source content to fill these slots. You can create original posts, or you can import content by connecting an RSS feed for your favorite blog or importing a CSV spreadsheet containing multiple posts.
Once you approve enough content, Edgar creates a queue for the next two weeks. It matches your queue to your schedule and categories. By default, Meet Edgar selects the newest content in each category first; however, you can click the Shuffle button on a category to reorder the posts into a new random order.
Meet Edgar doesn't have social listening, a centralized inbox, or much analytics, but it should do the job for people more interested in intelligently scheduling their posts.
Sprout Social is one of the more professional social media management platforms, and it lacks the free or cheap plan that most of the other platform reviewed have. It does offer a 30-day trial for its free paid plans, however. The paid plans range from $99/user/mo to $249/user/mo, varying by the number of social profiles you can manage, along with additional features on the higher plans.
Sprout Social has a clear and intuitive interface and is logically laid out. It features a Smart Inbox which collects all your social messages. You can combine your social inboxes in any way you wish.
It features a Listening module that works similarly. You track mentions of your brand, your competitors, or selected keywords.
Sprout Social makes connecting your social accounts effortless, even for the usually complicated Instagram. It includes tools enabling all your team to collaborate. You can efficiently allocate tasks to each member.
Every time you enter Sprout Social, it presents you with a Dashboard offering suggestions of what you should do next.
It has one of the most comprehensive and intuitive systems to create posts. You can customize your posts to meet the best practices of the different social networks and set your posts for multiple time frames. You can access content from many sources, which you can import and then reschedule or add to your queue.
Sendible offers a free 30-day no-credit card trial on all plans. Its cheapest plan is the $24 per month Micro plan, which accommodates 12 services for one user, with unlimited pst scheduling and up to 10 queues. Other plans add additional features, along with more services and permitted users.
Indeed “Services” are Sendible’s principal point of difference. They are like channels or profiles that you create within your Sendible account and allow you to select which features you need.
Sendible has operated since 2008, evolving with time. You can use it both for scheduling content to your social platforms and drafting and publishing posts on all the leading blogging platforms. You can create your own content, or use Sendible’s Google Chrome Extension to publish or schedule content you come across while browsing the web. You can also find high-quality content to share with your followers through Sendible’s content tool, RSS feeds, and Google Alerts.
You can also use Sendible to help you centralize your social media management, including such things as Facebook moderation (automatically removing comments and posts from your Facebook Pages that contain words or phrases you specify) and uploading and scheduling Facebook Page cover photos to match your marketing campaigns.
Although Sendible doesn’t have an in-built graphics editor, like PromoRepublic, it does include Canva integration, allowing you to create social media graphics with Canva and schedule them to your profiles and pages.
Later has a highly visual focus. Although it allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, its main emphasis is on Instagram.
Later does offer a free plan, with one social account per platform, one user, 30 Instagram posts, 50 Twitter posts, 30 Facebook posts, and 30 Pinterest posts per month. You can schedule photos and upload unlimited images to their Media Library, see your basic Instagram analytics, can search and repost user-generated content. The four paid plans (starting at just $9 per month) add to these capabilities.
Unlike all the rest of these social media managers that start with a social message and then allow you to add an image, Later requires you to start a post by uploading a picture. You then add suitable text to the image.
The heart of Later is its Media Library. You begin every post by either uploading new media to the library or reusing media you’ve already uploaded. You can add notes and labels to your media items and add a Star to any image you wish to highlight. You can filter your images by Label or Star, by media usage, type of media, and by the time frame in which you uploaded your media. You can store unlimited media, even on the free plan.
The free plan limits you to scheduling static images, but the higher plans add videos, Instagram Stories, and multi-photo posts.