For some time now, Hootsuite has led the social media management landscape. It hasn’t dominated the way a company like Google does for search, but they’ve been around a long time—since 2008—and have earned a pretty good reputation since then. If an upstart is going to compete with Hootsuite, they’re going to have to match them in features and beat them on price. And, overall the product should be at least as easy to use.
This is the lens through which I’m viewing Social Pilot, which was founded in 2014. How do they stack up against—not just Hootsuite—but all of the notable players in this space? They’re not exactly newcomers, but they haven’t really made a big splash yet. I say “yet,” because its long list of features make it a legitimate contender in the SMM marketplace. And while you may not have heard of the platform, companies like Amazon, Gartner, Samsung, and Vodafone have.
With solid momentum built up in 2018, Social Pilot has set its sights squarely on their competition—and it’s not a stretch to imagine that Hootsuite is in their crosshairs. Social Pilot matches them on nearly every feature, nails the interface, and their pricing seems purpose-built to be read as a side-by-side comparison—with Social Pilot coming out as the better value on paper. With that in mind, let’s dive in further and a complete view of the offering.
Social Pilot is aimed at a wide audience, with pricing options aimed at everything from small businesses to large enterprises. What’s great is that there are no feature restrictions—nearly anything you can do at the highest level can also be done at the lowest. You just do it on a smaller scale.
- Professional ($30/mo, or $25.50/mo billed annually) — At Social Pilot’s lowest level subscription, you can manage 10 social accounts, 1 user.
- Small Team ($50/mo, $42.50/mo billed annually) — 20 social accounts, 3 users, unlimited clients.
- Agency ($125/mo, $106.25/mo billed annually) — 50 social accounts, 9 users, unlimited clients, white label.
- Studio ($100/mo, $85/mo billed annually) — 30 social accounts, 6 users, unlimited clients.
Of the three features you cannot access with the Professional plan, only one of them is useful at that level: the Social Inbox, which lets you manage all incoming comments and messages from all your Facebook Pages in one place. The other two features—Client Management and White Label PDFs for analytics—are geared towards agencies. For a full list of features with each plan, you can look Social Pilot’s pricing page.
Ease of Use
Earlier in this review I’d mentioned that any company looking to compete with Hootsuite would be wise to focus on that software’s two weak spots: pricing and interface. Looking at the fees above, it’s obvious that Social Pilot had this in mind when they designed their pricing tiers. But what about the user interface?
Well, there’s nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary about it, and that serves them very well. It’s simple, clean and very organised. Personally, I’ve always found the Hootsuite interface to be too much. Sure, it’s dynamic and flexible but it can also very easily become a confused and cluttered mess. It’s very easy to get lost in it, trying to figure out which stream is your Facebook page and which is your Insta; which stream shows your followers and which one shows who you’re following; everything can be turned into a stream which makes it difficult to stay organized. WIth Social Pilot, the layout and navigation is much more traditional—there’s no getting lost.
Even better, on your first login, the platform guides you through the initial setup, showing you where and how to connect your various accounts, and creating an initial posting schedule. The rest of the platform is easy enough to figure out just by clicking through each module on the navigation bar, and there’s always an icon for accessing help on the page you’re working with.
Now we get to the important bit. A good interface is a nice thing to have, but it’s ultimately meaningless if there isn’t good software interface with. Ultimately, the question we’ve got to ask when reviewing platforms like this is: Does it make the social media professional’s life easier? And the answer here is: yes.
The management of accounts is done cleanly and efficiently, as you can organize each account into relevant groups (by channel, by client, by whatever). If you’re posting the same content across multiple channels, it’s easy enough to select them all as part of the process. But it’s even easier if you’ve already grouped them together—just select the group and the post goes where you want it to. Social Pilot makes short work of scheduling, queuing, editing, and sharing all your content, as well. There’s even a content curation feature nestled within the posting module—just search by keywords and when you’ve found something appropriate, you can post, queue, or schedule it right there.
Its one flaw in this department is a big one, though: there’s no direct publishing of content with Instagram. Prior to 2018, this would be par for the course; Instagram did not allow posting from any third party apps. But as of a year ago, they started allowing business accounts to do this, to make it easier for them to work with their social media management platforms. Since then, there are plenty of platform options for businesses to schedule and post directly through Instagrams API. For some reason, Social Pilot didn’t jump on this and get it done. It’s in the works, but as of now, if you create a post on Social Pilot you’ll need to use their own mobile app to finish the job. It’s a three step process that’s more than a little cumbersome, a method that was common 12 months ago but is now essentially obsolete. And it’s not just that direct publishing ability that Social Pilot lacks: there really isn’t any meaningful integration with Instagram, no API integration at all. You can’t get analytics or even view post histories (unless you scheduled them in the platform to begin with).
This is a shame because the rest of the analytics module is great stuff. It works with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, and gives insights into post performance that dive deeper than the standard follower, reach, and engagement metrics. You’ll be able to get a birds eye view of what’s working, and then drill down deeper to see why and how. You can find out who and where your most engaged audience members are, and what hashtags are resonating the most. You’ll learn audience demographics, as well as the times and days they’re most active. If you can’t build a successful social media presence using these analytics, you won’t be able to blame Social Pilot.
This is especially true if you’re using Facebook for the bulk of your social media marketing. While Social Pilot does a lot of different things for a lot of different channels, it does everything for Facebook. One of the platform’s best features is the Social Inbox, which lets you manage and respond to all your FB comments and messages, across all accounts and pages. For agencies handling this part of their clients’ heavy lifting the ease with which they’ll be able to stay on top of all their communication may be worth the monthly cost alone. If they could add this feature to more platforms, so that SM managers never have to leave the Social Pilot platform, that could be a deciding factor for a lot of potential clients.
Perhaps it’s because of their relatively unknown status, but Social Pilot doesn’t have much in the way of third party integrations or apps. This is one area that hurts the platforms chances with bigger companies, who’ll likely have larger technology ecosystems—not just social media related. Apps connecting project management, ecommerce, CRM, and many other pieces of the marketing pie with SMM platforms are plentiful—there are over 150 that work with Hootsuite. This shouldn’t affect Social Pilot’s customers on the small side of things (Professional and Small Teams plans), and these app integrations aren’t necessary to build a successful social media presence, but some larger clients might want to do their research and make sure they can (or will be able to) connect to their other software solutions.
For the time being, though, Social Pilot offers a kind of workaround by supporting integration with Zapier—a third party web service that handles the integration of other web apps. If you connect your Social Pilot account with your Zapier account, you can then connect any of more than 1,000 apps back to Social Pilot, sharing data between them to ease workflows. Of course, this isn’t free, and so is going to cost you another monthly fee, paid to another company. On the plus side, you’re still saving money with Social Pilot over Hootsuite.
Other notable integrations include:
- Project Manager, which does exactly what its name implies.
- URL shortening services like Google, Bitly, Sniply, Rebrandly, and Feedly. Really and truly! You can connect Social Pilot to your account on any or all of these services, make it the default for any or all of your accounts, and long links will automatically be shortened when you create a post.
- Web browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, which allow you to save and schedule any page you might be looking at. It’s also handy for when you’re goofing at work and some catches you—hit that extension button and bam! You’re working.
TL;DR (aka The Conclusion)
Social Pilot has been around since 2014, but they’re still widely perceived as a new player in the SMM market. They’ve used the time since their founding wisely, building a product that’s full featured, collaborative, and incredibly easy to use. If they can make enough noise this year and get people to notice, they’ll likely win over a lot of new customers who are tired of overpaying for competing products.
There are still a few things that need to be addressed/brought up to speed, most notably the platform’s lack of Instagram functionality. While you can link your Instagram accounts to the platform and schedule things through it, all that gets you is the ability to see what you’re doing on Instagram alongside everything else. You won’t actually be able to do anything with Instagram (no direct publishing, no data). That’s something they’ve got in the works, but it’s a problem for marketers and SM managers who are working with Instagram every day.
Still, for smaller businesses, and any business or agency managing prominent Facebook pages, Social Pilot will be a welcome change of scenery. Add to the fact it supports Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, Google+, and LinkedIn, and it all makes for a very impressive platform. For any brand starting to get serious about social media management, or agencies looking to better manage their multiple clients, Social Pilot should be in your shortlist of platforms to check out.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can SocialPilot do?
SocialPilot is a social media management tool. It connects with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pintrest, Google My Business, Tumblr, VK and Xing. It is full-featured and offers services such as analytics, automated publishing, content management, conversion tracking, multi-account management, and post scheduling. It makes quick work of scheduling, queuing, editing and sharing all your content (and it can even help with content curation too).
Is SocialPilot good?
SocialPilot offers a long list of features making it a legitimate contender in the industry. It matches Hootsuite, the market-leading app, on virtually every feature. What is more, it is collaborative and very easy to use. When it comes to value for money, on paper it offers better value than Hootsuite. All things considered, while it is still widely regarded as a new player in the industry, it succeeds in making the life of a social media professional a lot easier.
How does SocialPilot’s pricing work?
SocialPilot has four paid plans: Professional ($30 per month), Small Team ($50 per month), Agency ($100 per month) and Enterprise (custom pricing). If you opt to be billed annually, you qualify for a discounted price. What makes their pricing model nice is that there are no significant feature restrictions. Thus, with one of its cheaper plans you can do virtually everything offered by SocialPilot. Arguably, the only valuable feature that is excluded in its Professional plan is the Social Inbox.
Is SocialPilot easy to use?
Their user interface is simple, clean and very well organised. The layout and navigation are conventional to help ensure that you will at all times know where you are. When you log in the first time, the platform will take you through the initial setup. It will show you how to connect your accounts and create an initial posting schedule. It is simple enough to figure out how the rest of the platform works by clicking through the different modules on the navigation bar.
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of SocialPilot?
One of SocialPilot’s best features is its Social Inbox that lets you manage and respond to all your Facebook comments and messages across all accounts and pages. This is especially useful for agencies. It is also very easy to understand and use thanks to its clear layout and navigation and offers great analytics. One of its major cons is that it does not offer a lot of third-party apps or integrations.