Social media has been in upheaval for the last 18 months. Twitter is now X, AI is everywhere, Threads is a thing, and Mastodon may or may not be relevant again. Despite the chaos, social media is still one of the most powerful tools available to modern businesses. You can use it to find new clients, drive traffic to your site, and keep in touch with existing customers so that they stay engaged with your business. But with all the drama, the tools you use to keep on top of things are more important than ever.
With social media even more fractured than it was, if you aren’t careful, you can waste huge amounts of valuable time trying to manage multiple inboxes across five different apps, post the same things on all the different platforms, and keep on top of everything else. It’s next to impossible using regular consumer apps. To do it properly, you need a social media management app.
The best social media management tools allow you to control your full social media presence in a single app. You can automate, analyze, and manage social media accounts, so you can focus on creating the kind of content your audience loves. I put almost 50 social media management apps to the test, and based on my testing this year, here are the six best.
The best social media management tools
Buffer for straightforward social media scheduling
Hootsuite for a fully-featured X experience
SocialPilot for small teams
Loomly for automating any social media service
Iconosquare for visual content
Sendible for an affordable all-in-one social media management app
What makes the best social media management tool?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
The problem with social media management software is that it all has the same limits: the features the various social networks give it access to. This means that not only do most social media scheduling tools offer very similar features, but those features vary between the social networks they support. TikTok, for example, gives a totally different set of analytics data than Facebook, while Instagram is different to post to than YouTube.
And that’s before we even talk about Twitter—rather, X. Until Elon Musk bought it, Twitter had one of the most permissive APIs. A lot of social media management apps relied on it to offer features like competitor monitoring and social media listening. But those kinds of features now cost around $42,000 per month, so they’re only available in some of the most fully-featured enterprise apps or on the most expensive plans.
All this means that when it comes to the best social media manager software, you shouldn’t expect wild standout features related to particular social networks. There’s no social media management platform that can post directly to a personal Instagram profile or reply to comments on someone else’s Facebook Page posts.
Still, there are some key features that the top social media managers have that set them apart. They generally make managing your business’s social media presence easy and efficient. In particular, they offer:
Support for multiple social networks, including Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok at the very least, though support for Mastodon, Threads, BlueSky, and the other Twitter replacements looks like it might be increasingly important in the future. The goal with any of these apps is to manage as many of your social networks as possible in one app.
Powerful scheduling tools, so you could batch your social media posts at the start of the week or month, and then just let them run. (Access to your social media inboxes so you could reply to customers was a bonus, but not required.)
Detailed analytics on how your posts do. The more expensive the app, the more powerful the analytics I required—at least until they hit the limit of what the social media apps offer. For enterprise apps, for example, I required more powerful X features like social monitoring, where you can scan for posts about your business, or even your competitors. More basic apps can’t afford the API access these otherwise require.
Cost-effectiveness. With all social media software limited to offering the same kind of features, high prices need to be justified with additional features, stellar customer support, and team and collaboration tools.
AI also looks like it’s going to have a huge effect on how companies manage social media, but for now, I wasn’t super impressed with many of the apps that made a big deal of it. Most apps that allow you to schedule your posts already employ some kind of AI to find the best times, and the apps that aimed to write social media posts for you were all very similar, and not significantly better than using ChatGPT. If you want an AI-powered social media manager, check out our list of the best currently available. And while many of the apps on this list are adding AI features, they’re all still tools that enable you to post whatever you want to social media—whether you, an AI, or an intern wrote it.
Every tool that made the list has a free trial—and sometimes even a free plan—so don’t be afraid to dive in and try them out. The best social media management app for you will be the one that best fits your needs and price point.
I’ve been covering tech for over a decade and updating this list for the past three years, so I’ve spent dozens of hours exploring social media marketing software. After putting them through their paces, comparing the features and user experience they offer against other similarly priced apps, and generally assessing how good (or bad) they are to use, these six social media planning tools are the ones I think will be the best fit for the majority of businesses.
The best social media management tools at a glance
Straightforward social media scheduling
“Link in bio” service called Start Page
Free plan available; from $6/month per channel
Managing X with all the features you’re used to
Free plan available; from $99/month
Small teams to schedule posts
Robust features at an affordable price
Custom social network allows you to post to any channel via Zapier
Great Instagram integrations
An affordable all-in-one social media management app
Nails the basics
Best social media management tool for straightforward social media scheduling
Buffer (Web, iOS, Android)
Buffer is one of the longest-running social media tools aimed primarily at scheduling posts, although it’s gone through multiple updates, shifts, and iterations to keep up with the times. It now supports Facebook, X, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Mastodon, Pinterest, and Google Business Profile, as well as integrating with Shopify so you can see how your social media posts affect your store. Free users can connect up to three social accounts, including Facebook Pages and groups, though you’re limited to scheduling 10 posts for each channel.
While Buffer’s free plan is good enough for small businesses to line up a week or so’s worth of posts, if you want a more complete social media management solution or to control more than three social media accounts at once, you’ll need to pay $6/month per social channel for the Essentials plan. This gives you access to detailed analytics and engagement features, which let you interact with your audience directly from Buffer—just don’t expect to be able to reply to posts on X anymore. (Also, if you want to bring team members on board, Buffer goes up to $12/month per social channel.)
In addition to the core scheduling, analytics, and audience management features, Buffer also offers its own “link in bio” service called Start Page. This allows you to quickly create and update a small mobile-friendly website with your latest content or even products you want to sell. It’s not a new idea, but it’s handy having it included as part of your social media management app—especially as it allows you to get real-world results from your social media posts.
Like many other social media apps, Buffer has added an AI Assistant. It can generate posts, rephrase your drafts, and otherwise do all the other AI content generating you’d expect. It’s well integrated, though I found it didn’t really take my instructions to shorten things or make things more casual on board. You may find it nice to have, but Buffer has a lot more going for it.
With Zapier, it’s easy to link any other service you use to Buffer. For example, you can automatically add new blog posts to your schedule, either directly from WordPress or through an RSS feed, or add new Instagram photos to Buffer.
Buffer price: Free plan includes 1 user, 3 accounts, and 10 queued posts per profile; from $6/month per social channel for the Essentials plan that offers 2,000 queued posts per profile; from $12/month per social channel for the Team plan that offers unlimited users.
Best social media management tool for managing X (Twitter)
Hootsuite (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome)
A complete social media management platform that includes scheduling messages, inbox monitoring, and managing posts
Best-in-class X integration
If you’re looking for a complete solution to all of your social media management needs, Hootsuite will cover all your bases. It’s an all-in-one social media app: you can use it to schedule messages, create and manage potential posts, monitor your various inboxes, run boosted post advertising campaigns, and pretty much anything else you would want a social media management app to do.
Crucially, Hootsuite is one of the few apps that fully supports X (formerly Twitter). If you’re used to being able to reply to tweets, keep an eye on your mentions, or see what people are posting about your competitors through your social media management app, with Hootsuite, you can still do it.
In addition to X, Hootsuite supports Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest—within the bounds that the given social media companies allow. It’s easily one of the most expensive apps on this list, but it offers the features to back it up.
Analytics are a particular stand out. In addition to offering a full suite of analytics tools that can help you understand how your social media accounts are performing, Hootsuite also pulls in statistics from other businesses in similar industries, so you can see how you stack up to the competition.
Like many social media management apps, Hootsuite is embracing AI. OwlyWriter AI can repurpose your top posts, offer up inspiration, write posts for you, turn your blog posts and other content into posts, or just generate whatever you need it to. It works, and it’s among the more polished AI offerings I tested.
Hootsuite is really aimed at businesses that can convert social engagement into revenue. It’s already the most expensive app on this list—and it can get even pricier if you add any paid apps. Its standout features aren’t so much what it does, but how well it does them. It’s fast and easy to work with, and it’s one of the most widely used social media management apps for good reason.
Hootsuite also integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically create new messages directly from a spreadsheet or RSS feed.
Hootsuite price: From $99/month (billed annually) for the Professional plan that includes 1 user, 10 social profiles, and unlimited scheduling; team plans start at $249/month for three users (billed annually).
Hootsuite and Buffer are both robust platforms that offer some similar features. If you’re trying to decide between the two, check out our social media management app showdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer. Or, for larger companies who don’t mind paying more, Sprout Social is another great social media management app with one key feature Hootsuite doesn’t offer: phone support. Plans start at $249/month.
Best social media management tool for small teams to schedule posts
SocialPilot (Web, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Edge)
Offers team features for a significantly better price than most competitors
Doesn’t skimp on other features, like scheduling, inbox monitoring, and analytics
With many apps in this category, if you want to delegate social media management to someone else in your organization, you’ll have to pay a serious premium for the privilege—Hootsuite, for example, charges $3,000 per year for a team of three and thousands of dollars more if you want to have some kind of post approval workflow. (You could always give other people your Hootsuite login credentials to save money, but that comes with a whole host of security concerns.) With SocialPilot, though, the Small Team plan starts at $50/month and includes two other team members who can manage up to 20 social media accounts. That’s 80% less than Hootsuite—though it does lack some polish and doesn’t support X as well.
Still, although SocialPilot’s user interface is on the simple side of things, it’s entirely functional and supports Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Google Business Profile, and even Tumblr. The sidebar has tabs for managing your posts and accounts, accessing your inboxes or analytics, lining up content from RSS feeds, and configuring your team and client setup. All the features you’d expect of a good social media management app are there, including the almost obligatory AI assistant—though it’s the Team options that are most compelling.
Different team members can be assigned roles, based on what you want them to be able to do. For example, you can set things up so content creators have to submit all posts for approval, or allow managers to edit and schedule but still retain final approval for yourself (again, features Hootsuite charges thousands of dollars for). This allows you to delegate responsibilities to the people you work with, without having to give them free rein.
SocialPilot also integrates with Zapier, so you can automatically add content to your SocialPilot queue whenever something happens in the other apps you use most.
SocialPilot Price: From $30/month for the Professional plan; the Small Team plan with 3 users and 20 accounts starts at $50/month.
Best social media management tool for custom sites
Loomly (Web, iOS, Android)
Loomly is a decent social media tool with one ridiculous, standout feature: you can create a custom social network that allows you to post to almost any service as part of your social media management. It hits all the other bases around scheduling, having a multi-service inbox, and basic analytics, but it’s this one feature that gets it on our list.
With Loomly, you can have multiple scheduling calendars for your different social media needs. And with each calendar, you can add a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Business Profile, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok account—and, of course, a Custom Channel.
The Custom Channel feature works using Zapier as the backend. This means you can use it to post to other services like Reddit, send an email to your boss, or near enough anything else you can imagine. I won’t even pretend I’m clever enough to come up with all the ways this could be used. If you want to take it even further, here are some other things you can do when you connect Loomly to Zapier.
Obviously, there are other ways to automate posting to Reddit or sending emails to your boss. What’s interesting about Loomly is how this can tie into your other social networks. It allows you to post the same content on Twitter, Instagram, and your custom network at the same time without having to manage multiple apps.
Loomly price: From $42/month for the Base plan with 2 users and 10 social accounts.
Best social media management tool for visual social networks
Iconosquare (Web, iOS, Android)
If you really prioritize super visual social networks like Instagram and TikTok, then Iconosquare might be the app for you. While it supports Facebook Pages, X accounts, and LinkedIn Company pages, it definitely puts more focus on visuals than it does text posts.
That’s clear in the kinds of things you can schedule. With an Instagram account, you can schedule single photo posts, carousels of multiple photos, Reels, and Stories—and you can cross-post them all to multiple Instagram accounts at the same time. If you want, you can also schedule the first comment.
TikTok isn’t quite as thoroughly supported, but you can still schedule posts and pull content from a shared media library. Of course, you can also share versions of all these things on Facebook or X, but it feels like a step back in terms of features.
Similarly, Iconosquare has surprisingly good reports, analytics, and even social listening features—but Instagram is by far the most supported. You can track your competitors, monitor specific hashtags, see when you’re tagged, and loads more.
And like with almost every other app, you can use an AI to generate captions. But for now, it’s in beta and more limited than some of the other offerings.
Iconosquare price: From $39/month for the Single plan with 1 user and 3 social profiles.
Best affordable all-in-one social media management tool
Sendible (Web, iOS, Android)
Sendible is one of the best affordable all-in-one social media management apps. It supports Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Google Business Profile, YouTube, WordPress, and X, and for the most part, offers a similar—if stripped down—experience to apps like Hootsuite that cost significantly more.
Take reports. While you won’t get the same deep dives into your competitors, Sendible’s quick reports give you a good overview of how your posts are performing—at least on the social networks it can support. Given the price point, there’s no deep X analytics available, but one nice integration is Google Analytics, so you can see how social media is driving traffic to your site.
Similarly, you can schedule posts to go out at a specific time or get added to a queue to get posted automatically at the next appropriate slot, reply to comments on your Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts, and add posts automatically from RSS feeds. It’s nothing that the other apps don’t do, but it’s well implemented and easy to use.
And really, that’s what makes Sendible stand out: it does the basics really well, at a solid price. For many small businesses just looking to stay on top of social media, that is probably enough.
Sendible Price: From $29/month for the Creator plan with 1 user and 6 social accounts.
Which social media management tool is best for you?
As with most things, there’s no one best way to manage social media—just the most appropriate for your business needs. These apps are all limited by the access the various social media networks offer to third parties, so most social media manager tools are capable of doing pretty similar things in much the same ways. I suggest you check out the free trials for any of the apps that look like they could work for you and go from there.
This piece was originally published in September 2017 by Andrew Kunesh and has also had contributions from Tim Brookes. The most recent update was in November 2023.