Start-ups and nonprofits with limited budgets often ask me what the best free system is for social media management. The unfortunate truth is that in the long run there is really no way around paying for a more robust system. However, in the short term there are a few decent free options that can help you get started. I have listed the major players below and the pros and cons of the free version of each service.
- Easy to schedule tweets for future posting
- AutoSchedule posts at times with best response rates
- Produces sleek reports on ow.ly link clicks
- Has lots of free applications for things like Instagram, YouTube, and MailChimp
- Multiple feeds display tweets, mentions, and your tweets in a easy to see/use window
- Facebook Insights and Google Analytics integration is not available in free version
- Customized reports and reports with multiple datasets are not available in free version
- Limited Twitter analytics available beyond ow.ly click info
- Analytics are very delayed and seem to only update a couple of times a day
- TweetDeck is owned by Twitter which leads to excellent customer service and tight integration
- Great for multimedia, easy to use function to Tweet pictures
- Link tracking via t.co or bit.ly
- Easy to add columns to track interactions, trends, mentions, etc.
- Largely limited to Twitter and facebook management
- Little to no analytics available- No ability to upgrade to a more robust paid enterprise service
- No team/multiple user features
- Easy to schedule Tweets
- Good statistics for link tracking- @replies digest email keeps you up to date on developments
- Best general Twitter statistics of any platform (followers, following, number of tweets)
- Facebook and LinkedIn features are not available in free version
- The homepage is a bit cluttered and confusing with too many options
- No options for YouTube, Instagram, or similar networks
- No option to see multiple feeds at once (i.e. tweets, your posts, followers – all side by side)
- The only free version is a 30 day free trial and the small business plan starts at 40 dollars a month, which is about 30 dollars more than Hootsuite for example.
While each platform has its pros and cons, I believe HootSuite provides the overall best performance. It’s free version works with a variety of social media platforms and is easy to use and navigate. It’s major limitation is a lack of analytics integration, but having to visit different pages for facebook Insights or Google Analytics isn’t the end of the world if you’re on a budget. TweetDeck has a very similar feel to Hootsuite in terms of layout, but it doesn’t compare when it comes to adding YouTube, Instagram, or similar platforms. TweetDeck is also more limited in its analytics than HootSuite. Social Oomph is excellent for analytics, but to use facebook or LinkedIn requires upgrading to a paid version. It also has a somewhat jumbled and confusing layout. Sprout Social is an excellent platform, but its free version is essentially non-existent and the pricing of its paid version is considerably more expensive than its competitors.
HootSuite can’t do everything and the free version certainly has its limitations, but if you don’t have any money in your social media budget it is likely the way to go. Upgrading to the paid version is only $9.99, which makes it very easy to scale your company’s social media presence.
Contact Anant Corporation today to speak with a social media strategist about your company.