7 inexpensive social media management tools for brands

You don’t need to spend a fortune to track social media for your company or client. These services offer plenty of options without the enormous price tag.


A while back, I wrote about the best social media management tools for small business owners. I researched and reviewed a handful of the least expensive, most versatile options, but the comments included some lesser-known alternatives that seemed worth investigating.

I’ve taken some time to check them out, using the same parameters I used to gauge the initial set of tools. To restate, any tool considered must enable you to:

• Schedule posts;
• Connect numerous social media accounts;
• Provide analytics;
• Shorten URLs.

Among free and low-cost options, HootSuite is still the reigning champion, in part because its widespread use means there are many plugins and informational resources available.

However, there are some viable contenders for small business owners to consider.

Here are some additional options for small business owners in need of a cost-effective social media management tool:

Sendible

Price: Starts at $9.99 per month for eight accounts, offers plans up to $99.99 for 120 accounts.

Platforms: Web application and mobile apps for iPhone and Android, mobile web version.

In addition to offering low-cost plans, Sendible enables you to manage your Google+ pages, which is still a rare feature in social media management tools. (Note that this is limited to Google+ pages, as opposed to your individual profile or stream.)

The service also supports Facebook (profiles and pages), Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumblr, Ning, Bebo and a number of other options. The full array of services you can connect to Sendible is impressive, so most business owners should be able to manage their social media efforts quite handily. However, Sendible does not offer a free plan, which is a drawback.

Viralheat

Price: Free for seven social accounts, offers plans up to $499 per month for 50 accounts.

Platforms: Web application (Chrome extension available).

Viralheat also connects a robust assortment of networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+; offers robust analytics, including sentiment analysis for paid accounts (basic account analytics for free); has URL shortening via Bit.ly integration; and enables scheduled posts. My favorite feature: It enables geo-targeted sharing to Facebook.

In short, Viralheat is a versatile social media management tool, well worth considering for small business owners.

Jugnoo

Price: Free up to three team members managing 20 accounts, $20 per month for five team members and unlimited accounts, custom pricing available for larger teams.

Platforms: Web application, mobile Web version.

What you get for free with Jugnoo is impressive. Link up to 20 social accounts, managed by up to three team members. You also get access to Web analytics, Google analytics, and social analytics. This makes Jugnoo highly appealing, and if you need to connect additional accounts or give access to more team members to manage your content, leveling up costs just $20 per month. They have a custom pricing model, as well.

Fresh out of beta, Jugnoo is the lesser-known option among social media management tools. Recently, it added some new features, including link previews and rich media embeds.

Scheduled posts are enabled through BufferApp, which is itself a good option for business owners to manage their social networks.

Even more resources

I investigated some of the platforms mentioned by commenters on my previous post. Although helpful, they do not fully meet the criteria outlined above:

Agora Pulse: Offers granular management of your Facebook pages—from scheduling posts to managing contests—but it’s limited to Facebook only.

Engagio: Engagio is a discovery tool, as opposed to a social media management tool. This service enables monitoring and engaging with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and more through an inbox message format. Although this is helpful, the service lacks analytics and the ability to schedule posts, both of which are critical to small business owners.

Bottlenose: Still in beta, Bottlenose is a helpful tool for monitoring Facebook and Twitter feeds, LinkedIn, and more. The service offers some ability to engage by posting to linked accounts. Although Bottlenose is potentially useful for individuals, small business owners need a tool that provides more holistic management capability (scheduling posts). The company is planning a pro version, which might have additional functionality.

Bundlepost: This service takes your existing RSS feed and makes it easy for you to select stories that would be of interest to your online audience. Then you export prepared posts to a spreadsheet that gets uploaded to HootSuite. With minimal effort beyond scanning your news feeds, you’ve scheduled informative, helpful posts to go out over the course of the day, keeping you top of mind for your audience. In short, it’s a great tool, but works in concert with HootSuite, as opposed to providing an alternative to it.

What do you use? What would you recommend?

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, JD/MBA, teaches New Media Marketing in the Internet Marketing Master of Science Program at Full Sail University. Follow her on Twitter @KerryGorgone. A version of this story first appeared on the blog {grow}.

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