Managing social media in a large company can often seem futile. Short messages, comments, customer complaints, and brand mentions seem to fly in all directions at once – and it can be impossible to stay on top of things. Not without some help, anyway…
Fortunately, these social media dashboards bring some sanity to the effort for an entire team. Each one allows you to post to multiple services like Twitter and LinkedIn at the same time, track and schedule posts, and monitor the number of new followers for a brand or profile.
They are not all created equal. Each one has a few key differentiators to help you stay on top of social, and we'll explore what those are in this article.
1. Hootsuite Pro
The well-known consumer social media manager also offers a Pro version for business use. You can schedule up to 350 posts to go live at a future date, which is a key part of a social media strategy. (By scheduling posts, you can time the content around major product launches or news events and make sure there is a wide sweep of social media activity.)
Using a column-based approach, team members can quickly see Twitter and Facebook activity and even track trending topics right from this dashboard. Hootsuite Pro lets managers assign tasks to multiple team members and even set permissions about what they can post.
One perk for companies that use alternative browsers like Google Chrome is that there's a Hootlet app that makes it easier for end-users in a large company to post content. The tool supports 50 social media profiles and up to ten users. And this tool also offers detailed social media analytics reports that can be organised around marketing efforts, teams, and profiles.
Key differences: The typical Hootsuite user has an array of columns on their screen at any one time related to a brand mention, another user, or a social media profile. Because of this unique column approach, you can scan through multiple posts and accounts quickly. For some, it can look a bit overwhelming in a browser, but it's easier to use on a mobile device.
2. Sprout Social
Designed as a brand management platform, Sprout Social provides a host of business-oriented tools for social media. One of the key differentiators is the ability to flag brand keywords (say Pepsi or BBC) and then track mentions on social media through a Smart Inbox. When there's an incoming message, a metric shows all team members the average response time before someone responds to a request or comment on social media.
Tasks can be assigned to team members like having someone schedule posts related to a new product launch. All scheduled posts can be viewed on a team schedule. If someone on the team identifies a problem that requires customer support, that person can create a ticket from Sprout Social directly in support tools like ZenDesk. Because of the team support features, managers can get involved if they need to approve draft posts before they go live.
Key differences: Sprout Social is a well-designed dashboard with a single Smart Inbox view that doesn't look like an email listing. It's easy to spot brand mentions and respond to issues. The trendier look and feel makes it easier for team members to use the tool.
Sendible looks like an email app but is intended to help you manage social media through one dashboard. Like Sprout Social, there's a simple team-based calendar you can use to see all scheduled posts and even reprioritise and reschedule them as needed.
One unique feature is the ability to optimise posts. The app can monitor when you post social media content related to your brand and then look for ways to improve your messaging based on audience response. (For example, if messages are often retweeted in the late afternoon.)
You can assign "incident" responses to team members. If there's a negative comment, you can make sure someone follows-up with the social media poster to deal with the issue. There's tight integration with the Sendible Social CRM (Customer Relationship Management) app so you can record customer info, sales leads, and contacts directly from Sendible.
For generating reports and analysing company social media efforts, the analytics engine includes 200 modules for seeing the total number of retweets, comments on Facebook, and other variables.
Key differences: Sendible looks like an email inbox and that's an advantage for new team members who have not used a social media dashboard before. The integration with Sendible Social CRM is indispensable for companies using social media to track customer issues.
4. Buffer for Business
Buffer has grown from a basic social media manager used to schedule posts into a full-fledged dashboard for business. The Buffer for Business version lets you have up to 150 social media accounts. As with the other social media managers, you can schedule posts to go live at a later date, assign tasks to team members, and generate reports on social media successes that show the number of new followers, retweets, and comments.
Buffer is highly extensible. It works with third-party apps like Bottlenose, Feedly, and IFTTT (If This Then That). For example, with IFTTT integration, expert users can write scripts that trigger a post automatically based on an event like sending an email. The scripting is incredibly powerful for advanced users.
Admin features provide a way to approve and monitor posts from team members. The tool also offers a Chrome extension for easier posting, and the dashboard has a clean, easy-to-understand inbox look.
Key differences: Buffer started as a simple Twitter scheduling tool and now offers robust business features. The key differentiator is in how it connects to third-party apps to extend the tool, allowing unique functionality like scripting with IFTTT to trigger posts automatically.
- You might also want to read: Social media for business – what can it do for you?