Wonder why you need social media tools?
Not because social media is easy-to-use.
What’s your proof?
Posts from your grandmother that regularly show up in your feed?
But do you want to stick with this marketing gut check approach to social media?
I hope not.
Because the real business issue is:
Does your social media use translate to measurable marketing results?
And your grandmother’s social media posts probably don’t help you achieve this type of business success.
For social media, business outcomes include:
- Expanded visibility and branding
- Extended reach for content distribution
- Increased community and audience relationships
- Increased qualified leads and/or sales
Did you know that ever-changing social media algorithms rank second behind search algorithms as a top content marketing challenge? (Content Marketing Institute 2019 Research)
Because dynamic social media platforms focus on their own business objectives, namely increasing profitable revenues.
As a result, marketers face:
- Reduced organic social media visibility
- Require paid budget for advertising and influencers
- Need for proactive employee engagement beyond marketing
At a minimum, use social media tools to:
- Create social media friendly content and/or distribution presentations,
- Schedule social media posts,
- Participate with your social media audience,
- Encourage followers to take purchase-related actions, and
- Measure relevant conversations, sentiment, and results.
To help you decide which tools are best, we asked 50 social media marketing experts to name their favorite social media tools that they use.
Social Media Tools Definition
Social media tools consist of specialized digital technologies to help marketers accomplish particular functions more efficiently.
The 5 key functions social media tools support include:
- Monitor social media ecosystem. At a minimum check for business, brand and competitive mentions. Where possible, track mentions as close as possible to real time to respond quickly to potential problems.
- Create, publish and distribute content. As part of this process, content and/or distribution presentations can be enhanced or their formats changed to attract broader audiences. Some social media platforms enable participants to create native content beyond sharing and comments.
- Schedule social media shares. To maintain an active social media presence, set up pre-formatted shares across a variety of social media platforms. Additionally, this supports ongoing content distribution.
- Engage with your community and influencers. Use social media tools to track comments and mentions so that you can respond as soon as possible. Further, tap into the power of targeted communities on different platforms such as Facebook Groups as well as open conversations such as Twitter Chats.
- Track and measure social media results. Assess how social media contributes to achieving your business and marketing goals. This requires a combination of soft and hard metrics.
What Tools Do The Best Marketers Use For Social Media?
Since social media tools come in a variety of functions and support different business and brand needs, selection can be difficult.
Further, some social media tools are very specialized based on the type of business or product offering you have.
Therefore we asked 50+ marketing experts in the social media field to tell us the top 3 social media tools they used.
Our biggest surprise:
Several marketers named specific social media platforms as tools.
As a marketer, I get it:
Social media provides functionality that supports marketing needs such as content creation, communication and engagement.
Since we sought tools to supported social media use, we eliminated these responses.
The top 5 social media tools among these 50+ marketers:
- AgoraPulse (36%)
- Buffer (28%)
- Canva (13%)
- BuzzSumo (13%)
- Facebook Analytics (11%)
Social Media Tools: What 50+ Of The Best Marketers Use
Ai Addyson-Zhang – Classroom Without Walls (@AiAddysonZhang)
- TweetDeck to participate in Twitter chats (not to schedule tweets which I have stopped);
- Canva to create graphics for my weekly Facebook live show; and
- inshot to edit pictures and iMovie to edit videos.
Mike Allton – AgoraPulse (@Mike_Allton)
- Tailwind provides me with tremendous insight and functionality for Pinterest.
- Canva rounds out my top three tools as it’s my go-to resource for creating social media graphics.
- AgoraPulse is my #1 tool for all my social media publish, scheduling and monitoring capabilities. (Disclaimer – I work for AgoraPulse.)
Andrew and Pete – www.andrewandpete.com (@andrewandpete)
- AgoraPulse – the best tool for keeping track of notifications and staying on top of relationships
- Rev – video is so important, and captions on videos are so important – Rev makes that easy
- ConvertKit (bit of a cheat, but what is social without email)
Syed Balkhi – WPBeginner (@syedbalkhi)
- BuzzSumo is our favorite to monitor social media mentions.
- Buffer is great for scheduling social media posts weeks in advance, and
- TweetDeck is our go-to tool for responding to customers and managing day-to-day social media activity.
Shane Barker – Shane Barker Consulting (@shane_barker)
- Buffer is definitely one of my favorites. Along with it, I also use the following social media marketing tools to level up my campaigns.
- Crowdfire helps us schedule content and identify no followers or fake followers.
- Agorapulse simplifies social media management and makes it easier to identify the best Instagram hashtags based on user interaction.
- TweekSocial is the best Twitter marketing tool for sending mass DMs to all of our followers, without getting the account banned.
David Berkowitz – Serial Marketer (@dberkowitz)
- TheMostDangerousWritingapp.com – the most effective writing tool when I need to write long-form content;
- Bond.co – for when I want to write elegant, handwritten notes (and personal messages like this still count as social media)
- Slack – it’s how I run my own marketing community
Susan Borst – Interactive Advertising Bureau (aka: IAB) (@susanborst)
I don’t use a lot of social media tools; the only one I use is Tweetdeck!
Lisa Buyer – The Buyer Group (@lisabuyer)
- Canva makes me feel like a graphic artist rocks star ad maker.
- Buffer creates efficiencies
- Belive for Facebook Lives like a news pro
- Onestream.live to syndicate Facebook lives and other platforms and repurpose valuable content in a live video.
Ian Cleary – RazorSocial.com (@iancleary)
- Agorapulse – I used to use 4 tools and now I only need this tool to manage all my social media. It has great functionality, great support and I get more traffic and engagement when I use it.
- Wave.video – Video drives more engagement but it’s generally difficult to create. Wave.video does for video what Canva does for images.
- OptinMonster – This builds me a lot of email subscribers. A great tool with so many options for customizing when and where email subscription forms appears.
Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide (@heidicohen)
While social media no longer provides the “free” media opportunities that it did during its early growth phase, your business and brand must remain visible. Otherwise you risk being left out of the consideration set.
Creating and distributing quality content while actively engaging with my various communities satisfies this need.
- BuzzSumo provides content creation guidance based on key indicators of content quality, namely social media shares and backlinks.
- AgoraPulse supports regular social media distribution across platforms. BTW, I supplement this with scheduled real time engagement.
- Social Warfare provides social sharing for my blog that encourages visitors to share blog posts.
Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media Studios (@crestodina)
Brian Dean – Backlinko (@backlinko)
- BuzzSumo: Great for finding proven content topic ideas.
- Buffer: In my opinion, it’s still the best way to schedule social media posts.
- VidIQ: My favorite video SEO tool.
Melonie Dodaro – Top Dog Social Media (@MelonieDodaro)
Buffer, Agorapulse and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The first two I love because they save me time and allow me to reach people on different time zones. The latter is a phenomenal tool if you are a B2B professional or business and want to take a proactive approach to lead generation.
Dr. Perry D. Drake – University of Missouri – St. Louis (@pddrake)
Hootsuite and Facebook Analytics. They allow my students and me, at little cost, to monitor conversation and post effectiveness for the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where I work.
Bryan Eisenberg – Buyer Legends (@TheGrok)
- LumaFusion for editing videos on my iPad or IPhone.
- Canva for creating quick graphics,
- Buffer for scheduling posts.
Eric Enge – Perficient Digital (@stonetemple)
Allen Gannett – Skyword (@Allen)
- Stitcher Studios: This app is the easiest way to listen to podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, smart speaker, etc—all for free.
- Followers+ For Instagram: This app arms me with the data needed to determine how many followers I have, how many users I follow, how many photos I’ve posted, etc. It also gives me the information to see how many followers I have that I’m currently not following back, as well as users I follow we aren’t following me back. These insights are valuable to help grow and increase my presence on Instagram organically.
- TrackMaven: Speaking as a completely objective third party outsider with absolutely no personal interest in the matter—wink wink—this platform gives you insight into your own performance across 19 integrated digital and social channels to prove ROI and improve results. Not only can you track, measure, and report on your own performance, but it’s competitive benchmarking analysis allows you to understand the full impact of your marketing industry wide. (Disclaimer – I started TravenMaven which was purchased by Skyword.)
Glen Gilmore – Gilmore Business Network (@GlenGilmore)
- Twitter lists, which I largely keep private, are great tool for staying connected with industry leaders.
- Buffer is a great tool for sharing content to a variety of accounts and a variety of time zones in a targeted fashion.
- A library of content sources I keep on my smartphone in a single folder allows me to stay abreast of the news that’s most important to my communities and clients, with seamless sharing to social.
Mike Gingerich – Digital Hill (@Mike_Gingerich)
- As a social media marketer I like Agorapulse for monitoring and scheduling to multiple social platforms.
- Facebook native tools is hard to beat for in planning, insights, and advertising.
Dan Gingiss – Winning Customer Experience, LLC (@dgingiss)
- Hootsuite for scheduling posts
- Twitonomy for data and reporting on Twitter profiles
Ian Anderson Gray – Seriously Social (@iagdotme)
- Agorapulse because it allows me to manage the social mentions, messages and comments from all my social networks easily and get down to inbox zero. It also helps my team manage messages and post content intelligently.
- I also love Wave Video as it allows me to create fun and engaging video content in different formats (square, portrait and landscape) really easily. It also allows me to add in professional looking video footage from stock libraries.
- Finally I use Brand24 to allow me to follow how my brand is being mentioned not just across social channels but on the web. It’s a great way of getting involved in conversations when I’m being mentioned and being able to boost my brand awareness.
John Hall – calendar.com (@johnhall)
- Zapier because it’s an amazing API connector that makes everyone’s life easier.
- Buffer and CoSchedule since they help schedule out your content in a more effective way.
Ana Hoffman (@AnaTrafficCafe)
AgoraPulse, BuzzSumo, and SEMrush.
All three, in their own ways, provide the type of social media intelligence that allows marketers to focus their efforts on what actually works.
Without that, we are left to… well, just add to the rest of the social media noise, hoping something sticks.
Sharon Hurley Hall (@shurleyhall)
- MissingLettr, because it’s the best way to drip share my own content to maintain a consistent social media presence. I love the fact that you can customize the messaging, too
- Buffer, which makes it easy to share other people’s content on a variety of social platforms
- Mention, which allows me to track social mentions easily.
Mitch Joel – Six Pixels Group (@mitchjoel)
- Facebook Private Groups – enables you to build an audience where consumers already are.
- WordPress – enables you to publish and share stories in a very powerful way.
- Libsyn – enables you to share and distribute podcasts easily.
Douglas Karr – DK New Media (@douglaskarr)
- Google My Business Mobile App – a beautiful social app for monitoring and sharing your brand on Google searches.
- Adobe Spark Post – a clean mobile app for making graphics optimized for any social channel.
- AgoraPulse – the workflow is beyond simple (Disclaimer: I’m an Ambassador).
Alex Khan – Attractiv Media GmbH (@1alexkhan)
- Planable for planning posts with clients.
- Shakr for creating video ads.
- Agorapulse for scheduling and community engagement.
Samantha Kelly – Tweeting Goddess (@Tweetinggoddess)
- Bonjoro – To surprise and delight my customers.
- Brand24 for social listening and tracking hashtags and
- Tweetbeam for live events twitter screen
Larry Kim – MobileMonkey, Inc. (@larrykim)
In terms of Facebook ads, you can create a chatbot as an ad landing page that’s more engaging than a web landing page and has instant lead capture using MobileMonkey.
When it comes to graphics, my team can’t live without Canva.
For Facebook posts, MobileMonkey lets you set up a private auto reply to anyone who leaves a comment on your posts. (Disclaimer: I started MobileMonkey.)
Katie Lance – Katie Lance Consulting (@katielance)
I am a big fan of anything that it simple and helps me create great content in less time. My three favorite tools are:
- Later.com for scheduling Instagram posts. The desktop and app are simple and I use daily. I love that I can save hashtags and schedule a lot of content all in one sitting.
- Canva for Work is still a big workhorse for me. I use this almost daily for social media graphics especially the resizing feature. I love with Canva for Work the ability to have all my branding assets saved and easily available.
- WordSwag is one of my favorite apps for creating motivational quote graphics quickly and easily. I love batch creating a lot of content with this app.
I know you only asked for three but as a bonus, my fourth is Unsplash. They have a gorgeous stock photo library that is easy to use and easy to search. Plus, their website and app is super easy to use to create content quickly.
Amy Landino – Aftermarq (@Schmittastic)
- Planoly for Instagram. Because it’s the best planner/scheduler I’ve seen for one of the most popular social networks out there.
- Anchor. Because they are making audio creation and consumption as accessible as it’s ever been which is amazing news for the podcasting industry.
Stephanie Liu – Lights, Camera, Live® (@heystephanie )
- Ecamm Live to create a stunning live broadcast and quickly live stream to multiple platforms like Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and more.
- Designrr to easily repurpose your videos and automatically transform content into blog posts, sound bites, and beautifully designed ebooks with a click of a button.
- Agorapulse to quickly and efficiently schedule out repurposed content so that you never have to wonder what to share with your audience.
Fiona Lucas – iRespectOnline and Futureproof Your Kids (@irespectonline)
- Agorapulse for helping me to manage my clients and to clearly see what is scheduled for when.
- I’m in love with wave.video right now – it makes creating short form video content quick and easy with so many options for branding.
- Easil is another favourite tool – for content creation – you can make really good animated gifs so easily!
Lisa Marcyes – Oracle (@lisa_marcyes)
- Canva for quick and simple visual edits. It’s simple, cheap, and easy to use.
- Hootsuite for scheduling and listening. It’s user friendly and one of the easiest ways to listen across your platforms.
- Simply Measured for analytics. It’s one of the best analytics tools out there that provides downloadable metrics reports in real time.
Ryan McCready – Venngage (@RyanMcCready1)
- With Zapier I can set up simple automations that scale better than traditional tools.
- Tailwind helps me track Pinterest traffic better than any other tool and makes collaboration easy.
- Mention makes it easy to track when your brand its mentioned.
Alisa Meredith – Alisa Meredith Marketing (or Tailwind) (@alisammeredith)
- I like Coschedule for easy posting of social updates on the blog.
- Social Warfare is good for storing and saving optimized images for each social platform.
- Tailwind is a set of tools for Pinterest. (Disclaimer: I’m on the Tailwind team.)
Scott Monty – Scott Monty Strategies (@scottmonty)
- Tweetdeck – it allows me to see updates to my Lists, which keep Twitter more sane for me;
- Buffer – it allows me to post something interesting to multiple platforms in one place (but still allows me to fine-tune each post);
- Repost – allows me to share the content of other Instagrammers easily on my own feed.
Donna Moritz – Socially Sorted (@sociallysorted)
- AgoraPulse (agorapulse.com) is my social media management tool. I was able to drop a handful of tools to just use one – Agorapulse – to save both money and time. It has features for listening, scheduling posts, engagement/ replies reporting, and more ..all in the one tool!
- Easil (Easil.com) is my go-to tool for creating my own visual content. From stunning image templates (including Instagram Stories) to GIFs, you can create great visuals with this tool. It also has great features for teams to keep all of your brand assets in the one place (fonts, colors, logos and images) to access while you design and the handy feature of locking, so you can control how designs and templates are edited by team members.
- Wave.video is my favorite tool for creating social videos. They have loads of video templates and it’s super easy to edit videos. It’s very drag-and-drop. I also love that you can add from a huge library of photo, audio and video files.. and even add stickers to your videos.
Aaron Orendorff – iconiContent (@aaronorendorff)
- Buffer: The easiest and most universal social media loader.
- Click-to-Tweet: Great for embedding Tweet-worthy one liners in online content (along with hashtags and handles), but what I really love to do with CTT is pre-load Tweets and send the link to contributors or supporters to make it super easy on them to share what appears to be an original post.
- Quuu and Quuu Promote: Exceptional for set-it-and-forget-it social posting on autopilot (the Quuu team hand curates everything so you can trust it); and Quuu Promote is far more powerful for engagement than Twitter’s own paid promotion options.
Keith A. Quesenberry – Messiah College (@Kquesen)
- Hootsuite. I have been using and teaching this tool since 2011 and the rich features and just capabilities keep growing. hootsuite.com
- Answer The Public. Generating frequent quality, engaging content is is a must today. Yet that can be hard. This tool provides auto suggest data from Google and Bing to help spark data backed ideas. answerthepublic.com
- Any Social Platform’s Analytics. Most social platforms provide free access to very valuable data that will improve your social media. You just have to take the time to get into each one and find the insights.
Rebekah Radice – RadiantLA (@rebekahradice)
AgoraPulse, Brand24 andTailwind – all social management, listening and sharing can be done with those 3 tools. Each has powerful analytics and allows me to stay active, involved, and results focused without spending hours a day in each social channel.
Serena Ryan – Serena Dot Ryan (@serenadotryan)
- iPhone — I can capture videos, photos, notes, document and publish to all Social Media Platforms. I love being able to use iMovie within the Photo Library. Quick, easy and convenient.
- Kapwing – I love how I can edit and add captions to short videos all in one. I especially love being able to auto caption and customise captions font and colors. Knowing that up to 85% of people watch videos without sound, this is consistently a go to Social Media tool. It also means that when I embed captions on a video, the video can then be on any platform without relying on platform specific auto captions or srt files.
- Facebook Ads Manager — It is incredibly sophisticated relationship and business building tool. Being able to build custom audiences, and remarket to those who engage and like your content enables marketing to be done in a natural way. In saying this, I also believe in the importance of education to not just use the functionality because it is there. It needs to be understood and used positively to build your brand and your business.
Neal Schaffer – PDCA Social (@nealschaffer)
- AgoraPulse – Agorapulse is my main social media dashboard and allows me to remain sane in managing all of my – and my clients’ – social networking accounts, engagement, and content publishing.
- BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo is my go-to tool for anything related to content research, whether its searching for influencers, content to curate, or content creation ideas.
- SEMrush – SEMrush is my tool for the SEO of my website but I also use it for content creation and especially content revision ideas.
Brooke B. Sellas – B Squared Media (@BrookeSellas)
- Sprout Social — Because it does everything for me from organic social media analytics aggregation, to teeing up social media tasks & publishing content, to social listening.
- Grammarly — For ensuring proper spelling and sentence structure.
- SEMrush — For competitor warfare and research.
Dennis Shiao – Dennis Shiao Consulting (@dshiao)
- Nuzzel – helps me find popular content being shared by the people I follow on Twitter. I follow so many people that “manually” finding interesting content can be challenging.
- Flipboard – for discovering new content via human and algorithmic curation. I love that Flipboard has an in-house editorial/curation team that produces their own curated magazines. My favorite is “10 for Today.”
- Buffer – even though I prefer to post my tweets “in the moment” these days, I do use Buffer to schedule shares of content I find interesting.
Ann Smarty – Internet Marketing Ninjas (@seosmarty)
- Mavsocial: This tool lets you post to your social media channels and it has awesome visual marketing tools built-in.
- Awario.com: Allows you to monitor your brand mentions and possible leads on social media.
- Viralcontentbee: because it lets you get your content spread even if you haven’t yet built your own community. (Disclaimer: I am the founder but I am also a user!)
Michael Stelzner – Social Media Examiner (@mike_stelzner)
- Google Analytics
- Facebook Insights
- YouTube analytics
Dustin W. Stout – Dustn.co (@DustinWStout)
- My favorite social media tool, by far, is AgoraPulse. My businesses and my agency has never been more streamlined in our efforts to plan, collaborate, schedule, and monitor the performance of social media content. It also saves us hours of time every week by giving us a social inbox in which to gather and respond to comments, mentions, and relevant topics.
- My second favorite social media tool is Tailwind. There are two reasons it is an indispensable tool in my arsenal: 1. it allows me to schedule Pinterest pins intelligently for myself and clients. 2. it gives me access to Tribes where I can source high-quality pins to share, and get my own pins shared by others.
- My third favorite social media tool is one that my own blogs could never thrive without– Social Warfare – Pro. Without it my blog content would not get nearly the amount of social share traffic without it. (Disclosure, I co-created this WordPress plugin.)
Chris Strub – I Am Here, LLC (@ChrisStrub)
- Buffer, to schedule out content on Twitter, my favorite social media platform;
- Switcher Studio, which has allowed me to create highly produced live video without investing in sophisticated equipment; and
- Twitonomy, which allows me to look deep into Twitter analytics both for myself and for other brands, influencers and thought leaders.
Magdalena Urbaniak – Brand24, MaxTractor (@Meg_Urbaniak)
All social media stats if we can treat it as a tool. Data is the new black! Beside this, I love IFTTT and Buzzsumo. As 3rd I can add beautiful Brand24 (Disclaimer: I work as brand manager for Brand 24 :).
Owen Video – The Video Sales Machine (@owenvideo)
- Agorapulse – helps to manage my comments and my communication.
- TubeBuddy – helps me to optimize my YouTube channel and keep tabs on the competition.
- BeLive.Tv – provides a software for fast and effective live streaming on Facebook.
Deborah Weinstein – Strategic Objectives (@debweinstein)
- Buffer. Buffer’s strength is that it helps you maintain a semi-automated presence on social media. For example, at Strategic Objectives we use Buffer to quickly curate the latest and greatest news as it relates to social media, PR and communications. Thus visitors to our Twitter account can use it as a resource, with minimal impact on the billable time.
- Google Link Builder. (https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/) Google Link Builder is a free and essential tool in every PR Pro’s toolkit, to measure campaign effectiveness. This allows us to effectively track and measure website traffic generated by PR campaigns.
- Facebook’s Advertising Platform. While Facebook continues to generate public distrust and a never-ending pile-up of scandals, its advertising platform remains the most effective tool in any marketing professional’s toolkit. It gives us the ability to drill down and nano-target some of Canada’s tightest micro-communities. And it ensures that the messages we create for our clients reach their intended audiences, in a highly cost-effective way.
Susan B Zimmerman – SBZ Enterprises (@suebzimmerman)
- Instagram – community, creativity, collaborations
- Planoly – schedule IG post to save time
Social Media Marketing Tools Conclusion
Whatever your business and brand focus, you need to remain visible on social media to achieve your key marketing objectives.
Since social media can be a real time-suck, use a mix of tools tailored to meet your specific business needs. This helps focus and batch your social media efforts to achieve better, more measurable results over time.
This doesn’t mean that you should automate all of your social media engagement!
Use this input from 50+ of the best marketers using social media to help guide your social media tool use.
Further, regularly assess how well your current tools set is working.
Remember as your business and the social media platforms evolve so must your toolset!
What are your favorite social media tools and why do you like them?
Please use the comments section to expand this conversation.
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Photos of Heidi Cohen – ©2019, Heidi Cohen – Permission to use them is granted on the condition that you link to this article.
Photos of contributors are sourced from Twitter profiles