The top social media scheduling and planning tools to help you manage your content in 2021

If you’re only just starting up your own business, or even simply looking to raise your profile, managing your social media can be an intimidating prospect. There are so many different platforms, all with different demands, and different potential benefits, and all evolving daily to favour new strategies and content.

It’s a lot to think about, especially when your time is so valuable – and this is where social media tools come in.

Social Media Tools make up the range of software intended to streamline the job of marketing across multiple platforms, and can cover everything from planning and creating content, to analysing how well your posts are doing, and who is seeing them.

They’re a must-have if you want to cultivate your brand in the modern world, and that’s why we’ve put together this list of the ones we think are the most useful – complete with a handy price comparison so you can think about what you need.

All pictures below are taken from the websites of the Social Media Tools, and represent these accurately at the time of this article being published.

Hootsuite

What makes it Special?

Hootsuite is the biggest tool for social media management out there. Since their founding in 2008, they’ve managed to accrue 18 million customers and employees, and over 80% of the Fortune 1000. The reason for their success is that they do more or less everything that a social media manager needs – and they do it well.

They offer specialised tools for publishing, engagement, monitoring, advertising, and analysis. It works as a central hub for you to use all these tools across all your platforms – whether you’re posting on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or all at once, you can manage every step of it from Hootsuite.

What does it Cost?

Hootsuite offers four payment plans, and as they get more expensive, you get more users, social accounts, and additional features – so make sure to think carefully about what you might need.

In addition to the paid options, they have a free plan, but this is really more of a taster, since it only allows 5 scheduled messages, and 2 social media accounts. Their cheapest paid plan will cost you £39/mo (paid annually) and gives one user access to 10 social accounts and scheduling unlimited posts.

These prices rise quickly, though, so if you have a growing team, and need multiple users, you’ll see the cost of the plans increase to £520/mo or even higher.

Sprout Social

What is it?

Still at the higher end of social media tools, Sprout Social is used by over 25,000 organisations and brands. There’s some overlap, again, with the services that they offer, but what makes it stand out are its developed analytics.

The wealth of data that you can harvest with these tools allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses within your strategies, allowing you to confidently build your social media presence.

Particularly notable is that Sprout Social provides you with customer relationship management (CRM) features, which allow an in-depth understanding of your audience, which makes it possible to tailor content with an accuracy unmatched by other services.

What does it cost?

Sprout Social is priced for larger businesses, so if you’re looking for multiple social media profiles you’ll find that it’s competitive with Hootsuite. Their cheapest option begins at $89 per user per month (paid annually) – which can be very costly if you’re looking to have a team with multiple users.

It’s also interesting that the cost of Sprout Social has been creeping up over the past few years – back in 2012, you could pay as little as $9/mo for the most basic account.

If Sprout Social is a tool you’re interested in, you should certainly consider whether you can’t find other options on this list that may be able to do a similar job at a significantly cheaper rate.

Agorapulse

What makes it Special?

Agorapulse is an excellent all-rounder, and is still rated competitively with larger companies like Sprout Social and Hootsuite. It has cut out its own niche, with its own unique features, and as a result, you’ll find that it has a lot of loyalists online.

Agorapulse presents itself as being designed for growth, helping your business cut its way out in competitive industries. To facilitate this, they let you track the performance of competitors, closely monitor your own team, and boost your posts, to help you steadily grow. Even better, it integrates with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, allowing you to work across all the major social media networks.

What does it cost?

This is an option which describes itself as ‘priced for growing teams’, so if your business is small and looking to expand, this is certainly one worth considering.

Their plans start with a free option, which offers 3 social profiles for one user, and then the increase in prices as you add more profiles, users, and features, is steady. 4 users and 20 social profiles will only cost you €159/mo (paid annually), and give you access to almost everything agorapulse offers.

Sendible

What makes it Special?

What makes Sendible a worthy entry on this list is the impressive versatility which it offers. In addition to integrating Canva and YouTube into its functions, Sendible works across a very impressive number of platforms.

Sendible offers publishing, planning, listening, and analytic tools, and allows you to use them across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, WordPress, Canva, Google Drive, and more. This is a big deal – especially if you consider how much broader this coverage is than the other big players.

What does it cost?

Pricing for Sendible starts at £18/mo (paid annually), and for that you’ll get access to one user and 6 social profiles. That’s not bad, if you’re a solopreneur, especially since you’re also able to use the vast majority of their features.

It will put a restrictive limit on your posting and smart queues though, so a growing business will need to move to the higher paid plans, which go up to £255/mo (paid annually), for 15 users, 120 items in smart queue, and up to 500 posts per day.

Buffer

What makes it Special?

Buffer is one of the oldest social media tools out there. It boasts 73,000 users, as well as big companies like Microsoft, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

Buffer is split into three key sections – Publish, Analyse, and Engage. That means it covers a lot of the same ground as Hootsuite, and it works across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It also has a lot of other attractive features, including link shortener tools, optimization tools for hashtags, and highly reviewed social media and email support.

What does it cost?

There are two options for Buffer: Free, and Essentials. As with the others, the free plan is limited in how many features and social media profiles you receive – only offering 3 social channels, each of which is allowed 10 scheduled posts.

Essentials works a bit differently from the others on this list. Billed at $5/mo (paid annually), you’ll gain access to all the Buffer features, but only one social channel. For every new channel you need, you’ll need to pay for an additional plan. Also, the Team Pack addon, which brings collaborative features, will cost you an extra $5/mo.

SocialPilot

What makes it Special?

SocialPilot markets itself on being the social media managing tool with the best value for money, but that’s not to suggest that it isn’t still an extremely useful service.

All of their plans offer bulk scheduling, social media analytics, workflows to collaborate efficiently, and fast customer support. While the functionality is relatively basic, at the prices they offer, it’s hard to judge them too harshly.

What does it cost?

The most expensive option, which brings you 75 social media accounts and 10 users, is set at $127.50/mo (paid annually). That’s impressively cheap, especially considering how high pricing for other options can go.

Alternatively, their cheapest plan, which is called ‘Professional’, costs $25.50/mo (paid annually), and offers 10 social media accounts for one user. For an entry level tool that you’re hoping to do a little bit of everything with, it’s an attractive option.

eClincher

What makes it Special?

eClincher is a smaller company than many of the others on this list, but you’ll find that they use that to their advantage. Despite being a less popular option, they’ve got a powerful selection of features, with options to edit images and videos, respond to messages across your platforms, analyse social media performance (for yourself and competitors), and schedule uploads using their smart queue.

The smart features that eClincher offer are a major draw – they put a lot of focus on machine learning that knows how to take some of the work off you. That means they have a very useful social inbox, in addition to standout social media analytics and very impressive team management.

What really makes them stand out, though, is how dedicated their team seems to be to making eClincher the must-have social media tool. They’re very proud of their highly rated customer service, and their upcoming slate of new features is pretty fearsome.

What does it cost?

Another option with mid-range pricing, eClincher stands out from the others because of its more flexible plans. There are three options, Basic ($59/mo), Premier ($119/mo), and Agency ($219/mo), which have a 15% discount if you pay annually.

You can then customise these based on your needs – with options to pay more for additional social media profiles and users, allowing you can build the best tool for you.

MeetEdgar

What makes it Special?

This one describes itself as ‘a new kind of social media tool loaded with entrepreneur-approved time savers’. We think that’s underselling what MeetEdgar can do a bit, though.

MeetEdgar is set on pushing what automation is able to do for your social media presence. From learning what to post and when (and doing it, even when you don’t have time to manually schedule your updates), to even writing your posts for you, MeetEdgar is the tool for time-pressed businesses.

What does it cost?

Pricing for MeetEdgar is straightforward. They offer two plans – Edgar Lite, which costs $19/mo and gives you relatively limited creative options (only 10 weekly automations), and Edgar, which costs $49/mo and gives you a much fuller range (up to 1,000 weekly automations).

Falcon.io

What makes it Special?

Falcon.io trades on their versatility, calling themselves ‘the platform for every kind of social media marketer’. Whether you’re a solitary entrepreneur or a whole digital agency, Falcon.io believes that their wide range of tools will provide whatever you need.

They offer an extensive range of analytic tools, including options to monitor the web, and compare your performance against competitors. Their content creation tools are impressively in-depth as well, with a wide range of features for effective advertising.

Part of this is how easy to use they are. It’s a big talking point for them that Falcon is a plug-and-play tool that’s simple and intuitive from the word go. They know it’s not enough to rely on that, though, so they also offer extensive customer support options, to help you with whatever you need.

What does it cost?

The basic ‘Essentials’ plan for Falcon.io costs $108/mo (paid annually), and is charged per user. It also only grants you access to only five social media channels.

If you want to add multiple users, and get access to unlimited social media channels and a more extensive range of features, you’ll need to talk directly to their team to work out a customised plan.

Later

What makes it Special?

Later is a social media tool with a big focus on Instagram. It promotes itself as a ‘Visual First’ tool, and what that means is that unlike many others on this list, when scheduling posts, they place the emphasis on images. To begin a post, you upload your picture, then add the text afterwards.

Your images are stored in a Media Library which allows you to keep track of each piece of media that you have used, with useful data being tagged to each one. The overall feel of this system is quite user-friendly, though the focus on Instagram can make it feel restrictive, if you’re looking to work effectively across platforms.

That said, if Instagram is what you’re prioritising, Later has excellent support – with training courses and workshops for how to build your audience and use the platform as effectively as possible.

What does it cost?

Another choice with highly customizable pricing options, Later shifts between Free ($0/mo), Starter ($12.50/mo yearly), Growth ($20.83/mo yearly), and Advanced ($33.33/mo yearly). While Free gives you access to 1 user and 30 posts, Advanced brings 6 users and unlimited posts.

There are more options, though, as you can add more social media profiles and extra users to each plan for an additional cost.

CoSchedule

What makes it Special?

CoSchedule is built around a central marketing calendar which allows work to be easily planned, monitored, and published. The emphasis is on being able to use this to keep yourself and others organised. In addition to the calendar, there is a marketing suite of tools you can use to keep your team working cleanly and efficiently.

You can use CoSchedule for whatever kind of content you’re looking to produce – anything from WordPress to podcasts, and to facilitate this, it has integrations for almost any programmes you may need. However, it is notable that it’s missing the useful data analytic tools that a lot of the others on this list have. That means that while it’s useful, if you’re looking to get everything out of your social media that you possibly can, you’ll need additional tools.

What does it cost?

The basic package for CoSchedule costs $29 per user per month, billed annually. This buys access to their calendar tool, and all the marketing and scheduling tools which are part of the calendar.

However, for the tools in the Marketing Suite, you’ll need to contact the sales team directly, to negotiate what exactly your team needs.

Tailwind

What makes it Special?

We haven’t seen much focus on Pinterest so far on this list, so if that’s the platform you’re most interested in, Tailwind could be the social media tool for you. They’ve recently added support for Instagram and Facebook as well, but what makes it stand out is how it seems to have been built thinking about a single platform first – and then bringing all those useful features to other social media.

Tailwind offers intuitive scheduling and planning tools which help with laying out your content, in addition to useful creative assistance which streamlines the process of post creation. The focus is on optimising your content to increase penetration of your demographic, so you’ll also find that they have a hashtag finder and their own analytics.

What does it cost?

There are four pricing plans for Tailwind, Free ($0/mo), Pro ($9.99/mo paid annually), Advanced ($19.99/mo paid annually), and Max ($39.99/mo paid annually).

These feel cheap, but the lower levels are a bit more restrictive, with Pro offering only 100 posts and 200 post designs per month, and only one profile on Pinterest on Instagram. Even Max only offers 3 profiles for Pinterest, and another 3 for Instagram.

That means this is a more useful option if your business is smaller, and not working with a large Instagram team.

One More Time

There’s a lot to consider here, and looking at 12 different tools, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses, can be pretty overwhelming. So, to keep this a little bit more straightforward, here’s the list again, with some bitesize summaries:

Hootsuite – Biggest in the business, with good coverall tools for producing and monitoring your content. Free, £39/mo, £99/mo, £520/mo

Sprout Social – Another good all-rounder, with strong data analytic services. $89 per user/mo, $149 per user/mo, $249 per user/mo

Agorapulse – An option with a lot of utility, including a range of scheduling and analytic services. Better pricing for smaller businesses. Free, €79/mo, €159/mo

Sendible – A choice with all the content creation and tracking tools you could, need, and an impressive range of integrated platforms. £18/mo, £56/mo, £124/mo, £255/mo

Buffer – Publish, Analyse, and Engage features, with integrations with the most popular social media platforms. Free, $5 per user/mo, $10 per user/mo

SocialPilot – The value for money choice, it still has a lot of the functions that you need, even if it’s not always the slickest. $25.50/mo, $42.50/mo, $85/mo, $127.50/mo

eClincher – A dynamic tool that brings a lot of machine learning to help you be as effective at possible. They also have picture and video editing tools. $59/mo, $119/mo, $219/mo

MeetEdgar – A tool for content creation rather than scheduling and organisation, MeetEdgar helps you automate your social media presence as much as possible. $19/mo, $49/mo

Falcon.io – An intuitive plug-and-play tool, Falcon.io has tools for content creation, scheduling, and data analytics.  $108 per seat/mo

Later – A tool that’s focused on Instagram, Later is a ‘Visual First’ tool that focuses on your images. They give you a media library, and access to Instagram training courses and workshops. Free, $12.50/mo, $20.83/mo, $33.33/mo

CoSchedule – A marketing calendar tool that’s meant for keeping you and your team as organised as possible. For an extra fee, you can get access to their Marketing Suite. $29 per user/mo

Tailwind – Meant for Pinterest and Instagram, Tailwind has intuitive creative and optimisation tools, as well as post scheduling and analytic services. Free, $9.99/mo, $19.99/mo, $39.99/mo