Time is one thing that every small company could use more of. Rather it is to spend more time on product development, marketing or sales, one thing most small business owners can agree on would be, they need more time. As a marketing director for a small business I myself experienced this time crunch. How could I grow the department?
I realized that with the current processes I used I could not scale. I sat down and outlined the time I was spending on different activities during the month. Reporting, especially social media reporting for our marketing clients was taking up a majority of the time. I realized that I was spending hours painstakingly going through the analytic reports for each social platforms and then creating reports. This would not allow the company to scale social media marketing offerings. There had to be a better way. I needed a social media management tool specifically for reporting.
Need: Social Media Management Tool for Reporting
There are numerous social media management tools, in order to figure out which one works for your company you must first:
- Identify your needs from the tool
- Determine a budget you are willing to spend
My company needed a tool that would aggregate social reports into one dashboard to save time on navigating through different platforms, and it needed to be free (at the time my company did not have the resources to spend money on reporting tools).
This limitation proved a challenge as the majority of tools out there will not let a user do much with the tool for free. Another challenge with free tools was finding a tool that allowed all of the social media profiles my clients used to be managed under one dashboard.
Comparison: Buffer, HootSuite SEMRush
To really understand which tool would work for my company and clients, I spent the time to sign up for the free accounts of Buffer, Hootsuite, SEMRush. The below analysis is based on the free version of these platforms only. Screenshots are from actual accounts that I have set up. All client information has been omitted due to confidentiality, however, placeholders that show the type of information included have been added.
Note: All of the plans analyzed are the 100% free versions and do not include free trials of the software that offer more features and then require payment to keep them.
Overview: Buffer is a software application that allows users to manage their social networks by allowing for the scheduling of social posts to social networks.
Number of Profiles that can be connected: Up to 5
Social Reports that can be used: 0
- Scheduling and posting of posts to social profiles
Analysis: Buffer is a great tool for scheduling and organizing social posts. However, the free version does not offer any social reports.
HootSuite Analytics Tools
Overview: Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows scheduling and posting of social updates from one dashboard.
Number of profiles that can be connected: Up to 3
Social Reports that can be used: 1 (Twitter Overview)
- Scheduling and posting of posts to social profiles
- Create and monitor multiple streams in one place
Analysis: The free version of Hootsuite does very little in terms of analytics reporting. The only report you are able to use under the free account is the Twitter Profile Overview. If you want to access any of the other eight reports you need to be signed up for a paid account.
SEMrush Social Media Tool
Overview: SEMrush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit for digital professionals that is best known for keyword and competitor research.
Number of profiles that can be connected: Up to 5
Social Reports that can be used: Up to 28 (depends on what social profiles are connected)
- Social media analytics
- Site audit
- Position tracking
- Brand monitoring
- Backlink audit
- Organic traffic insights
- SEO ideas
Analysis: For social media reporting, out of the three platforms analyzed, SEMrush was the best. Exporting reports to PDF is not available in the free version, however, you can create reports under the ‘my reports’ feature of the platform that can be emailed. The tool provides an overview report to give you information at a glance on how your social profiles are doing.
SEMrush provides the most social media analytics reports, as well as the most detailed reports. The information available on the reports is tailored to the social platform it is analyzing. See the below chart for a breakdown of what is included in each report:
*The LinkedIn report is a one-page report with the associated data on it.
As you know, there is no one size fits all solution for social media marketing and there is also no one size fits all solution for reporting when it comes to social media. To determine which is the best for your company and/or clients it will take an analysis of needs, research, trial and error. Hopefully, the above information will save you time on researching and testing three of the social media management options.
For more research on tools available see 52 Social Media Management Tools You Must Have for Your Business
Still not convinced social media management tools can help your business? See 10 Reasons to Use a Social Media Management Tool
What free social media reporting tools have you used, which have worked the best for you?