Social media has firmly established its foot in the marketing space. Channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest – to name a few – have been around for over a decade now, and have proven to be fruitful ground for marketing. Connecting with the target audience has shifted from an in-store activity to a full-fledged online approach. Of course, connecting with customers offline cannot be ignored at any cost, but a lot of marketing efforts are also directed towards users’ online presence.
From running Facebook ads to Linkedin paid campaigns to hosting contests on a social media platform of choice – a lot happens on social media. To manage all this, marketers make use of smart social media management platforms. These platforms work like a centralized control point for all channels that marketers are using for their social marketing. As such, these tools save marketers a lot of time and effort. One such platform that almost every marketer would know about is Hootsuite. This platform is quite popular because of the ease of use that it offers to its users. You can simply bring your entire social media on one dashboard and run the show with Hootsuite. From within the dashboard, you can schedule, compose, send and track your activities. However, there are some other alternatives to Hootsuite that are quickly gaining a good reputation.
Consider Agorapulse, for example. This alternative to Hootsuite, as a social media management platform, is quickly rising to the surface because of its all-round capabilities in handling all things social media. Improving user engagement, optimizing marketing campaigns based on social listening, tracking performance, and doing all the work from one platform – all these capabilities make Agorapulse a great social media management tool to consider. Let’s quickly read through some of the features that make Agorapulse a killer tool.
Increasing User Engagement
Grabbing enough eyeballs is just half the game one. Keeping those eyeballs browsing for more, and keeping them glued to you is the other half of the story. Unless you are able to keep your users happily engaged with your campaigns running on social media you can’t hope for conversions. Agorapulse ensures that you win a lot of engagement from the relevant audience. For example, it has this highly intelligent feature that keeps you on top of every message you receive from your followers. So, you do not have to scout through hundreds of messages to find that one message and reply to it. You can skip through all the noise and find your specific message to reply to in seconds, such as the message in the image below:
Wouldn’t it be too much work to manage every social media account separately? In the past, it was something unavoidable. But now, when you have a number of social media platforms, which enable you to manage everything from within one single dashboard why would you take the longer route? Use tools like Agorapulse to create, schedule, track, and optimize your social media campaigns, and sort out all the chaos.
With this feature, you can keep ahead of the game by truly knowing what your most relevant audience is saying about you. Businesses must realize that social media is not just about blindly promoting products or brands. These channels give you the best opportunity to get insights into knowing what is being talked about, or what your users and customers are talking about in context to your product/brand. Tag the team for which that conversation is important and assign them to the relevant person.
Agorapulse, for example, allows you to monitor hashtags, find out what influencers are saying, etc. When you can gauge discussions happening online you can take control of the situation and steer them in your favor. This is part and parcel of your online reputation management.
Flexible, real-time collaboration with team members becomes extremely simple with tools like Agorapulse. You have complete knowledge of which team member is working on what, who is editing a copy, reviewing a campaign, etc. The tool also makes it very simple to collaborate with clients.
Tracking and reporting
Keep track of all important micro and macro metrics that can help you analyze the performance of your campaigns. With Agorapulse you get intuitive and instant reports, which give a complete view of how all your campaigns. This way, when you have to show your clients your performance reports or have to show your managers their performance over a period of time, you do not have to worry about digging up too much data from the burrows. You can present completely professional looking reports instantly.
Targeting the right audience is the essence of marketing. When you segment your audience based on certain predefined characteristics and then target those ‘clusters,’ you add more clarity and purpose, to your campaign. By choosing these specific segments, you make sure that those who you are targeting with a certain campaign are the perfect fit for that marketing effort. With Agorapulse you can deep dive into analytics to segment audience based on behavior, demographics, etc. and create tailor-made content for that segment.
Update: Agorapulse has taken all the considerable steps to make sure that they are GDPR compliant. Their website has a detailed overview of their GDPR roadmap and the changes they have made to make compliance transparent. Visit this link to understand more about Agorapulse and GDPR.
Having discussed these features in detail, let’s dive into a detailed comparison between Hootsuite and Agorapulse.
Hootsuite vs. Agorapulse
Dashboard or Interface
The interface is the most important component of the tool for its users. If the dashboard is easy to understand and use it empowers the user. If it is complicated, it can leave one feel completely lost. Hootsuite’s dashboard is very simple to understand and use. Within the dashboard, each social media account is differentiated from the other by tabs. Same goes for feeds as well. This enables the user to get a bird’s eye view of everything in a glance.
What is limiting, however, is the arrangement or organization of things inside the dashboard. Things can look cluttered when you are managing too much at a time inside the dashboard. When you are handling too many campaigns from within Hootsuite, at a point you will feel that there is an overflow of tabs, and visually it all gets very hotchpotch. Once you have more than four tabs, you will need to scroll horizontally on the dashboard to view the 5th, 6th, and other tabs. Only four can be seen on the screen.
I feel, Agorapulse has a better interface. Their dashboard is neat and quite presentable. The dashboard allows you to see which item requires your immediate attention. This is the quality of a useful tool – it helps you understand what needs to be done.
Icons inside the dashboard, represent social media accounts on which your campaigns are running. Each account has an Inbox and a Monitoring feed. You can find all your messages, mentions, user comments to your content such as discussions on Linkedin groups, etc. In the monitoring field, you can find all the content such as retweets, page mentions, content liked and shared, etc. I think this is the main reason why Agorapulse looks more professional, sorted, and neat tool for managing social media.
The conversation stream in Hootsuite requires you to set up at least five different columns for each of your social media accounts. So, for Facebook, you need to set up an inbound direct message column, outbox column, mentions column, retweet column, and one column per keyword search. This is obviously too much work, and again too much information overload for a bird’s eye view.
You’ll need to set up these five streams for all your other social media accounts too – Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. Now imagine how chaotic everything would appear if you maintain 3 Facebook pages, 2 Linkedin accounts, and 2 Twitter accounts!
On the other hand, Agorapulse organizes conversations to enable marketers to respond quickly. It’s easy to find out which conversations and messages require your immediate attention. Messages ‘to you’ and ‘about you’ are segregated into ‘inbox’ and ‘monitoring’. All the messages are arranged in a chronology. You have context about the messages, and hence control over social listening. Everything is organized on-point, such as the ability to mark items ‘reviewed’, using which you can keep marking things that you’ve already attended to.
Competitor research capability
Hootsuite does not offer any functionality to help you with competitor research. Agorapulse is smart to do that for you. Using Agorapulse, you can track metrics about competitors’ performance, such as PTAT (People Talking About This), user interaction on a page, etc. You can also dig into competitor historical data, using which you can make month on month comparisons.
Within Hootsuite, you can create streams of PUBLIC social media messages. These streams allow you to track conversations happening around certain keywords. Hootsuite supports Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter for social listening.
Setting up PUBLIC social media streams is a simple process. Select the ‘Keyword’ tab, the ‘social media platform’ that you want to track conversations on, and enter the phrase you need to track conversations around. However, to track those conversations you will have to login every time. So, you get notified about something important only if you are logged in at that time. You won’t get any ‘notification’ about it. It might happen that if you aren’t logged in, you might miss participating/responding in time to a user’s post which is really urgent and important.
Agorapulse realizes how important it is to respond to conversations in real-time. That is why it synchronizes with your social media without the need to be logged in around the clock. You get ‘notifications’ in your email so that you can keep track of conversations 24/7, and respond just in time. Moreover, their keyword monitoring tool is also much more advanced than Hootsuite’s. You can use phrases to ‘contain’ and ‘ignore’ certain keywords. For example, you can use a phrase that contains ‘Hootsuite comparison’ but ignore ‘buffer’.
Hootsuite lacks even in the app creation and support periphery. If you want to use Facebook apps for your running a marketing campaign, you can’t depend on Hootsuite for running and tracking that particular app based campaign. You will need to use some other tool for it. However, because Agorapulse offers some basic range of app creation and support abilities. You can run contests, giveaways, etc. on your Facebook app using Agorapulse. If you need to run advanced campaigns, you will still need another tool for it.
The reports that you can generate using Hootsuite depend on the plan that you have purchased. There are two report formats – basic and enhanced. So, even if you have signed up for their PRO plan, you get only one enhanced report and three basic reports. If you want to generate more reports you will have to shell out extra money!
Agorapulse (thankfully) allows you to create as many reports as you want, no matter how many social media platforms you are managing. Each report includes details about the tasks that you’ve done, for example, the number of tweets reviewed, responses sent, etc. Performance on such metrics allows you to understand that amount of work your team has done, and ramp up things if need be.
Customer Relationship Management
CRM is an important part of marketing; however, all tools aren’t designed to serve this capability. For example, if you want to manage CRM within Hootsuite, you’ll need to integrate a CRM tool with it, which means extra money. Nimble is already integrated with Hootsuite; however, if you want to use it you will need to pay another $15, over and above what you are paying for Hootsuite.
Agorapulse does offer basic CRM functionalities. And, if you need just the basic help, Agorapulse is the tool that you should opt for social media management. Using Agorapulse’s CRM capability you can identify those users or engage with your posts and content. These users are segmented under three categories – fans, ambassadors, and likers.
To create a customized experience, Hootsuite offers a range of extensions and applications that can be added to the Hootsuite dashboard. There are way too many tools that you can integrate with, some of which are available for free and some that will cost you money. You can use these tools for email marketing, analytics, collaboration, compliance, eCommerce, video marketing, and whatnot.
Agorapulse also integrates with some smart apps out there; however, their range isn’t as vast as Hootsuite’s. If you are an agency or a small business that doesn’t need too many customizations, Agorapulse should be your go-to tool.
Coming to the point – Agorapulse is a cost-effective tool for agencies because there is ‘one price’ for accessing all the features. Neither less nor more; just one fixed price. On the other hand, Hootsuite’s pricing varies based on team size and the number of reports that you want to generate. Hootsuite doesn’t charge based on the number of social media profiles you are handling. In this way, Hootsuite is more flexible with pricing. At least I think so.
Update: While researching details about GDPR and Hootsuite I came across their website page which has clearly explained their mechanisms for dealing with the new laws. They have updated their privacy policies, the Data processing addendum, planned an overview of their organization-wide data protection activities and check for their compliance.
Few other one-on-one comparisons
One comparison isn’t sufficient to decide if a certain tool is the best choice you could make. Let’s make a few other comparisons to arrive at a solid conclusion.
Agorapulse vs. Buffer
Buffer is a tool for managing basic tasks. It will need you to buy a completely separate subscription for doing tasks like replying to comments and conversations. Agorapulse allows managing a lot from one single dashboard.
If you are using Buffer you know that you have to rely on native Facebook to manage comments on sponsored Facebook ads. It’s time-consuming and inefficient. In Agorapulse all comments on your sponsored content reach your Inbox. Isn’t that way simpler to manage?
Agorapulse offers much better scheduling options than Buffer. You can set your scheduling to publish the same post multiple times after fixed periods, choose to schedule the post at different times for different channels, etc.
Unlike Buffer, Agorapulse gives you the freedom to get reports on user engagement, campaign performance, etc. whenever you want. That sort of flexibility is enviable.
Agorapulse has nailed CRM. You can ‘reply to others’ from within your the tool without having to invest in something like Buffer Reply separately. With just ‘Buffer’ minus the ‘Buffer Reply’ you can only gauge what users are saying but not reply to them. Also, you can learn about SocialPilot another Buffer alternative that is worth a try.
Agorapulse vs Sprout Social
Publishing and scheduling posts is smarter with Agorapulse. You get a lot of freedom over scheduling your posts. You can set ‘queues’ in Agorapulse for repeat scheduling, and make your content ‘evergreen’. For example, you can choose to publish a certain post every five days for a month. With the ‘queue next’ option, you can choose which post appears on the top. These small features make Agorapulse much better at handling publishing and scheduling. You have basic scheduling and publishing options in SproutSocial as well, but not as sorted as Agorapulse’s.
Social listening and Facebook conversations happen in real time with Agorapulse. You always get notified about comments on your paid and organic social media content in real time. This enables you to respond in real-time. In short, you can manage your active campaigns intelligently with Agorapulse.
Agorapulse is a much more affordable option for agencies. Estimating the cost of both tools, on an annual basis Agorapulse will cost you roughly around $1900 if you are managing around 25 social media accounts, are a team of five members, and need to download social media reports frequently. Keeping your requirements the same, Social Sprout will cost you somewhere around $15000!
Agorapulse supports publishing content on Facebook groups, inbox and monitoring for Youtube, and allows capturing comments on Facebook ads. Social sprout doesn’t allow any of these.
Agorapulse vs. Zoho Social
Campaign analysis is completely missing from Zoho Social. So, while you can schedule your campaigns, you can’t track your performance. This is a critical capability that Zoho Social misses out on.
Social listening is better managed with Agorapulse as compared to Zoho Social. You don’t get email notifications about real-time conversations happening around your product or brand or posts if you are using Zoho social. This is a distinguished and brilliant feature that only Agorapulse offers.
Unlike Zoho Social, Agorapulse allows commenting to messages inside the ‘inbox’ and ‘mentions.’ Zoho is more like Buffer in this case.
Multiple user accounts can be created for Agorapulse users. Zoho social lacks this capability.
This might seem like a small thing, but the preview functionality allows you to double check the posts that you are about to queue or publish instantly. Agorapulse offers this functionality, but Zoho social doesn’t.
Agorapulse offers online support, video tutorials, and knowledge base for its users. Zoho only offers online support.
Agorapulse is far more secure than Zoho Social. Agorapulse offers HTTPS encryption for all pages, supports multi-factor authentication, and allows backing up data in multiple locations.
Wrapping it up – Agorapulse emerges as the winner.
Most of the times, businesses purchase a social media tool based only on how much is it costing them. This is not the right approach. A social media management tool is not just something that you should be using to publish buffer posts in as little time as possible. It is something that can truly empower you to manage social media marketing. When you start taking social media marketing seriously, you will realize how important it is for staying connected with your target audience.
Social media marketing tools will then mean ‘growth’ for you. If you have already realized the potential of social media management platforms then it is time you sign-up for a tool as brilliant as Agorapulse. This tool has some really killer features – scheduling, real-time commenting, intelligent social listening, replying from within the inbox, etc. The kind of capabilities that Agorapulse offers are missing even from some of the best tools such as Hootsuite. To get such efficiency from other tools you need to shell more money on integrations. So, if you really want to win at your social media game, Agorapulse can take you to the top. For agencies especially Agorapulse is the best tool available so far.