How to Schedule Social Media Posts Effectively
By Sandra BuschSep 14
Published July 17th 2023
Social media trends move fast. With internet users having an average of 8.5 social media accounts, brands often have accounts on several networks.
It means anyone involved in social media marketing needs to be abreast of all the options when running social accounts for businesses, both big and small.
No matter the size of your business, having an insight into your social media analytics will help you channel your creative energy into engaging, relevant, and profitable activity. Some just focus on one social channel and thrive – businesses targeted at older audiences do well on Facebook and don’t need to worry about additional channels. Creative brands might want to just focus on TikTok. Others spread their wings across the entire social landscape and implement different strategies for different audiences. You can either have a dedicated social media analytics tool for each site or a tool that covers all the networks you are on.
But social media analysis is about more than just overseeing clicks and likes. Showing that you’ve developed a “large following” on Instagram can sound impressive in a board meeting. But it ultimately means nothing to your bosses if you can’t prove it’s converting into tangible results, such as sales, sign-ups, or support.
We know the value of understanding social media data and the costs involved all too well. Having the right tools to conduct social media analysis means you can benchmark your efforts and compare different strategies to see what is working and develop better campaigns.
So, we’ve split our overview of the internet’s best social media analytics tools into free and paid platforms.
Free social media analytics are great for freelancers, start-ups, and small businesses who need an initial understanding of what’s performing well and what isn’t. That’s not to say big companies can’t also utilize these tools for their marketing campaigns, but the scope of free tools will always be limited.
The majority of these free tools are based internally within each platform. You have quick and easy access to your social account’s analytics – but it’s not so easy if you want to compare performance across multiple platforms and metrics. For instance, the value of retweets on Twitter won’t measure up to Instagram comments, which makes it hard to judge engagement.
Still, there’s value to be found in using a platform’s own tools. Here are the top free social media analytics tools:
Facebook isn’t as popular as it once was amongst some audiences, but is still one of the biggest drivers of online commercial interest. You’ll find Audience Insights in the Meta Business Suite, which is a comprehensive platform for showcasing your business on all the Meta platforms.
Here you can get various forms of audience analysis that break down the demographics of your followers. Plus, of course, those all-important statistics. You can also set goals, produce reports, conduct social media follower analysis, refine your potential audience and benchmark your business against others.
Benchmarking is perhaps the most useful tool it offers for small businesses that aspire to become market leaders. You can compare yourself against much bigger rivals and either be inspired by their Facebook marketing strategies or break away from them.
If you want to know more, check out our list of Facebook analytics tools.
Use it for:
If your work has a Facebook presence, it’ll be easy enough to get Instagram insights too. The two platforms are interlinked in the Meta Business Suite, and you can form a fairly strong free social marketing strategy just using these analytical tools.
The Insights tab in the Instagram app isn’t overly insightful for businesses. The amount of data available compared to the Meta Business Suite is incredibly limited and not something a business should base its social marketing strategy around. Still, it can be a quick overview of your social success over a short timeframe, indicating you’re heading in the right direction.
TikTok Analytics offers many of the same basic data sets as Instagram, but you can dig deeper into each post via the Content tab. Three of the most important metrics with TikTok are average watch time, watched the full video, and traffic source type.
From here, you can understand both what your audience likes and, crucially, how they get to your posts. TikTok loves it when you tailor your content to your audience. It means you might end up with a vastly different strategy to a more measured Facebook/Instagram blueprint, but it could be the one that works best for your company.
The business world still doesn't quite know what to do with Twitter – and now there’s more competition for news-based social media as Threads joins the market. Both Twitter, and now Threads, are fantastic platforms for thought leadership: spreading news and engaging in conversations, but fairly dreadful for converting likes and followers into sales. And trying to spark engagement just doesn’t work if you don’t put in the time to understand what works.
So how to make sense of it? Twitter Analytics, the platform’s free control hub, gives an overview of how your posts have fared over a certain period. You can view successful posts to get metrics like views, shares, engagement, etc. But it's a fairly pared-back platform, and all the better tools like keyword and engagement targeting analysis are only available when you sign up to Twitter Ads.
Twitter Analytics isn't the best for strategizing a marketing plan or visualizing your data. For that, a paid social media tool would be more useful.
YouTube Analytics houses its performance data in one place, so you can easily flip between total views, watch time, average view duration, and, crucially, estimated revenue. Like TikTok Analytics, you can see how viewers found your video. Understanding this can help increase your channel’s footprint. Converting views into clicks or sales remains the ultimate goal, though, and there isn’t much insight into how you appeal to your audience. However, it’s a great tool if you have subscribers. Generate reports on what subscribers like, why they subscribe and why they unsubscribe.
Anyone who has used a free LinkedIn account knows how much the platform pushes you to buy a Premium package. LinkedIn almost gleefully denies showing you everyone who has viewed your profile, posts, and articles and makes a convincing case to upgrade.
However, some good free analysis is available for Business Page users. This primarily looks at visitor profile metrics to determine who sees your content. But it won't show you how they found your amazing stuff or why it is successful, and to be fair, if LinkedIn is your company’s primary marketing channel, it’s worth paying for Premium.
Google Analytics is one of the best oversight tools for understanding your website's traffic sources. And it’s free! But what’s it got to do with social media analytics? While it doesn't delve into specific social media analysis, it can reveal which social channels your web audience has come from.
And if a web focus is what you need for page hits, sales, or conversions, then it beats other free social media analytics tools in many ways. Click on Acquisition, then Social, to see which social sites are referring the most viewers to your site. This is particularly useful if you're limited by time and budget, as you can see if you’re hitting those all-important business goals. When you have the results, any underperforming social streams can be dropped, giving you time to focus on those that are generating the audience you need.
As we’ve seen above, most social media platforms offer their own forms of analytics tools. But these free tools may only give you a limited view. It can be a nightmare to compile and compare analytics from different social account tools without one all-encompassing software.
Thankfully paid-for social media insight tools exist. These usually aim to connect data from various accounts under one umbrella platform, so that you can produce company-wide reports on multiple social channels.
These may cost money, but in return, you’ll often get a dedicated team on hand to help you generate reports and be able to understand data. You’ll delve further into your analytics for creative insights that can help you do your job better rather than just plain old numbers. If used correctly, paid social media analysis tools swiftly pay for themselves, often in sheer timesaving alone, but having visualizations can help you tell a story when reporting social media results back to different teams.
There are no prizes for guessing who we'll start off mentioning here. Brandwatch Consumer Research is a powerful analytics tool specializing in social listening and digital consumer intelligence. We take data from social platforms and the web, letting you combine data from different sources.
We’re all about deep social media analysis that can inform those business decisions. This means monitoring conversations around your brand, discovering consumer intent, and undertaking competitor analysis, all in real-time. That means you can stay on top of what’s happening: a once-a-quarter marketing audit will leave you desperately out of touch.
The Brandwatch platform is also designed to easily generate data visualizations from basic charts to emoji and topic clouds. Anticipate consumer demand, realign your content and report back all on one of the best social media analytics tools out there.
Brand24 champions online reputation protection, covering the core social media platforms along with marketing and strategy advice. It’s great for businesses keen on building a regular customer base with its tools that help you locate satisfied customers through surveys.
Sentiment analysis is another important facet of Brand24’s platform, and it’s also a detailed tracker of influencers, scoring them based on source and popularity. If your product or service could cause controversy, you’ll love that it allows you to identify dissatisfied customers before they write a bad review. This reputation and crisis monitoring tool could be vital for your business.
BuzzSumo is an excellent tool for social media analysis and tracks billions of pieces of content across social networks and forums, including:
It’s especially great for content research. You can enter any keyword to get a load of engagement metrics, such as your best-performing content or the best times to post, which will help you improve your strategy.
You can also analyze your whole site (or competitor sites) for social share performance, meaning you can find out how many times content has been shared. On top of that, there’s the ability to track specific keywords (like your brand name) and see how often they’re mentioned across the web – which is especially useful for media monitoring and crisis management.
For ease of use, download the BuzzSumo Chrome Extension for free and analyze search and social data as you browse the internet. You can also link it to social scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
If you want to try it out, try Buzzsumo free for up to 10 searches a month.
Vizia is a data visualization and reporting tool perfect for transforming reams of data into digestible charts and graphs, which can then be shared company-wide. The live data reports and real-time displays can be useful if you work in events or are regularly breaking news.
It's perfect for businesses that deal with complex information. As well as the common social media tools, you can link Vizia Brandwatch Consumer Research, Google Analytics, and other major platforms for a 360-degree view of all your content’s performance.
Quintly recently added TikTok to its social analytics network, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. It was also one of the first to monitor Instagram Reels after Meta decided to release its Reels data openly.
Quintly is an all-in-one dashboard tool. Users can customize their platform with various widgets, including the impressive cross-network analysis covering Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. See your overall social audience size, integration rate, top-performing pages, and more. It lets you focus on the metrics that your team cares about.
It’s designed for multi-platform analysis, great for comparing and contrasting your presence on different channels. Its multi-channel functions provide social media managers with the resources required to track and improve performance across the board.
Cyfe's all-in-one business dashboard may look a little mind-boggling initially, but it is a useful tool for overseeing your entire marketing suite. This means advertising, SEO, emails, website data, and monitoring can all be managed alongside social media. Click on the Social Media tab for data insights that cover demographics and global audiences across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. You can then link your social findings to web analytics and marketing campaigns to keep track of everything under one roof.
On the social media side, Hubspot primarily offers social media management and creation, where you can post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all from one place.
That's pretty standard, but because it also includes a full sales funnel, you can see your social media in the context of generated leads, retained customers, and earned revenue. You can visualize the pathway from intent to action and learn why people subscribe, click away or reshare your posts.
All this is based on the marketing analytics dashboard that pulls in social data to help you to understand where your online presence fits into a broader company context.
A good organization tool for large business operations, it is available for free, while paid subscriptions have much more operational power.
Dive deeper into your audience demographics and behaviors via Sparktoro's audience research tool. You can see how current and potential customers interact with your marketing campaigns by linking them to core social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Perhaps most interestingly, you get information on how other social accounts drive successful engagement and can replicate it yourself. The tool also lets you hear what influential content streams are saying about your company, pick up on things you might have missed, and recommend trending hashtags to consider.
Sparktoro's range of free tools allows you to analyze fake followers and see the latest social trends, but paid plans give more details.
Audiense Connect is a Twitter-specific marketing platform that helps businesses automatically engage with subscribers and customers through direct messages. If you don’t use Twitter, it might not be super useful, but its insights from that platform are second to none, offering cluster maps breaking down the audiences talking about different topics on the platform. This is useful for market research as well as understanding your Twitter following.
From an analytics perspective, Audiense Connect breaks down your Twitter following and prospective customers, notifies you of the best time to tweet, and provides intersection reports that can better inform marketing strategy. You can take action from the insights by building a chatbot to automatically direct people to what they need and reduce the time and staffing required to monitor socials 24/7.
Hootsuite is a tool that many social media managers are familiar with because it was one of the first to nail scheduled postings. It’s designed to make social posting easy across numerous channels. But this also makes it pretty handy for assessing performance.
Hootsuite lets you plug in accounts from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest. The dashboard is easy to navigate and offers fairly digestible analysis of the success of your posts, from reach to ROI data. Actionable insights, such as advice on shifting from free to paid advertising, or instigating a push towards viral content, can then be scheduled into the content calendar so you can see the fruits of your labor instantly. Not bad.
Agorapulse offers two fundamental pillars of social media analytics: monitoring and reporting. It is a useful tool for managing brand reputation, allowing you to respond quickly to potentially damaging conversations mentioning your brand.
From an analysis perspective, Agorapulse assesses organic and paid reach, clicks, views, and number of engaged users and provides recommendations on your next social content move.
Its Power Reports function lets you print out a detailed analysis of your social campaigns, from initiation to overall impact and success. The Agorapulse app is also available.
Social media managers don’t have time. We all know this. And keeping track of data takes longer than it should. But if you dedicate some of your precious workday to software that automatically collects statistics, you can swiftly transform bundles of data into reports.
That's what Keyhole is all about, promising that you'll save time and money that can be reinvested in growing your business. The social media analysis tool offers brand, campaign, hashtag, and influencer reporting from the big social hitters, all in snazzy reports that will look great on your next deck. It's quick and easy, and prices are customized to the size of your business.
LinkedIn is one of the most crucial, yet remains one of the more confounding, social media platforms for businesses to get analytics out of. Those who get their strategy right and master the LinkedIn Algorithm can generate plenty of leads from this industry-focused platform.
Shield hooks up to your LinkedIn profile(s) and analyzes audience demographics, your own content, and real-time data to help you understand your connections. This is useful on a business-facing platform where every connection could be a new client, supplier, or employee.
It's a smart app with a visually appealing interface. What's more, it's ideal for businesses chasing lead generation via LinkedIn rather than solely brand recognition.
As we’ve seen above, there are a lot of different social media analytics tools out there. Finding the right one for your business should be straightforward. Yet it requires you to consider what you need that analysis for, which is often a more strategic question about your brand’s overall approach to marketing.
We’ve come up with the following steps to identify your perfect social media analytics tool.
Consider what you use social media for. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive sales, or improve customer service? Different tools help in specific ways and some may not be aligned with your overall marketing goals. There’s no point getting data on revenue if you only use social media for brand awareness. Having a clear objective will help narrow down your options to get the most useful analytics.
Once you have your goals set out, it’s worth checking what budget you have to play with. If you’re an SME with limited funds then free social media analytics tools, or free trials to paid-for options, may be best. There are plenty of ways to slice and dice the data you get from platforms’ own analytics channels if you know what you’re doing, or you might want to invest a bit more into a tool that helps you draw out those crucial insights.
It’s also worth considering what you get back from social media. If you work in recruitment and LinkedIn is part of a core revenue stream for your business, then it will be worth investing in paid social media analytics tools to get the best out of that platform – even if your budget is tight.
Consider how often you’ll need to use the tool and which one will provide a smooth workflow. If there’s already a process you use for analytics in your business, will a new tool help or hinder that?
If you’re investing in a paid social media analytics tool, look for software that’s intuitive and easy for you to use. Does it integrate with other tools you use? Does it provide the sort of visuals you use in your reports? The best paid social media analytics tools offer free trials and introductory guides to help you seamlessly set up on their platforms, or you’ll have an account manager to help you get the best use out of the tool.
Ask yourself, and your team, how you can best integrate a tool across your social media workflow, and the platforms you currently use. Will it be easy to connect with all the social media channels you use? Do you need multiple users? For instance, a tool like Vizia pulls in data from your social channels and distributes understandable data. It means everyone from casual freelancers through to board members can access visual social media analytics data when they need it. This company-wide integration is ideal for big business but might not be necessary for start-ups with smaller teams.
If you’re unsure of where to commit your resources then take advantage of free trials. BuzzSumo, for example, has a 30-day free trial that gives you time to set up all your accounts, learn how to use the tool and get valuable data back – all before you decide whether or not to join the paid plan.
Talking to the sales team for many paid social media analytics tools will also help you understand how you can get value for money out of a tool.
Spending some time shopping around and finding the ideal tool to meet your goals will make all the difference.