Hootsuite vs Sprout Social vs Sked Social:

The Best Tool for 2023

by David Olsen

Hootsuite and Sprout Social are extremely popular social media management tools. Although they overlap, they both have nuanced features that make them better for different use cases. Sked Social is similar to both of the above, but serves a specific use case that neither Hootsuite nor Sprout are good for.

In this article, we'll be comparing the following

Supported social channels

Channels, features, content types supported.

Scheduling & posting

True auto-posting? Visual planning & more.

Inbox management

Reply and manage user engagement across channels.

Analytics

How useful are the insights and reporting?

Pricing

Different plan tiers, and are added users or channels extra?

Comparison summary

Hootsuite vs. Sprout Social vs. Sked Social

Hootsuite is best for enterprise companies with big advertising budgets that need a general social media management software with advanced reporting features. Sprout Social is a conversation management and social media presence exploration powerhouse, useful for marketers who need to manage a lot of accounts and refine their strategy with social listening.

Because Sked Social has unlimited user seats on almost all paid plans, it's best suited for teams of any size that want a powerful and easy-to-use scheduling tool, with advanced Instagram posting and analytics features.

Pricing
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Starts at $149/mo based on annual billing subscription. All features at $739/mo for 35 accounts and 5 users.
  • ⭐ ⭐
    Starts at $249/mo. All features at $499 for unlimited accounts +$349/mo for every additional user.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Starts at $30/mo. All features for $159/mo for unlimited users and 30 accounts, with the option to add-on more.
Social Media Channels
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports every major channel except Google Business.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports every major channel, except Google Business.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports auto-publishing on everything except TikTok.
Scheduling & Posting
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Intuitive scheduling with option to edit for every channel separately. 
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Hard-to-find publishing tools. Can’t edit content for each channel separately.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Intuitive scheduling with option to edit for every channel separately. Supports advanced auto-publishing of IG stories.
Inbox Management
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Manage conversations across every channel. Saved replies locked on “Pro” and “Team” plans
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Manage conversations across every channel. Filter, collaborate, and create custom views. Create chatbots to automate replies.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Fully manage FB conversations and IG DMs. Save and repost tagged in media. Great collaboration tools to help the team stay on top.
Analytics
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Customizable reports with powerful metrics including link tracking. Paid and team performance on enterprise plan.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    In-depth analytics and powerful tools, can track paid campaigns and team performance. Social media listening.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Insightful analytics for long or short time frames, everything already set up with intuitive UI. Advanced IG analytics with competition tracking.
Team Management
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    No external collaboration. Custom internal approval “workflows”.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Limit of 3 external approvers.  Custom internal approval  “workflows”.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports internal team management & external collaborators for approval.
Ease of use
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Simple UI with a short learning curve. Slightly less clear than Sked Social.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Overwhelming UI with cluttered menus. Takes time to get used to the structure.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Intuitive UI with easy-to-find tools and functionalities. The learning curve is very short.
Best for...
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • Non-IG-focused enterprise brands that need to manage big ad budgets.
  • Enterprises with small teams that manage a huge amount of social media accounts.
  • Agencies and teams of any size.  IG-focused eCom companies.small businesses.
  • Price
  • Social Media Channels
  • Scheduling and Posting
  • Inbox Management
  • Analytics
  • Team Management
  • Ease of use
  • Best for
  • Hootsuite
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Starts at $149/mo based on annual billing subscription. All features unlocked in the custom-priced enterprise plan with 50 accounts and 5 users.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports every major channel except Google Business.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Intuitive scheduling with option to edit for every channel separately.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Manage conversations across every channel. Saved replies locked available on the custom-priced enterprise plan.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Customizable reports with powerful metrics including link tracking. Paid and team performance on enterprise plan.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    No external collaboration. Custom internal approval “workflows”.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Simple UI with a short learning curve. Slightly less clear than Sked Social.
  • Non-IG-focused enterprise brands that need to manage big ad budgets.
  • Sprout Social
  • ⭐ ⭐
    Starts at $249/mo. All features at $499 for unlimited accounts +$349/mo for every additional user.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports every major channel.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Hard-to-find publishing tools. Can’t edit content for each channel separately.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Manage conversations across every channel. Filter, collaborate, and create custom views. Create chatbots to automate replies.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    In-depth analytics and powerful tools, can track paid campaigns and team performance. Social media listening.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Limit of 3 external approvers. Custom internal approval “workflows”.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Overwhelming UI with cluttered menus. Takes time to get used to the structure.
  • Enterprises with small teams that manage a huge amount of social media accounts.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Starts at $30/mo. All features for $159/mo for unlimited users and 30 accounts, with the option to add-on more.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐
    Supports every major channel.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Intuitive scheduling with option to edit for every channel separately. Supports advanced auto-publishing of IG stories.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Fully manage conversations on IG, FB, TikTok, LinkedIn and Google Business reviews. Save and repost tagged in media. Great collaboration tools to help the team stay on top.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Insightful analytics for long or short time frames, everything already set up with intuitive UI. Advanced IG analytics with competition tracking.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Supports unlimited team management & external collaborators for approval.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Intuitive UI with easy-to-find tools and functionalities. The learning curve is very short.
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
    Agencies and teams of any size. IG-focused eCom companies. small businesses.

Sked was built in 2014 by a bunch of Australian social media consultants.

They got sick of being asked "why can't I do X with Instagram" so they've built their own (and only) Instagram-first social media management platform. Since then Sked has evolved to become a social management machine with post queues, cross-channel posting, approvals workflow and Social Inbox… while still keeping up with Instagram's latest features like product & user tagging, adding locations and first comments, grid planning, story posting, and link stickers.

Sked also has powerful analytics that show post engagement by the hour. Of course, special love goes to Instagram analytics with Hashtag performance, IG story analytics, and competitor tracking. When it comes to pricing, for teams managing more than 7 social media channels Sked's pricing becomes cheaper than Buffer's.

As for the future of Sked, I asked director Hugh Stephens what's in store and he said "nothing but more awesomeness."

Hootsuite is a widely used social media management platform created by Ryan Holmes in 2008.

It does auto-scheduling well but lacks some more advanced features of its competitors. It's a real powerhouse when it comes to analytics. The AI-based assistant will help you schedule posts at the best times for either the most awareness, engagement, or traffic. Hootsuite also supports all major channels and has a huge app directory where you can find community-made apps to expand your feature set even more. It is pricey, and it doesn't scale well with the number of team members at all.

But this shouldn't be a problem if you're Hoot's target audience: a big enterprise company running nationwide, trend-setting social campaigns supported by a huge budget for paid advertising.

Sprout was founded in 2010 with the theory that social media would change the way the world communicates and how businesses operate.

It’s a powerful suite with deep listening and social media analytics tools that distinguish it from its competitors. Another one of Sprout’s unique strengths is the combination of its conversation management with the amazing internal collaboration tools: it allows you to stay on top of a huge number of conversations with assignments, filtering, and custom views. Package all of that in a suite that supports all social media platforms and you have an extremely capable tool that can, in specific cases, justify such a high price — even with the sub-standard scheduling tools.

Sprout is for high-end marketers that want to track and organize every aspect of their social media campaign and refine their strategies with powerful social listening and exploration — at any scale.

Hootsuite vs Sprout vs Sked Social

Pricing

Sprout is very expensive, Hootsuite is pricey, Sked is most affordable.

None of the three apps have a free plan, but they all have a limited-time free version. Sprout and Hootsuite have a 30-day trial, while Sked has a 7-day trial.

  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • Hootsuite
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • Sprout Social
  • ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

When it comes to entry-level pricing, Sked Social is the most affordable and flexible at $30/mo.

Hootsuite is $99/mo (annual subscription only), and Sprout’s pricing feels even more steep at $249/mo.

Sked Social has by far the friendliest entry-level plans for solopreneurs or influencers. With 5 accounts included in the plan, it’s a mere fraction of the price you’d pay on Sprout for the same number of accounts.

Hootsuite is also an option if you’re managing up to 10 accounts and you’re ok with committing to an annual subscription. I say that because Hootsuite charges 50% more on the monthly plan — which simply isn’t worth it, considering how many features are locked on their basic plan.

  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • Sked Social
  • Basic plan
  • $149/month
    1 user
    10 accounts
    $99/mo on annual
  • $249/month
    5 social accounts
    +$199/mo/user
  • $30/month
    5 social accounts
    1 user
  • Intermediate plan
  • $399/month
    3 users
    20 accounts
    $249/mo on annual
  • $399/month
    Unlimited accounts
    +$299/mo/user
  • $89/month
    13 social accounts
    unlimited users
  • Advanced Plan
  • $custom
    5 users
    50 accounts
    (only annual)
  • $499/month
    Unlimited accounts
    +$349/mo/user
  • $159/month
    20 social accounts
    unlimited users
  • Annual discount
  • Depends on plan
  • 2 months free

For teams, Sked is most affordable at $89/mo for unlimited users. Hootsuite comes second at $399/mo for 3 users, and Sprout grows by $199/mo for every new user.

Hootsuite and Sprout's cheapest team options both start at $249/month. The difference is that Sprout’s price balloons as soon as you add additional team members, while Hootsuite gets capped at a maximum of 3 users and you need to commit to an annual subscription for the price.

Also consider that Sprout’s basic plan supports only 5 social media profiles, so unless you’re managing only one small brand, you’ll quickly need to jump to a pricier plan at $399/month base and $299/mo for every additional user.

Meanwhile, Sked’s intermediate and advanced plans both support unlimited users.

Its price depends on how many accounts you want to manage, and with their advanced plan priced at $159/month for 20 accounts, it still comes out on top as the most affordable tool for teams.

Winner

Sked Social. Considering its affordable entry point and unlimited user seats, it’s best for solopreneurs, small and mid-sized businesses, and agencies alike.

Hootsuite vs Sprout vs Sked Social

Supported Social Channels

Sprout supports all the major platforms, Hoot doesn’t support Google Business, while Sked goes extra with Instagram Threads.

Sked is the only platform that allows you to schedule Instagram Threads with notification-based publishing.

Using notification-based publishing, you can schedule posts like on any other channel. The difference is that when the time to post comes, you get notified through the mobile app (on iOS and Android). Clicking on the notification downloads the prepared content and opens Threads. Then you can create the post and publish it manually.

  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • Sked
Winner

Sked Social, because it supports auto-posting on all major platforms — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok Instagram. Plus you can schedule your Threads for a more cohesive Instagram strategy.

Hootsuite vs Sprout vs Sked Social

Scheduling & Posting

Sked Social has the best scheduling features, especially for IG-focused companies. Hootsuite has all the standard tools, while Sprout’s scheduling functionality is lacking.

  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • buffer
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Scheduling is easiest with Hoot and Sked, while scheduling with Sprout is time-consuming.

Scheduling a post in Sprout Social feels like the tool is working against you. The composer is hidden in the top-right corner of the interface and you have to dig around two menus to get to the content calendar.

And that’s just to get to the scheduling tools.

Although the composer lets you publish on multiple social media channels at the same time, it doesn’t let you edit the caption for each channel separately. So you can’t adjust your message for short-form channels like Twitter.

Meaning, you have to create separate social media posts, wasting a lot of time.

On Sked and Hootsuite however, you can easily customize the captions for each of the platforms you’re cross-posting to by clicking on the platform tabs. Both will also allow you to preview your posts with custom captions before you hit Schedule.

Sprout and Sked let you queue posts, while Hootsuite doesn’t have a queue feature.

Post queues take auto-scheduling to the next level.

Sked and Sprout let you set posting times for each social account,  fully customizable by the day. Once set, the next posts you create will populate the queue and publish them at the set time.

If you’re working at scale, post queues are massive time-savers.

  • Tag products
  • Tag people
  • Add location
  • First comment
  • Posts
  • Reels
  • Stories
  • Link stickers
  • Hootsuite
  • buffer
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • Sked
  • Tag products
  • Tag people
  • Add location
  • First comment
  • Posts
  • Reels
  • Stories
  • Link stickers
  • Image carousels

All three tools work with Instagram, but only Sked allows advanced scheduling with multi-content stories and story link stickers.

Hootsuite and Sprout allow you to auto-post Instagram stories but only with a single image or video. And you can’t add any link stickers. Sure, you can schedule a multi-content story or one with a link sticker, but you'll get a mobile app notification when it’s time to publish, and you have to do the publishing manually.

But Sked Social has advanced story auto-publishing capabilities because it’s the only social media tool on the market that runs on actual phones. Their software uses a wall of phones in their office to log into your account by actually pressing buttons and publishing just like you would.

That's how Sked goes around Instagram's API limitations and you can use all of IG's nuanced publishing features.

Winner

Sked Social. The scheduling processes are fast and user-friendly, with cross-channel posting support. Sked is especially powerful for Instagram-focused companies because it supports advanced Instagram publishing including multi-content stories and story auto-posting with link stickers.

Hootsuite vs Sprout vs Sked Social

Conversation and Inbox Management

Hootsuite inbox feels incomplete. Sked has everything you need to manage conversations like a pro.

  • buffer
  • Hootsuite
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • Hootsuite
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • buffer
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Sked is great for users that require multi-channel Inbox support.

Sked lets you interact with comments and direct messages on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn. You can even manage your Google Business reviews and Q&As within Sked Inbox.

It lets you filter conversations based on accounts (1), reply to messages or comments (2), and even see information on the person you’re interacting with (3).

You can also see posts that you’ve been mentioned or tagged in here and save the media to your library as user generated content.

It functions as a great collaborative environment where you can work with your team to stay on top of your social media efforts. And all of the functionality is available with any plan.

Hootsuite covers all channels, but only becomes powerful on the business plan.

Hootsuite has an intuitive inbox and lets you manage conversations across every connected platform.

In the image to the right, the inbox looks more barren than Sked's inbox. And that's because most features are locked unless you’re on the custom-priced enterprise plan.

Sprout is a conversation management powerhouse — built for scale.

With Sprout, you can view the conversations across all your social networks and collaboratively manage everything — in one place. But the biggest case for Sprout’s inbox features is what it lets you do with all that information.

It almost works like some kind of a social CRM.

You can create custom views to extract only the relevant information, and filter everything by date, social channel, and even tags, languages, or message types — allowing you and your team to stay on top of a huge amount of social chatter.

Sprout’s only downside is the cluttered UI, but that’s what you get with so much functionality.

Winner

Sprout Social. It's packed full of features and supports all social channels.

Hootsuite vs Sprout vs Sked Social

Analytics

Sked has the best curated analytics, Hootsuite has customizable reports and advanced tools, Sprout is an analytics powerhouse with in-depth reports and social listening.

  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • Hootsuite
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • buffer
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Sked Social in-depth analytics are curated and clear.

Sked analytics give you everything you need to drive your growth.

From tracking an individual post’s performance by the hour, to understanding your whole account’s progress in the past two years… From hashtag performance, audience analysis, IG story analytics, and even to competitor analysis: all data is packaged into clear reports that work perfectly right out of the box.

Hootsuite uses customizable reports, and also tracks links, internal activity, and ads.

Hootsuite provides the same in-depth data as Sked Social, but you have to build the reports yourself. Because of this, it might be better for users that need to emphasize certain metrics for external reports.

On higher plans, Hootsuite also lets you track link, ad, and team performance:

Sprout can do everything Hootsuite can and also has a great social listening tool.

Sprout also has preset reports like Sked, but offers more of them. Sprout also tracks every analytics that Hootsuite does, expect link tracking.

But Sprout Social’s defining feature is its powerful social media listening tool.

You can set up topic for monitoring, listen to the social chatter across the internet, and gain insights into what people are talking about.

It lets you look into each topic’s performance over time, track social conversations across platforms and forums, monitor demographic data and sentiment, and even track messages from key influencers in real time.

Powerful stuff. Really useful if you’re running large-scale social media marketing campaigns — the insights can help you refine or even determine your whole digital marketing strategy.

Winner

Sprout Social. On top of its plentiful in-depth reports, it has a powerful social listening tool.

Hootsuite vs Sprout vs Sked Social

Pros & Cons

Hootsuite is filled with cons, Sprout is an expensive listening tool. Sked fills the gaps of both.

Sked gives you everything an agency or team needs to manage multiple accounts across multiple social channels.

  • Hootsuite pros
  • All account conversations in one place
  • Clean UI
  • Custom analytics reports
  • Good bulk scheduling
  • Link tracking + paid monitoring
  • Hootsuite cons
  • Limited users
  • No Google Business integrations
  • No visual Instagram planner
  • No external approval process
  • Notoriously bad customer support
  • Sprout pros
  • Best for large scale
  • Unlimited social profiles with higher plans
  • Best conversation management tools
  • Social listening
  • Great analytics + paid tracking
  • Can create bots
  • Sprout cons
  • Long learning curve
  • Time-consuming scheduling tools
  • Very expensive
  • Limited external approval process
  • Sked social pros
  • Great value for money
  • Visual Instagram planner
  • Scales extremely well
  • Most affordable for any team size
  • Advanced Instagram scheduling
  • Sked Social cons
  • No automated link tracking

Buffer vs Hootsuite vs Sked Social

Final Verdict

Hootsuite is a general tool for enterprise teams, Sprout for managing many accounts with social listening, and Sked for collaboration with powerful-yet-affordable post scheduling features.

Each tool is similar in terms of use-case and functionality, but the pricing and analytics make them suited for different audiences.

Hootsuite

Best for

Non-IG focused enterprise businesses and eCom stores that need strong analytics and a general management tool.

Use Hootsuite if...
  • You need powerful analytics and custom reports for a reasonable price

  • You're an enterprise team that doesn’t focus heavily on Instagram

  • You don’t need to collaborate with over five teammates

Sprout Social

Best for

Enterprises with teams that manage a huge amount of accounts or agencies with many clients.

Use sprout social if...
  • You need detailed social insights into what people are talking about on the internet

  • You’re managing a huge number of accounts across many clients

  • You’re fine with the steep price

Sked Social

Best for

Influencers, Solopreneurs, and IG-focused eCom. Agencies and small to large businesses that need powerful automation.

Use Sked social if...
  • You’re an Instagram-focused small to large business or eCom store

  • You’re a solopreneur or influencer that needs an affordable automation tool

  • You’re a one person shop, team of any size, or an agency that works a lot with external clients

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