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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.
Channels, features, content types supported.
True auto-posting? Visual planning & more.
Reply and manage user engagement across channels.
How useful are the insights and reporting?
Different plan tiers, and are added users or channels extra?
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.
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.
Its raise to fame was its flexible and affordable pricing — which wasn't typical in the industry back in the day. Over the years Buffer stayed true to its core: stay simple, stay fast, stay minimal. I love Buffer because you can set up a "post queue" for the times you want social media posts to go out, and then simply focus on post creation to fill up the queue. Zero hassle. And Buffer also has powerful native integrations so it'll fit right in your workflow. The analytics aren't powerful, but if you're Buffer's target audience—small businesses and solopreneurs—you honestly don't need the bells and whistles that Hootsuite & Sked offer.
Buffer's future? You can expect the team to focus on polishing existing features over adding new ones.
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.
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 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 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.
Sked Social. Considering its affordable entry point and unlimited user seats, it’s best for solopreneurs, small and mid-sized businesses, and agencies alike.
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.
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.
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.
Sked lets you interact with comments and direct messages on Instagram, Facebook 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 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 business plan or higher.
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.
Sprout Social. It's packed full of features and supports all social channels.
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 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 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.
Sprout Social. On top of its plentiful in-depth reports, it has a powerful social listening tool.
Non-IG focused enterprise businesses and eCom stores that need strong analytics and a general management tool.
Enterprises with teams that manage a huge amount of accounts or agencies with many clients.
Influencers, Solopreneurs, and IG-focused eCom. Agencies and small to large businesses that need powerful automation.