How the Top 4 Free Social Media Management Tools Compare to Mailchimp

Stay on top of your online campaigns with a comprehensive, easy‑to‑use social media management tool—here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular options.

If you run a small business in 2021, you know social media marketing is a must. Staying on top of your content and posting schedule on each channel, particularly Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, is no small task, and having a streamlined system to manage your social channels makes all the difference. There are multiple social media management tools out there to save you time and stress while you create and run great campaigns.

Choosing a platform can be tricky, especially when a lot of “free” social media posting tools aren’t quite as free as they make themselves out to be. And aside from affordability, their reach and ease of use can vary.

Here’s a guide to help you compare a few of the most widely used tools out there and select the right one for your business.

 
 

How to choose a free social media management tool

There are a few questions you should ask yourself when selecting a social media management tool for your business.

Since social media management can easily eat up a lot of your time if not managed correctly, you want the platform you choose to be intuitive and easy to use. Take a look at customer feedback on industry forums to get an idea of how much time it will take to learn the platform you’re considering. How straightforward is the main interface where you’ll manage most of your posts? Are there any automated features and workflows to help you quickly create on-brand images and posts?

You’ll also want to be able to maximize your brand’s reach by launching and tracking multichannel marketing campaigns. What analytics and insights does the platform provide? Will it give you the information you need across social networks to assess your results and refine your strategies?

And of course, as with any tool you use for your small business, affordability is key. Are the tool’s free offerings enough for your business? It’s also worth considering the future—if your business grows and you later feel the need to upgrade, do the platform’s paid services justify its cost?

Free vs. kind of free

Not all free social media management platforms are created equal. Many free plans are limited in what they offer, while some providers, like Sendible and Sprout Social, offer free trials but not free plans.

For example, some free plans only allow you to work with a limited number of social media accounts or to schedule a small number of posts at a time. This may not be an issue when you’re getting started, but could pose a problem later on. Other plans may limit your number of users, which could be a hindrance as your team expands, or they may restrict the amount of analytic information you have access to. Other free versions may not allow you to manage your advertisements.

It’s important to read the fine print on any free trial or free plan you consider. Keep in mind how long the trial period is, what the features are, and the needs of your business now and in the future.

Social media features and more included in Mailchimp’s Free plan

Mailchimp started out as an email marketing tool for small businesses. While email marketing is still a core offering, Mailchimp has expanded to include a breadth of marketing tools, features, and data analytics capabilities on its all-in-one Marketing Platform.

Among the many features included with Mailchimp’s Free marketing plan are organic social posting and the ability to manage ads on Facebook and Instagram. Also included is a marketing calendar, which lets you visualize and plan multichannel campaigns (and avoid the hassle of setting up a different calendar for each of your social media channels). That way, you can coordinate your social media efforts with the rest of your marketing campaigns.

Mailchimp’s Free plan includes access to the content studio, which is a centralized hub for all your branding assets. Content studio is packed with features like Creative Assistant (an AI-powered design tool), convenient post publishing, and easy team collaboration.

You’ll also gain access to 250+ integrations to connect Mailchimp to your favorite web apps and services, including Stripe, Calendly, WooCommerce, and Canva. This simplifies the process of creating engaging, effective content.

Social media marketing works best when you have somewhere to drive your audience. Mailchimp’s Free plan not only offers the ability to create as many landing pages as you need, it also includes a website builder and Mailchimp-branded free domain. The Free plan also has signup forms and pop-ups, which you can use to build your audience from your landing pages and website.

And as your social media marketing works to expand your audience, you can organize and learn about new contacts using our feature-rich Marketing CRM as part of the Free plan.

When your business expands and calls for more advanced marketing capabilities, Mailchimp’s paid plans start at only $11/month. The Standard plan, starting at $17/month, includes social post scheduling, our Customer Journey Builder, and behavioral targeting, among other powerful features.

 
 

How Mailchimp compares to the competition

Automated social media management platforms, marketing tools, and various analytics offerings have enriched the marketing landscape. These platforms have also opened up huge reserves of customer data and made it available to marketers. This information is useful for crafting highly personalized advertisements based on user behavior and individual preferences.

However, to take full advantage of these software advances and take your marketing game to the next level, you’ll need to use the right platform. Here’s a rundown of the most popular social media management tools today.

PlanMailchimp FreeHootsuite FreeBuffer FreeContentCal FreeLater Free
Price$0/mo$0/mo$0/mo$0/mo$0/mo
Number of Users1 user1 user1 user1 user1 user
Number of connected social media accounts253344
Social media platforms supportedFacebook, Instagram, and TwitterFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTubeFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and PinterestFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedInFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest
Social reporting and analyticsBasic reportsBasic reportsBasic reportsNot offeredLater’s Lite Instagram Analytics
Ad platforms supportedFacebook ads, Instagram adsNoneNoneNoneNone
Scheduled postsNoYesYesYesYes
Integrations250+150+60+Not offeredNot offered
SupportKnowledge base, email support for first 30 daysAccess to self-serve help center/FAQsSelf-service knowledge base, email support, chat support, social media support, Buffer communityEmail supportHelp center

Hootsuite at a glance

Hootsuite features a clean dashboard that supports most major social media tasks: post scheduling, monitoring, analytics, and team collaboration. Users can integrate a wide range of applications into the dashboard, including Adobe Stock, Panoramiq Insights, Google My Business, and Canva.

Hootsuite is simple to use and enables integration with your favorite apps, but the bulk of its features are relegated to its paid plans. Its free plan allows a single user to set up 3 social channels and schedule up to 30 posts.

Users seeking to reach a wide audience will likely need to use 1 of the 4 paid plans, which begin with the Professional at $49/month. While that’s a reasonable price, the Professional plan only allows for a single user and 10 social network profiles. The Team plan permits 3 users and 20 profiles for $129/month. The Business tier jumps to 10 users and up to 35 social profiles, but its $599/month price tag likely won’t appeal to many small businesses.

Buffer at a glance

Buffer allows marketers to publish and schedule posts to a variety of social networks. The platform helps you optimize engagement through analytics that include the number of likes, clicks, mentions, favorites, retweets, and estimated views of each post. Buffer can be used from browsers, news readers, and mobile devices.

The company offers a free plan that lets users connect and post to their choice of 3 social accounts from among Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, with 1 account per social network. Up to 10 posts can be scheduled per channel at any given time. The Pro, Premium, and Business plans allow multiple accounts per social network, several more connected accounts, and an increased number of scheduled posts.

Paid plans begin at $15/month for Pro, $65/month for Premium, and $99/month for Business, with the number of channels, users, and scheduled posts permitted increasing alongside the price.

ContentCal at a glance

ContentCal’s social media management platform is a clean, calendar-based content scheduling system that supports team collaboration, audit trails, and content libraries.

A free plan is available for individuals, but it is fairly limited—it supports 1 user, 1 calendar, and the ability to schedule and publish to a maximum of 4 social media profiles, and a total of 10 scheduled posts.

ContentCal’s paid plans begin at $17/month for their Pro plan. The Pro plan also supports 1 user, 1 calendar, and 4 social profiles, but allows 150 scheduled posts per month. For $47/month, their Company plan allows 2 users, 2 calendars, 8 social accounts, and unlimited posts. More robust features—like more users, calendars, and support—are available on the Premium and Enterprise plans, which have custom pricing.

Later at a glance

Marketed as a visuals-first social media content planner optimized for Instagram, Later allows users to schedule photo posts and upload an unlimited number of images to their media library. The platform also provides basic Instagram statistics and analytics. Their grid preview makes organizing your visual content easier. And their user-generated content assistant lets you find, save, and repost content created by your followers.

Later offers a free plan for individuals, allowing for a single user and 1 account per social network. You’ll be limited to 30 posts per social profile per month.

Later’s paid plans start at $12.50/month for Starter, $20.83/month for Growth, and $33.33/month for Advanced. Paid plans allow more users, more scheduled posts, and deeper analytics.

 
 

Find the right tool for your business

Ultimately, choosing the right marketing and social media management platform depends on the specific needs of your business. The key is to choose a tool that covers not only your present needs, but what your business requires to grow.

As a business owner, what are your social media marketing priorities? Are you looking for affordability? Do you want to run cross-channel campaigns and social ads? Are you ready to take advantage of advanced analytics and audience segmentation?

Once you’ve checked out the competition, give Mailchimp a try. Regardless of the size of your business or scope of your goals, Mailchimp can help. From basic social media management to large-scale behavioral targeting, we’re ready to grow with you and help you take your marketing game to the next level.

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