How Much Do Pro Social Media Management Tools Cost?

Since the birth of The Content Factory back in October 2010, I have been managing Twitter and Facebook accounts for our clients in addition to running the business with Kari DePhillips. Needless to say, I was getting a bit burned out. Thankfully, we recently hired a new social media marketing manager. It’s freed me up to do things like shower, sleep and, of course, blog.

The only tough part about passing the social media management baton over to Caroline was that I didn’t want to just throw my Hootsuite at her and tell her to get on it. I wanted to stay on the Twitter accounts in Hootsuite and work closely with her on social media strategy. We’ve had Hootsuite since the inception our web PR company and generally we’ve liked it. It was originally one of our favorite free online PR tools and then they started charging for multiple social media accounts (which we weren’t exactly jazzed about, but we think it is absolutely worth paying for).

Managing Multiple Twitter Accounts with More Than One Team Member

It seemed simple enough to add an additional team member to the account, but we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be a huge expense to do so. We liked Hootsuite, but we wanted to see what else was out there. We didn’t want to miss opportunities to save money and become more efficient when it comes to using Twitter for marketing our clients.

We knew what we were looking for. We don’t use these social media management programs to manage posts to sites like Facebook and YouTube. We just wanted it for Twitter, because we’ve found that updating any other social media accounts from these types of programs results in updates that look automated and spammy. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure. We simply needed a social media management program that was good for monitoring keywords and allowed scheduling.

New social media management tools come out all the time, so I decided that I needed to get my Google on – and boy was I disappointed. Sure, there are plenty of blogs and sites out there that review social media management programs and do a great job of explaining what they do. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find out exactly how much all of it is going to cost.

Hootsuite vs. CoTweet vs TweetDeck – How Much Do They Cost?

We found three social media management tools that fit our basic criteria: Hootsuite, TweetDeck and CoTweet. We are going to break down the cost, customer service and capabilities of each program:

How Much Does Hootsuite Cost and What’s Their Customer Service Like?

Hootsuite makes using Twitter for marketing simple. It was our first choice, not only because we’ve been using it for so long, but because the Hootsuite dashboard is tough to beat (call us superficial, but we’re suckers for a pretty interface). If it was clear that the cost of adding an additional team member to all accounts was going to be under the ceiling we had set at $150/month, we’d have looked no further.

Customer Service: Hootsuite does not take customer service calls, at all – not even if your account is on fire. In order to get in contact with Hootsuite, you have to complete a Help Desk request. When I did this originally, someone responded within four hours. They informed me that it would cost $15/month to add a team member and that it didn’t matter how many accounts we were managing, it would stay the same.

The Cost: For one team member and unlimited Twitter accounts, we were paying $5.99/month, which is a great deal. Unfortunately, it was very confusing to figure out what their pricing was past that. I couldn’t figure out whether they were going to charge me an additional $15/month per account or $15/month for an unlimited number of accounts. We manage an average of 10-15 social media clients on a continual basis, so there’s a huge difference between $15/month to $100-$150/month. The other option was the unlimited $1500/month plan. Straight talk: that’s more than my rent (I live in Pittsburgh, and my apartment is on the nicer side). That plan looks awesome, but not for a company as small as ours.

How Much Does CoTweet and What’s Their Customer Service Like?

The CoTweet website is clean and it looked like this program had it all from scheduling to keyword monitoring, which is does. But of course, there’s a catch. I was immediately put off by the fact that not only was no pricing information available on their site whatsoever, but if you fill out information, you get a free trial. I’m not new to this game — next thing you know, they tell you that someone will be calling you. Still, I kept an open mind, until I talked to a sales guy who sounded like he couldn’t sell Frank’s Red Hot to a bowl of nachos in a frat house (a call that I actually had to initiate, no less).

Customer Service: Trust me — I know how tough that job is. I was actually in phone sales for five years straight (no small feat, right?), but I just don’t know how this guy got hired. Here’s how part of the conversation went (consider this an America’s Most Wanted dramatization version). Let’s call him Chip.

Me: Hi Chip! I wanted to find out about maybe switching over to CoTweet from Hootsuite. I need a program that schedules tweets and allows me to monitor for keywords, but also allows me and one team member to manage 10-15 Twitter accounts.

Chip: Ah. Well, for $1500/month, you can get an unlimited package and have unlimited users. You can keep track of stats, etc.

Me: We’re a small company. Is there something in between free and $1500/month?

Chip: Well, there isn’t really anything in between.

Me: Ok Chip, thanks for your time. It doesn’t sound like CoTweet has what we’re looking for.

Chip: Well there’s one that lets you manage five accounts with five team members.

Me: Ok. How much does that cost?

Chip: $600/month

Me: Ok Chip. Thanks for the info!

I gave the poor guy my e-mail address, but I thought, geesh, don’t tell me there’s no mid-level plan when there is one. Especially when for $600/month, all you get is an extra PDF report. Not gonna cut it. For $600/month, CoTweet should have the wit of Chelsea Handler combined with the work ethic of a child laborer trying to feed his entire family with one paycheck. And, it needs to make me guacamole and margaritas every afternoon as well.

Cost: The only reference I have here is my conversation with Chip. As a follow up to our call, he sent me a lackluster PDF that didn’t really give me a whole lot more information than the website did (or he did in our conversation, for that matter). From what I was told, it was $1500/month for the Enterprise Edition (unlimited users, unlimited accounts) and $600 for Flex Five program, which to quote the PDF he sent me, “gives your team all the capabilities and integrations of the Enterprise Edition for a price that scales to your budget,” whatever that means.

TweetDeck

We love that TweetDeck allows you to schedule, monitor keywords and manage multiple Twitter accounts with multiple team members. For a long time, they didn’t allow tweet scheduling, which is why we never looked into it before, but now they do and at first glance they seemed to have everything we needed.

The only downside, and in the end the only reason we didn’t decide on TweetDeck, was the fact that the Hootsuite dashboard blows the Tweetdeck dashboard right out of the water. TweetDeck has one long stream of everything, so with 10-15 Twitter accounts, it looks like a bit of a hot mess. I mean damn, can a sister get some tabs for easy sorting?

If you only have 1-3 Twitter accounts to manage, TweetDeck is a simple, straightforward and effective social media marketing tool. Unfortunately it’s not really designed for social media management companies.

 

Customer Service: We knew exactly what we were getting so there was no need to call or e-mail them, which is a plus. As far as ongoing TweetDeck customer support goes, you can contact them via a number of Twitter accounts, depending on what the issue is. Sounds like a great idea, especially considering that it’s a social media management tool.

Cost: Free

 

CoTweet vs. Hootsuite vs. Tweetdeck: Which is Best?

When all was said and done, we went with Hootsuite. It’s reasonably priced and we heart the Hootsuite dashboard (have we mentioned that yet?). If you manage multiple Twitter accounts, it’s your best bet.

What tools do you use to manage multiple Twitter accounts? Have you had similar or completely different experiences with CoTweet, TweetDeck and Hootsuite?
Want to know what other things cost and exactly what you get for your money? Check out our recent posts, where we break down the cost of social media marketing and answer the question, “How much do copywriters charge?

By Joan Barrett

33 Comments

  • This is truly a hard decision sometimes right?! Just today I was doing my research to help me make my final decision (and found your post).

    FYI – Love your conversational and funny style of writing by the way :-)

    So here was my final decision today: I downgraded Hootsuite from the pro plan and will put all my efforts into using Tweetdeck but will continue using both.

    Why? I chose Tweetdeck as my main interface (though I agree Hootsuite’s interface is better, especially with its tabs for better organization) because it allows for audible notification of certain accounts and multiple accounts (and I have more than the 5 allotted for Hootsuite’s free version).

    Also, Tweedeck allows you to see who has retweeted you in a visual manner without using other services. Hootsuite doesn’t do that well.

    On the other hand, Hootsuite lets you see your Sent messages, while Tweetdeck doesn’t.

    Lastly, Tweetdeck is a desktop app and I’m more a “clouds chick” while Hootsuite is a web app and can be accessed from anywhere :-) However, I do have both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck’s mobile apps so haven’t found this to ever be an issue (except Hootsuite seems to have deliverable problems every now and then and keeps messages in the Outbox for a long time – booo!).

    So I will be using Tweetdeck as my main program but access Hootsuite as needed to view Sent messages when I need to.

    Also, I manage a web design company and am always looking for others to collaborate with regarding services I don’t have time to offer or is out of my expertise. You have Social Media Management (which I can barely keep up with all of my accounts, let alone clients) and Online PR (which I need to start having as a service offering) so let’s touch bases!

    (Sorry for the long comment – guess this means I need a blog post of my own!!) LOL

    Kesha
    Kesha Brown recently posted…I’m a Conference Junkie and I love It!My Profile

    • I was just doing some research and i bumped to this article, the original post was made at 2011 so i guess you might not be aware of the new breed of CRM solutions that started popping out, Social CRM and Social tool marketplaces.

      We where using hootsuite, then switched to a Social CRM. Instead of having a fixed platform with tons of features you'll never really need (but you will still pay for) they have a platform that scales based on the things you need it's clean and easy to use, since we upgraded our workflow increased.

      We are currently using Anctu (http://www.anctu.com) you should check them.

  • Great post. I too went to the pains of trying to find the best dashboard for the Twitter accounts I manage. I truly loved Tweetdeck when I had a few accounts but agree Hootsuite has it going on with the tabs. I really missed pop ups though, those little guys are so handy, therefore I run Hootsuite for all my accounts and then also Tweetdeck for the pop ups. Will be interesting to see what Twitter does with Tweetdeck.

  • Thanks for the great info. I’m close to “going live” with my website for SMM but need to set up Hootsuite or Tweetdeck next. I’m using Tweetdeck for my phone…thinking of Hootsuite on my Mac. Your post was helpful and gave me some insight as to what costs I might expect – as I do want to have the option in the future to add a team member. Good job!
    indy Quillen recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

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  • Thank you so much for this post. Been going over the same dilemma for a client of mine. Find it so hard that they don’t offer any scalibility in their pricing plans. I don’t know what my client will go for yet, but will take all your considerations into account.

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  • Thanks for the tips. I tried Hootsuite because of it and you’re right the dashboard is incredble. I love the filtering options too to check up on brands.

    • Happy to hear you got some use out of our post! We love their keyword streams, too. In general, Hootsuite is pretty incredible. Their customer service is also top notch, which comes in handy if you ever run into problems or have questions about your account.

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  • I was planning to start doing page management for companies but hootsuite prices for reports scared me away. I am trying to find something else to help me in providing reports fro the clients 'cause $50 for each one sounds absurd to me.  I tried their free trial (pro) and felt in love with the interface but could not be more disappointed after getting the facts straight….is there an option to provide reports for clients that does not cost that much? Thank you

    • Analytics reports, especially from HootSuite are indeed incredibly expensive. To be frank, we like to compile our analytics reports using a combination of information. Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest have their own analytics built in these days. Also, we keep a close eye on things like social media referral traffic in Google Analytics. It takes us a bit longer to compile reports, but we don’t spend much doing it and the clients like them. Hope that helps!

  • Great article! It shared some really essential points about social media management. Thanks for sharing such informative and helpful post with us. 

     

  • I was planning to start doing page management for companies but hootsuite prices for reports scared me away. I am trying to find something else to help me in providing.