Social media is a cost-effective marketing strategy for promoting personal, authentic customer engagement, increasing brand visibility online, and building community. And, you don’t have to do it all alone. From content creation software to tools for publishing, monitoring, and tracking results, countless social media marketing tools are available to help you reach your marketing goals—we’ve rounded up the best below.
Best Social Media Marketing Tools for Small Businesses at a Glance
Broken down into two categories (content creation vs publishing and analytics software), these providers are the best for small business’ social marketing efforts:
Best Social Media Tools for Content Creation
Social media is all about content. Good content is what builds brand awareness and brings on user engagement. All this means that good, high-quality, and well-designed content is central to your social media strategy’s success. From platforms for designing graphics to artificial intelligence (AI) that helps write captions, keep reading for the best social media tools for creating content.
Canva: Best Social Media Marketing Tool for Creating Graphics
- Content calendar and publisher only supports Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn
- Many businesses use Canva, so it’s possible to see other brands with similar designs
- Anyone can create templates, so it can take time to find professional-looking options
Canva’s one of the best graphic design platforms around. Use its drag-and-drop design platform, thousands of creative elements, and professionally designed templates to create virtually any social media content and asset. Plus, if you upgrade to a paid plan, you can also use its social media content calendar and scheduling tool.
Canva has a generous free plan, which is a great option if you’re on a tight budget but need professionally designed social media content quickly and easily. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you’ll unlock its entire design library of graphics and stock images and use its social media calendar and publisher.
*Annual billing, or pay a higher cost month-to-month.
Canva has long been well-regarded as one of the best creative design platforms around. It has a comprehensive library with thousands of design elements and professional-level templates, many of which you can access for free. It also has an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design platform that even beginners can use to create eye-catching content in minutes.
In all, Canva’s one of the top social media marketing software for content creation, especially for small business owners. On Canva, you’ll find templates for nearly any social media content you’ll need, from Facebook profile covers to Instagram infographics to YouTube thumbnails. And, one of its best features is its Brand Kit, which lets you store your brand assets, like your brand logo, colors, and fonts, to reuse for multiple designs.
Here are Canva’s best features:
- Drag-and-drop design platform with thousands of design elements and professional templates
- Brand Kit to store your brand assets
- Team sharing tool for design collaboration
- Tools for AI content marketing—content writer and image editing
- Cloud storage
- Social media content planner and publisher on paid plans
While you can create a good design on Canva with a free plan, upgrading to a paid plan gives you access to millions more design elements, images, and templates—and the use of its social media content scheduler. A paid plan also gives you full use of its brand kit, which isn’t available on the free version. Plus, we like that its content planner is a bonus that makes it nearly seamless to create and schedule content in a few clicks.
Finally, Canva also has a noteworthy arsenal of handy AI tools, such as its AI writer, and other AI design and edit tools. There’s a reason so many businesses have grown loyal to Canva—if you need an all-in-one affordable design platform with content publishing tools as an extra, there are few better than Canva.
Animoto: Best Tool for Creating Social Media Videos
- Video editor is only suitable for simple, short-form videos
- Free plan has Animoto branding on your videos
- Stock videos, photos, and voice-over feature are only available on the two highest plans
Animoto works primarily as an online video editing platform for creating simple, short-form videos for social media. Its video editor is easy to use, even for beginners with no video editing experience, and you get access to its library of stock images and videos on its higher plans.
Animoto has a free plan, although it only allows you to use its online video editor and all your videos will come out with Animoto branding. Upgrading lets you access millions of stock images and videos, the voice-over and screen recording tool, and create unbranded videos. However, all plans allow you to instantly share your videos to your Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
*Based on annual billing, or pay a higher cost month-to-month.
Video is one of the most effective formats for social media, which is what makes Animoto one of the most useful social media creative tools around. Animoto is an online video editing platform with templates for various video types (promotional videos and video testimonials, among others), and a library of stock videos and audio. Plus, you can instantly share your finished video on social media from within the platform.
Here are the features you’ll find on Animoto:
- Easy-to-use video editing tool with templates for various video types
- Instant share-to-social function
- Library with stock videos, images, and music
Animoto’s plans make it easy for anyone to create fun, short-form videos perfect for social media. You can choose a preset template for the kind of video you’re making, upload your own videos and images, or choose from its stock library if you’re on a paid plan. Then, edit, publish, and share to your social channels directly once you’re done.
Overall, Animoto is a great option if you plan on incorporating short-form video in your social media strategy but are hesitant to invest in full editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro. Since it’s primarily a platform for creating short-form videos, don’t expect comprehensive video editing capabilities. However, for its generally affordable prices, it’s a worthy investment for any business planning on using lots of video.
Looka: Best for Making a Brand Kit With Social Media Templates
- No free plan, and no standalone plans for the social media kit—you’ll need to pay for the full Brand Kit subscription
- No instant share-to-social function; you’ll need to upload designs manually
- Limited customization for images, especially vs Canva
Looka is an online design generator that lets even beginners easily create designs for social media and other marketing materials for small businesses. It’s a good starting point if you’re just beginning to build your business’ visual brand identity. Use Looka’s easy-to-use design generator to create a logo for your business, then use a subscription plan to apply your logo to social media profiles, email signatures, websites, and more.
You can access Looka’s logo design generator for free, but you’ll need to pay to download your finished logo and access its social media kit and other templates—check out their pricing below.
Brand presence on social media is the number one driver of brand sentiment for customers today, based on branding statistics. So creating a cohesive brand on your socials is more vital than ever, which is where Looka’s social media design generator can help. Especially for design beginners with no experience, Looka’s design generator offers an easy way to create a full brand kit for all your social channels, plus other marketing materials.
Here are Looka’s most notable features:
- Design generator for brand logo, social media posts, and other marketing materials
- Social media kit with templates customized with your branding
The best use for Looka is if you’re still figuring out your business’ branding and have limited design experience. On Looka’s design generator, you’ll only need to type in your business name, choose a few colors and mockups, and it’ll automatically generate a few logo designs you can choose from.
Once you’ve chosen a logo and subscribed to a plan, you’ll automatically be able to use your logo to create a social media kit on the platform. You’ll also find templates for posts, profile photos, and more automatically customized with your branding. The downside of this, however, is that you have minimal design customization options, unlike with Canva, where you have complete control.
Looka also has no standalone plans for solely creating a social media kit—it’s only included as part of its full brand kit subscription, which also includes templates for business cards, email signatures, and more. This makes Looka a good option if you’re only starting out with your business’ branding and are looking to create a full brand kit. Otherwise, if you only need a straightforward design platform, Canva might be your better option.
Copy.ai: Best Tool for Generating Social Media Captions
- 2,000 monthly word limit on the free plan
- Doesn’t customize copy for each social media platform
As an AI writer specializing in marketing content, Copy.ai’s best use for social media is in helping write your captions or any other social media content, such as profile bios, templated responses, and more. Use it to generate copies and captions for you, or as an assistant to polish up your own written content.
Copy.ai is free when you first sign up, and you can use it for as many projects as you want, although there is a limit of 2,000 words per month. If you’re keen to add it to your marketing toolkit full time, upgrade to a Pro plan for $36 monthly.
*Annual billing, or pay a higher cost month-to-month. Enterprise plans are also available at custom pricing.
Captions are one-half of your social media posts, and play just as important a role in getting people to engage with your content as your creatives. But they can often be tricky to write. If you find that you need an extra hand to create or even edit and polish up your social media captions, Copy.ai can do just that. In fact, it’s one of our top AI content writers, and is overall one of today’s most useful tools for social media marketing.
You can use Copy.ai’s writing assistant to generate copies for ads and websites, and even help with long-form content like blogs and press releases. It’s also on our list of the best AI press release generators.
Here are the features you’ll find with Copy.ai:
- AI content writer for social media posts and dozens of other types of marketing content
- AI chatbot
- Brand voice customization
- Infobase to save important content
On Copy.ai, you’ll only need to choose the social media writer option, which already has a few premade caption templates, such as a social media contest or an event promotion. Then, type in a few more details about the caption you want to write and choose from the dozens of options generated for you. You can also mix and match certain lines or use the suggestions as inspiration to polish up your own content.
Overall, Copy.ai is a handy tool for writing any kind of marketing copy beyond social media captions. The best part is that it’s completely free to use, although you do get a 2,000-word limit per month, or you can upgrade for unlimited words.
Interested in all the ways artificial intelligence (AI) can streamline your operations? Check out our article detailing a dozen ways to use AI for small business marketing.
Unfold: Best App for Creating Facebook & Instagram Stories
- Only available as a mobile app
- Share-to-social function is only available on the highest plan
- Not all templates and designs may be suitable to your branding
Unfold is a design platform app for creating social media content that specializes in vertical content like Facebook and Instagram Stories and TikTok videos. Use the app to design vertical images and videos as regular content or ads, and upgrade to its highest plan to instantly share them to your profiles from within the app.
Unfold has a free plan, although it’s limited to the design platform with standard templates. On the higher plans, you can access many more templates, plus features like instant share-to-social and use of the Brand Kit and Instagram feed planner.
*Annual plans are also available at lower prices.
Unfold is a content creation app from the leading drag-and-drop website builder platform Squarespace. If you recognize Squarespace in the site builder world for its sleek, professionally designed templates, you won’t be disappointed with Unfold’s modern and visually impactful template selection either.
Unfold lets you create and edit multiple social media content types, but we like it best for creating vertical content you can use for Facebook and Instagram stories as well as TikTok and Pinterest. Plus, it’s also available as an app, so you can quickly edit and create on the go and then publish directly on your phone. It’s a great tool, especially for creators or small business owners managing their own social accounts.
Here are the features the Unfold app offers:
- Design platform for Stories and other social media images and videos
- 400-plus templates for various social media content
- Share-to-social feature
- Brand kit to upload your own logo and brand assets
- Instagram feed planner
- Link in bio page builder
With Stories being such a great avenue for follower engagement—not to mention an effective platform to run ads on—your social media strategy shouldn’t be complete without them. With Unfold, you can easily create well-designed Stories and other vertical content like IG Reels and Pinterest Pins using a professionally designed template from the app. And, you can even publish directly to your profiles on a Pro plan.
Beyond vertical content, Unfold also has features for creating and editing regular social media images, and it even has an Instagram feed planner and a “link in bio” page creator. Its one main drawback is that it’s only available as a mobile phone app, which means you won’t be able to access or create anything on desktop. Also, its share-to-social function is only available on its highest plan—if you’re on a free plan, you’re limited to just creating.
Beyond creatives for social posts, the other vital part of social media marketing is publishing to social platforms and monitoring performance against your goals. Most businesses need to build a social presence across multiple platforms, but this makes managing them all a bit tricky and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are tools for doing just that—and more. Below are some of the best publishing and performance analysis tools for social media marketing.
Sprout Social: Best All-in-one for Publishing, Brand Monitoring & Analytics
- No free plan, and plans can overall be costly for small businesses
- Platform isn’t the most user-friendly—can take beginners some time to navigate
Pricing for Sprout Social starts upward of $200 per month, but you get a full toolkit of all its best features, including its social media inbox, media mentions tracker, review management, content calendar, customer relationship management (CRM) tool, and more. The higher plans have all these and more, such as chatbots, link tracking, trend analyses, and others. Check out all of Sprout Social’s features and plans below.
*Sprout Social also offers Enterprise plans with custom pricing.
A large part of creating an effective social media strategy is regularly monitoring your social media presence, engagement, and other analytics, which is what Sprout Social specializes in. While it stands out best for its comprehensive monitoring and in-depth analytics, the platform also includes powerful tools for customer engagement, content publishing, and even employee brand advocacy.
Here are all of Sprout Social’s best features:
- Centralized message inbox for multiple brand social channels
- In-depth analytics for audience data, competitor insight, customer sentiment, campaign analytics, and market trends
- Review management for Google Business Profile, Facebook, and Tripadvisor
- Automated chatbots with custom conditions
- Message tagging and task assignment tools
- Crisis management alerts
- Content scheduler, publisher, and calendar
- Tools for employee brand advocacy
While Sprout Social is recognized for its comprehensive monitoring and reports, it also has a host of other useful tools for social media marketing. One of its standout features by far is the all-in-one inbox, which centralizes incoming messages from all your social channels for easier correspondence with customers. It also has a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for storing info about your customers, as well as review management, message tagging, and more.
Sprout Social also has a content publishing tool that allows you to create and schedule content across multiple social channels. Plus, on its higher plans, you also get a content library to store files and media, and recommendations for content and optimal times. Finally, another unique feature is its employee brand advocacy tools, which make it easy for your team members to become social media brand ambassadors.
Later: Best for Planning & Scheduling Social Media Content
- No review management or social listening tools—solely for planning and publishing social content
- Support for 15 social platforms is only available on its highest plan
- First paid plan limit of 150 social media posts—you’ll need to upgrade for unlimited posts
- Limited credits on the AI tool
Later works best as a platform for planning, scheduling, and publishing social media content. While it doesn’t offer any customer service tools, it has all the essentials for growing your social media presence across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok, as well as monitoring your engagement on the latter two. You also get in-depth analytics, an image editing tool (although limited), and an artificial intelligence (AI) caption writer and idea generator.
Later offers three pricing plans—including a free one—all of which offer its full suite of content scheduling and publishing tools. However, its first paid plan has post limits and only supports up to three social media platforms. For more platforms and unlimited posts, you’ll need to upgrade to its highest plan.
*Billed annually, or pay a higher cost month-to-month
If you’re only looking for a simple and handy tool for creating content calendars and scheduling posts across all your social channels, Later is one of the easiest platforms around to use. You get a full-featured content calendar for all the major social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok, plus content planning and publishing tools for each.
Here are Later’s features:
- Social media calendar, scheduler, and publisher
- Social media analytics
- Social listening for Instagram and TikTok
- Image editing platform
- Access to its influencer database
- Link in bio page creator
- AI caption writer and idea generator
However, the biggest drawback with Later is its limited media monitoring tools—it only supports real-time notifications for Instagram and TikTok. It also doesn’t support any customer service tools at all, unlike Nextiva and Sprout Social, which both have centralized inbox and live chat features.
Nonetheless, Later is still one of the best social media management tools—it has Instagram (IG) Story scheduling and hashtag suggestion features, for example—and all its plans come with full social media analytics. Other notable features are its image editing tool, its influencer collaboration platform, and its AI caption writer and idea generator. Overall, for a comprehensive social media publishing tool with all the essentials, Later is one of the best you can have.
Semrush Social Media Toolkit: Best for Analyzing Competitors’ Social Media
- Free plan is limited to one project
- Because of the number of tools, its interface isn’t very user-friendly
- Doesn’t support TikTok, Snapchat, or Reddit
Semrush’s Social Media Kit is free to start, although you only get one project. Upgrading to a paid account increases your limits and lets you access more of Semrush’s tools, including keyword and domain analysis and more.
*Based on annual billing, or pay a higher cost month-to-month. Semrush also offers higher plans for larger businesses.
Tracking competitors on social media to know how you can stay ahead is an important part of any social media plan, and the most capable tool to help you do that is Semrush’s Social Media Toolkit.
Semrush has a wealth of marketing features, from keyword research tools to detailed website performance analysis and market research. As such, it’s no surprise that they also excel at competitor research and analysis on social media.
Here are the features you’ll find on Semrush’s Social Media Kit:
- Social media competitor analysis
- Engagement, mentions, and hashtags tracker
- Social media calendar for scheduling and publishing posts
- Analytics reports
- Centralized inbox
Semrush’s Social Tracker lets you see how your competitors are faring on social media and monitor their engagement, growth, and top-performing content against your own. You can use Semrush’s tool on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, and use the data to better fine-tune your strategies on each platform. And, Semrush even gives content recommendations based on what’s most effective.
While Semrush is best regarded for its social listening and analysis features, its Social Media Toolkit also has many other useful features. These include a content scheduling and publishing platform with an image editor and link shortener, performance analysis reports, a centralized inbox, and mentions and engagement tracker. Overall, Semrush is one of the best-regarded marketing tools around, and for competitor analysis, you can’t go wrong with it.
HubSpot: Best for Tracking Keywords on Social Media
- No free plan and no standalone plans for its social media tool; you’ll have to pay for the whole marketing plan
- Only supports four platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
HubSpot’s tools for social media managers revolve primarily on scheduling and publishing, social listening, and monitoring your analytics. It stands out best, however, for its social listening feature, which also monitors for specific keywords your followers mention and immediately monitors your team. Plus, it also connects every engagement with specific contacts in your database so you get better context.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use HubSpot’s social media feature as a standalone platform—to access it, you’ll need to subscribe to its full Marketing plan, which starts at $800. However, you’ll also have access to the plan’s other features, including search engine optimization (SEO) analytics, email marketing, and many more.
Here are the best features you’ll get with HubSpot’s Professional plan, which starts at $800 a month (billed annually):
- Social media management tool with all its features
- Email marketing tool
- Website traffic analysis plus SEO recommendations
- Shared inbox
- Digital ad management
- Blogs and landing pages
HubSpot supports many other marketing plans to suit each business’ needs—to get a full view, check out their pricing plans page.
HubSpot is well-known for offering the most comprehensive tools for sales and marketing. You’ll find tools and resources on HubSpot for nearly any sales, marketing, and customer service strategy, and a good number are free to start with. As part of its marketing suite, it also has a social media management tool, which similarly publishes all of your social content and monitors your engagement and return on investment (ROI).
Here are the features you’ll find with HubSpot’s social media tool:
- Content scheduler and publisher for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Engagement monitoring tool with keyword tracker and CRM integration
- Social media campaign builder
- Social analytics reports
While these cover all the basic social media marketing tools, one area where HubSpot stands out is social listening. Beyond the usual metrics like comments and retweets, HubSpot’s tool also monitors for specific keywords your followers mention, automatically notifying your team so you can convert them to leads.
Plus, it also links your engagements with contacts in your CRM database, so you immediately have context about who you’re interacting with. Its Campaigns tool also lets you link posts to specific marketing campaigns.
On the negative side, HubSpot supports far fewer social media platforms—you can only handle Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so it may not be your best option if you’re aiming for a full-throttle social media strategy that covers several bases. It also doesn’t offer any content creation tools or a content planner. Still, if your strategy centers on gaining leads from the four platforms mentioned above, HubSpot is undoubtedly well-equipped.
Nextiva: Best for Customer Relationship Management on Social Media
- No free plan, and plans can be costly
- Analytics aren’t as comprehensive as Sprout Social; e.g., no market trends
- Additional cost for more than one user
Nextiva’s platform for social media acts primarily as a customer management and service tool. It has features for communicating with customers, creating workflows and routing, and managing help desks. However, it also has essential social media marketing tools, including content publishing and media monitoring.
Nextiva includes all its essential social media tools on all plans, including its centralized inbox and content publisher. However, upgrading to its higher plan allows for more powerful CRM features, such as custom workflows, live chat, and more. They also offer custom enterprise plans for larger businesses.
*Additional $99 a month for each additional user. Enterprise plans are also available at custom pricing.
Nextiva is a comprehensive customer communications platform. Its biggest standout point among social media marketing tools is as a CRM platform for social media. The platform acts as a centralized hub for managing and communicating with all your social media customers. Plus, it also has a centralized inbox, customer ticketing tools, workflow escalations, as well as media monitoring and content publishing.
Here are all of Nextiva’s features and tools for social media marketing:
- Social media CRM with a centralized inbox and ticketing tools
- Customer workflows and routing
- Live chat and service help desk
- Social media content scheduling and publishing
- Social media analytics dashboard
- Media monitoring and reviews management
Nextiva’s CRM platform is built specifically for social media. It includes the all-important centralized inbox, but it also stands out for having workflow management features, customer ticketing, and even a full-service help desk on its highest plan. This makes it a great tool overall for brands needing social media tools for customer service.
But beyond its CRM tools, Nextiva also covers all the essential social media marketing features, including a content scheduler, an analytics dashboard, and even review management tools, all at more affordable price points than Sprout Social. However, its main drawback is that its analytics are far less comprehensive—there are no campaign analytics or market trends, for example.
Still, with its comprehensive arsenal of customer relationship management tools, plus extra social features for publishing and analyzing your social content, it’s a great tool for teams that focus on customer service.
Pro tip: Running a social media strategy is a lot of work, from content creation to publishing, tracking, and analysis. If you need help, a social media manager might be your best option—learn how to hire the right social media manager for your business in six steps.
How We Evaluated the Top Social Media Marketing Tools
With dozens of social media campaign tools available for nearly any purpose, we evaluated those listed above based on certain criteria to be considered the best tools in social media marketing, whether for creating content or publishing and analyzing your social media posts. For example, we considered tools with free or affordable pricing and those with both essential tools plus helpful extra features.
Here are the criteria for evaluating the best social media tools for marketing:
- Cost: Cost is a huge factor for any small business, so we only considered tools with free plans or those with generally affordable prices and plans suited for small business budgets.
- General features: For content creation tools, we evaluated whether they had tools for creating good social media content—for example, a design platform and a library of design elements. For content publishing and analysis tools, we only included those that had both publishing and analysis features, not one or the other.
- Niche features: Beyond the essential tools enabling you to run your business’ social media accounts, we also evaluated whether the tools above included any extra helpful features, e.g., contact management tools or image editing features that make it easier to grow your brand further.
- Support: We also evaluated whether the platforms above offered any user support, whether in an easily accessible knowledge base on their websites or via direct contact on email, phone, or social media.
- Expert opinion: Finally, we evaluated the platforms above based on our own experience and how they measure up to our experience with other similar platforms. This includes ease of use, comprehensiveness, and overall effectiveness for small business marketing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Promoting your business on socials is more vital than ever to success as a strategy for increasing brand awareness, engagement, and more. From content creation to publishing and analysis, the tools above are the best to help you grow. But, for an overall comprehensive platform for content publishing and performance analysis, we recommend Sprout Social as the most worthy investment for growing your social presence.