The Hidden Pricing of Social Media Tools Revealed

Hidden Prices of Social Media Management Tools

Looking for a tool to help you manage your social media empire?

Want to post and schedule content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram? 

Want to monitor keywords and have reports to check on your progress?

If you work in a team, would you like each user have their own secure login with approval workflows and more?

If so, you’ll need a social media management tool. There are dozens out there, but how do you choose which one is the best for you?

You’ve read the reviews, you’ve compared quite a few yourself and you’ve asked around.

The problem is that most social media management tool websites don’t do a good job of describing what they do and listing all the features in a way you can do a fair comparison.

The biggest issue are the prices. It’s extremely confusing - particularly because prices of some features aren’t displayed on the website. Sometimes tool websites don’t display their prices at all!

So enough is enough! I thought it was time to make it easier to compare the prices of the top social media management tools. I’ve built a tool to do just that!

The Comparison Tool

The pricing in this tool may not be 100% accurate, particularly on the expensive plans. See below.

WarningImportant stuff

The pricing tool is in beta & pricing info subject to change.
Although I've done my best, the pricing will not be 100% accurate, especially on the expensive plans.

Tool companies tend to customise the costs for higher enterprise plans.
If you notice any bugs or errors, please let me know using this form:

  • Let me know if you notice any bugs or errors. Describe which options you selected, what you saw and what you think should have been displayed.

Contact them for Detailed Prices

Banana PhoneI've only included tools that display some kind of pricing on their website.

Some tools ask you to contact their sales department for prices and I've not included them, although, I have managed to find out information on some enterprise prices from my research.

For enterprise plans, you’ll need to contact the tool company to get accurate prices for your situation. My comparison tool’s purpose is just to give you a ballpark figure.

New Hootsuite Plans

Hootsuite logoShortly before I published this post, Hootsuite announced new pricing and plans:

  • Free plan
  • Pro plan (with no option for teams)
  • Team plan (for up to 5 users)
  • Business plan (for 5 or more users)
  • Enterprise

These new prices are only available to new users in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, but Hootsuite announced they’ll be rolling these out to all new users before the end of 2016.

For existing clients on the current “Pro” plan, they also announced that they will find the best way to transition them to the new plans in 2017. Let’s see how that will roll out!

hootsuite-new-plans

I've updated this article with these new prices.

Why do we need this tool?

I've mentioned that it's so difficult to properly compare the best social media management tools for your situation. Once you've got the basic prices from the website, you will need to embark on a horrendously time consuming journey of demos as well as emails and calls from their salespeople.

Finding the perfect tool is frustrating!

frustrationHours and hours of your precious time will get lost - just to find out if the tool you are looking at offers what you need, at a price you can afford.

I know this, because I've spoken to so many people who've done just that and I've done it too!

I want to spare you the grief and I think I've found a solution to make it much easier for you! Instead of you investing the time and resources, I've done the heavy lifting for you.
After months of research, it became clear how complex it was. In addition to this blog post, I knew we needed a comparison tool and so here it is!

Use it to get a ballpark figure for the cost of each tool depending on your needs and don't forget to read on below as I give you more insights and details as to how to use it and what the advanced features mean for you.

The Tools

Money, money, money!

Money Money Money

This article and tool focuses on the price of social media management tools. You can expect some big differences in cost when comparing tools. If you find two tools that meet all (or most of) your priorities, but one will cost you significantly less, that’s going to be a key factor to consider.

But first, make sure you find out whether or not the tools do all you need to do. Making sure that the tool does the job properly is top priority - pricing comes second.

I've compared all the plans from the top 3 social media management tools - Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Agorapulse. Let’s start with...

Hootsuite

hootsuite-screenshot

Hootsuite was one of the first social media management tools to come on to the market. It was founded back in 2008, and started out as a Twitter-only tool. It integrated with more social networks over time. Its market share quickly grew into the biggest and it’s clearly still the most popular and well known social media management tool.

It’s the only tool in this review to have a free plan. This gives you basic features and integrates with up to 3 social networks.

Hootsuite integrates with more social networks than the other tools. The core networks are Facebook (profile & pages), Twitter, LinkedIn (profile & pages), Google+ (profile & pages), Instagram and YouTube. You also have access to the Hootsuite app directory which integrates with hundreds of apps, CRMs, networks and services – some free and some paid.

The main Hootsuite interface hasn’t changed much over the past few years and unlike Sprout Social and Agorapulse uses a multi-column layout. You’ll either love this or find it frustrating. The best way is to compare it with the others and see how productive you are. Here are some articles to get you started:

Hootsuite has announced new plans. The new Professional plan will be for single users only – so it’s not suitable for teams anymore.

They’ve launched a new Team plan for teams, and changed the Business plan slightly. At the moment these plans haven’t rolled out to all locations and users.

Visit Hootsuite >>


Social Profiles with Hootsuite


Hootsuite Free

Although I’ve not included Hootsuite’s limited free plan in the comparison tool, it’s worth mentioning here. Hootsuite have always had a free plan to attract users. Originally Hootsuite allowed users to manage up to 5 social networks but this has been reduced to 3.

Cost: Free (1 user)

What you get: 3 social networks, 1 basic report, Twitter keyword search (unlimited), Fans and Followers (unlimited), no team management features, no customized URL shortener.

Hootsuite Professional

The entry paid plan is called Professional and costs $14.99 per month for a limit of 10 social networks and for single users only. It used to cost $5.99 per month and included unlimited social networks and 2 users.

Cost: $14.99/user/month (max 1 user)

What you get:  10 social networks, 1 basic report ($50 per additional report), Twitter keyword search (unlimited), Fans and Followers (unlimited), no team management features, customized URL shortener (Hootsuite only – costs $50/month), fast customer support (costs $6/user/month extra).

Social Networks: 10. If you need more, you’ll need to upgrade to a higher plan.

Number of team users:  1 (maximum).

Reporting:  1 Basic report per month. Extra reports cost $50 each/month. Reporting currently uses a point system. Pro users get 50 points each month to “spend” on a basic report. Examples include Twitter Engagement Summary or Detailed, Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Page Insights & Google. If you want to see reports across all your networks in Hootsuite, you’ll need to pay for more reports by purchasing more points at $50 for 50. Some users have found a way around this, just by just viewing the report, then deleting it before viewing the next one - but it’s a bit of time-consuming.

Fans & Followers:  Unlimited

Team Management: – No. Only single users can use the Hootsuite Pro plan and you don’t get team management features. If you want to be able to set user roles, have the ability to assign tasks and approve workflows, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business or Enterprise plans.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring:  Unlimited

Hootsuite Team

For years, Hootsuite only offered 3 plans – free, pro and enterprise. This year, Hootsuite launched the Business and Team plans.

The Team plan bridges the gap which was formed after the pro plan became only suitable for single users. In Hootsuite's words, it is "for small business marketing teams to be more productive in managing social media through a single dashboard"

You get up to 5 users and up to 20 social networks. You also get proper team management features so you can assign mentions and messages to team members and be able to approve content. You also a custom branded URL included, although since this uses Hootsuite’s ow.ly service, you can’t use this URL outside of Hootsuite.

If you want any more social networks or users, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business or Enterprise plan.

Cost: $49.99/user/month (up to 5 users max).

What you get: 20 social networks, unlimited basic & advanced reports, Twitter keyword search (unlimited), Fans and Followers (unlimited), team management features, customized URL shortener (Hootsuite - only included), fast customer support.

Social Networks: 20 (maximum)

Number of team users:  5 (maximum)

Reporting: Unlimited basic & advanced reports

Fans & Followers:  Unlimited

Team Management: Yes. By “Team management features”, I mean publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: Unlimited

Hootsuite Business

The new Business plan is aimed (in their words) at “socially sophisticated small agencies and businesses”. You get 5 users and up to 50 social networks with proper team management features. You also a custom branded URL included (using Hootsuite’s ow.ly service). You have to pay annually for the business plan which costs around $7,000 per year for 5 users. If you want any more social networks, you’ll need to upgrade to the Enterprise plan.

Cost: $7,000 (includes 5 users). No monthly payment available. The new business plan this rolling out suggests you can add more users (it says “starting at 5 users”) but in my research I was told that the business plan was “up to 5 users”. If you’ve heard otherwise, let me know!

What you get: 50 social networks, unlimited basic & advanced reports, Twitter keyword search (unlimited), Fans and Followers (unlimited), team management features, customized URL shortener (Hootsuite - only included), fast customer support.

Social Networks: 50 (maximum)

Number of team users:  5 (included)

Reporting: Unlimited basic & advanced reports

Fans & Followers:  Unlimited

Team Management: Yes. By “Team management features”, I mean publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: Unlimited

Hootsuite Enterprise

It’s time to discuss the mysterious Hootsuite Enterprise plan. It’s mysterious because it’s always been very difficult to get any pricing information on it. Back in 2011, the Enterprise plan was advertised at $1499 per month (that’s $17,988 per year) for up to 30 users. If you wanted a custom branded URL you also needed to pay an extra $499.99 per month.

Hootsuite Enterprise

Hootsuite Enterprise back in 2011

Since then they’ve been very secretive about the Enterprise pricing and it’s been very difficult for any reviewers to give decent comparisons.

When I spoke to Hootsuite about this last year, they told me that the Enterprise plan is customized to the needs of the business and so the pricing can change. Although that’s definitely the case, Hootsuite do have a base price and it’s around $16,000 for 5 users. That’s cheaper than was advertised back in 2011, but you get fewer users – just 5. You can pay more to add more users at around $9,000 per additional 5. So, to get the 30 users that used to cost $17,988 back in 2011 you’d now have to pay $61,000! I am sure you could haggle with the Hootsuite sales department though!

To get accurate prices, however, you’ll need to discuss your specific requirements with Hootsuite. The prices I’ve listed here were obtained through my research, but as I mentioned, Hootsuite does customize the Enterprise plan depending on your situation. The prices should act as a helpful guide in your research to find the best plan for you.

Cost: from $16,000 (includes 5 users)

What you get: unlimited social networks, unlimited basic & advanced reports, Twitter Keyword search (unlimited), Fans and Followers (unlimited), team management features, Customized URL shortener (Hootsuite - only included), fast customer
With Hootsuite Enterprise you are required to pay annually and the cost likely starts around $16,000 for 5 users.

Social Networks: unlimited

Number of team users: 5 (included). Around $9,000 per year per additional 5 users.

Reporting: Unlimited basic & advanced reports

Fans & Followers: Unlimited

Team Management: Yes. By “Team management features”, I mean publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: Unlimited

Sprout Social

sprout-social-screenshot

Sprout may not be as well-known as Hootsuite, but it’s a popular social media management tool with many happy and passionate users. They were founded back in 2010. Sprout offers an impressive level of features, many of which are available to users of all plans. It integrates with the main social networks: Twitter, Facebook (profiles and pages), LinkedIn (profiles and pages), Google+ (pages) and Instagram (engagement & reporting only). If you want to be able to publish and schedule Instagram posts, you’ll have to opt for Hootsuite or Agorapulse or use another app such as Later.

Back in 2012, Sprout was fairly inexpensive - starting at $9/month (pro plan) and $49/month (business plan). In 2014 the entry price rose to $39/user/month.

The entry plan now $59/user/month- and they’ve reduced the number of social networks down from 10 to 5. If you work in a team, you need to pay per user – there are no discounts for multiple users, although the team plan includes 3 users. Since the entry Deluxe plan doesn’t offer a team management feature (user permissions and publishing approval workflows), most teams will need to opt for the Premium Plan upwards.

Sprout does reporting particularly well with very visual reports available to all plans. They’re generally more advanced than Hootsuite’s reports and they’re not as limited. However, you don’t get access to all reports. Some (such as the engagement report) are only available on the Premium plan upwards. Others (such as the Twitter Listening and Team reports) are only available on the Team plan upwards.

Not all plan limitations are apparent until you try and upgrade. As I mentioned, some reports are only available on higher plans. However, there are other limitations such as the total number of fans and followers across all your accounts and team management features only being available to the Team and Enterprise plans.
Here is a list of features across all accounts:

Sprout Social Plans

Visit Sprout Social >>


Social Profiles with Sprout Social


Sprout Social Deluxe

The Deluxe plan is their entry level plan which costs $59/user/month. It's is the most expensive entry plan in our comparison. You get access to all the reports with unlimited export (to CSV and pdf). It also includes keyword monitoring, publishing features and the usual stuff.

It’s suitable if you need to manage up to 5 networks with a total number of fans and followers of up to 100,000. Additional social profiles can be added at $25/user/month.

Cost: $59/user/month

What you get:  5 social networks, reports (basic), Twitter keyword monitoring (up to 5), Fans & followers (up to 100,000), no team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs)

Social Networks: 5 (maximum). Additional social profiles can be added at $25/user/month.

Number of team users: 1 included. $59/user/month for extra users

Reporting: Basic reports only. You get access to some very visual and in-depth reports with Sprout Social, however, not all reports are available to Deluxe plan users. The reports available on the Deluxe plan include Group, Twitter Profiles, Twitter Comparison, Facebook Pages, Facebook Pages, Instagram Profiles, LinkedIn Pages, Sent Messages.

Fans & Followers:  100,000 across all your social networks.

Team Management: No team management feature. Although you can add multiple team members, you don’t get full team management features unless you upgrade to a Team or an Enterprise plan. By “Team management features”, I mean publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring:  5 searches per Twitter profile.

Sprout Social Premium

By upgrading to the Premium plan you can manage up to 10 social networks and gain access to engagement and trends reports. It also copes with a total number of fans and followers of up to 200,000 across all your networks.

Cost: $99/user/month

What you get:  10 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (up to 10 per profile), Fans & followers (up to 200,000), no team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs)

Social Networks: 10 (maximum). Additional social profiles can be added at $25/user/month.

Number of team users: 1 included. $99/user/month for extra users

Reporting: Same reports as Deluxe plan with the addition of Engagement & Trends

Fans & Followers: 200,000 across all your social networks. If you have very popular accounts, you’ll need to upgrade to Team or Enterprise plans.

Team Management: No team management feature - no publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows – just the same as the Deluxe Plan.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: 10 Twitter searches per profile.

Sprout Social Team

You get 3 users included with the Team plan and it’s the first plan that has full team management features with the ability to assign and delegate messages with approval workflows. You are able to manage up to 30 social networks and you gain access to all reports (the Twitter Listening, Team, Task Performance and Tag reports are only available on Team and Enterprise plans). You are limited to a maximum of 30 social networks and you don’t have the ability to purchase more (unlike the Deluxe and Premium plans). If you need more than 30, you’ll need to upgrade to the Enterprise plan which has a maximum of 50 social profiles.

Cost: $499/month (includes up to 3 users). $125/user/month for extra users.

What you get: 30 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (up to 10 per profile), Fans & followers (up to 500,000), team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs)

Social Networks: 30 (maximum). Note – this is the maximum number and you can’t purchase any more profiles.

Number of team users: 3 included. $125/user/month for extra users

Reporting: Same reports as Premium Plan with the addition of Twitter Listening, Team, Task Performance and Tag Report.

Fans & Followers: 500,000 across all your social networks.

Team Management: Full team management feature. This includes publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: 10 Twitter searches per profile (the same number as the Premium plan)

Sprout Social Enterprise

Sprout Social doesn’t give much information about their Enterprise plan on their website. In their words, it is:

“Sprout’s advanced enterprise and agency solutions are customized to fit your business— scalable, secure and with the highest level of service.”

The Enterprise plan starts at $1,500 per month and includes up to 10 users and gives you access to up to 50 social networks maximum. It gives you access to all of Sprout’s reports and team management features.

Cost: $1500/month (includes up to 10 users). $125/user/month for extra users.

What you get: 50 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (up to 20 per profile), Fans & followers (unlimited), team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs)

Social Networks: 50 (maximum)

Number of team users: 10 included. $125/user/month for extra users

Reporting: Same reporting as Team plan. Full access to all reports and advanced stats.

Fans & Followers: Unlimited across all your social networks.

Team Management: Full team management feature. This includes publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: 20 Twitter searches per profile.

Agorapulse

agorapulse-screenshot

The final tool in our comparison is Agorapulse. Compared to Hootsuite and Sprout Social, Agorapulse is not as well known, although it has really made some in-roads into the social media management tool arena in the past year.

It was founded back in 2010 as a Facebook tool. Since then, it has re-invented itself as a full social media management tool integrating with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. You get full publishing, engagement features and reports for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can publish and schedule to Google+ and LinkedIn.
Agorapulse offers a few features that Sprout and Hootsuite don’t have. For example, Facebook ad monitoring, Facebook apps and automated moderation.

You used to get unlimited team members with Agorapulse plans, but these are now limited depending on the plan you opt for. That being said, the prices for teams are very reasonable and you get full team management features from $199/month upwards.
The entry plan (which is called the Small Plan) is more expensive than Hootsuite’s entry plan plan and less expensive than Sprout’s Social entry plan. With the small plan, you get 5 social profiles, 2 team users with full access to advanced reports, keyword searches and unlimited fans and followers. Although there are a lot of really advanced features for your money, if budget is top priority, the Hootsuite Pro plan is always going to be cheaper for teams of 1.

Team users will need to opt for the Large Plan which allows you to manage 20 social profiles within a team of 10 with full team management.
You can purchase additional social profiles ($10/profile/month), team members ($19/user/month) and competitors for the competitor analysis ($5/competitor/month)

Visit Agorapulse >>


Social Profiles with Agorapulse


Agorapulse Small

The small plan is Agorapulse’s entry plan. Its price is in between Hootsuite and Sprout Social’s entry paid plan. It includes a maximum of 1 user and you can manage up to 5 social profiles. You get all the other features except reports are limited to 2 months of data and you don’t get ad monitoring, Facebook apps or team management features. If you need more social profiles or users, you will need to upgrade your plan.

Cost: $49/month (1 user max).

What you get: 3 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (unlimited), Fans & followers (unlimited), no team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs), automated moderation, content queue, competitor analysis

Social Networks: 3 social networks (maximum)

Number of team users: 1 only

Reporting: Unlimited advanced reports (limited to 2 months’ data)

Fans & Followers: unlimited across all your social networks.

Team Management: Full team management feature. This includes publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: unlimited

Agorapulse Medium

The Medium plan costs $99 per month and as well as allowing you to manage 10 social networks with 3 team users, you can create Facebook apps such as sweepstakes, coupons and contests. If you run Facebook and Instagram ads, you’re able to manage and monitor comments on your Facebook and Instagram ads and dark/unpublished posts. If you work in a team, do note that you don’t get full team management features in this plan, so you can’t assign tasks, manage roles and approve messages to/from team members – you’ll need to upgrade to the Large plan. You get access to unlimited advanced reports (limited to 6 months’ data on the Medium plan)

Cost: $99/month (includes 3 users).

What you get: 10 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (unlimited), Fans & followers (unlimited), no team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs), automated moderation, content queue, competitor analysis, Facebook apps

Social Networks: 10 (maximum)

Number of team users: 5 included (maximum)

Reporting: Unlimited advanced reports (limited to 6 months’ data)

Fans & Followers: Unlimited across all your social networks.

Team Management: Full team management feature. This includes publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: Unlimited

Agorapulse Large

The Large plan costs $199 per month and is the first plan that has full team management for managing team roles, assigning tasks and post approval. You can manage up to 25 social networks within a team of up to 6 team users. You get access to unlimited advanced reports (limited to 24 months’ data)

Cost: $199/month (includes 6 users).

What you get: 25 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (unlimited), Fans & followers (unlimited), full team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs), automated moderation, content queue, competitor analysis

Social Networks: 25 (additional social profiles cost $6/profile/month)

Number of team users: 6 included – additional team members cost $39/user/month

Reporting: Unlimited advanced reports (limited to 24 months’ data)

Fans & Followers: unlimited across all your social networks.

Team Management: Full team management feature. This includes publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: unlimited

Agorapulse Extra Large

The Extra Large plan costs $299 per month and is similar to the Large plan – you just get more stuff (more users and networks)!

Cost: $299/month (includes 12 users).

What you get: 40 social networks, reports (advanced), Twitter keyword monitoring (unlimited), Fans & followers (unlimited), full team management features, customized URL shortener, fast customer support (under 4 hrs), automated moderation, content queue, competitor analysis

Social Networks: 40 (additional social profiles cost $6/profile/month)

Number of team users: 12 included (additional team members cost $39/user/month)

Reporting: Unlimited advanced reports (limited to 2 months’ data)

Fans & Followers: unlimited across all your social networks.

Team Management: Full team management feature. This includes publishing approval workflows, user permissions, and other multi-user/team workflows.

Twitter Keyword Monitoring: unlimited

Comparison

So there you have it – a comparison of all the Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Agorapulse plans and a deep dive into most of their features. Of course, I haven’t mentioned all features, but I hope I’ve made it a little easier to make a choice!


The Hidden Limits

As you will have seen, not all prices, features and limitations are listed or easy to spot when you view tool company websites.
Sometimes you won’t find out that you’ve hit a limit until it is too late! If only you had known that before you had invested all that time and money in the tool.

Followers & Fans Limitations

Both Hootsuite and Agorapulse don’t put any limitations on how many fans and followers you have across your social profiles. However, there are limits on Sprout Social plans. If your Facebook page and Twitter accounts are very popular, you may find that the 100,000 total on the Deluxe Plan or the 200,000 on the Premium Plan aren’t enough. The Enterprise plan, however, doesn’t have an upper limit.

Reporting Limitations

Agorapulse, give access to all reports on all plans. The large plan and above gives you 24 months of data while the medium gives you 6 months and the small gives you 2 months.

With Hootsuite Professional you get 1 basic report included although you can purchase extra credits for other reports each month. Some reports are only available on the Enterprise plan such as Twitter & Facebook Aggregate.

With the basic Deluxe plan from Sprout Social you have unlimited access to some reports. The Engagement & Trends reports are only available if you upgrade to the Premium plan and higher. The Twitter Listening, Team, Task Performance and Tag Reports are only available if you upgrade to the Team or Enterprise plans.

You can view the reports available on the different plans for Sprout here:

Sprout Social Reports

Twitter Search Limitations

twitter-searchWhile Hootsuite and Agorapulse don’t put any limit to the number of Twitter searches you can add, Sprout does limit the number. You get 5 searches per profile on the Deluxe Plan, 10 on the Premium and Team and 20 on the Enterprise.

Support Limitations

support frustrationsWhen things go wrong, you’ll want to have the peace of mind of knowing you can contact support. I’ve assumed a response within 4 hours as acceptable, but you may have different thoughts! Enterprise plans may have a quicker response, but I’d recommend asking the tool company about this.

All Sprout Social and Agorapulse plans come with fast support. Hootsuite has fast support on the Business plan on above. To get support on Hootsuite Pro, you’ll need to pay $6/user/month. There’s also a live chat help desk

Team management Limitations

teamIf you have a team of people managing your social networks, you’ll want to give them all different logins. Sharing user credentials is a security nightmare and bad practice. What if one of the team members goes AWOL? They still have access to your social dashboard! Not good.

All 3 tools offer the facility to add multiple team members – all with their own logins. They all have limits, and the price goes up depending on how many team members. With Hootsuite, you no longer have team options with the Professional plan. If you want more than 1 user, you'll need up upgrade. The Team plan allows up to 5 users. Sprout Social is more flexible and you can add extra users no matter which plan you are on. With Agorapulse you only get 1 user with the small plan and 3 users with the medium plan. If you want more users, you'll need to upgrade to the large plan (which includes 6 users) or Extra Large plan (which includes 12 users). Extra users can be added for Large and Extra Large plans for $39/user/month.

However, to get the most out of your team, you really need team management features. With this, you can assign different roles to your team such as an admin, editor and moderator. Team members can assign tasks to each other and you as an admin or editor can approve content.

This is available with Agorapulse on the Large Plan upwards. It’s available with Hootsuite on the Team, Business and Enterprise plans and on the Team and Enterprise Plans with Sprout Social.

Custom URL Limitations

Custom URLs allow you to brand your shortened URLs and track clicks across your channels. I use to.iag.me as my shortened URL on Twitter for example (I use bit.ly for this service). Sprout Social and Agorapulse give you custom URLs on all their plans and integrate with bit.ly – meaning you can use the same custom URL with other tools.

Hootsuite, on the other hand charges you $50/month for a custom URL on the pro plan. It’s included in the Business and Enterprise plans. Since the custom URL uses Hootsuite’s ow.ly shortener, you can’t use it outside of Hootsuite.

For more information see my article on building an awareness with short domains:
Short Domains

Other Hidden Features

There are likely to be other hidden features I haven’t mentioned. Examples could include advanced stuff such as a dedicated account manager, APIs and more.

It’s always best to speak with the tool company’s sales department and do your own research. However, I hope this article makes your job significantly easier!


Choosing the Right Plan for you

Now that you’ve got a better idea of the prices, plans and hidden features, how do you make that final decision and choose the right tool and plan for your situation?
As I’ve said many times, there is no such thing as a perfect tool. Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Agorapulse all have their pros and cons and you’ll need to make a compromise at some point.

What do you need the Tool to do?

In my guide on How to Choose your Ideal Social Media Management Tool, I recommend making a list of your top priorities. Then compare the top tools and see which tool matches the most of these priorities. You may, then need to supplement that tool’s deficiencies with a few smaller tools.

Which networks?

Which social networks do you want the tool to help you manage?

All tools in this comparison integrate with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. Hootsuite also integrates with YouTube and has integrations with many more apps through its app directory. However, do you want to manage your Facebook profile and groups as well as your page? How about your LinkedIn company page as well as your profile?

Hootsuite allows you to publish to your Twitter profile, Facebook profile and pages, LinkedIn profiles and pages, Google+ profiles & pages, Instagram and YouTube. Sprout Social allows you to publish to your Twitter profile, Facebook profile and pages, LinkedIn profiles and pages, Google+ but not Instagram. Agorapulse allows you to publish to your Twitter profile, Facebook page (but not profile), LinkedIn profiles and pages, Google+ pages and Instagram.

Instagram (posting from app)

Instagram IconInstagram is a mobile-centric social network. The only way to publish content is via their official mobile app. There are apps out there that will automatically schedule content in the background, but they require your Instagram password and go against Instagram’s terms which is a big no-no in my book. Other tools get around this, by allowing you to upload the image and create the post on the web app, then notify you via their mobile app when it is time to post and then it will send the image and the text to the official Instagram app. Both Hootsuite and Agorapulse offer this, but Sprout Social doesn’t.

How many networks do you need?

social networksHow many social networks do you need to manage? If you are small business, this is likely to be a small number. However larger businesses and agencies are likely to require significantly higher. Each tool and plan have their own limits – so check carefully and think about how you might want to scale up in the future.
How many fans/followers do you have?

This only really affects Sprout Social, but if you are likely to have a popular portfolio of social profiles, bear in mind that Sprout imposes limits to the total number of followers and fans all your social profiles can have for each plan. Only their Enterprise plan is truly unlimited.

Analytics and Reports

Do you need to keep track of how you are doing? Both Sprout Social and Agorapulse have high quality reports available to all plans. Sprout Social limits some of these reports on Premium, Team and Enterprise plans. Hootsuite’s reports are decidedly basic, but this may not concern very small businesses and solopreneurs.

Want to pay annually or monthly?

Many businesses want to be in control of their cash flow and prefer to pay monthly. Sprout Social and Agorapulse allow you to pay monthly across all their plans. With Hootsuite, the Business and Enterprise plans are only available if you pay yearly.

Other requirements…

Are you working in a team? If so, you may need full team management features.

Do you need a custom URL? How about fast support?

Make a list of your top priorities and then compare all the tools.


Final Words

This blog post and tool have been a long time in the making. You could say, it’s taken 5 years since my first article on Hootsuite. Even so, it’s taken a lot of research, emails and phone calls to get more clarity on the pricing of the main social media management tools. I hope it makes your job in finding the best social media management tool for you and your business a whole lot easier.

Please let me know how you get on and your thoughts in the comments below!