The hidden cost
of 6 social media management tools

There are tons of social media management tools. This fact and their feature diversity paired with complex pricing strategies make it harder to choose the right platform. In this guide, we’re going over the hidden costs of 6 popular social media management tools to help you pick the best one.

Cost of best social media management tools

The data that we gathered during our research on social media management tools and their pricing plans is open to everybody and free to share.

Contents

Finding a social media management tool to stick with is a tough task. If you’re a digital marketing specialist, you already know how tedious and time-consuming it can get. You sign up and start trying it out, scheduling, checking analytics, and monitoring your community.

14 or 30 days later, your trial is over. So you buy one of the plans only to realize you can’t add more team members or your collaborators can’t join you. While scheduling, you notice you have reached a “100 scheduled messages” limit.

We want to help you prevent this so we’re presenting you a transparent overview of the pricing tactics for 6 of the best social media management tools.

What features to keep an eye on

Before we jump ahead, let’s take a moment to think about your main priorities when it comes to social media management.

Ideally, here’s everything you should look for with a social media management tool:

  • Social Profiles - This indicates how many social network accounts you’re going to use. The number varies in different tools, with the range extending to as many as 100 profiles.

  • Users - Are you the only one who needs to use the social media management tool? Or do you work with a team and need to bring on multiple users including clients and higher management? The number of users each tool’s plans allow differs and you’ll need to see what user settings and roles the apps allow. Some tools will charge you more when you want to add another user or external collaborator.

  • Publishing - This feature refers to the app’s scheduling and content publishing capabilities. Some tools offer unlimited scheduling while others impose limits for these.

  • Social inbox - The engagement feature helps you stay in touch with your audience and answer comments or messages from a single platform. This is a must-have feature if you’re hosting your entire community on your social channels or if you manage multiple social profiles and need to engage with all of them simultaneously.

  • Analytics - Look for weekly and monthly social media analytics reports for every social media management tool you’re using. These can give you either general or specific insights into the performance, reach, and engagement of your social media marketing efforts.

  • Competitor Analysis - Knowing if you’re ahead or behind your competitors lets you tweak your social strategy to stay ahead. You can use this option from the start of your marketing campaigns to grow your reach and earn more leads.

  • Social Listening - Social media is not about you, it’s about your audience. This is why social media listening tools provide close insights into the latest news about your brand and what your audience is posting about you. This feature is mandatory if you plan on using your social channels for customer support as they allow you to quickly answer inquiries and complaints.

  • Team Features - Working with a team? You’ll need efficient ways of collaboratively editing posts, getting approval from managers, and setting up a joint team schedule.

  • Adding additional profiles/users/competitors monthly - You might not know how many profiles, users, or competitors you need to track on a monthly basis. So a plan that allows you to add these at a smaller extra cost is essential to avoid losing money on purchasing an entirely new plan.

The hidden cost of social media management tools to be aware of

Once two tools provide the same features but one is more affordable, you’ll likely prioritize a cheaper option. Most often though, there’s a hidden cost behind the seemingly more affordable option. And we’re here to prepare you for this.

Here’s a look at all of the hidden costs and tricks social media management tools use:

    1. Number of maximum seats

    Adding more team members or collaborators usually comes at an extra cost. But you shouldn’t have to upgrade your subscription plan just to bring a couple of users on board. In Sprout Social, for instance, adding one more seat to the Standard plan costs you an extra $99/month. This is the cost of the plan and it means you’ll have to pay double for the same features just to get one more user on board.

    Instead, opt for tools with additional add-ons for new users to keep the pricing flexible. This is super important for enterprises and agencies where you can have 100 users under one plan managing as many as 1000 social media accounts.

    2. Adding extra features

    In a tool like Sociality.io, you get access to all modules regardless of your pricing plan. In other solutions such as Buffer, the team collaboration features come as an add-on. Problem is, the add-on is the same price as the actual plan. So you end up paying double for one more feature.

    You can avoid extra costs by looking at the complete list of features for every social media management tool. Do keep in mind you’ll first need to make a list of must-have and nice-to-have features to decide which plan would work best for you.

    3. Connecting multiple social media accounts

    Subscriptions for social media management tools are usually created based on team sizes. So startups and SMBs will likely need up to 5 social channels while a marketing agency can use 200+. The number of social accounts you can add is usually clearly outlined at the top of the pricing list. Yet, the problem is with tools that don’t allow you to add extra social profiles. In this case, you’ll have to upgrade to a more expensive plan.

    The most transparent and affordable sellers have a clearly outlined price for every new social media account that’s usually only $2.5-$10/month. Opting for a platform that marks new social channels as add-ons means you won’t have to change plans just to manage an extra account.

Social media management tool comparison

Now that you're aware of the traps some tools use to keep you in, it’s time to compare some of these platforms to see which ones are worth it. So how much do social media management tools cost?

Sociality.io
Social media management tools - Sociality.io pricing

Sociality.io is a full-featured social media management tool that stays flexible when it comes to adding new users or social channels. It also excels at offering a more detailed competitor analysis alongside other essential features for both businesses and individual users. Changing your mind with Sociality.io is also no hassle as you can easily switch between plans and add-ons.

Sociality.io offers unlimited users for Business and Enterprise pricing plans, plus flexibility of add-ons allows you to grow while staying on the same pricing plan.

Here’s a breakdown of all Sociality.io plans:

Sociality.io Pro - $99/month for 1 user + 10 pages

This plan is a good fit for small teams that need to manage multiple social handles and report on their performance.

  • This plan is a good fit for small teams that need to manage multiple social handles and report on their performance.

  • Includes unlimited scheduled posts, saved replies, and report exports.

  • You can’t add extra users unless you get the Business plan.

  • Social media monitoring is limited to 250 mentions/month but you can get an extra 1.000 mentions for $15 paid monthly.

  • Assigning and approving posts isn’t available.

  • You can manage up to 10 social profiles.

Sociality.io Business - $199/month for unlimited users + 15 pages

Choose this plan if you’re running social media for a large company or if you own an agency and work on multiple complex social media projects for your clients.

  • The Business plan offers unlimited users, so you can include all stakeholders with granular access permissions.

  • The plan is designed for managing 15 social profiles but you can always add extra ones as needed. After this threshold, an extra platform will cost you $15/month.

  • Social media monitoring is limited to 500 mentions/month but you can get an extra 1.000 mentions for $15 paid monthly.

Sociality.io Enterprise - Unlimited users + unlimited pages

Opt for this plan if you’re a large-scale business and you need to connect social media data to your internal business intelligence solutions.

  • This is a highly customizable plan where you can choose exactly how many features, channels, users, and mentions you need without limits.

  • This is the only plan that gives you access to Sociality.io’s Enhanced API.

Buffer
Social media management tools - Buffer pricing

Buffer’s social media management platform offers two options for your subscription plans which make it easy for you to start testing it with a free plan. You’ll then be able to upgrade to a paid account but do keep in mind there are some hidden fees. Let’s find out more about these!

Buffer Free - for only one user + 3 pages

Choose this Buffer price plan if you want to test the tool for a couple of months before making a purchase.

  • The plan’s limited to a maximum of 3 social channels.

  • You can only schedule 10 posts for every channel.

  • There’s no possibility to add extra users.

  • The free plan doesn’t include core features like Analytics, Engagement, and Team Management.

Buffer Essentials - $6/month/social channel for one user

  • This plan includes all Buffer features you’d need except for unlimited clients, drafting and approval workflow tools, and exportable/branded reports. You can get these through Team pricing plan.

  • The additional cost for the add-on applies to every single social channel. So for one channel, additional price is $6/mo.

  • The plan includes only 1 users without an option to add more. Managing your team and thus working collaboratively is only possible in Team and Agency pricing plans.

Buffer Team - $12/month/social channel for unlimited users

  • You can only get a refund if you didn’t log into your account over the past 60 days.

  • After 10 social media pages it makes more sense to switch to Buffer Agency pricing plan.

Buffer Agency - $120/mo for 10 pages

  • Buffer agency plan includes 10 pages. However, for agencies who manage more than that Buffer offers additional channels for $6/mo.

  • There is no dedicated account manager and the support is available only through emails, social media, and help center.

Calculating the costs for a larger team using this plan can get tricky. Here’s a rough breakdown: Every social channel costs you $6/month or $12/mo. So if you need to manage 10 social channels [for yourself or your clients], the total cost is $120/month. After 10 social media pages every page is only $6/mo.

Hootsuite
Social media management tools - Hootsuite pricing

Hootsuite offers the least transparency into their pricing as they only display the cost for their annual plans on their pricing page. A tiny asterisk next to each price will let you know that the monthly prices are actually based on annual billing.

The annual plan does give you 4 free months. However, if you want to try this social media management tool first, you need to opt for the monthly plan payment. To see how much you have to pay, you need to first start creating an account.

Before we dive into the paid plans and their tricks, keep in mind that Hootsuite had a free plan that allowed you to manage 5 social profiles. Now, they offer a free plan for only 2 profiles/one user/and 5 schedule messages.

Hootsuite Professional - $49/month for one user

This plan works for individuals social media consultants or freelancers who don’t need collaboration features. However, do keep in mind this is not the best solution from a security point of view and you’ll need to go through extra fees to use integrations. On top of this, support is only available at plans Business and above.

  • This plan is limited to 10 social accounts.

  • There’s no possibility to add extra users or enable employee collaboration.

  • There’s a lot of missing features for campaign management, ad campaign management, and analytics.

  • To get security options with this plan you’ll need a third-party compliance integration.

  • You’ll have to pay extra to access premium apps and connect Hootsuite to the tools you’re already using.

Hootsuite Team - $129/month for 3 users

This Hootsuite pricing plan doesn’t have too many extra added benefits compared to the cheaper plan except for the higher number of users and accounts along with some extra small features.

  • This plan is limited to 20 social accounts.

  • There’s no possibility to add extra users.

  • There are many missing options for campaign management, ad campaign management, and analytics.

  • You’ll have to pay an extra fee to connect Hootsuite to premium tools you’re already using.

  • You have to purchase the Business plan to talk to the customer support team.

Hootsuite Business - $739 for 5 users and 35 pages

This plan gives you access to most Hootsuite features and integrations but you’ll have to pay for every new user or social account you want to add. Some features like social listening and ROI reporting are only available as an add-on.

  • They don’t display the price for this plan publicly but previously the cost for this was over $500/month.

  • You’ll still have a limit of up to 35 social media accounts.

  • You can finally start adding more team members but this is still an add-on so you’ll have to pay extra.

Hootsuite Enterprise - cost upon request for unlimited users

This plan gives you access to all Hootsuite features and integrations, but keep in mind some remain as an add-on. This along with incurs extra fees you need to calculate together with the exact number of users and social channels you want before you purchase the plan.

  • The cost for this isn’t publicly available.

  • Priority support and quarterly reviews of your results are included in the price.

  • You bring new team members but this still works as an add-on so you’ll have to pay more.

  • This is the plan with the best security options, but single sign-on comes at an additional fee.

Socialbakers
Social media management tools - Socialbakers

Socialbakers is another social media management tool that prefers to keep their pricing info for a direct sales conversation. Their pricing page doesn’t include any numbers so you’ll have to dig deeper.

Socialbakers Essential package - $240/month for 5 users

This Socialbakers plan will be expensive for most teams given the fact that the features you get are basic and you can get them at better rates with other platforms.

  • There’s a limit of either 10 or 20 social profiles. Each option comes at a different cost: $240/month for 10 profiles and $480/month for 20 profiles.

  • Historical data is only stored for 3 months which is very low compared to other social media management tools.

  • You only get some essential features like basic analytics and publishing calendar.

  • There are no features that are a must for running your social media strategy like listening, audience analysis, or community management.

  • No full refunds apply.

The complete Socialbakers solution: cost upon request

  • To get the price, you’ll have to first request a consultation. You’ll need to customize everything from how many users and channels you want to how long you want to store the data.

This is the best option if you want the Socialbakers advanced features and more than 5 users under the account. While the app doesn’t have many hidden costs, the Complete Solution can get expensive so it’s best to check multiple options when talking to their sales team.

Sprout Social
Social media management tools - Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management tool that brings together multiple advanced features teams would need on a daily basis. The catch is, the more team members you have, the more expensive it gets. On top of missing fees on the pricing page, there’s also no comparison list to give you an idea of what’s included in your plan.

Sprout Social Standard - $99 user/month

This plan can get costly for teams with more than one team member as you’ll have to add in an extra $99 for every new user and you don’t get access to all Sprout Social features yet.

  • The plan is limited to 5 social profiles and you can add more for an extra fee which you’ll only find out if you contact the Sprout Social team.

  • There’s a lot of missing integrations and features like competitive reports, scheduling, or custom workflows.

  • Refunds only apply to unused subscriptions.

Sprout Social Professional - $169 user/month

This plan works for most teams but do keep in mind the costs can get high and you’ll still be missing features to take your business to the next level.

  • Again, the cost applies to every single user. So 5 users on this plan would cost you at least $845/month.

  • The plan is limited to 10 social profiles. You can add more for an extra fee you’ll find out when you reach out to the Sprout Social team.

  • There’s some extra features you won’t get with the Standard plan but you’re still missing essentials like automated link tracking or message spike alerts.

Sprout Social Advanced - $279 user/month

The Listening, Premium Analytics, and Employee Advocacy features aren’t included in any of the plans. You’ll have to pay separately [every month] for each one of them.

  • Cost applies to every user. 10 users would cost you at least $2790/month.

  • The plan is still limited to 10 social networks like the previous plan. You can add more for an extra fee you’ll find out when you reach out to the Sprout Social team.

  • This plan includes most [not all] Sprout Social features.

Agorapulse
Social media management tools - Agorapulse

Agorapulse is the only tool on this that has a free plan you can use to run short campaigns or for small projects like keeping track of social accounts for a small brand. The free plan is available for one user, 3 social profiles, and includes 40 scheduled posts/month.

Let’s see what else the other Agorapulse plans bring!

Agorapulse Pro - $99 month for 2 users

This plan could be suited for an individual user or small team but note the cost is much higher for Agorapulse than with its competitors and you’re getting the same or fewer features.

  • This plan is limited to 10 social profiles.

  • You can’t add additional users to this plan.

  • The plan comes with more features than the free plan but there’s still missing options like posts approval or collision detection to avoid team members overlapping on the same task.

  • Power reports are available for an extra $29/month.

  • Refunds only apply if you send them within 14 days of the original subscription day.

Agorapulse Premium - $199 month for 4 users

This option was created for agencies but make sure you calculate what the monthly cost with the right amount of extra team members adds up to.

  • This plan is limited to 20 social profiles. An extra social network will cost you $12/month while adding a new team member costs $30/month.

  • The plan gives you access to all Agorapulse features but keep in mind there are limits for features like reporting on Facebook competitor analysis or ad comments monitoring.

Agorapulse Enterprise - custom pricing

Most teams won’t need this Agorapulse subscription as its only strong benefits are getting a dedicated account manager and fast customer support response.

  • You can customize exactly how many users and channels you want during your sales call.

  • This plan gives you access to Agorapulse’s features with no limits. The only feature you’ll have to pay extra for is Power Reports.

Power Reports, Shared Calendars, and Facebook Competitor Reports are only available as add-ons. However, the availability and limits for these extra features depend on your current plan. For instance, with a Premium plan, you only get 8 add-on calendars in addition to the two included. The add-ons also have different prices depending on your plan. So for Shared Reports you’ll pay $29/month if you’re on the Pro plan and $59/month with a Premium subscription.

Final takeaways on understanding the hidden pricing of social media tools

Here’s a checklist to go through before you purchase any of these social media management tools:

  • When looking at pricing, keep an eye on any asterisk symbols that usually indicate there’s some extra intricacies to their price.

  • Always read the FAQs section at the end of the pricing page but do ask the support/sales team for further clarifications.

  • Go through the complete pricing list as fees are often hidden among the hundreds of functionalities.

  • Give the tool a full trial run during the first free 14 or 30 days but don’t rush. Bringing all your data will prompt you to purchase a plan just to save your progress.

Don’t forget you can use our Social Media Tools Comparison Platform to get an idea of how much a tool will really cost you.

Compare 150+ social media management tools plans - Social media tools comparison by Sociality.io

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