With so many options out there, how can you be sure you’ve picked the right social media management platform for your business? We get the feeling.

That’s why we’ve hosted the 2016 Social Media Management Smackdown: Buffer vs. Sprout Social vs. Hootsuite. And you decide who wins.

Buffer vs. Sprout Social vs. Hootsuite

To level the playing field, we’re focusing on key features and product highlights for each of the platforms. We’ve broke it down into 6 categories:

1. Cost: how much is it monthly/annually and how long is the free trial?

2. Supported Networks: which social media networks can you manage?

3. Team Collaboration: how can you work together with team members to manage social networks?

4. Content, Publishing, Scheduling: which key features will make my life easier to publish and schedule posts?

5. Social Listening and CRM: what features will help me connect with the right audience and improve customer service?

6. Integrations: what extra apps, tools or plugins does the platform connect to?

1. Cost

Depending on the number of social media profiles you want to manage and the number of users, the pricing of each platform varies. This article is focuses in on the typical needs for small to medium sized businesses.

  • Hootsuite
    • Free trial: 30 days
    • Max. profiles: 20
    • Cost: $34.99/mo annually ; $49.99/mo monthly
  • Buffer
    • Free trial: 14 days (no credit card required)
    • Max. profiles: 25
    • Cost: $99/month
  • Sprout Social
    • Free trial: 30 days (no credit card required)
    • Max. profiles: 10
    • Cost: $99/month

2. Supported Social Networks

Are all of your social networks covered?


3. Team Collaboration

This is important for some, but not for all. If you have multiple community managers or various team members that collaborate on social networks for customer service, tech support, content, design, and beyond, then this section is important for you.

  • Hootsuite
    • Users Included: 5
    • Assign tasks
    • Assign permissions
  • Buffer
    • Users Included: 5
    • Assign permissions
    • Moderate contributions
  • Sprout Social
    • Users Included: 1
    • Assign tasks
    • Real-time collaboration
    • Measure team efficiency

4. Content, Publishing, Scheduling

Here we’ve highlighted the most useful features from each platform:


  • 6 social media campaign templates
  • Unlimited content suggestions
  • Custom branded URL
  • Auto-Optimized posting times
  • iOS and Android apps


  • Image creator (pablo)
  • Gif/video uploader
  • Auto-Optimized posting times
  • Link shortening
  • iOS and Android apps

Sprout Social 

  • Visual content calendar
  • Auto-Optimized posting times
  • Organic post targeting
  • Link shortening
  • iOS and Android apps

5. Social Listening and CRM

Hootsuite doesn’t offer social listening to social CRM management within their team plan, it is only available by adding integrations or requesting a custom demos and quotes.

Buffer is solely a scheduling and publishing platform with team collaboration, it doesn’t offer social listening or CRM capabilities natively but has apps and extras that can help with this.

Sprout Social offers listening and trends reporting within it’s Premium subscription it also includes a Social CRM where you can create customer profiles, notes, and tags.

6. Integrations

Each platform offers dozens upon dozens of (free and paid) apps, plugins and extras that add additional features and functionality to fit your business needs. Some of our free favorites include:

  • Hootsuite
    • Marketo
    • Dropbox
    • Freshdesk + Zendesk
    • Soundcloud
    • Survey Monkey
  • Buffer
    • Feedly
    • Reeder
    • Pablo
    • WordPress
    • Upflow
  • Sprout Social
    • Uservoice
    • Bitly
    • Feedly
    • Google Analytics
    • Zendesk

Which social media management tool is best for you?

Still not sure? Check out each of their websites: Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social to dig a little deeper and make the right decision.

Want to spruce up your Facebook page with apps created by the writers of this article? Check out the Iframe Apps 8 app suite with all the tools you need to increase engagement and grow your community.