Social media now influences almost every aspect of modern society. Billions of people stay connected with friends and the outside world on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. And in recent years, an increasing number of businesses have realized just how powerful these social media services can be when they’re used as a marketing tool.

But businesses of all shapes and sizes are now getting in on the act. The cat is out of the bag — businesses need social media in order to communicate directly with consumers. And to stay ahead of the curve, you need to be utilizing anything that can give your social media strategy an edge.

This is a great time to be a social media marketer, as there are several tools out there that amplify communications and ensure they reach the right people. To get you started, here are 10 of the best social media tools available today. It is worth checking them out and seeing what platform works best for you and your objectives.

1. Social Pilot

Social Pilot is a powerful web-based tool that allows you to manage several social media profiles at the same time — across all of the major platforms. You can send bulk posts on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ at the same time, saving time and ensuring consistency. There are also features that allow you to manage clients, collaborate with members of your team and create your own profiles.

2. Zoho Social

Zoho Social works in much the same way as Social Pilot, but with a few added extras. For example, this powerful social media tool gives you the option of performing your own keyword research. You’ll find all of the usual services, such as bulk posting, profile management and reporting features. But what sets Zoho Social apart is the ability to manage Facebook ads through the user dashboard.

3. TweetDeck

If you find that you’re using Twitter more often than the other social media platforms, TweetDeck could be exactly what you need. This comprehensive suite of tools makes creating custom timelines a quick and simple process. So, rather than having to scroll past hundreds of irrelevant Tweets, you can get right to the heart of the matter in seconds. The platform also allows you to manage and create lists, perform detailed searches and add accounts. While TweetDeck is for exclusive use with Twitter, the fact that it’s free makes it a great option for small businesses.

4. Buffer

Buffer has been around nearly as long as social media itself. And because it has evolved according to changes in the social media sphere, it is easy to use and highly effective. One of the main functions offered by Buffer is the ability to schedule content publication across all of the major social media platforms — at times that deliver the highest rates of engagement. And there’s a Chrome extension, which means Buffer can be managed while multi-tasking at your computer. Most small businesses will find everything they need from Buffer’s free plan, including the ability to manage three social media profiles. The basic package also enables you to publish up to 10 posts and create timed content with the in-built image creator. Upgrading to paid plans gives you unlimited posting abilities, however, as well as premium services such as the RSS Feed function and link shortening.

5. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is the original multi-platform social media management tool, and most users would say it’s still the best. Powerful, easy to use and packed with features, Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your social media communications through a single user interface. While there are tiered accounts, the free service gives you three social media profiles, the ability to schedule 30 posts in advance and lead generation capabilities. There are also analytics tools and follower tracking functions. But if you can stretch to a paid account, you’ll get the most powerful social media publishing tool on the planet.

6. Xara Cloud

Well we had to include ourselves of course! As you’ll already know, devising effective social media strategies isn’t just about the message, it’s also about how the message is delivered. Consumers are swamped with so much content these days, so they have to scan and filter on an almost continual basis. In order to get your customers to stop and take notice of your social media messages, you have to create visual posts that grab the attention of users and engage with quality content. And that’s where Xara Cloud comes in. This powerful suite of design tools allows you to create marketing messages that tell a story. You can create social media ads in a matter of minutes — without any design or coding skills. Through a simple drag-and-drop editor and ready-made templates. Xara Cloud offers several different design options, so the possibilities are endless. You can upload your own images, or add some from within the platform. Adding text is simple, and selecting fonts, colors, backgrounds and various other design elements is as easy as clicking a mouse. In short, this suite of design tools is all you need to create eye-catching visuals for sharing across all your social media accounts.

7. SocialOomph

SocialOomph is packed with several easy-to-use social media management functions, including post scheduling, post interaction, direct messaging and analytics. The free package is tailored predominantly towards Twitter, and allows you to schedule Tweets, manage keywords, post across five accounts and shorten URLs. Upgrade to a paid plan, however, and you’ll be able to manage all of your social media profiles, and take advantage of some truly remarkable management tools.

8. Friends+Me

One of the criticisms aimed at Google+ is that it’s not as easy to use as the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Thankfully, the Friends+Me management tool aims to change all that. Although other platforms are supported, this impressive management tool is tailored to the needs of Google+ users. The free version allows you to schedule six posts in advance, shorten URLs and add a browser extension for quick access. However, if you’re not using Google+ on a regular basis, there are probably better options out there — the most popular of which are Hootsuite and Buffer.

9. Sprout Social

Sprout Social positions itself as a natural alternative to Hootsuite. You’ll find all of the usual management tools on offer, including post schedule, keyword monitoring, engagement analytics and reporting. But unlike competitors, Sprout Social offers several CRM tools, most of which are available with one of the paid packages. Where Sprout Social really comes into its own, however, is in the area of reporting. Dozens of reports are available, which makes assessing the efficacy of strategies and identifying opportunities easier than ever.

10. Sendible

Sendible is one of the fastest-growing social media management tools among agencies and marketing professionals. Every function offered by Hootsuite can be accessed with Sendible’s top subscription, and they can all be arranged in the customizable dashboard for easy access. Additional options include YouTube search, the ability to perform searches for license-free images and an in-built graphics editor.

Whether you’re a small business owner or the head of a multinational marketing department, social media management tools can help your messages to reach more people. Choose the right combination, and your marketing campaigns should reach a new level of success.

Sign up to Xara today and choose from many social media templates