Social media is a huge time sink…and not just because people spend time looking at baby photos. Every company that has to manage its own social media accounts also has to manage its time. Interacting with followers and managing the accounts is bad enough. But tracking results and calculating ROI is another animal entirely.

Luckily, there are some amazing tools designed to help you with the inbound and outbound arms of your social media campaigns.

In this article, we’ve collected 10 of the best tools that help you automate the posting of your social media content, aggregate incoming feeds, and turn gobs of data into actionable metrics.

1. Hootsuite

Let’s get the elephant out of the way.

Every social media marketer uses Hootsuite as their go-to management platform. This tool grew out of the necessity to simplify the increasingly complex world of social networks.

Hootsuite allows you to operate all of your social media and content marketing accounts from a single platform. It provides a single dashboard from which you can manage Google+, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, YouTube, MailChimp, and more.

Hootsuite has advanced scheduling and automation features, such as allowing you to pre-schedule posts with spreadsheets and customized schedules. It also gives you access to advanced, customized analytics and reporting features.

2. Sprout Social

Sprout is an up-and-comer and competitor to Hootsuite. This software brings many of the same features to the table as its predecessor, but boasts a more user-friendly interface that is designed to get businesses up and running…without the learning curve.

The biggest drawback to this platform is that it doesn’t integrate nearly as many social networks as Hootsuite. Currently, it only supports Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. But for smaller businesses, or businesses that only want to focus on the larger social networks, Sprout may be worth trying.

3. BufferApp

Like Sprout, Buffer focuses on the four major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn…and the less popular App.net. Unlike the above two platforms, though, Buffer is strictly designed to automate posting. To use it, simply connect however many social media accounts you wish to the platform, then stack up content – this content will then be posted according to your pre-defined schedule.

Buffer offers limited analytics through its URL-shortening service. But its primary function is that of a curated content poster. Browser plugins make it easy to set up and run.

This tool is probably most useful for companies that don’t need the toolshed and kitchen sink that Hootsuite provides.

4. IFTTT

IFTTT may just revolutionize the way we look at marketing automation.

This tool takes a wide range of online channels – which act as inputs – and allows you to trigger certain actions based on that input. For instance, every time you receive a new follower, you can tell IFTTT to tell your Twitter account to send a private message, post something on your Facebook page, or one of any other number of actions.

There are 150+ channels and growing, each with its own set of cause-or-effect actions. Every marketer who wants to explore automation hacks and other creative solutions should definitely give this a try.

5. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a social media and content marketing telescope for your industry. It provides social share data on content that’s hot.

Type in a search query, and top-performing content will be returned – ranked by the number of shares that content received on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. As with any good data analysis tool, you’ll be able to filter and sort the data by a variety of variables, such as the time frame and type of content.

For any content marketer or social media marketer who’s serious about their social media marketing strategy, BuzzSumo is a must-have.

6. Social Flow

So what’s the difference between scheduled posting and optimized publishing?

According to Social Flow, optimized publishing analyzes big data to find the best time to post. Rather than pre-scheduling a post, this data-driven approach finds out when your content will be well-received by your audience. A predictive approach, Social Flow says, is more likely to improve engagement and conversions.

Since the entire marketing industry is moving towards predictive marketing, this unique contender is certainly worth watching.

7. Everypost

This tool is perfect for the marketing manager who does lots of business from their mobile device.

Everypost lets you curate, schedule, and post content directly from your mobile device. Whether you use an iPhone, an iPad, or an Android phone, you’ll be able to manage your social media accounts on the fly. Though the app doesn’t come jam-packed with lots of features, it does do its job well: allow you to manage your social media accounts from anywhere.

8. Oktopost

Specifically designed for B2B marketers, Oktopost saves time by letting you monitor real-time social media trends, schedule updates, engage with followers, and view campaign results.

You can measure conversion rates, capture data on leads, compare the performance, and use this information to help calculate ROI. It supports scheduling and posting to LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook, for personal and company pages alike.

9. Bundle Post

Bundle Post is another tool designed to automate content curation and sharing, but it offers unique features that other tools don’t.

It aggregates feeds from a variety of user-defined sources, then allows you to sort through those feeds in order to hashtag and pre-schedule that content in a matter of minutes. It makes discovery, curation, and sharing much more efficient – it only takes minutes to schedule out several days’ worth of content.

10. Kapost

This is a heavy duty B2B platform that helps marketers design and execute a content marketing campaign.

As any content marketer knows, social networks are the channels through which content is distributed. And Kapost has built their entire solution around that model. They have created marketing software that is more than just a project management tool: they streamline the end-to-end ideation, production, distribution, and analysis of content through all types of channels, including social media.

Social Media Top 10 Social Media Tools to Check Out in Early 2015