Have you ever found yourself tirelessly jumping between social media accounts? Or experienced the dumpster fire that is managing social using “streams”?
I feel your pain.
That used to be me several years ago.
But that all changed when I started using a social media management tool with a unified social inbox.
I saved myself over 2 hours each week just by ditching social streams.
And for those of you who are social media managers that manage more accounts – you’ll save even more time.
The best part? I stopped missing important messages whenever I took a break from social media. Managing spam Facebook comments became a whole lot easier too.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through the basics of how social media inboxes work and share the best social media tools that include a unified inbox.
Ready? Let’s get started:
TL;DR: The best social media inbox tool is Agorapulse. Claim your free trial.
What is a unified social media inbox? And why do you need one?
A unified social media inbox pulls all of the mentions, retweets, and messages from all of your social platforms into a single inbox.
This means you don’t have to log into countless social media accounts and check them individually.
And you don’t have to deal with the complete and utter confusion of social streams like this:
Social streams get especially confusing because there’s no easy way to see exactly who you have replied to. This problem was compounded significantly when I would go from checking via mobile, then switching to the desktop version of TweetDeck.
Don’t get me wrong, social streams can be useful but they’re terrible for productivity.
With a unified inbox, you don’t get any of those problems. It makes social media management so easy.
I’ll talk through the best social inbox tools in a moment but here’s an example from my Agorapulse account so you can see exactly how it works:
Let’s take a look at exactly what is going on in this screenshot:
On the left, I can flick between all my social accounts.
For each account, I can see all of the social messages that I haven’t checked/responded to. I just work my way through the list, review those messages and archive them.
If there’s something I need to action, clicking on it will bring up the conversation history on the right, along with details on that person.
From there, I can reply, like the message or assign it to a member of my team.
The social media knowledge panel on the far right is especially useful. And you will get different options here depending on which social media platform you’re looking at.
For example, on Facebook, you’ll get the option to ban people without leaving Agorapulse. Great for dealing with spammers without wasting time.
Other tools will give different options and the exact features will vary slightly. But at a bare minimum you need the ability to view messages/mentions from a single inbox, and be able to action them as you go.
The option to mark these messages as reviewed and archive them is important as well.
Now, let’s take a look at the best social media tools that include a unified inbox:
The best social media inbox tools compared
Most of these tools are “all-in-one” social media tools.
This means they will give you a social media inbox along with other important features like post scheduling, and analytics/reporting.
The great thing about this is that you can centralise the majority of your social media marketing efforts into a single tool.
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
#1 – Agorapulse
Agorapulse, in my opinion, has the best social media inbox of any tool on this list. It also happens to be the best all-in-one social media tool as well.
This social inbox is a work of art. They’ve really got the details right which is why it was the tool I chose after testing everything else.
First of all, it organizes your social accounts by brand so you only have to work through the accounts you need to at the time. Comments, @mentions, RTs, and DM’s are pulled in from popular social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
And you can even reply to comments on your FB/IG ads as well.
Agorapulse allows you to work through all your messages and review them as you go. You can reply, RT, like or assign a task to a team member.
One particularly neat feature is that when viewing a social message, you don’t just see that social message, you see the conversation thread that goes along with it. No more digging around.
There’s an automated inbox assistant that can help clear up your inbox by creating rules. And collision detection is a great feature that ensures no overlapping messages from team members.
Other time saving features are built-in. For example, you can ban Facebook users from within the app without having to visit Facebook directly. Great for dealing with spammers.
A mobile app allows you to manage your social inbox on the go. And saved replies can help you save a lot of time.
Aside from the fantastic social inbox, you’ll find a robust social scheduling tool that supports direct Instagram scheduling, social media listening, and powerful reporting & analytics functionality.
Price: A free account is available and supports 3 social media accounts. Paid plans start from $79/month (billed annually). Try any paid plan free for 30 days.
Read our Agorapulse review.
#2 – NapoleonCat
NapoleonCat features a fantastic unified inbox that is designed to help customer service teams become more efficient. It’s a great option for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs as well.
One of the things that makes this social media tool’s inbox stand out is the focus on delivering effective customer service.
For example, in addition to integrating with the usual social media platforms you would expect, you can also reply directly to reviews on Facebook and Google My Business. FB & IG Ad comment moderation is supported as well.
Since this tool is optimized for teams, there is a strong team-workflow in place so you can add notes & tags to posts or send them to another member of your team.
There are other time saving features included such as automatic translations and user tagging.
One particularly neat feature is the inclusion of social automation within the inbox itself. This means you can set up “if-then” style rules to handle replies to common words/queries.
As from all of this, NapoleonCat also includes social media scheduling and powerful analytics.
Price: Starts from $21/month and scales up depending on the number of profiles and features you need. A free trial is available.
#3 – Sendible
Sendible is one of the best all-round social media tools on the market and it features a feature-rich unified inbox, as well as social streams.
If you find yourself needing to use a unified social inbox but miss the real-time nature of social streams – Sendible is a great option.
The inbox is extremely good. You can use it to manage comments & messages from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
There’s a built-in approval workflow that makes it easy to share posts with your team. And you can filter by post type, and profiles. Archiving messages is easy but you can easily search through old messages if you archive something by mistake.
Then, if you need to go back to a real-time stream – you can do with the click of a button.
The only limitation with the inbox I’ve found is that Facebook post comments don’t always get picked up if the comment appears more than 5 days after the post goes live. The work around I got from their support was to leave a comment on the post.
Outside of the inbox, you also get access to an extremely good social scheduling tool. You can upload posts in bulk, schedule directly to Instagram, and set up content queues. You can also share automatically from RSS feeds.
Then there’s the analytics and report builder – both extremely good. Sendible supports quite a few different social media networks and has a mobile app.
Overall? One of the best social media tools around for the money.
Price: Plans start from $29/month which includes access to the social inbox. A free trial is available.
Learn more in our Sendible review.
#4 – Pallyy
Pallyy is a complete Instagram marketing toolkit that includes comment moderation (inbox!), scheduling, reporting, and a bio link tool. The scheduling feature also supports other popular social networks.
Instagram is one of the most popular social networks around and there are a lot of businesses & content creators that focus solely on this platform.
If you’re one of them – Pallyy is one of the most affordable and complete IG marketing tools on the market.
Other tools have more bells and whistles to their inbox but the stripped back nature of this one can actually be a huge time saver because there’s nothing to get in the way. And you can set up saved replies if needed.
One particularly neat feature here is the ability to change how you view your messages. You can select a traditional inbox view, or you can choose a grid view, or group comments based on a specific user.
As well as this IG inbox tool, you get access to an IG bio link tool and detailed analytics.
The social media scheduling feature supports other social networks (not just Instagram) and it is optimized for visual content sharing. Canva integration included.
And you get unlimited team members so whether you’ve got 1 team member or 100 – it won’t cost you extra.
Price: $15/month per social group. Bulk discount is available if you need more social groups. The more social groups, the higher the discount. A free trial is available.
Pallyy does offer a free account but it doesn’t include a social inbox (or comment management as they refer to it).
#5 – Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a leading social media marketing tool that features an extremely strong social media inbox, amongst other features.
The social inbox included in this tool is fantastic. The UX is great and it includes an extremely deep feature set.
For example, aside from the typical basic workings of a unified inbox, you also get advanced automation, approval workflow for teams and you can see exactly when other team members are replying – great for avoiding crossovers.
You can filter your inbox by message type and specific social profile to further improve efficiency.
Then there’s all of the other features you’d expect from an all-in-one social media tool – powerful social scheduling, data-rich analytics & reporting, and more.
The only gripe I have? Sprout Social is extremely expensive when compared to other social media inbox tools on this list. The price point is a deal-breaker for smaller businesses but if you can justify the cost, I highly recommend taking their free trial.
Price: Starts from $99/month/user. A free trial is available.
Read our Sprout Social review.
If you aren’t managing your social media accounts with a unified inbox, you are wasting huge amounts of time.
Using a tool with a unified social inbox is the key to effective and efficient social media management.
Are you ready to work smarter, not harder? Try one of these tools. Most of them have free trials so you can find the right solution for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.