Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Ewen Finser
If you are trying to figure out if the newer Later suite will be a better option than the more established Hootsuite for social campaigns, you are in the right place.
When I first got started 8+ years ago, there was Buffer, Hootsuite, and a few other nascent social media schedulers. They were a great breakthrough at the time.
Truth be told, the game has changed. Just “automating your socials” is table stakes at this point. While Hootsuite has evolved, tools like Later have emerged as strong contenders due to their platform specific strengths and deep data and analytics insights.
In this comparison I’ll share my experience actively using and testing the two platforms. At the end of the article, I’ll make some recommendations about who should use either of these tools (“it depends”).
First, let’s jump into the key differences right up front…
Main Differences Between Hootsuite vs Later
In a brief nutshell, here’s how I’d describe the differences between these platforms:
- Focus on Visual Content: Later is primarily designed for managing visual content and is particularly strong with Instagram features, whereas Hootsuite offers a broader approach to social media management across various platforms.
- Ease of Use: Later often boasts a more user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop features for scheduling posts, whereas Hootsuite, while comprehensive, can be more complex due to its wide array of functionalities.
- Pricing Structure: Later provides a free plan with basic functionalities that is particularly attractive for individuals or small businesses, whereas Hootsuite’s free plan is more limited and its paid plans are generally more expensive.
- Platform Support: Later mainly supports Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, whereas Hootsuite has a wider range of platform support, including LinkedIn, YouTube, and integration with many other apps and services.
- Content Curation: Later offers a visual content calendar and media library to plan and manage posts, which is great for visual planning, whereas Hootsuite provides a more traditional calendar view and stronger tools for content curation and monitoring across various streams.
Hootsuite, launched in 2008, is a comprehensive social media management platform. It supports a wide array of social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google My Business, and more.
With Hootsuite, you can schedule posts, track performance, and interact directly with your audience, all from a single dashboard.
Key Features of Hootsuite
- Content Curation and Publishing: Hootsuite’s user-friendly interface makes content creation, curation, and publishing a breeze. It also allows for bulk uploads, which can save considerable time.
- Social Listening: Hootsuite’s listening feature lets you monitor brand mentions, keywords, and hashtags across all your social media networks, providing valuable insights into customer sentiment and industry trends.
- Analytics and Reporting: Hootsuite offers a range of analytical tools, providing detailed metrics on post performance, follower growth, and more.
- Team Collaboration: With Hootsuite, you can assign tasks, approve content, and manage workflows, making it an ideal tool for teams.
- Advertising: Hootsuite also offers a built-in advertising feature, allowing you to manage your paid and organic content simultaneously.
Later, on the other hand, is a visual content planner designed primarily for Instagram, but also supports Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Later focuses on helping you plan, publish, and analyze your social media content while saving time and improving results.
I personally like later for Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest campaigns, as it’s visual forward automation and calendar design make it ideally suited to these platforms, whereas Hootsuite tries to serve every use case a little bit (but not always particularly well).
Key Features of Later
- Visual Content Planning: Later’s visual planner lets you see exactly how your posts will appear on your feed before you publish, helping you maintain a consistent aesthetic.
- Scheduling: Later provides a simple drag-and-drop interface for scheduling posts, and even suggests optimal posting times based on your audience’s activity.
- Linkin.bio: With Later’s Linkin.bio feature, you can turn your Instagram feed into a clickable, shoppable landing page, driving traffic and sales from your posts.
- Analytics: Later offers analytics tools that give insights into your post performance, audience engagement, and more, though these tools are largely focused on Instagram.
- User-Generated Content (UGC): Later allows you to find and repost UGC directly from your dashboard, complete with automatic credit to the original poster.
Comparing Hootsuite and Later
Now that we’ve explored the key features of both platforms, let’s compare them across a variety of factors.
Supported Social Media Platforms
Hootsuite supports a wider range of social media platforms compared to Later. If your business heavily relies on multiple social media platforms or less common ones like Google My Business, Hootsuite might be the better choice.
On the other hand, if Instagram is at the heart of your social media strategy, Later’s specialized Instagram features (like the visual planner and Linkin.bio) could be particularly beneficial.
I see Hootsuite’s value proposition more about one-stop social media management and automation. In other words, creating one shareable asset and repurposing it everywhere.
Where I think this approach misses – and where Later comes in – is when you actually want to creative the most effective campaign for a specific platform like TikTok or Instagram.
Generic automated shares with “good enough for any” platform content just doesn’t work as well as it used to.
Hootsuite offers unlimited scheduling on all its paid plans, making it a great choice for businesses that post frequently across multiple platforms.
In contrast, Later’s post limits vary by plan. The starter plan allows 30 posts per social profile per month, while the growth plan allows up to 150. For businesses with a lower posting frequency, Later’s limits may not be a significant constraint.
Hootsuite offers a wide range of integrations, including Google Drive, MailChimp, HubSpot, Canva, and more. This can be especially useful if you regularly use these tools as part of your marketing strategy.
Later’s integrations are more limited, focusing mainly on visual content sources like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Unsplash. However, for businesses primarily focused on Instagram and visual content, these integrations should suffice.
Like with the other features, Hootsuite does a little bit for everyone while Later goes deeper in specific areas (breadth versus depth).
Pricing Plans Compared
Later’s pricing is more affordable, starting at $25 per month for the starter plan, making it an attractive option for small businesses or those just starting with social media management.
However, Hootsuite’s comprehensive features and unlimited scheduling might justify the higher starting price of $99 per month for some businesses.
Even the introductory pricing plan is “premium pricing” compared to many other tools (like Later).
Conclusion: Later or Hootsuite for Me?
In the Hootsuite vs. Later debate, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The best platform for your business depends on your specific needs, budget, and social media strategy.
Hootsuite is a robust, all-in-one solution that supports a wide range of social media platforms and offers unlimited scheduling.
Hootsuite ideal for businesses with a diverse social media presence who are looking to aggregate their messaging with a post once, share everywhere solution.
On the other hand, Later’s focus on visual planning and Instagram-specific features makes it a great choice for businesses with a strong focus on Instagram.
Later’s lower pricing also makes it an attractive option for small businesses or those just getting started with social media management.
Bottom Line Summary: If you are generally just looking for a one-stop shop for basic social distribution, Hootsuite is a competent choice. HOWEVER, I much prefer the UX and pricing of Later here, especially if you are heavily using Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest.
Hootsuite & Later Alternatives
Still stuck? Our editorial team has evaluated some key competitors below that should help point you in the right direction: