Last year, we discussed the merits of HootSuite for social media marketers. While we do still use HootSuite and find value in their social media tools, we prefer to use Sprout Social for most of our needs. Here are eight reasons why Sprout Social is a MUST-HAVE for anyone looking to save time, collect more data, and market more efficiently.
Our Sprout Social Review for 2015
1. Control functions through an even more user-friendly dash!
HootSuite organizes functions through a fairly user-friendly spreadsheet format, but we prefer the cleaner, more streamlined look of Sprout Social’s tabbed dashboard. It’s easy to click and manage the main categories: Messages, Tasks, Feeds, Publishing, Discovery, and Reports. Instead of looking at a lot of little columns, you work in a larger window that is easier on the eyes.
2. Get all your messages in a single stream.
Connect your Google+, Twitter and Facebook posts delivered to your Sprout Social inbox in one stream. You can still filter your messages by profile, if you prefer, but if you’re just looking for the most up-to-date messages, the “Smart Inbox” feature comes as a welcome relief. You’ll also be able to see peaks in message volume with the inbox chart, jump to work on messages from a specific week or day, and quickly filter messages by message type or brand keyword as well. We also like the “Live activity updates” that appear right inside the message stream, which shows if any of our social media collaborators are responding to a particular message in real-time!
3. Save drafts to keep track of your thoughts.
Got an idea for a social media post that you just don’t have time to flesh out right away? Sprout Social lets you save your thoughts in “Draft” mode, so you or others can work on it later. With Sprout’s shared Team Content Calendar, it’s easy to incorporate these drafts into the existing schedule for seamless operation.
4. Find the optimal times to connect with your audience.
With ViralPost®, you can determine the most effective times to publish new content to your social media networks, based on usage and engagement patterns. You can then advance-schedule posts based on the recommended findings. You can customize postings up to 10 times per day, in fact! We also love the ability to quickly scan which messages are resonating best with our followers using the Sent Message Stats function.
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5. See who your top influencers and most engaged followers are.
It can be challenging to keep track of so many names and faces and profiles over time. Thankfully, Sprout Social makes it easy by providing a quick rundown of followers who have conversed with or mentioned your brand. You’ll get a glimpse of their photo, tagline, and number of followers to determine who your most influential fans might be. Their full profiles are just a click away! And, by the same token, you can also easily “Clean Up” inactive followers who simply aren’t seeing or connecting with your company.
6. Manage customer relationships with ease.
Click on a person’s avatar to see a complete history of interactions. Add notes to help you keep track of off-line interactions with customers or to let collaborators know the best way to reach a particular contact. Check out geographically relevant social media users and suggested contacts based on conversations, mentions and followers. Integrate Sprout Social with Zendesk, Salesforce and UserVoice for a more complete snapshot of your customer relationship management that unites marketing efforts, support help, and sales all in one place.
7. Participate in relevant conversations in real-time.
Ideally, marketers want to give the right solution to the right problem at the right time. The “Smart Search” feature lets you monitor relevant keywords, brand mentions and conversations taking place right now. Smart Search is an easy way to find new people to engage and add to your list of followers. Brick-and-mortars can benefit from the ability to search social media messages originating from a particular zip code nearby and pitch compelling real-time offers as well.
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8. Organize and find share-worthy news.
Plug your Google Reader into Sprout Social’s RSS feature to read and share content from all your feeds right within your dashboard. We find this is a huge time saver because you’ll no longer need to visit each individual page to read content or go to another window to share the content you find.
Sprout Social Limitations
There are a few limitations to Sprout Social. For one, you can’t use it to monitor your Pinterest or Instagram feeds. Also, strangely, your LinkedIn messages do not appear in your inbox stream (although you can still schedule and post to your LinkedIn groups). LinkedIn is also not included in the analytics reports, which is a bit of a disappointment, especially if you’re a B2B marketer. The price is another drawback for some marketers, with the cheapest level of service starting at $59/month for Sprout Social (compared to $10/month for HootSuite). If you’re on the fence, Sprout Social’s free 30-day trial may sway you.