Are you looking for an alternative social media management tool to replace Hootsuite?
Hootsuite is a useful tool, but the interface and reporting could be a lot better. Sprout Social offers a viable alternative that is simple to use, has a really nice user interface and has some great additional functionality.
In this article, we take a detailed look at Sprout Social.
What are the main features?
The following are the key features of Sprout Social:
- Supports Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn personal profiles and Google+ company pages.
- Integrates with Google Analytics – This is very useful because you can track your social media updates to see the traffic that is generated and the results of this traffic.
- Integrates with Feedly – Feedly collects all the blog posts from the sites you subscribe to. It’s a really useful tool and it’s handy that this is incorporated as part of Sprout Social functionality.
- Sprout queueing – You can specify specific times for scheduled delivery of content so you or your team can just share content as you find it and not worry about specifying what time it should go out.
- Team-based functionality – You can operate Sprout Social as a team and assign tasks to different members of the team.
- Discovery functionality – You find relevant people to follow on Twitter, search for keywords on Twitter or Facebook, search for keywords related to tweets in a particular location, or discover accounts on Twitter you should not be following any more.
- Reports – There is a good range of standard reports available that are presented very well visually, have good information and can be exported in pdf or csv formats.
- Content sharing anywhere on the web – There is a Chrome extension that allows you to share out content as you are browsing.
- Social CRM functionality – For any contact you communicate with, you can add some profile information (e.g. email address, company, phone number, etc.) so this is available next time you look at the contact record. You can also view the history of any interactions you have had with this contact on social media channels (e.g. tweets you exchanged).
How does it work?
The functionality is broken down into the following 4 tabs:
You use the Smart Inbox to view all incoming messages from your various channels. On the right-hand side, you’ll see an option to filter your messages, e.g. just look for specific mentions.
When you want to send out messages, you click the ‘compose’ button on the top right of the screen. From there, you are able to send messages to one or many of your profiles. You can send immediately, save to draft, schedule for a later time or add to the ‘Sprout Queue’ so the messages are automatically sent out at specific times.
These are tasks that require some action and have been created by you or assigned to you by a team member. The tasks are categorized into General, Leads or Issues.
This is for the feeds of content you may want to monitor:
- Twitter – This shows everything that is coming into your Twitter account. However, you are more likely to use your Smart Inbox for this type of functionality.
- LinkedIn – You can view LinkedIn messages from your contacts.
- RSS – Sprout Social supports integration with Feedly, so if you use Feedly to subscribe to blogs, you can display all the content within Sprout Social.
This is where you can do/view the following:
- Scheduled – View all posts that are scheduled to go out.
- Sprout Queue – View content that has been added to the Sprout Social queue. This is content that will automatically be sent out based on times you preconfigure.
- Drafts – View, edit and send the drafts that you have already created (through your Smart Inbox).
- Post via RSS – Set up blog content that will be automatically posted on your social media accounts. For example, you may want your blog posts to be sent out automatically when they are published.
This allows you to do to the following:
- Find new people to follow – For example, it will highlight people who follow you on Twitter who you don’t follow back, or those who have mentioned you.
- Clean up – Remove people on Twitter who you follow who are not active or don’t follow you back, or people who have suspicious activity on their account.
- Keyword search – Perform a keyword search to find conversations on Twitter or Facebook that might be worth engaging with, or people who might be worth following.
View a range of standard reports for your profiles. Each report has some basic customization available, for example you can choose to view the report for a period of 60 days, 90 days etc. You can also export the report to PDF or CSV format.
The reports are visually appealing and nicely laid out, but you are limited to the reports they provide and you can’t create new reports from scratch.
What are the limitations?
- It doesn’t support LinkedIn business pages or groups.
- Although it’s nice having Feedly integration, Sprout Social doesn’t support the level of functionality that Feedly supports. This means you may end up still using Feedly itself.
- There is some basic customization available for reports but it would be nice if there was more flexibility, particularly the ability to create your own reports.
- No app directory – Hootsuite has an ecosystem of other applications that are integrated with Hootsuite that add to the functionality available.
Price starts at $59 per user and, with additional features and support for more social profiles, this goes to $99 and then to $1,500 for an enterprise user with at 10 accounts included in the package.
Sprout Social is a nicely designed social media management tool with lots of useful features. Hootsuite has a free offering that provides a lot of Sprout Social functionality, but if you don’t like the user interface and find that Sprout Social’s additional functionality adds a lot of value to your business then it’s worth considering.
Are you tempted?
What’s the tool you usually use for these tasks? Are you thinking about making a change?
Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this post – using your social media management tool of choice!!
The following post gives you an idea of other social media management tools worth considering. Worth checking out:Balance scale and Girl images by Shutterstock
About the author
Author: Ian Cleary is the Founder of RazorSocial and is super passionate about helping people leverage tools and technology to improve effectiveness of your social media presence.