We’ve been using Sprout Social for years, so it’s probably not accurate to call this a tryout, but we’ve never done a thorough review, so it’s high time. Sprout Social is one of many social media management tools, and it’s the one we use with all our social media clients.
Sprout makes lots of sense if you have multiple social media accounts to handle for your company. Let’s put it through its paces.
Sprout has a nice dashboard that lets you see how your week is going at a glance:
You can quickly check your messages and any tasks set for you by other team members, and you can immediately access your RSS feeds, all from the top navigation bar.
Heading to the right, we find the main work areas: Publishing, where you can line up your messages; Discovery, where you can manage followers, find accounts to follow, do some social listening, and track down great stuff to retweet; Reports, where you get intensive analytics; and Compose, where you can quickly create a tweet.
Inbox, Tasks, and Reports also have quick access buttons on the right — they’re duplicate navigation, but might be handy for quick workflow if that’s where your eye ends up.
Sprout’s Discovery area has a number of functions in the left-hand toolbar:
- Suggestions shows you people who follow you but whom you do not follow, as well as people who have conversed with or mentioned you. It’s a great place to find new connections.
- Cleanup lets you quickly identify and unfollow accounts which have gone silent (or which don’t follow you back, if that’s how you roll).
- Smart Search lets you find people by their handles, keywords, or hashtags. You can target searches to include either Twitter or Facebook (or both) and specific locations. We find that this tool works better than most other tools we’ve tried, in terms of returning relevant posts. You can set up feeds for specific terms you often search for, too.
While we curate content from around the web and produce original content as well, you can certainly do much of your content curation right here in the Discovery area.
Sprout lets you post to multiple accounts if you like, and you can fine-tune images and text alike. You can send immediately, schedule your posts at precise times including multiple dates, save drafts, or queue your posts up. The queue lets you compose multiple posts and send them out at intervals. You can set up each of your social profiles with a different schedule of intervals.
The Messages area makes it easy to interact with others.
You can narrow down the stream to see just direct messages to your Twitter account, just conversations at G+, and so forth. If you have limited time for interaction, Sprout helps you break the stream down into manageable bits.
Sprout collects lots of data, and has a wide range of reports available with a few clicks. You can also download your data as a PDF or a variety of files which you can pull into spreadsheets or data visualization programs.
You can see demographics, times, trends such as the hashtags others most often use when they mention you, and a number of different visual representations that let you get a quick grasp of performance. You can also track specific aspects of performance, including how quickly you respond to mentions, which team members do most posting, and how two accounts compare.
Sprout also shows you the messages sent, in a sortable table that helps you see quickly what kinds of posts have the largest reach or the most clicks. We’ve downloaded this data for further analysis in order to distinguish what language gets the greatest response or which team member gets the best results for a specific client.
Rosie loves Sprout’s efficiency for a team. You will pay for each team member, but you can also divvy up accounts, track individual results, or set tasks for team members — for example, when we need a response in a particular language, or one requiring specific knowledge, we can easily throw a message to a colleague.
She also loves the reporting. “It allows you to see actionable patterns within data that’s largely emotional,” she points out. “If you don’t have that information, you have to rely on your own emotional responses to other people’s emotional responses, and that’s no way to run a business.”
I like the efficiency at the simplest level: we can care for multiple accounts without signing in and out and without the distraction of going to the platform. This allows us to care for our clients faster, and therefore more economically.
I also love the reporting. While each social media platform has its own analytics options, Sprout lets us get the information faster. We can bring in Google Analytics as well and harmonize the information from multiple sources.
I also appreciate how responsive Sprout is. I’ve asked for a couple of features and they’ve not only listened — they’ve actually brought them in. When I asked them to add Pinterest to their roster, they assured me that they wanted to, rather than just rolling their eyes, which would have been justifiable. They provide valuable training as well.
Sprout is a paid service. If you manage your company’s social media and have Twitter, Facebook, several LinkedIn accounts, and G+, as well as perhaps some profiles designed for specific campaigns or for customer service, it’s certainly worth the investment.
Of course, no social media tool is magic. Sprout helps you manage social media faster and smarter, but it won’t tweet for you. If you need more than a good app, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.