Social media management and measurement can be some of the most difficult tasks for any business. Moreso for small businesses which may have difficulty finding tools that give enough information at an affordable price. If you use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, Sprout Social can provide some very valuable measurements and insights. Let’s take a closer look…
You can connect your Twitter, Facebook, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles into one “identity” on Sprout Social. Connecting the profiles is fairly easy since Sprout Social takes you through all the steps. If you have more than one Facebook page for your business, Sprout Social allows you to connect them into this one identity to make it easier to get an overview of what’s going on with your business.
Dashboard – Overview
Once you have all your social media profiles connected into Sprout Social, the Dashboard gives you a nice overview of what’s going on, including demographics, recent messages, recent followers, and a social scoreboard.
Inbox – Monitoring Conversations
The Inbox shows all your latest conversations on your social media profiles. You can then reply to them from the inbox or mark them for followup later. The inbox also shows you comments on your Facebook profiles, direct messages and mentions of your business name — a very valuable tool for monitoring social media which can be customized to show you the information you want to see.
Discovery – Valuable Insights
The Discovery tool has some very valuable insights once you’ve set it up with keyword, people and business searches (the tools step you through what you need to do). Unfortunately you can’t get an overview of any of these results, you need to click on each to see them (which makes it a bit harder to monitor). By monitoring the results of these searches every few days, you’ll have a solid understanding of who is talking about you and your company.
Reports – Social Proof
Reporting is one of the most valuable parts of Sprout Social. For both Twitter and Facebook you can get a nice overview of how you’re doing with metrics like engagement, influence, message types and demographics which can also be exported. The reports for Twitter and Facebook have different measurements, showing only those appropriate to that network. If you use Sprout Social for sending messages, you also can get more details on how each message performed.
Scheduling – Automate Posting
Like many other social media tools, Sprout Social also provides the ability to schedule messages to go out in the future, including automatically sending out posts from any rss feeds (from your blog, for example). The interface is very easy to understand and any messages that are sent out from Sprout Social can be tracked for their effectiveness.
Contact Management – Building a Network
Social Sprout lets you manage the contacts you have on Twitter by allowing you to add people to your Sprout Social address book. There also is a suggestion tool to see people that you might want to follow, either because they’re already following you or because you’ve had conversations with you or because they’ve mentioned you or your business. You can also cleanup who you’re following by seeing people you’re following who haven’t had much activity lately, accounts with irregular use or people who are not following you back.
Advantages – Many
Having one affordable place to monitor many social networks in once place and get measurements about those metrics is pretty huge. The measurements that are given are also shown in trending format over time, so you can easily use them to see how your tactics are working to improve your engagement and influence online.
Trending Metrics! Being able to see how you’re doing over time is huge for social media measurement. Metrics which provide snapshots are nice, but you have to see how they’ve increased or decreased over time to understand how your tactics may be affecting them.
Features! Pretty much everything I mentioned above is an advantage. While there are tools out there that provide parts of what Social Sprout provides, having them all in one place is invaluable.
Price! I have yet to find a tool that provides so much information for only $9/month. You can try it out for 30 days and see if it’s going to work for you, which is another advantage.
Disadvantages – A Few
Clicks are only tracked if you initiate them in Sprout Social. Unfortunately, HootSuite offers more robust scheduling and posting features (as do many other Twitter clients), so I was not able to see any clicks on my posts.
Some of the measurements appear to look at all of your social profiles, but I’m not sure that’s the case. For example, the social scorecard on the Dashboard seems to imply that it’s a score for all your profiles, but the number of new followers is not the same as the number of new connections at the top of the Dashboard. Likewise, are the engagement and influence ratings looking at all profiles or just Twitter? I think it should be more clear how the measurement or rating is being made.
Not all of the features are available for all of the social networks. It would be nice to be able to see reports for LinkedIn and see contacts across all the social networks, not just Twitter. It would also be nice to add others social networks, since Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn may not be ones that are particularly important in some industries.
There are also some features that don’t appear to be working correctly (mostly in the suggestions which is new). Hopefully these get fixed soon because they would provide pretty useful information if working properly. Sprout Social has a nice feedback system to alert them to problems and help users with problems.
Conclusion – Worth a Try
While there are some minor problems and issues with Sprout Social, I imagine that some of these may be addressed in the future. Sprout Social has a nice support community where you can give them feedback and get problems solved. The measurements and features that are provided are pretty valuable and it’s difficult to find anything anywhere close for the price (pro version for $9/month and business for $49/month). With a 30 day free trial of either plan, there is very little risk in giving Sprout Social a try to see if it gives you the insights you need for your business.
Have you tried Sprout Social? What do you think? If not, give it a try, we’d love to hear your thoughts.