Sprout Social Media Tool
(The Definitive Review and Ratings 2019)
Find Out if Sprout Social Media Tool
Is A MUST HAVE Social Media Management Tool for you...
Discover if Sprout Social Media Tool software and solutions really help you to find, form and deepen real connections with the people who love you.
This Definitive Review will teach you all there is to know about Sprout Social.
What we liked and didn’t like.
What cool features you get.
And much more!…Lets delve right in….
An EntrepreneursGateway.com Review you can Trust!
A promising contender for being the ‘one-stop-shop’ social media management tool.
Definitely more expensive than others, having recently dropped their annual commitment discount.
Great clean interface, making it very easy to use and understand.
Great range of support options available and always receive a prompt response.
We Don't Like
So, before I rush headlong into this review of the social media marketing features that Sprout Social offers, let’s first have a very brief look at the background of the company.
Sprout Social first began in 2009 when the current CEO (Justyn Howard) became frustrated by the very limited number of social tools that were available, that would let him connect with his customers – especially those that were focused mostly towards brands and businesses. The following year Justyn and current CTO Aaron Rankin founded Sprout Social together with Gilbert Lara (Creative Director) and Peter Soung (director of web/mobile). They’re a privately held company and had over $11 million in investment since their founding. They are based in Chicago in the US.
Sprout Social is a leading management platform which provides publishing, engagement, analytics and collaboration tools for any sized team. It is one of the very few social media management tools to provide customer relationship management (CRM) features. CRM is very similar to social media management but allows the user to have a complete profile of their customer which in turn helps to build a stronger and more profitable relationship.
Sprout Social’s suite is well designed and very user-friendly, offering all the necessary tools for small business owners or social media managers. The platform also supports all of the major social networks and includes Google Analytics which is integrated into its report line-up. It incorporates a range of social media tools, all in an easy to use platform, which allows a whole bunch of social activities to be handled within one area – it really is a must-have for small businesses.
So, let’s start at the beginning…..
User Interface and Experience
In this section, you’ll learn whether this social media management tool is easy to use.
You don’t want to be spending hours and hours getting to grips with the dashboard.
So, here goes…..
Usually, when something is described as having a ‘clean design,’ warning bells start ringing, as this generally means that it lacks something. However, in Sprout Social’s case, this isn’t true – as the design really is clean. Looking at the top of the screen, you will see the Flow key Productivity bar shows dropdowns for Tasks, Messages, Publishing, Feeds Reports and Discovery. The font size and choice is elegant and modern and white and grey background which is restrained, entwined with colored icons along the top, the customer can click to invite more users, to add a profile or to receive the mobile app. Underneath these elements is the section for information, such as Audience Demographics and Group Trends, Team Members and Your Profiles. In the top right-hand corner of the page is the icon, Universal Gear Settings. Sprout’s Social dashboard has been adapted, not only for English users, but also for available in Portuguese and Spanish (not nearly as many as Hootsuite!!), However, by using Google Translate, it can translate in over 50 languages (like Hootsuite Pro).
By selecting Reports, the analytics area is easily reachable. You will automatically be navigated to the default which is the Reports Home Screen, this then displays all your profile statistics individually. When you reach to the bottom of the scroll-down page, providing that the app has been attached, then you will find all of your Google Analytics data. For those on the premium plan, there are 11 different types of standard reports and 14 for those on the Sprout’s Enterprise plan.
#1. Setup and Analytics
So to test the features, I set up Twitter and Facebook pages with it’s own email account to serve them, then loaded each new account with retweets, tweets, and mentions. Although the accounts were not bulging with activity, there was more than enough for me to be able to test the features. The account set-up for Sprout Social was very easy (as was Zoho Social and Hootsuite). All that was required was my personal information, credit card number, and email address. I then added both my Twitter and Facebook accounts as separate profiles. Sprout Social pulled in all the Twitter data. However, the Facebook data did take slightly longer.
Following the initial Facebook page connection, backfill generally happens immediately after attachment, however, in some cases, this doesn’t happen, so as a benchmark Sprout Social has set the time as 24 hours from setup to account.
I received ‘Sent’ messages in the Smart inbox to indicate that I had to uncheck the ‘Hide Completed Items’ box in the filters menu which was located on the UI right-hand side. Once I had unchecked this, my Facebook outgoing activity populated.
Sprout Social uses Facebook Insights, as does Hootsuite Pro and these are only available once 30 people like your page.
My test only included Facebook and Twitter accounts, but Sprout Social also includes Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Google Analytics and Feedly as other options.
I thought I would also test the analytics reporting tasks involving retweets. I did this by adding the team member, then sending a task to retweet and created a Twitter Comparison Report with a competitor.
Sprout has made some huge improvements to its analytics and publishing suite. They have included a built-in Sprout image editor built on Adobe’s Creative SDK (Sprout’s image editor) to allow the publisher to add frames, filters, stickers and text overlay and to easily adjust brightness, color, shadow and a whole lot more.
Also included in the image editor is an intelligent crop tool that includes pre-set options which allow you to resize social images for a specific network or post type. This alone gives Sprout the most powerful editing capabilities of all the tools of social images.
Another thing that stood out about Sprout was it Social CRM capabilities. It provides a group of tools to allow marketing and sales teams to be able to engage with both leads and prospects.
Sprout Social includes the very latest technology in their services and in their own site. This, in turn, makes it very easy to navigate the all-important features within the tool. By hovering over the tabs, users will know exactly what is behind them; this makes the layout even clearer, so even from the moment new-users log-in they will know exactly where to go.
A huge plus point is that the home dashboard collects various pieces of data from the user’s social media accounts. These are then displayed in a stylish infographic presentation, meaning that group trends and demographics for the past month or week are easy to read.
I loved Sprout Social’s interface and being so easy to use, most people should be able to get started without any issues.
But, first things first…
The first thing that new users should know about Sprout Social is that access to the main dashboard is via the members’ area on the website. This is great as it means that the desktop software never has to be installed anywhere else, PLUS Sprout Social also has an Android and iPhone app, so for those who are continually on the go, this is a lifesaver.
When you access the member’s area, you will then be privy to how super easy and gorgeous the interface looks. Not a second is wasted, because as soon as you log in, Sprout Social will start studying your fan and follower demographics which can improve social media campaigns enormously – I love this feature !!
The main dashboard area will display tasks, trends, publishing options, feeds and reporting and because everything is so clearly laid out, you’ll never find yourself getting confused, lost, puzzled or frustrated – result!!
So, to sum up, Sprout Social is so simple that the learning curve is very low and even if an issue should arise, then the Sprout Social support staff can always be contacted for helpful and friendly support.
Does Sprout Social allow you to put your social media on auto pilot?
You can sit back and watch your profits soar!…..
These days, if like me, you’re trying to manage multiple channels while still trying to attract new followers and fans, then the simplest solution is to schedule your posts. I know some folks didn’t agree with it but done in moderation I feel that it doesn’t do any harm. Thankfully, Sprout Social has the tools to make this happen.
To boost more new and personal engagement via the platforms of social media, Sprout Social only allows the scheduling of messages for up to 6 months ahead using the Sprout Scheduler. Although I understand their decision, I still found this slightly disappointing as other tools either didn’t have a set date, or the date was based on a longer timeframe. Scheduling is great because it keeps the focus on what is important for your business, helps avoid ‘the buzz’ and generally makes you feel more relaxed. But, as with most things Sprout Scheduler does have many advantages but limitations too.
This is fab for sending messages on the specific days YOU want and within the most efficient time frame possible. You can also repost content via the compose box (each day will have a different time – but this is limited to one post per day), or it can be done by clicking on Reports – Sent Messages then Send Message again.
To discover when the optimal engagement time is your post, I suggest using ‘ViralPost Send-Time.’ Basically, this tool suggests when your content should be published, simply by studying your audience, which means no more guesswork – now that’s not too shabby!! You can select up to 10 times to repost the update, and the intervals will need to be set (e.g., the beginning and ending timeframe for both weekdays and weekends).
Sprout Social gives you the ability to be able to publish content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ at the same time all from a single compose box. I found this to be a real time saver when I was trying to send out a message to all of my social channels at the same time. I know that best practice dictates that messages should always be personalized for each social network, but hey, we’ll have that discussion another day!!
Sprout Social’s publishing features are strong and do what they say on the tin. Everything I expected was there, from scheduling posts, shortening URL’s and including images. Of course, if I were to highlight everything, then this would be a pretty long review, so to save you time and me the writing I’ll highlight the ones that stand out.
This is rather interesting. If you’ve read my review on Buffer or have used it, then this will all sound familiar. So, in the words of Sprout Social:
The Sprout Queue makes it easy for you to maintain a consistent presence on social without having to spend time scheduling every message. Your team can add content to the queue, and Sprout will automatically publish your messages at pre-set times or when your audience is most engaged.
Sprout Social’s Sprout queue is a really good choice for those who are on a tight budget. For me though, I still prefer Buffer for my scheduled posts, but Sprout Queue comes in at a close second.
Sprout Social has a whole host of collaboration features built in – probably more than most other social media management software.
If you are looking for a solution to use with a team of a decent size, then Sprout Social is a winner, however, if you’re working solo, then you’re best skipping this section completely.
So, for the benefit of the team players, let‘s have a look at some of the highlights in the collaboration space.
Primarily, Sprout Social lets you manage your own Smart Inbox as a team AND in real time, which means you never have to worry about replying to an already replied to comment!! You can even see, in real time when a message is being viewed or replied to by a team member.
Another brilliant collaboration feature is being able to turn a message into a task. This is useful for brands who may deal with lots of customer service issues via their social media. A few clicks will turn a message or tweet into an actionable task.
Publishing is no different. Sprout Social allows user-based publishing permissions to be set, meaning that if you want every post from Mr. X reviewed by Miss Y before it gets published – you can!
Finally, I’m going to touch on the shared publishing calendar. This is a single, filterable calendar which illustrates what the whole team has got scheduled – all in one place.
One of the features that I love the best about Sprout Social is the Smart Inbox. Basically, centralized repository draws together all messages from connected profiles into a single filterable stream. It amazingly well-executed and it makes flying through messages and not missing anything a breeze.
There are two tips that I recommend when using the Smart Inbox. The first being to use the keyboard shortcuts. This will make navigation even faster than having to click around using a mouse or trackpad. Secondly, any categories that you don’t need to be displayed uncheck. An example being, each time a new follower joins, or a tweet gets retweeted the Smart Inbox will alert you. If this isn’t information isn’t necessary for the stream then uncheck the box, and they will disappear.
I’ve used both AgoraPulse and Hootsuite, and for me, the Smart Inbox is what sets Sprout Social apart from the crowd, within the area of engagement. When responding to messages with AgoraPulse, it always felt too simplistic, and with Hootsuite it was more of a clunky feel.
Sprout, however, houses everything you will ever need, all in one stream and all without breaking into a sweat.
Another great feature of Sprout Social is when you craft replies, the customer profile pops up. I think this is super-helpful when personalizing messages, which are based on the date of the user profile. By adding that tiny little bit of extra personalization, a user can become a loyal fan – pure genius!!
There are tons of ultra-cool engagement features that Sprout Social offers. From integrations for the help desk to influencer indicators. These little beauties alert you to how many Twitter followers an individual has in your streams. For example, a green bar below a user’s avatar indicates that they have between 10k-100k Twitter followers. Pretty amazeballs really.
# 4. Tool Integration
Let’s explore integration….
We don’t want a social media management tool that doesn’t talk to our other software right?
Although Sprout Social has an additional integration, it still doesn’t offer many opportunities nor connections with many popular apps.
You can boost your reach by using the browser extension and by sharing anything you wish with just one click.
There are only two apps included with Sprout Premium – Zendesk and UserVoice. Although useful, this isn’t nearly enough to produce social media marketing that has the ‘wow’ factor. The Sprout Helpdesk integration again has only two available apps – now that’s a poor show compared with Hootsuite’s 150!! What I struggle to understand is, if almost every day new apps are being invented, then how is it possible for Sprout to be limited to 2? Answer’s on a postcard, please!!
Anyway, back to what I was saying, Sprout, have explained that they aren’t well equipped for photo layout/format neither for the posting of high-resolution images to services. However, they did hint that they would love to include reporting features to the platform at some stage.
So, what are Sprout Social’s Integrations?
Well, the line up (in no particular order) is:
- LinkedIn– For those seeking both businesses and professionals, this is without a shadow of a doubt king of the social media networks. But, by interacting inefficiently, how much time is being wasted? If you have experienced this, then you will adore having the ability to brainstorm – all from one central hub and then integrate quickly and easily using Sprout Social.
- Facebook– Would you like to know how easy it feels to integrate Facebook with Sprout Social? Yes? Then give it a go!! Once done, you can interact with fans, analyze strategies AND schedule your content – which again will set you free from any overwhelming technology, any niggling issues and will set free your time. Is this sounding good? Imagine this – instead of Facebook taking advantage of you. Finally, YOU can take advantage of Facebook!!
- Twitter– So, what’s the main issue with Twitter? Simple, the answer is the humungous amount of data that it has. Both you and your teams are at risk of drowning in an ever-growing sea of content – but don’t panic, a life ring has been thrown – in the form of Sprout Social. By choosing to integrate you could see an increase in followers, schedule your updates and study your end user demographic without having to spend endless hours manually clicking and clacking tracking tweets.
- Instagram– Those of you who are using Instagram for the business purpose already know its huge potential. It is a simple way to interact, while analyzing and monitoring content, all from one dashboard. If you like the sound of that, then check out Sprout Social’s easy integration and get set-up in a matter of seconds.
- Google Plus– With this integration, you can use the single dashboard to publish content, to interact with your core following and have hardcore statistics on hand meaning that you could get more out of Google+ than ever before.
- ly– Let’s be realistic. Social media publication needs to be more than a battle with character limiting conversation. With Sprouts integration with Bit.ly, space can be conserved with more focus on marvelous content instead of trying to squeeze words into a very small space.
- Google Analytics– I’m not going to lie, it’s all true, it is. Sprout Socials beautiful analytics. You, your boss, your team and your clients – EVERYONE will love them. Although Google Analytics is seriously cool, it can be overwhelming and tough to integrate solo, so by merging with Sprout Social, life becomes easy, and you’ll actually understand what you see.
- Zendesk– Users who already offer support via Zendesk will appreciate the opportunity to integrate with Sprout Social. Everyone loves marriage, and by marring your social media platform with your helpdesk, it’s the perfect love story. The result of this love – well that would be the creation of a bespoke customer support sequence that’s mega easy to manage and collaborate.
- UserVoice– Even if both you and your business use UserVoice instead of Zendesk, support will still be able to be managed via one centralized hub without having to switch tabs and without any confusion.
- Salesforce– Consider this for a moment. Imagine if you were able to integrate your social profiles with your sales data? This would not only produce data that is almost impossible, but it would also allow you to develop insights into the end user demographics that would give a
- What if you could integrate your sales data with your social profiles? This could provide insight and data that’s otherwise difficult (if not impossible) to obtain. So you can develop insights about your end user demographic that will give you a momentous advantage and a connection with your audience that you never thought was possible.
The great thing with Sprout Social is that included with ALL plans is a Free 30Day Trial!! To make the benefits of each plan clearer, I have displayed them in the table below.
PremiumEssential tools for professionals
Total social media management
All in one social inbox
Monitor profiles, keywords, and locations
Social and tasking CRM toolset
Schedule, publish, draft and queue posts
Social content calendar
Group, profile and post-level reporting
Android and iOS mobile apps
10 social profiles included
CorporatePowerful tools for social business
All premium features included
Categorize, tag, and report on inbox messages
Engagement & Trend reports
Productivity & team reporting
Audience targeting & approval workflow
Reporting and campaign tagging
Competitive benchmark reporting
*Add-on: Advanced social listening suite
15 social profiles included
EnterpriseAdvanced tools for social business at scale
All corporate features included
Advanced reports and customer care tools
Advance keyword report
Build bespoke Chatbots with Automation tools
Custom URL tracking
Store media in a shared asset library
Scheduled report delivery & report builder
*Add-on: Advanced social listening suite
20 social profiles included
At first glance, the prices can seem a tad on the steep side. The Premium plan is better than Mention or Klear Advanced, which are both over the $200 mark and don’t monitor as many social sources, however, compared to other combined social publishing and analytics platforms such as Zoho Social and Hootsuite, Sprout isn’t the cheapest.
One thing that is important to me when testing and reviewing is what support is available and what shape and form it comes in. After all, we’re all human and need help at some time or another. Well, I’m pleased to reveal that Sprout Social offers several different types of support – each as awesome as each other, so whether you want to contact the team, want to learn or wish to talk with a support representative on a one to one basis – you can – all options are covered!!
When you begin browsing Sprout Social, one of the first things that will catch your attention will be the invitation to get a demo. This will help curb any curiosities that you may still have regarding Sprout Social before you make the all-important decision to sign up.
Sprout Social also has an extremely defined status page. If the systems are ever down this will display real-time system metrics showcasing. To determine how transparent and trustworthy a company is, one of the first attributes to look at is usually a status page; this also gives an insight into how serious a company is about offering a quality service.
For those that are serious about social media marketing or are simply nerdy marketing enthusiasts (like me!!), who adore content that is fresh and up to date then I would definitely recommend checking out Sprout Social’s frequently updated blog. There is a wide range of goodies on offer including guides showing how to begin getting started with social media marketing through to advice on solutions for enterprise-level social media together with some really interesting case studies. So, whatever the experience level, there is training and content for everyone.
Nowadays, webinars are the way forward, and Sprout Social doesn’t disappoint. They offer several excellent ones that are definitely worth registering for. Whether you’re an overall marketing buff or someone who is looking to pick up social media hacks or even just wants more information about the Sprout Social Team, then go to their blog and check it out, you’ll also find that it includes different webinar registrations that are on offer too!!
And not forgetting, those who just want to contact Sprout Social either by phone or email, the information is displayed on their homepage which means that you will have access to support and help – FAST. On top of all that Sprout Social also hosts a knowledge base which contains a whole host of FAQ, together with various video tutorials that will help make the most of the platform while improving social performance. Finally, under the icon of the settings cogwheel (once you are logged in) there is access to Live Chat, which somehow is rather comforting.
Is Sprout Social – the right Social Media Management Tool for you?
So, now that I have outlined the Pros and Cons that Sprout Social has to offer, the real question is – Who is it suited to?
I have to be honest; for those on a budget, Sprout Social is not the tool for you. Although it is packed full of features, they do come at a price, and there are several other alternatives out there that provide similar features but for a quarter of the price.
For those starting out albeit as a marketer, publisher, author, instructor or social media enthusiast, then Sprout Social is a good choice. Sprout Social offers amazing social media automation and integration, which will, in turn, drive more traffic and result in more followers, all while still interacting from one central inbox.
For those who are part of a large organization such as a marketing agency, then Sprout Social is the perfect tool. It offers robust collaboration features together with support features which means that your social media marketing efforts can collaborate across teams and there is even the option to directly integrate the helpdesk directly with Sprout.
So, I won’t beat around the bush, if the price weren’t an issue, I’d definitely recommend Sprout Social to all those who were looking for an engagement platform with all-in-one social management.
But, unfortunately, in reality, price does have to feature in the equation….But that said, it’s such an amazing tool!
First off, you need to consider whether all of Sprouts features will be used. For those not working on a team and who already have in place options to schedule content, then possibly you may not be forced to part with $60-$100 per month.
For those who don’t mind investing and are looking for the best, then Sprout Social certainly won’t disappoint. They offer a 30-day free trial, give it a go and let me know how you got on.
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Now, over to you...
Now I’d love to hear from you:
Are you going to purchase Social Sprout or are you already using it?
Perhaps you started reading this review with the intention to buy, and maybe now you’re not so sure!
They offer a 30-day free trial, give it a go and let me know how you got on.
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