Sprout Social - Intuitive and Affordable Social Media Management Tool for Small Brands
New tools are constantly being developed for social media management. Their goals are the same: to help you be a more effective user of social media. I recently tested out Sprout Social and I wanted to give you a quick feature overview and add some of my thoughts.
Sprout Social is a social media management tool that is fairly intuitive, aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use. This platform combines many different tools that you may already use. From scheduling tweets like Hootsuite or CoTweet to timing tweets like Timely to measuring your engagement and influence like Klout, Sprout Social takes a variety of social media management tools and wraps them into a single web-based app.
Social Media Management Features:
Hearing what people are saying about your company and being able to quickly respond to complaints and compliments is a huge benefit to using social media. Sprout Social makes it easy for you to know when people are talking about your brand. They can also help you discover tweeps with similar interests as you and help you monitor keywords and hot topics within your field of interest/expertise. You can create filters that allow you to take a look at what your competitors are up to and what people are saying about them. These tools are found under the "Discovery" tab.
Meaningful and Influential Engagement
We tend to pay special attention to powerful people whether celebrities or politicians or people we know will go far in life. Sprout Social takes this mentality and puts it to action by placing little stars next to profile pictures that denote influence. You can find these stars used throughout the site. When you are looking at your inbox and you have 10 new @replies you have to tend to and you're not sure if you want to respond to all of them, just look for the stars right next to a contact's profile picture. These stars will show you who is more likely to engage in conversation with you and who is more influential and will help to spread your message.
When I was new to Twitter I went crazy following all sorts of my favorite brands and friends and people that I thought I would enjoy listening to. Before I knew it, I was following hundreds of people and my timeline became extremely cluttered. Sprout Social has a "Cleanup" feature that highlights irrelevant people you are following and gives you the option to unfollow them. I have found this extremely useful. This feature has brought some people to the surface that I don't even remember following in the first place. It also monitors Twitter users with irregular usage patterns.
Manage Multiple Profiles
Sprout Social allows you to manage multiple user profiles simultaneously. You can link certain Facebook Pages to certain Twitter handles together so you can view stats and demographic information of just that brand without having to link your personal profile.
A hot topic right now is how to measure social media ROI. All measurements for ROI and social media marketing success overall stem from reporting. Sprout Social has created a reporting system that produces easy-to-read, color PDF reports that can be custom branded with your logo. These reports show everything from demographics to new followers and your overall influence.
Flag for Follow-up
So often I find myself saying, "I'll respond to that tweet in just a minute." Before I know it, I have completely forgotten about responding altogether. Sprout Social has a feature where you can flag posts for follow-up. All of your flagged posts then appear in a folder and will stay there until you respond to them. For someone like me who is always forgetting to respond, this is a crucial feature.
Coming Soon -- Exclusive Spoiler Alert
As I was talking with the team over at Sprout Social, they gave me a bit of foresight into what their future holds. Within the next few months they will be releasing a new version of Sprout Social adding some very important features including team collaboration for agencies and small businesses with multiple contributors. They also mentioned that they will be releasing mobile apps in the near future for your favorite iOS and Android devices.
There are a few minor drawbacks in the software that could still be ironed out. The biggest issue I faced was inaccuracies with the foursquare and Gowalla implementation available only in the business version. The stats did not accurately reflect what was showing up on foursquare “Management Tools.” My inbox also showed that the mayor of a venue at the time had just checked in for the first time which obviously isn’t the case seeing how she was the reigning mayor. One of the support team members said this to me in an email, …”When you add locations into Sprout Social, we begin tracking information from that moment. We do not back date check ins for those locations…”
Another feature that could really be improved upon is the timing of tweets being sent out. Sprout Social offers broad suggestion for the timing of sent tweets but is not even close to being as precise with timing as a Timely or a Tweriod. Making this tool a bit more accurate to an individual user’s following would greatly increase the visibility of their tweets.
Sometimes loading information from other sites such as information about your clicked links or geo-location venue checkin information can take a bit of time to load. And as mentioned above, they do not preload any of that information. They only start to analyze stats from the day you join and forward.
Overall, Sprout Social is a great social media management tool that’s geared towards helping users maximize their effectiveness online. Give the 30-day risk-free trial a try and see what you think. I would love to hear you comments and experiences using Sprout Social!
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