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screenshot of sprout social website

Sprout Social Review: The Definitive Guide to this Social Media Marketing Platform

In a digital era where a million things compete for our attention, it’s increasingly harder to stand out without building the right connections. Sproutsocial helps business connect with their customers on personal level wherever they are; check out our review.

It is impossible interacting with customers today without using social media. But, when you are an SME it can challenging hiring staff to handle all your accounts. Sprout social allows you to link up to 10 social media platforms.

This gives you central control of them. The applications use extends to agencies and larger enterprises. 

Having sprout social allows you to update and interact with customers without necessarily opening individual accounts. You also get access to analytics and reporting for improved social media interaction. 

Sprout has done a remarkable job in social media marketing and even goes further to integrate certain customer relationship management (CRM) functions. They offer affordable pricing with a friendly user-interface. The applications is a serious contender to Hootsuite and establishes itself as a leader for SMEs. It is estimated that the company has over 25,000 customers with more joining the platform. 

When starting out, you can take advantage of their free 30-day trial. This should give you a feel of the software before getting into a subscription plan. The standard one starts at $99 per user for five profiles or you can opt for the professional $149 per user/month.

Key Features

 

Interface

When you are choosing an application, you need an interface that is easy to use with accessible navigation menus. What you need for operating your accounts are located on the top part of the screen. Here you will find your task, messages, feeds, listening, publishing, bots, and reports.

The white and grey background makes it easy to read out sprout webpages. You can access Sprout in either English, Spanish or Portuguese. This is a serious drawback as competitors over more languages some like Hootsuite have up to 50. Your option for translation is to make use of Google Translate. 

Reports offer you feedback on how your social media campaigns are performing. Analytics can be accessed through the report feature. Reports will vary depending on the package you are subscribed to – 9 for premium and 22 for enterprise. You also have access to the Google Analytics report. 

Setting up is like other applications, you will need a valid email, set up password, and key in credit details (not mandatory). Once you have linked your social media accounts, sprout will pull out the data and you can start interacting.

Facebook may take you longer unlike your Twitter accounts. Due to issues with backfill, sprout recommends you waiting for 24 hours to have all your data. 

Centralized inbox

If you are operating multiple accounts then it can be tiring opening and closing accounts just to check your inbox for messages. Sprout centralized inbox gives you access to all messages received. You can then filter the messages like you do in email and monitor them for any hashtags. 

The company makes every effort to know their customer needs. This is done through popup questions that inquire about the company’s needs. 

Chat bots

Social media platforms like Facebook have chat platforms that promote collaboration with teams. Sprout builder comes with bot builder that automatically responds to your Facebook messenger and twitter queries. You can customize the bots based on common asked questions. 

The role of machine learning cannot be underestimated when it comes to social media marketing. Machine learning has the capacity to automate certain repetitive tasks hence giving your employees more time to work on pending and crucial tasks. 

For many the idea of having a chat bot may seem like rocket science but sprout social has simplified the setup process. You will first need to cover all your bases from the FAQs in structuring your chat bots; this lets customers find what they are looking for with ease.

Once the flow of questions has being integrated to the chat bot, you will find yourself with more time on your hands. This is a cool feature that we found lacking most of sprout competitors. 

Social media tracking 

For one to succeed on social media one needs to listen to what is going on in the social scene. This will require you to actively follow various popular hashtags, keywords, or trending topics and adjust them to your themes.

Sprout fosters this by allowing you to follow various popular trends across various social media platforms. While the feature is great it has some drawbacks like having a very simplistic search feature and you cannot export the results to other applications. You will need to scroll through the content, which can be time-consuming. 

Publishing posts

sprout social publishing tools screenshot

This is where it gets interesting. Sending a post across multiple accounts is time-consuming. First, you need to open individual accounts, then publish the post. With sprout you can either publish your post manually or you can leverage on sprout viral post and have then sent on your behalf during optimal times.

This ensures that your posts get the maximum impact. For automatic future delivery, you can use the Sprout query. The app has a calendar where you can schedule your post, but it is not that user-friendly.

My preference would have being for a drag and drop system. Integration on the platform is relegated to Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. 

The twitter automation feature allows the system to monitor conversations on popular tweets and suggest possible replies. You can even launch their quantitative scores and see how your tweets match with each other. 

When it comes to creating promoting your posts, sprout feature the influencer identification that helps in pushing your social media posts. However, this has being relegated to Twitter and Instagram accounts. In addition, you will also get Instagram keyword, Twitter keyword monitoring, and location monitoring.

With the metrics you can track various brands and adjust yours to suit the market. When you leverage on tools like the Sprout Twitter Keyword, you can pull up various large influencers. 

Team Collaboration 

Workforces have increasingly being moving from physical workstations to virtual teams. Sprout has an intuitive collaboration feature that brings all your teams in one platform. You can allocate tasks to teams so that there is no overlap in responding to social media messages.

An easy to use audit trail informs users of tasks, messages replied to and those marked as complete. With the tool you are sure that every customer query is responded to. For better team management, there is the team report. This is meant to enhance your collaboration among teams by letting your team work on the most important tasks.

The reply metrics comes at $249 the feature does not come cheap but it has a proven record for engaging customers and followers. This is something to consider if you are handling large teams. 

Analytics and reporting 

Sprout comes with advanced analytic tools that inform you on your progress in managing social media accounts. The data is customized to give a glimpse of your progress. You can get an engagement report, sent messages report, Facebook competitors, twitter trends report, and Instagram profiles report.

If these are not sufficient you can leverage on various other reports offered by instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When it comes to reporting, you can first get glimpse of the performance of all your social media accounts on the group report. This is easy to digest as you have them all in a single graph.

It also gives you a bird’s eye view of your campaign performance. There is also a breakdown of your total followers, profiles and so much more. 

It is imperative that you know what your competitors are doing when creating your social media marketing strategy. This is delivered through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram comparison reports. The best part is you can check out how your competitors profiles have being designed and adjust yours accordingly.

social analytics with sprout

You also have an influence score that shows you how your posts are being received in the market. If your business is making inroads, then this scores will be higher. Remember, you can always export your reports to PDF or CSV for further analysis.

The other report that you need to keenly follow is their engagement report. When you start using the application, this page is almost blank. Then as you start accumulating more data, it comes to live. The downside is that sprout will not pull out historical data, but will start filling out the engagement page when you first using it.

This we think is something the company can change and improve on. Current updates on the page include addition of advocacy report, Instagram Competitors report, Facebook competitors report, scheduled report delivery, LinkedIn sent messages report and the report builder.

You will need to get these updates if you are still using an older version of the software. 

Sprout has a special Image editor that allows you to add filters, stickers, and overlays. You can also adjust shadow, brightness or color for your images. The feature is based upon Adobe Creative SDK. The tool turns you into an expert graphic designer. You can crop images and resize them to fit specific social media accounts. 

Sprout social reporting is comprehensive and better than competition. You get all the tools that you need to make a conclusion as to whether your posts are having an impact or not.

With additional reports from other social media platforms, you are more than armed to boost social media engagement. The reports are constantly being updated with new features, so be alert for them. 

Integration third party apps

You can integrate your Sprout social application with Zendesk or Uservoice for more functionality like ticketing. The application is available on the go and can be accessed through Mobile iOS or Android. In this regards, you will have all your inboxes in one easy to use app. 

CRM capabilities

Sprout has added some CRM features to help you in customer management. The main aim of having social media accounts for your business is to promote brand visibility and enhance customer engagement.

Sprout has some awesome tools for your sales and marketing teams. If you realize that these are limited you have the option of integrating the app with Zendesk. If you are going strong with Facebook, you can launch their contact view for more customer engagement. 

Pricing 

The application comes in three subscription plans but you can start with the free 30-day trial before subscribing to a package. Billing is done on a per user basis with each plan having more advanced features.

When you start with a package you will access the smart inbox, complete social media management, task management tools, ability to monitor popular keywords & locations, tiered reporting, social media content calendar, and linkages to up to 10 social media accounts.

As you move above the subscription levels you get access to more reports and approval workflows.

The higher charging enterprise subscription level allows you to get advanced keyword listing, advanced customer care tools, custom URL tracking, customized chat bots, and supports up to 20 social media platforms. 

Customer support

Sprout customer care teams can be accessed through Twitter, help center, and live chat. Most people have encounter serious problems whenever they purchase a software. If the customer service is off, you may end up with an obsolete software. Sprout customer care is above average.

Whenever, you encounter problems you will find a comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked questions from their help center. If this does not help, you can engage them through live chat or send them a tweet. We found the staff to be friendly, professional and prompt in their response. 

Conclusion 

Compared to other social media suite products, sprout social has more to offer. Firstly, their reports are very comprehensive and help one make insightful decisions.

The dashboard interface is easy to use and you can find all that you need easily. The chat bot and CRM features are something to lookout for as you will not find them with competitors. Machine learning in the chat bots is a game changer in enhancing customer engagement.

Adding social media profiles is simple and their engagement reports let you have a birds eye view of what is going on in all your social media platforms. Overall, you should try out this great application.