Social Media Management Tool: A Review of Sprout Social in 2013
Digital marketers harness the power of brands and local businesses by giving a "voice" to their online presence through the avenue of social media. By doing so, they provide insight into the company philosophy, deliver direct feedback to consumers and create an online conversation that can result in direct engagement and ROI. However, questions still remain. With the emergence of social media...
- How are marketers measuring influence?
- How are marketers managing your social media presence?
There are countless tools available for those looking to dive into marketing their business, but how can YOU decipher which ones are truly worth the time invested? Coming from a marketer who's delved head first into dozens of management systems, this Sprout Social review should be a pivotal weapon in your marketing arsenal.
Sprout Social Wings and Fly
Sprout Social is an integral social media management tool that combines the power of
- Analytics - reports combine engagement, impressions, shares and the demographics of your fans, followers and influencers. Now, you can gauge which posts are the most influential, tailor your message to your most prominent demographic and know where to pick up ad spend on social media platforms that aren't warranting the engagement you're looking to achieve.
- Social Feed Aggregation - the ability to see your Facebook newsfeed, Twitter feed and RSS feed reader integration on one scrolling screen. This simplifies your efforts by having all of your social media updates fed into one location. Say goodbye to switching tabs in your browser.
- Social Media Publishing - post directly on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles from the Sprout Social dashboard.
- Team Management - manage team members and review posts before they're pushed to sites.
Using Sprout Social - "Intuitive" is My Middle Name
Sprout Social offers a FREE 30-day trial for skeptics, which I used to my full advantage to immerse myself into the system. (You can sign up here.) When you sign in for the first time, Sprout Social will walk you through a series of steps to add in your social media accounts. Once that is completed, Sprout Social takes some time to analyze your online situation and populate your Dashboard accordingly.
After a few minutes, you'll be able to see, in real-time, the influence of your social media properties. The dashboard main page pulls up a summary of your presence at the top left, providing a screenshot of what you've been up to online. It's a great way to see the landscape before you decide to make any posts. From this location, you can visit your available tabs (located at the top navigation) or, scroll down to see quick snapshots of your connected accounts. Sprout Social provides a quick score (for Twitter and Facebook) that indicates how well you're communicating with your audience. The higher your score number, the more valuable your audience to your business.
Know Your Surroundings
The Messages tab does a great job of aggregating recent messages you've posted, comments by others and interactions from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on one feed. Here, you can assign tasks to other interaction members, see your sent messages from today, yesterday, or by week and month in one easy tab. The Messages tab does a superb job of making recent post interactions visible on multiple platforms.
As with other social media management tools like Hootsuite and Wildfire, Sprout Social allows its users to publish their posts via the social media dashboard. This eliminates visiting individual social media platforms and posting directly. Now, you can:
- Schedule posts for the future
- Send a quick post to Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn platforms
- Quickly add content while browsing the web by installing the Google Chrome Extension
- Utilize a built-in RSS Reader to easily find content to share
However, be forewarned, using a third party application to update your Facebook Page may be convenient, but Facebook is minimizing its impact in your fans' news feed. Your messaging isn't factored into Facebook's Edgerank. ALWAYS post directly to Facebook -- you can learn how to schedule Facebook messages on Facebook's HELP pages.
Discover Who Your Influencers Are
The Discovery tab on the Dashboard provides an overview of individual Twitter accounts. Visit your recent suggestions of whom to follow, clean up Twitter spammers who have little to no activity online, or perform a smart search based on keyword terms around your business to find advocates of your brand. The Discovery tab makes it easy to increase your Twitter presence with just a few tabs.
Report Your Social Media & Prove ROI
For online marketers looking to justify their social media marketing efforts, the Reports tab is an important tool in your arsenal. This is where Sprout Social outshines the competition. As a user who has generated reports from other competitors, Sprout has the most in-depth comparisons.
You can combine accounts to see group stats of clients you're managing in an easy printable PDF/CSV format that reveals:
- Group Stats - includes incoming message stats and more
- Engagement Report - provides metrics based on replies sent from profiles within the group you specify
- Twitter Stats - demographics of your followers, new followers in a time period, and your daily engagement
- Facebook Stats - see your new fans, page impressions and the demographics of your current followers
This report is customizable by specific date ranges and can be saved in a PDF and .CSV format for clients.
For more in-depth reports, Sprout Social provides:
Facebook Pages Reports
The Facebook Pages Report has all of the pivotal information marketers need to prove ROI. Stats include: impressions, check-ins, demographics, fan locations, shared messages, popular post days, and a content breakdown of the most popular posts. This report is a thorough culmination of your Facebook marketing message and should provide an integral view into what's working on your page.
Are you not receiving enough engagement on your posts? Look at the content breakdown for messages that ARE working and emulate the formula in future posts.
Is a day of the week getting little to no engagement? Increase your messaging and target your users with more content during a popular time on that day.
With the Facebook Reports as a guide, Sprout Social helps users create marketing efforts around their findings.
Twitter Reports (w/comparison to ANY Twitter account)
With Twitter reporting, measure your key indicators of engagement and influence with your audience, create your marketing and messaging around the demographics of your followers and see what messages you're sending are receiving the most mentions and retweets. Also, compare your Twitter profiles to competitors. See what they're doing better and what's NOT working to better conducting your marketing efforts.
The intuitive use of Sprout Social sets it apart from the competition. It's a simple, effective way to manage your social media efforts. However, every product is never without its short-comings. Google integration and publishing is NOT available on Sprout Social. So, posting to Google+ takes additional effort on the marketer's part to increase their social media gamut. Sprout Social is not a be-all, end-all social media management system, but it is mant to conduct a good percentage of your efforts. With the reporting, messages, and publishing efforts of the platform, it's a great tool for social media ROI and engagement.
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