Social media management simplified by Sprout Social

Sprout Social provides a social media management platform for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites that includes communication tools, contact management, competitive insight, lead generation, analytics, and more.

Specifications
Sprout Social provides a social media management platform for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites that includes communication tools, contact management, competitive insight, lead generation, analytics, and more.

Cost
Ranges from $39 per month to $99 per month per user.

Ownership
Privately held.

User
Ashley Harvard, PR and social media coordinator at Tai Sophia Institute, has been using Sprout Social since June 2012. 

How do you use it? 
It's Web-based and there are apps for iPhone and Android. I most often access it from Sproutsocial.com on my computer. 

Once you log on, you come to your home screen, which shows different trends, audience demographics, and recent followers. There are prompts on the side for actions such as going to your inbox, viewing reports, and more. There's also a menu at the top where you can check your messages, view your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds, compose a new message, and discover new people to follow on Twitter.

I usually go straight to the compose function and choose which social network site I want to post to. You also post to more than one platform at a time. I can send out a tweet or post immediately, schedule it for another time, or save a draft.

Sprout Social has really great customer service. If there's a problem, I either tweet them or I send them a message through Sproutsocial.com. They usually respond within 10 or 15 minutes.

How does it serve your business needs? 
Tai Sophia Institute is an integrated health and wellness graduate school, and Sprout Social lets us engage our growing social media community. 

Before I started using it in June, we didn't have much of a social media presence. It has allowed us to cultivate and grow our follower base on Twitter and Facebook, and we're going to start building our LinkedIn presence early this year as well.

It gives me a post-by-post and tweet-by-tweet breakdown of shares, retweets, and reposts. I've never worked with an app that gives me such detailed, discrete information on every single post or tweet.

I really like it for Twitter. It's more reliable than Twitter.com itself in terms of notifying me when people have retweeted or mentioned us. 

Using Sprout Social, I've been able to determine exactly which type of posts and tweets get the most attention, shares, reach, and impact. For us, that seems to be various inspirational and wellness related content. I'm also able to determine at what times during the day we get the most feedback, comments, retweets. 

We're accountable to our board of directors and others, and Sprout Social's reports are great because they include graphics and charts that illustrate how social media is working at our school.

It's vital to what I do, and having that visual element to the reports is really useful. I can create a PDF of reports or export the data into Excel. I can also customize reports and they provide a glossary that explains what some of the terms mean, which is useful. 

How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from and IT standpoint?
It's Web-based.

What are the main benefits?
It is a central command center for social media. Everything is in one place, and it makes my job a lot easier.

The reports – not having to cultivate all this data on my own is great. All the data is there already for me, and it's very reliable too.

It's affordable and they have a break in price for nonprofits.

In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn you also can tie in Google Analytics, which is nice. And you can manage multiple Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. It also allows for multiple users. It's very collaborative in that way.

Sprout Social also has a good blog with social media tips and webinars as well. 

What are the main drawbacks?
With tweets, you can't see trending topics or tweets you've marked as favorites.

What would you like to see improved / added? 
In December they introduced a way to create and save drafts of tweets or posts. It's a great feature that was previously missing, and it's made my job a lot easier.  

It doesn't seem to work well with Safari and Internet Explorer at times. I've raised this issue with Sprout Social. I end up using it in Google Chrome or Firefox but it is a pretty small price to pay given everything else it does.
 
Competitors
HootSuite: a social media management system that allows clients to collaboratively execute campaigns and support customers across multiple social networks from one secure, Web-based dashboard. Features include message scheduling and assignment tools, comprehensive reporting and analytics, keyword mention and search term monitoring, audience identification and profiling tools, geo-targeting, and RSS integration.

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