Social marketing is undoubtedly useful. The types of targeting, engagement, and conversion tools it offers can even beat out SEO in terms of ROI. Together, they can turn your agency into a true marketing machine.
Sprout Social was one of the original social media management solutions focusing on both agencies and name brands, including Microsoft, Hyatt, and Leo Burnett. Sprout works to simplify social marketing by streamlining the reporting, publishing, engagement, customer service, and other essential processes.
More than anything, it balances all this functionality with visual and comprehensible analytics. In terms of overall quality and richness of features, Sprout Social truly is an industry leader. In this review, we’ll dive into some of the reasons why Sprout Social is such an excellent app. We’ll also take a quick look at some of Sprout Social competitors and explain how to make the most of their services.
With further ado, here’s everything you need to know about Sprout Social.
What Is Sprout Social?
Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management, content curation, analytics, customer support, and marketing solution. Sprout Social focuses on digital marketing firms as well as the major brands we mentioned above as well as other names like Marvel, Subaru, Chipotle, and Grubhub. In other words, these guys are the real deal and have the track record to prove it.
The platform is intuitive and built with a seamless user experience in mind to make publishing, engagement, reviews, and everything else a breeze.
Currently, Sprout Social support integrations with these leading platforms:
Sprout Social is also a one-stop-shop. Instead of working and updating all these accounts separately within their respective platforms, you can do everything from the Sprout Social dashboard.
Sprout Social Pricing
Sprout Social has three plans: standard, professional, and advanced.
|5 social profiles||Ten social profiles||Ten social profiles|
|All-in-one social inbox||Everything in Standard, plus||Everything in Professional, plus|
|Publish, schedule, draft and queue posts||Competitive reports for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter||Message Spike Alerts for increased message activity|
|Social content calendar||Incoming and outgoing message content tagging||Digital asset and content library|
|Review management||Custom workflows for multiple approvers and steps||Chatbots with automation tools|
|Profiles, keywords, and locations monitoring||Scheduling for optimal send times||Saved and suggested replies|
|Tasking and social CRM tools||Response rate and time analysis reports||Inbox rule builder for automated actions|
|Group, profile and post-level reporting||Trend analysis for Twitter keywords and hashtags||Custom URL tracking|
|Paid promotion tools to boost Facebook posts||Paid social reporting for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn||Twitter surveys to define CSAT or NPS|
|iOS and Android mobile apps||Helpdesk integration|
|$99/month per user||$149/month per user||$249/month per user|
Note: You can add additional social accounts to each plan for a small fee without having to upgrade. Sprout Social also doesn’t offer an annual discount.
Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial period for all three of these plans. You don’t even have to give them credit card info. If you’re unsure, which plan is right for you, you can contact Sprout Social, who will recommend one based on your current size and needs. Don’t worry; they’re very transparent and won’t just advise you to get the most expensive plan per month.
Finally, you can request a free, customized demo to have one of their experts show you how to use their tools.
These last two options and Sprout Social’s overall excellent customer support are major reasons why we recommend their platform.
Sprout Social Key Features
Sprout Social is loaded with tons of fantastic features. Some of the top things it offers include:
1. Smart Inbox
The Smart Inbox collects all the messages sent across your social accounts to view everything in one location (rather than log in on each platform).
From here, you can tag and filter them as well as keep an eye out for hashtags, keywords, and other settings.
Your inbox also includes statistics, including how many items remain, number new items each day, and more as well monitoring tools to help you stay on top of what people are saying about both your company and industry.
It’s really helpful to set alerts for news items and trends so you can shape your social voice accordingly.
Sprout Social can’t write your posts for you—at least, not yet. But it does come with a variety of automation tools to make posting and engaging with your audience more effective. What’s also helpful is everything you do with Sprout Social is saved automatically. So, you can always go back and find ideas and materials when you need them.
- Advanced Twitter Automation: All social platforms have some form of basic automation, usually for posting baked in. Advanced Twitter Automation takes things to the level. The most useful is Suggested Replies, which streamline conversations and Tweet. You’ll also be able to track how well you’re performing with interactions using Sprout Social’s machine learning algorithm.
- Bot Builder: Bot builder creates social chatbots that can respond to direct messages on both Twitter and Facebook Messenger. You customize all responses based on set workflows to improve efficiency further.
- Viral Post/Sprout Queue: Other tools like you automatically send messages and post when your users are most active. Although these are two separate tools—Sprout Queue schedules items while ViralPost analyzes audience behavior—the pack a highly effective punch when used together.
3. Teamwork Tools
Sprout Social is built for collaboration from the ground up. You can easily divide the different tasks for each account to make sure work is divided and organized.
The most useful function is live activity updates, so all team members are up to speed with what others are doing. It also includes an audit trail (something Facebook Messenger desperately needs) to see who replied to messages or have been tasked with them. It also features messages tags and post drafts meaning nothing goes live until you’re ready.
4. Publishing Made Easy
Have you ever made the perfect post only to lose something vital while translating it between Facebook and Instagram? With Sprout Social, you can publish to all your social accounts with ease as well as edit content, manage content, and add tags.
To keep things organized, you can enable the publishing calendar, which even includes post thumbnails to visualize better the types of content you’re producing over time.
Sprout Social analytics tools are world-class. You can get in-depth analysis and exact insights you need to know to improve your social media game. Sprout social includes custom URL tracking, tag analysis, and message-level details. You can also hook up to your external dashboard to collect logs on your website and other accounts.
Some of the analytics reports include:
- Facebook competitor
- Twitter trends
- Instagram Profiles
- Sent Messages
6. Mobile App
Sprout Social realizes that having these data and features is great, but it doesn’t help much if it’s inaccessible while you’re on the go. That’s why it has a full-featured app that works on both Android and iOS. You have access to publishing, editing, and all sharing tools.
You’ll also be able to use your Smart Inbox, use collaboration, features, and much more. Having these apps is what gives Sprout Social such an edge over its competitors.
Who Should Use Sprout Social?
There are some caveats to Sprout Social. If you’re a new business with little experience in social media marketing, you won’t be ready for this app. That’s because you need to have at least a small audience to start leveraging these tools.
But if you’re a larger business or a digital marketing agency, then this tool is for you. Likewise, Sprout Social has plenty of uses for small companies; you just need to have your social media accounts already off the ground to get the most use out of them.
More than anything, Sprout Social is for content creators and strategists. While it’s automation and Suggest Reply tools are useful, you still need a creative force behind the wheels. But if you have this staff in place, it’s perfect for helping them figure out what’s working, what isn’t, and how to make your social media accounts do what you need them to do.
Alternatives to Sprout Social: Hootsuite and Buffer
There are several other major players in the social marketing space. But we’re going to focus on two of Sprout Social’s leading rivals: Hootsuite and Buffer. Hootsuite has long been Sprout Social’s biggest competitor. Founded in 2008, they actually predate Sprout Social by two years.
On the other hand, Buffer is newer but has gained praise for its affordable entry-level plans.
What Is Hootsuite?
Hootsuite is also a social media management tool with many overlapping features as Sprout Social. You can use the dashboard to post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other major platforms.
Its greatest strength is how extensive it is. It hooks up to other social sites like Vimeo and Foursquare via third-party apps. The main drawback of Hootsuite is the cost of its analytics reports. While they provide very insightful information, they do cost $50 per month, eating away at the cost-savings between it and Sprout Social.
What Is Buffer?
Buffer is another cloud-based app to manage social accounts. It’s lightweight, which can be either a benefit or a drawback. Primarily, it works for scheduling posts on the major platforms. It also includes analytics and engagement information, but these are very bare-bones compared to Sprout Social and Hootsuite.
It really shines with how easy it is to schedule messages. Likewise, the Pablo tools included in the Awesome Plan helps you create images and graphics to go with your posts. But, it doesn’t have anywhere near the level of functionality. You cannot set up a customized dashboard nor reply to mentions making it very basic.
Sprout Social vs. Hootsuite vs. Buffer
|Free Plan||No, 30-day free trial||✓||✓|
|Pricing||From $99/month per user||From $29/month per user but $129 for Sprout Social Features||From $15/month per user, but $65 for more functionality.|
|Social Media Platforms||Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TripAdvisor,||Facebook (profile, page, group), Twitter, LinkedIn, extra profiles via third-party apps||Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest|
|Analytics||✓||✓||✓ but very basic|
|Collaboration Tools||✓||✓, but paid only||✓, but paid only|
|Publishing||✓||✓||Yes, with 1 content feed on free plan, additional on paid|
|Scheduling||Yes, unlimited||Yes, unlimited||10 posts/profiles for free. Unlimited on paid|
Note: All three do offer 14 or 30-day trial plans so you can see which one you like best. With that said, Sprout Social is the best balance of affordability, usability, and features.
Is Sprout Social Worth It?
If social media marketing is important to you (which it should be), then it’s absolutely worth it. If you want advanced tools with deep analytics and built-in customer support, then this is the tool for you.
The only downside to Sprout Social is that it can be a bit pricey. But consider it an investment into more effective social media marketing. Used in the right way, you can grow, engage, and convert your audience while continually refining your strategies, reducing ad-spend while getting a higher ROI value.
- Links with the major platforms
- Smart inbox
- Great customer service
- Excellent collaboration tools
- Mobile app
- Social listening helps track your brand and industry
- Easy scheduling tools
- Highly detailed analytics
- Long trial period
- Automation tools
- Extremely user friendly
- Engagement analysis including ViralPost is among the best
- Somewhat pricey
- Support for less popular platforms would be helpful
- Doesn’t directly link with ads
- Could use better LinkedIn integration
Sprout Social: The Bottom Line
Sprout Social is an extremely useful and all-in-one social management platform. It’s easy to use and has excellent integration with the most popular platforms.
Overall, it includes rich features and analytics that can help you significantly increase your social media creativity, output, and effectiveness. If you want to take your social media marketing to the next level, they’re a few tools better to use than Sprout Social.
Sprout Social Review
If social media marketing is your game, then you may have come across Sprout Social. Sprout Socials claims to be an all-in-one social media management, content curation, analytics, customer support, and marketing solution. So, does it live up to its claims? Read our review of Sprout Social and find out if this social media marketing tool is worth the cost.