Social networks are precious data mines that are available for free. Accessing them isn’t a problem as all popular social network APIs are open and free. Making sense of the billions of existing messages and the millions that are generated everyday is where the problem arises. From customer feedback to competition analysis, social networks have opened a whole a new frontier for businesses.
Web apps of varying sizes and formats are available to track, monitor and consume the social data in a meaningful way. Sprout Social is one among them and it emphasizes on the four components of social media effectiveness: Monitoring, Engagement, Measurement and Growth. Let’s take a closer look!
Prices start at $39 and there are three plans to choose from. Each plan has a different set of features and you might want to take a closer look at the pricing page before signing up. However, if you find that you have signed up for a wrong plan, Sprout Social allows you to switch plans with ease, even when you are in the free trial period.
Sprout Social comes loaded with a lot of features. To start with, the web application integrates with Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages, LinkedIn and other social networks where consumers are engaging with businesses and brands. In addition to communication tools, Sprout Social offers contact management, competitive insight, lead generation, reporting, analytics and more – all in a package that’s intuitive and easy to use.
After a quick detour to authorize and add a Twitter account, you should be redirected to the app in no time. You can add upto 10 social accounts even with the basic plan. I chose to visit the dashboard and check out some numbers, instead of adding more accounts.
While the app is digging into your social timeline, you are free to explore the app. The user interface is polished and the dashboard in particular is built in a manner to display as much information as possible. There are just too many feature highlight boxes in the dashboard though. Even though they are placed below the blocks that matter, these don’t add much value to the design or user experience.
Accessing Messages and Feeds
It takes quite a while for Sprout Social to analyze the timeline and offer insights. The dashboard and reports sections of the app are blank till that crunching is done. Meanwhile, you can access your Feed and Messages from their namesake tabs.
It goes without saying that the Feeds section of the app displays your timeline. The jump to top icon that shows at the top right corner is a tiny, but very useful feature. Creating tasks based on tweets is a great way of assigning members of your team hot topics or trends to keep an eye on.
The Messages section of the app is where you’ll find everything else from your timeline. Mentions, replies, sent tweets, new followers and the like are all one click away. You can reply to or archive tweets from here and they can be created as tasks as well.
Scheduling tweets and updates is a godsend. You’ll come to appreciate this feature, if your job revolves around social media. Sprout Social packs a full featured scheduler that allows you create a custom timetable for sending updates at the right time to make the desired impact.
Dashboard and Reports
The reports took a while to show up, but they were worth the wait. Judging by the comprehensiveness and the quality of reports, Sprout Social is a winner. Social network specific reports with the right set of metrics for each one of the account is a great addition. So is the comparison report feature, that analyses two different accounts side by side to gauge social effectiveness.
I have to mention that the graphs and charts were gorgeously presented as well. Reports are one area where developers might end up making an app look less professional. That’s not the case with Sprout Social and better yet, there is the option to import them in PDF or Excel formats for sending it to your customers as well.
A major pain point in using Sprout Social is the slow crunching of data to generate reports. Depending on the complexity of the algorithm and the amount of data to be analyzed, this crunch time varies from app to app. But, in this day and age, absence of a progress bar or an estimated time of completion doesn’t make sense.
Sprout Social has the potential to become your new home for social media management, with all the tools you need in one powerful package. I’ve seen a handful of apps doing the same things that Sprout Social does. But, this app is a wholesome package that does everything from one place and that too with a reasonable price considering the number of features in the offing.
Sprout Social emphasizes on the four components of social media effectiveness; Monitoring, Engagement, Measurement and Growth.8
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