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Sprout Social is packed full of great features for businesses and large enterprises. It makes it easy to manage multiple social media accounts in a single intuitive interface. However, per user pricing means using the app with a large team can be very costly.
A Pricey Social Media Dashboard for Businesses
Sprout Social is a great tool, but in order to stay on top of your marketing game, you need to have a strong social media strategy in place. As an SMB you might not have the time or skills to build one yourself but for the price of a business lunch, you can hire a social media expert on Fiverr that will take your business to the next level.
Founded in 2010, Sprout Social is absolutely one of the best social media management tools for businesses and brands. In fact, business users are its main focus, and it currently has more than 20,000 customers.
There’s one thing we should state up front: Sprout Social is not a cheap option. Although, that’s the case with many of the best social media tools available today.
The good news is that there’s a risk-free Sprout Social free trial. You get 30 days to test it out, and you don’t even need to supply your credit card information.
Unlike tools like Hootsuite and SocialPilot, Sprout Social doesn’t have a team plan. Instead, you pay per user, per month. You can manage up to five social media profiles with the Standard plan, and ten with the Professional or Advanced plan.
Sprout Social can be used as a:
The app supports automated Facebook posting, plus posting to Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also use chatbots with Facebook Messenger, and can monitor Google My Business and TripAdvisor reviews via Sprout Social integrations.
Most Sprout Social reviews report that it is an excellent social media tool for business, but there are two important questions to ask:
First, is it really worth the hefty price tag when there are more affordable social media tools out there?
And second, is Sprout Social the right social media management tool to address your distinct business needs?
We’re going to test out the Advanced plan. And, by the end of this Sprout Social review, you should have the answers to these questions.
No matter where you are within the Sprout Social app, the navigation menu makes it super easy to access the features you want. And there are a whole lot of them, including a social CRM for understanding and engaging your followers better.
As well as tools for publishing content, social listening, and engaging with your followers, Sprout Social allows you to run customer satisfaction surveys via Twitter. You can also boost Facebook posts from within the app.
Social Inbox and Engagement
Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox is a bit different from the interfaces of other social media monitoring tools. Especially if you’re used to seeing social streams side by side, like in Hootsuite, or separately, like in Buffer.
Once you get used to it, though, you’ll likely wonder how you ever managed without it. That’s how I felt, at least!
The Social Inbox shows all your messages, with a handy icon indicating which site they’re from. You can interact with each message just as you would on the web. That means you can favorite tweets, like Facebook messages, retweet and share, and use private messaging on your social media accounts.
A bar chart shows how many messages you still need to deal with (either by responding or marking as complete). You can also change the date range to show the last quarter, week, day, or a custom time period.
Good news: if you’re looking to use Social Sprout as a Twitter hashtag tracker, you’re covered.
The Sprout Social media monitoring functionality lets you easily create a Twitter search via the dashboard, and see what’s happening in the topics that matter to your business or brand.
Monitor the stream and you can like, retweet, or email content – you can even mark things as spam (which can honestly be just as useful). Plus, you can set up multiple Twitter searches for different hashtags and keywords.
So far, so good. But, if you’re looking for an all round social media tracker, you’ll be disappointed, even on the Advanced plan. That’s because, if you want social listening for other social media platforms, you’ll need to pay for the Advanced Listening add-on.
I tested it out with Twitter. You can monitor words, phrases, hashtags, mentions, and more, plus you can create complex queries. This looks like a useful tool for brands who want to fine-tune their social media listening, so it’s a bit annoying that you have to pay extra for additional platforms.
Publishing and Scheduling Posts
When you go to the publishing interface, Sprout Social works like many other social media management tools. You choose your social media accounts, add your link, and get an instant preview of how it will look in the pane on the right of your screen.
This works beautifully for Twitter and Facebook, but less so for Instagram and Pinterest. In fact, when you schedule Instagram content, you get a reminder to post via the Sprout Social app. And Pinterest Rich Pins don’t show a preview in the web app, so you have no idea how your pin will actually look until you post it.
Once you’ve finished editing your social media post, you have a few options. You can schedule it, schedule and duplicate it (creating a new post for other social networks), or schedule it and return to the compose window.
In terms of scheduling, you can opt to send content immediately, choose a specific date and time, or have Sprout Social fill engagement gaps and make recommendations for the best times to post.
Once you’re done, you can see your social media posting schedule in Sprout Social’s calendar.
Unlike other social media calendars, Sprout Social’s calendar isn’t drag-and-drop. That means there’s an extra step if you want to reschedule content, as you have to manually edit send times. In my opinion, the drag-and-drop calendars in tools like Hootsuite and Sendible work much better as social media post planners.
Sprout Social includes several features that make it easy for teams and large enterprises to manage social media scheduling efficiently.
You can assign tasks to team members for any message via a pushpin, and team members can also comment on tasks. Plus, you can group social media profiles together for easier management and reporting.
It’s easy to invite and add team members, and to set permissions for the actions they can take on each social media account or group. This enables teams to set up an approval workflow with minimal effort.
Sprout Social has another neat feature for publishing. The app can automatically post your content at the time when it will get most engagement via the ViralPost feature.
Full disclosure: this takes a bit of work to find. Once you set up posting times for each social network, go to the settings for the queue, and enable ViralPost. Choose how often you want the posts to go, and just leave Sprout Social to do its thing.
Add-Ons and Utilities
In addition to its main tools, Sprout Social can help you improve your social media strategy even more with add-ons and integrations. If you’re using social media for customer support, then the Zendesk, HubSpot Service, and UserVoice integrations will be welcome.
The app also includes a Twitter follower tool that lets you see who’s mentioned you, who’s talking to you, and who’s following that you need to follow back. These tools can quickly help grow your audience and boost engagement. There’s also a Cleanup tool to help you unfollow people who aren’t active, or who look spammy.See full list of features
Ease of use
Beginner-Friendly Social Account Setup
Getting started with Sprout Social is super easy. The interface is intuitive, so even if you’re just getting started with social media scheduling tools, you’ll be able to add social media profiles and start scheduling social content fast.
Once you provide your name, email address, and password, the app prompts you to connect to Twitter.
It then quickly returns you to a screen where you can add more social media accounts. There’s a handy reminder at the bottom of this screen about how many more profiles you can add.
Setting up additional accounts is just as easy. As with other tools, you can’t add personal LinkedIn accounts. That’s not a surprise, though, as Sprout Social is so focused on business users.
To finish the setup, you add details about your company, number of employees, and time zone. Then, you need to answer some quick questions to help customize the app to meet your needs.
Sprout Social recently added a new feature to its Advanced plan that helps speed up social media management for businesses and teams: saved replies. This tool lets you create and save customized responses to followers’ social media messages.
You can easily add a saved reply, as is, or tailor it to better match the message. You can manage saved replies from your Asset Library, which is where you also store media and images to use in your social media posts.
Sprout Social has a chatbot tool, which makes it easy to be super-responsive on Twitter and Facebook. If those are the platforms where generally you message your customers the most, this will help you speed up customer response times without having to be constantly online.
You can set up bots optimized for customer care, lead generation, shopping, or content discovery. You can also create a bot from scratch. There’s a handy (if somewhat overwhelming) flowchart interface so you can decide which responses happen when. With chatbots becoming more used, this is an excellent feature.
Many reviews rank Sprout Social analytics among the top of the social media measurement tools. Like Sendible, Sprout Social automatically generates social media reports based on the accounts you’ve added. However, it’s not instant. In fact, it can take up to 24 hours to pull in all your data.
Sprout Social pulls data from business accounts. You can see that data as a whole, or drill down into stats for individual platforms and accounts. You can easily see data for engagement, follower demographics and more, giving you a good overview of who your audience is and what effect your content is having.
If you want to learn more about how Sprout Social’s analytics can help you improve your social media strategy, look no further.
Similarly, Sprout Social lets you generate reports for all your accounts, or for groups or individual accounts.
While you can customize reports by changing the reporting period or included data, Sprout Social’s default reports are pretty handy, and save time for busy social media managers. Sprout Social also includes reporting on interactions for customer service teams using social media.
Apps and Integrations
Sprout Social gets analytics from Twitter profiles, Facebook pages, Instagram personal and business profiles, and LinkedIn pages. You can also integrate Google Analytics data with a couple of clicks, to give a holistic view of social media content performance.
Find Your Own Answers, or Prepare to Wait for Help
Many Sprout Social reviews say their support team is very responsive, but when I contacted them, it took a while to get a response.
The good thing about Sprout Social is it has a wide knowledge-base with videos, guides, recorded webinars, FAQs, and more. That means it’s easy to help yourself, especially with some of the setup tasks.
Sprout Social says it offers 24/7 support. The top support channels are email, support request, and social media. There was no option for live chat when I tried. Here’s what happened when I contacted the Sprout Social support team.
I sent a message mid-morning on a weekday and got a lightning-quick automated acknowledgement. A support ticket was created, but it took about 18 hours to get an answer. This is too slow, in my opinion. However, the answer was helpful, and included a link to a useful video.
I asked a different question using the “send a request” option on the site. The response to this was a bit slower, but also resulted in the creation of a support ticket. I eventually got a response, but only to say that an account executive would contact me (which hasn’t happened yet).
When I sent a Facebook message, I got a response in just over an hour, which I thought was ok. The interaction was pleasant and helpful, and I was also able to get help with moving my other support tickets up the queue.
Hours of Availability
Hi, I’m confused about setting up a Facebook chatbot. I started the process, but there are so many options in the flowchart, I’m not sure what to do next.
Hi, I’m using the advanced plan – how do I set up social listening for Facebook?
What days/hours is Sprout Social support available?
With Sprout Social Pricing, You Get What You Pay For
As you can see, Sprout Social is packed full of features for businesses and enterprises. But all that functionality doesn’t come cheap. Most Sprout Social reviews are positive about the app as a publishing, monitoring, engagement, and social media analytics tool. The price? Not so much.
With per-user pricing, the cost of Sprout Social can add up fast for large teams, so it’s something to think about if you’re considering which social media management tool to use for your business.
If you decide to invest, you can pay by any major credit card or via PayPal. You can (and should) also try any Sprout Social plan free for 30 days before actually spending any money.
# of Social Profiles
# of Users
Schedule Posts Available
With a 30-day free trial, if you decide Sprout Social isn’t for you, it’s simple to end your trial and close the account. If you sign up and need to cancel afterwards (and want to get a refund), it’s worth checking out our guide for a walkthrough of this simple process.
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March 16, 2020
From Good to Horrible Customer Service since going public
These guys used to offer the best customer service and now you can't get any service. They went from great to horrible. It's impossible to speak with anyone now. You get the runaround and it's just plain bad now. In addition, they removed features recently that you once had and then they hold you hostage insisting that to get them back you have to sign a new long term contract. All around bad customer service. I'm quite disappointed with the recent changes.
All of my interactions with Sprout Social Support have been disheartening. They don't acknowledge my concerns, nor do they respond respectfully to my inquiries. I will never suggest this product for small businesses as it's incredibly costly and they do not give you 30 day notices when your contract is renewing. The entire company seems to be more concerned with making money than building relationships with their customers - which is incredibly concerning when the future of social media is based on building relationships over large numbers. I highly suggest looking at other content management tools that work with their customers to help them be successful. In addition, the cost is high and the return is minimal. As a company without a large digital team, this product is not worth the money that we are charged. Many times it pulls the imaging wrong when I schedule social posts, it has missing data from LinkedIn (consistently) and whenever I reach out for support, I am treated as an inconvenience to their day.
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Sprout Social REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE
Sprout Social is packed full of great features for businesses and large enterprises. It makes it easy to manage multiple social media accounts in a single intuitive interface. It includes a wide range of useful reports, so you can share progress on social media with a couple of clicks.
Is it right for everyone? No. But it’s great for businesses that are looking for intuitive team workflows that can add value and insight to their communications strategy. Keep in mind that the per user pricing can be very costly.
Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her work has been published on Jilt, OptinMonster, CrazyEgg, GrowthLab, Unbounce, OnePageCRM, Search Engine People, and Mirasee. Sharon is certified in content marketing and email marketing. In her previous life, Sharon was also a journalist and university journalism lecturer.