Sprout Social: Social media analytics and monitoring tool

social media analyticsThere are many social media tools to monitor accounts, create analytic reports, and manage your Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other social networks in general. Most of these tools tend to be expensive for small businesses. They also usually have features beyond what most small businesses need for basic monitoring and analytics as well. Sprout Social is a social media tool that allows you to monitor your social networks and keep track of who your engaging with at a price businesses can afford.

Sprout offers two different plans. The first plan is cheap at only $9 per month. It is very well suited for private consultants or small businesses that aren’t location dependent. The second plan is considerably more expensive at $49 per month(still pretty cheap). It is great for location based businesses such as restaurants and retail stores. It is also good for social media managers since it can create custom branded reports. Each plan has social media monitoring and analytic capabilities, the expensive plan just offers a couple more networks and capabilities.

Basic Sprout Social Plan

  • Dashboard to send, schedule, or feed RSS messages to Twitter, Facebook, Facebook pages, and Linkedin.
  • Customizable inbox that brings replies, mentions, and comments from Twitter, Facebook, pages, and Linkedin all into the same place.
  • Keyword searches across Twitter and the web to find relevant articles and people to follow.
  • Analytic reports for Twitter and Facebook that breaks down age, sex, clicked links, mentions, and new followers.
  • “Address Book” that keeps track of conversations you have with people on Twitter, lets you make notes about them, and add personal information.

social media monitoringPremium Sprout Social Plan

  • Everything the basic plan provides
  • Add Foursquare and Gowalla monitoring and analytics.
  • Narrow down keyword and profile searches by location.
  • Add Google analytics to track traffic to your website from your social networking efforts.
  • Check-in alerts by SMS (300 per month).
  • Custom branded reports.

The only problem with the plans is the cost discrepancy between the two. Personally I only need the Google analytics on top of the basic service. It’s hard to justify an extra $40 for one extra service. I’ve been told there will be a mid level plan coming in the near future.

Pros:

  • Interface is very simple and easy to use.
  • Reports are not overwhelming with a bunch of analytics and numbers that don’t tell most small businesses anything.
  • Addition of Google analytic overly provides analytic service that is usually only available in inexpensive social media monitoring services.
  • Basic CRM helps keep track of conversations you’ve had with various contacts and flag items for future follow up.
  • Awesome support. I mean awesome. They respond quickly to any problems and are open to suggestions.

Cons:

  • There are currently only the two options. I need the Google analytics, but not the Foursquare or Gowalla tools. This makes it difficult to justify $40 extra dollars for one feature. I’ve been told by representatives there is a mid level plan coming out in the near future.
  • You are limited to only bit.ly shortening service and Twitpic or Yfrog image service. If you don’t use these services it won’t track stats for clicks or image views (links may be tracked but not entirely accurate).
  • Currently only one Twitter can be attached to an identity. I’ve been told you will be able to attach more to a single identity in the future.
  • Search features are pretty limited in features. There are some better options out there but I wouldn’t throw Sprout out because of it.

I have struggled to find a social media monitoring program that fit all my needs. Most of what I’ve tried has been way too expensive for a private consultants needs, offered more options than I needed, or didn’t offer enough options for the price. Many focus on specific networks like Facebook or Twitter; or types of campaigns like coupon or event. Sprout offers one of the most robust set of tools and I recommend it if you are struggling to find a good social media analytic tool.