7 Reasons NOT to use Sprout Social


Sprout Social Review

With more and more businesses seeing the power of social media to market themselves, social media management tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social* are being seen as vital.

A Social Media Management Tool (SMMT) or Social Media Management System (SMMS) allows you to manage multiple social networks from one dashboard and potentially share and delegate tasks amongst a team.  Of course the word “management” is perhaps a little vague and can mean different things depending on the tool you use. All social media management tools allow you to publish to at least one social network and hopefully allow you to do many other things such as montitor, schedule, analyse, produce reports and more.

Hootsuite is no doubt the most popular of Social Media Management Tools. They were one of the first, have done a great job at marketing their tool and have a reasonably full featured free version. However it’s far from the only social media management tool out there. There are literally dozens and dozens of them (and I’ll introduce you to quite a few at the end of this article). One of the most famous (other than Hootsuite) is Sprout Social. It’s a premium tool- aimed at small to large businesses as well as the enterprise sector and it’s got a loyal following of super fans. With such a provocative blog title, I’m actually quite afraid of these superfans- so if you are one, please be kind to me- I aim to be as balanced as possible in my approach!


The History of the Sprout

  • Justyn Howard

    Justyn Howard
    CEO

  • Aaron Rankin

    Aaron Rankin
    CTO

  • Gilbert Lara

    Gilbert Lara
    Creative Director

  • Peter Soung

    Peter Soung
    Director of Web & Mobile

Sprout Social had its beginnings in 2009 when the current CEO Justyn Howard was frustrated by the lack of social tools that allowed him to connect with customers- particularly tools that were focussed towards businesses and brands. The following year Justyn and current CTO Aaron Rankin founded Sprout Social together with Gilbert Lara (Creative Director) and Peter Soung (director of web/mobile). They’re a privately held company and had over $11 million in investment since their founding. They are based in Chicago in the US. You can read more about how Sprout Social came to be in this interview with Sprout Social, Justyn Howard.


Sprout Social Pros

Sprout Social Features Screenshot

There are so many great features about Sprout Social, and I’ll be going into these in more detail in a forthcoming article. For the time being, I’d like to highlight the following “pros”:

  • Has an in built Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)
  • Monitoring (although not quite as comprehensive as Mention or the likes of Brandwatch)
  • Support for teams (drafts, calendar, tasks etc)
  • Support for multiple profiles, departments, and companies
  • Security and ability to set specific permission levels and roles
  • Analytics & Reports
  • Helpdesk facility (on Premium and above plans) to use social media for customer support
  • Mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android
  • Integrates with Feedly (for your RSS feeds)

What is this article about?

A few years back I wrote an article called “7 Reasons NOT to use Hootsuite” which has become an incredibly popular article. That article came from my frustrations from using Hootsuite and to point out some of the downsides and potential deal killers in using Hootsuite as your social media management tool. I wrote a follow up article on the reasons why you might want to use Hootsuite to try and be as balanced as possible.

This article is slightly different because I’ve never been a long time Sprout Social user and when I have used it, I haven’t found myself becoming frustrated in the same way as I did with Hootsuite. I really like Sprout Social and I do think it will be the right fit for many people. Having said that, there are frustrations, and I wanted to share these with you.

There is a lot of love from Sprout Social users and with good reason. Sprout Social is an impressively robust social media management tool and a joy to use. It’s actually very hard to find reviews on the web that mention anything bad about Sprout Social except for the odd niggle.

However, the quite a bit of the love comes from long standing customers who are paying a substantially lower rate ($39/user/mth, $29/user/mth or even $9/user/mth). The entry price (now the Deluxe plan) is $59/user/month, and that is going to be quite a leap for individuals and small businesses. However, I am getting ahead of myself, I’ll cover the pricing further down in this article.

Sprout Social will be the right tool for some businesses, and perhaps even you. My aim is to give you enough information to help you make the right choice. If, after looking through the potential downsides in this article you’re still impressed with Sprout Social – then it’s obviously the right tool for you. I also know that Sprout Social are continuously evolving and adding new features. Fairly recently they added the ability to publish to LinkedIn company pages and I know they are looking at adding new features over the coming year. It’s my hope that Sprout Social will look at my article and as a result make their tool even better than it is today.

So without further ado, let’s dive into some of the cons in using Sprout Social


Sprout Social Cons

 

#1 Lack of YouTube and other visual platforms

Visual Images

Update June 2015 – Sprout Social have, as expected, added Instagram integration! I’ve updated the article accordingly.

If you are wanting to monitor your Pinterest or YouTube account, you will be disappointed with Sprout Social’s lack of integration. Sprout Social only supports Twitter, Facebook (profiles & pages), Google+ pages, Instagram & LinkedIn (profiles & pages). Although Hootsuite doesn’t offer Pinterest, or YouTube out of the box, you can add them via their comprehensive app directory. This allows you to add visual networks such as Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and many others. There are a few other social media management tools that have Instagram integration, but there are certainly fewer of them. Examples that integrate with Instagram and YouTube include Jollor and Sendible, and AgoraPulse integrates with Instagram.

Connect Profiles

It is important to note that no social media management tool can post directly to Instagram via the official Instagram API. Instagram only allow 3rd party tools to allow liking and commenting of posts and be able to search. There are tools that effectively allow posting to Instagram, but they quite often get round the system by using multiple smartphones connected to servers. There have been reports of Instagram suspending accounts that have used such tools. The only way to post to an Instagram account is via the official Instagram account. If you are interested in scheduling your Instagram posts, then consider a mobile app such as Latergramme which won’t actually post your photos, but will handle them and alert you when the next one should be posted.

However, although you may not be able to post to Instagram using a social media management tool, being able to monitor your stream, likes, comments as well as your followers, friends and competitors posts is very powerful. Being able to monitor and analyse your Pinterest boards and YouTube channel would be incredibly powerful from your social media dashboard.

When I reached out to Sprout Social to ask them of their plans here, their official reply was:

SproutSocial“We’re always keeping our eyes on social networks that are widely used by our users and evaluating both how they can be integrated into our platform and what we can add to the existing network (whether it is enhanced engagement, streamlined management or advanced analytics) through that integration.”


#2 Lack of Facebook and LinkedIn group publishing

LinkedIn and Facebook Groups

Update June 2015 – Things have been a bit mad in the 3rd party apps world over the past few months. LinkedIn decided to ban posting to groups via 3rd party apps. It looked like Facebook were going to do the same thing, but they now allow 3rd party apps to post to groups where you are the administrator. So Sprout Social will never be able to post to LinkedIn groups. As for Facebook groups, SproutSocial added a feature where you can see Facebook group posts in your timeline. However, you can’t post to Facebook groups from SproutSocial

Sprout Social does integrate with both Facebook and LinkedIn, but so far they are yet to support posting or monitoring groups. I do know they are looking at the possibility of adding these in the future, so there is hope. They finally added support for LinkedIn company pages in December 2014, it is good to see they are looking to move the tool forwards.

Although I am not a fan of LinkedIn groups from a design and user interface perspective, they are a powerful networking and relationship area. Being able to post to and monitor LinkedIn groups would be really helpful- particularly for businesses in the B2B sector (business to business). And then there are Facebook groups- for many years ignored by businesses and brands, but are having a recent surge in popularity. Facebook groups don’t suffer from the design or user interface problems of LinkedIn groups. They are a joy to use (and easy to use) and are great in building a community. Sprout Social need to support posting to and monitoring Facebook and LinkedIn groups. My favourite social media scheduling tool, Buffer, has supported them for a long while and Hootsuite has too. Oktopost does a fantastic job of posting and scheduling to LinkedIn groups and would be my social media management tool of choice if LinkedIn groups are a must for your business.

I asked Sprout Social if they had plans to add LinkedIn and Facebook group integration. They responded…

“We’re always evaluating different social networks to integrate with as well as expanding on the ones we currently support. Unfortunately, we don’t have any specifics to share, but we can say we are exploring the social options that are currently available.”

Again, not very helpful and quite general, but not an unexpected answer. I think the truth is that Sprout Social are looking at all the options, but how high groups are on their agenda, I have no idea. We’ll have to wait and see.


#3 Unified Inbox & No side by side streams

No multiple streams

Where would we be without our social streams? Whether it be your Twitter home stream, a Twitter list, a keyword search, your LinkedIn connection updates, Facebook page updates or more, social streams allow us to monitor what is happening across our social media empire and our competitors’.

Sprout Social Menu

Sprout Social offer two types of social streams- “feeds” and “discovery”. The feeds are a list of posts from the connections you follow or the posts from accounts on your Twitter lists. Discovery allows you to set up a stream of updates for a search term. Sprout Social made the decision to display only one stream at a time. On the streams section, you have to toggle between different social accounts (Twitter, Facebook etc), and you have to toggle between different Twitter lists. If you want to view a search stream for a particular hashtag or key phrase, you need to click the discovery tab and view it there.

Users familiar with Hootsuite and TweetDeck will be used to the way you can add many columns of streams so that you can monitor multiple streams and profiles on one page. On TweetDeck I can easily see mentions and replies to my 3 main Twitter accounts, as well as my main Twitter list and a Twitter search term- all one view. Hootsuite allows you to do that for all your social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+).

Sprout Social fans will already be shouting “but what about Smart Inbox”? Yes, of course. I love Smart Inbox too and this gives you more functionality than I was mentioning above. Smart Inbox displays all the updates that Sprout Social thinks are important in one stream or a unified stream. I’ll go into more detail in my next point, but again, Smart Inbox only displays one stream at a time on the page.

The lack of ability of displaying streams will no doubt divide many opinions. Some won’t mind and some will find it frustrating. Sprout Social’s decision not to offer multiple streams per page is deliberate, and this was confirmed by the CEO, Justyn Howard in a reply to a tweet of mine whilst I was writing this article:

I can see their thinking, and a single column view might well increase productivity for businesses and brands. It will also come down to getting used to a different way of working. For me, I find it frustrating, and I’m not alone. Friend, digital marketer and Sprout Social user, Liz Jostes from Eli Rose Social Media feels similarly:

Marketing Director, Joe Morris feels the same:

It’s not a case of multiple columns being difficult to implement as Justun Howard clarified, he feels a single and combined view is more powerful:

He is obviously not alone in thinking that (there are plenty of happy Sprout Social Users) and obviously the team at Sprout Social do. A friend, digital marketer, speaker and Sprout Social user, Brooke Ballard also likes the single stream view and had this to say:

Brooke BallardI prefer one stream on one page — it helps with SMM ADHD! Plus, with the Smart Inbox you can see a little green light when another stream (brand/client) has an incoming message, AND you can even check that message from a preview screen before clicking over to respond. Example: Sometimes it’s just a follower notification of a “you’re welcome” that doesn’t need an immediate response — great for time management.
Brooke Ballard, B Squared Online Media

So perhaps the jury is out on this one. In addition, Sprout Social is not the only social media management tool that prefer the single stream view. Sendible, MavSocial and AgoraPulse all adopt the single stream view and it is fair to say that Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are the most famous examples which allow you to view multiple streams on one page. I am open to being convinced that single view is better- and maybe I could get used to only viewing one stream at a time. However, I would like to have a more advanced way of filtering the results, which brings me on to…


#4 Limited filtering

Smart Inbox Filter

Smart Inbox does a really good job at displaying the most relevant updates and you can easily reply and follow as well as create a task (for example delegate to another team member) or complete.

There are also some helpful filters to allow you to zoom in to the posts you really want to see. For example you filter the smart inbox to show only mentions, direct messages, retweets or new followers. You can also filter by brand keywords and you can use Twitter’s advanced search operators. This allows you to search for tweets mentioning a keyword, filter by location, filter out tweets with images and more.

That’s  all great, but it doesn’t give you quite the same control as tools such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite and doesn’t allow you to filter your Twitter list streams. For example, if I wanted to display tweets from a Twitter list and then filter out tweets with no images or links, I am stuck.

Although using Twitter’s advanced search operators are great, they’re not going to be apparent to less technical users and it would be great if Sprout Social added a few more filters and options to help dig a little deeper into the streams.

I have to say, Sprout Social support were very quick to get back to me when asking them on this subject:


#5 You can’t assign a different bitly account per profile

bitly

I admit this is unlikely to be a big issue for many, however I wanted to highlight it since it affects me.

One of Sprout Social’s helpful features is the way you can group social channels. These groups could be for different departments within a bigger company or organisation or even different companies all together (for example if you are an agency managing multiple brands). This is particularly useful if you have different teams of people managing different groups of social channels. You can assign a different bit.ly account to shorten your links for each group- something that is really helpful.

Sprout Social bitly

With Hootsuite you can’t use bitly at all- you’re forced into using the Hootsuite url shortener ow.ly. If you use another social tool in addition to Hootsuite, your social analytics will be fragmented since Hootsuite can only track clicks through their ow.ly url. If you want to use a custom short domain (for example I use to.iag.me and select.social) you will have to pay over $588 per year for this feature with Hootsuite- and you can only use it within Hootsuite. The url shortener bit.ly allows you to set up a free custom short domain and works with many social tools such as Buffer, Friends+Me and SproutSocial.

I have two short urls with bit.ly. I use to.iag.me to shorten links on my Seriously Social profiles and I use select.social for my Select Performers accounts. In Sprout Social I could put my Seriously Social profiles in one group and my Select Performers in another, but this completely separates them- effectively treating them as separate companies. It also means I can’t cross post two accounts in separate groups. With Buffer, I can assign a different bit.ly account for each social profile. This means I can cross post and share content across my profiles easily and the correct url shortener will be used.

Sprout Social don’t seem to have any plans to change this in their response to me, although perhaps they were trying to tantalise me with their use of the word “currently”!

“We currently allow customers to connect a separate bit.ly for each group that they have.”

As I said, this won’t be an issue for many, but I hope Sprout Social allow us to assign a different bit.ly account per profile in the future.


#6 Expensive – especially for teams

Update (June 2016) – Sprout Social have reduced the number of social networks for each plan. The Deluxe plan used to have 10 profiles, now it as 5. The Premium used to manage up to 20, but now it’s only 10. You can purchase an extra batch of 5 profiles for $25/month

sproutsocial prices

This is the biggie and the one that Sprout Social gets the most criticism for…

It takes a huge amount of investment to build a tool as comprehensive as Sprout Social. They will have large monthly server costs, salaries to pay for a large team, development costs and a big marketing budget. As consumers we have become used to low costs on the internet and find it easy to forget the true cost of building something great.

It’s a difficult job for tool vendors to work out pricing, and I have no doubt Sprout Social have spent a huge amount of time and research into their pricing structure. But for many, Sprout Social will just be too expensive.

As I write this article, prices start at $59 per user per month for the Deluxe plan. This plan is aimed at  small businesses and allows you to manage up to 5 social profiles.

The next plan (Premium) costs $99 per user per month and gives you “send-time optimization” (allows you to post at the time more people are likely to see your content), advanced reporting and a help desk feature. It also integrates with up to 10 social profiles.

The team plan which will suit bigger agencies as well as bigger brands and businesses costs $500 per month and includes 3 users. Sprout Social isn’t really aiming at the casual blogger or the individual, it grew out of wanting to cater for businesses and brands- and that has a higher price tag.

Over the years, the prices have increased as you would expect. And Sprout Social have been supportive of their long standing customers by keeping the prices the same. However, the prices have significantly increased over the years. Back in 2012, it cost $9/mth for a Pro account and $49/mth for a business account. Back in 2014 the entry cost was $39/user/month. And now it is $59/user/month- a significant increase.

It’s particularly expensive for teams. Social media management tools are particularly important for teams- not just for delegating tasks and managing updates. It’s also important from a security standpoint. If you are managing social media accounts amongst a team, you should NOT be sharing social networking passwords. What would happen if one of your team moves jobs or is sacked or if they’re a victim of a phishing attack? There are too many horror stories of businesses’ and brands’ social accounts being hijacked by rogue employees or hackers. Sprout Social , Hootsuite and other social media management tools allow you to manage your social networks without sharing the passwords. Each team member can have their own sub-account with its own username and password. An administrator can choose which accounts they have access to and remove them if they no longer work at the company. In my view, it is perfectly acceptable for there to be a cost involved on a per user basis. However when the cost per user is already quite high, this is going to make it difficult for a small business to afford. It will cost a business $2,832 per year for a small team of 4 to use Sprout Social’s entry plan. If they were to be on the Premium plan, this would cost $4,752 per year.

Total UsersDescriptionHootsuite
Cost/yr
(If paying mthly)
Sprout Social
Deluxe
Cost/yr
(If paying mthly)
Sprout Social
Premium
Cost/yr
(If paying mthly)
1Hootsuite free plan only includes up to 3 social profiles. Sprout Social Deluxe includes up to 10 and Premium up to 20.$0$708.00$1,188.00
2Hootsuite Pro plan includes up to 2 members (including yourself) and includes up to 50 social profiles. Sprout Social includes up to 10 and Premium up to 20.$119.88$1,416.00$2,376.00
3Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 extra user at $9.99/mth).$239.88$2,124.00$3,576.00
4Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 extra user at $9.99/mth + 1 user at $14.99/mth)$419.88$2,832.00$4,752.00
5Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +2 users at $14.99/mth)$599.88$3,540.00$5,940.00
6Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +3 users at $14.99/mth)$779.88$4,248.00$7,128.00
7Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +4 users at $15/mth)$959.88$4,956.00$8,316.00
8Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +5 users at $14.99/mth)$1139.88$5,664.00$9,504.00
9Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +6 users at $14.99/mth)$1319.88$6,372.00$10,692.00
10Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +7 users at $14.99/mth)$1499.88$7,080.00$11,880.00
11The maximum number of users in Hoostuite Pro is 10, to add more users you will need a Hootsuite Enterprise account.
Hootsuite don’t publish the prices for Enterprises, so this is the last known price. Hopefully it should be cheaper than this.
$17,988$7,788.00$13,068

At least Sprout Social’s pricing system is transparent and simple to understand. You can see from the above table how complicated Hootsuite’s are! With Sprout Social there are no hidden prices as far as I can tell. You know how many social profiles are included in your plan and you know how much extra it will cost for an extra team member. You get full reports included in all the plans (although you get more snazzy ones in the Premium and above plans). That’s very different with Hootsuite which have a strange pricing tier for team members and require you to upgrade to the Enterprise plan (for which they don’t publish prices for, but is likely to be well over the $20,000 per year mark).If you are wanting more flexibility of team members and only need to manage Twitter and Facebook (and soon, Instagram) then consider AgoraPulse which give you unlimited team members on all their plans. Jollor, although more expensive than Sprout Social do allow unlimited team members on all their plans, and they support Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and YouTube.


#7 Scheduler only allows different times for weekdays and weekends

Many of you will have heard of the social scheduling tool, Buffer. When Buffer was created, it was set to do only one thing- schedule social media posts throughout the week. It allows you to set a schedule for each day of the week for when your social media updates are posted. You can set a different schedule for each network. Hootsuite and Sprout Social followed with their own versions some time later- with Sprout Social calling theirs Sprout Queue. It’s a very helpful feature, and if you’re on the Premium or above plan it becomes more powerful with Sprout’s ViralPost feature.ViralPost works out the best times to post your content- so that the most people will see it. You can set the specific time frames to post for weekdays and weekends:

Unfortunately, you can only set schedules for weekdays and weekends- not a different schedule for each day (and the maximum number of posts per day is 10):

This is not going to affect everyone, but I prefer to set a different schedule each day. I may want to post a few on a Saturday and I usually don’t schedule anything on a Sunday. Unfortunately you can’t currently do that with Sprout Social. With Buffer I can set a different schedule each day and I can set more than 10 posts per day if I wanted to. Whilst I love the sound of ViralPost, it doesn’t give me the flexability I would like, particularly as I am used to Buffer. Maybe this is something they can improve over time?

Other issues

Were 7 Reasons not enough for you? Here are some more!

#8 No Multiple image Support

You can only add one image per post (multiple images aren’t supported). Hootsuite allows you to post multiple images (although it will take the visitor to a Hootsuite branded page if they click on them) and TweetDeck supports multiple images for Twitter (but won’t allow you to schedule the post if it contains more than one image)

#9 Reports Great but not the Best

Sprout Report I really do like the reports in Sprout Social- they are very engaging and easy to understand. It’s been one of the many reasons why I’ve recommended Sprout Social to friends and clients over the years – particularly over Hootsuite’s offerings.

Sprout Social give you a group report, engagement report, team report, Twitter profiles report, trends report, Twitter comparison and sent messages. As you can see in the following screenshot, the reports are very pleasing to the eye and easy to understand. You can also export as a pdf or a csv file.

Sprout Social ReportSprout Social Group Report

However, there are many tools out there that do as good a job or better job in my opinion.  For example the reports generated by Klear are more comprehensive, look great and give you the ability to filter the data on a finer level. It allows you to compare with your competitors and integrates with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

twtrlandKlear Report

AgoraPulse’s reports also are really well designed and visually engaging as well as powerful. It allows you to export as a PowerPoint presentation

AgoraPulse Powerpoint sampleAgoraPulse Powerpoint Report Sample

If reports and analytics are important to you, there are better tools out there. However, you could use a reporting tool as well as using Sprout Social. Unlike Hootsuite, SproutSocial make it very easy to use other tools in addition. Hootsuite lock you into their ecosystem due to the compulsory owly url shortener. That means many of the Hootsuite reports only show you data from the times you have used Hootsuite. SproutSocial allow you to use bitly, which is a much more portable url shortener- supported by many other tools.

There are many users who love Sprout Social’s reports, and if you do, please let me know in the comments. For example Brooke Ballard definitely loves them! –

Thus far I have yet to find a dashboard or management tool that has better reports than that of Sprout Social. They are also nice and “pretty” — which the client always appreciates. We send raw data reports in Excel and 9 times out of 10 they prefer the “pretty” ones.

#10 Difficult to See which Mentions & Comments You’ve Already Replied To

For me, this is a big issue for almost all social media management tools out there. If you have a lot of mentions, replies and comments to respond to each day it can become difficult to know which ones you’ve responded to already. That might not be such an issue if you reply all in one go, but if you reply in batches or work within a team it can get difficult. It’s a particular issue for Hootsuite, but Sprout Social isn’t much better. I particularly like one alternative tool, AgoraPulse which treats your social mentions and comments like a kind of social inbox. As soon as you reply, they disappear from view so you know you’ve responded to them. The same is true when team members respond. You’ll never get the situation where you reply once or more than one team member responds to the same message.


Sprout Social Alternatives

If you’ve read the above, and know that Sprout isn’t going to work for you, then the good news is that there some great alternatives. Here are a selection for different priorities…


For Social Media Teams

agora pulse AgoraPulse* (Free Trial, then from $29/mth)

A powerful social media management tool which currently integrates with Twitter, Facebook pages and Instagram. It aims to offer enterprise level features at a much lower cost.  It synchronises Facebook page roles and you can even add custom roles to give custom rights to each team member. There are different plans, but this is based on the number of social networks you want to manage. The $29/mth plan allows you to manage 1 profile (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram) where as the $49/mth plan allows you to manage up to 3 profiles. Agora Pulse was recently rated top Social Media Management Tool of 2015.


Jollor Jollor (Free trial, then from $5 per month

Jollor isn’t as well known as the likes of Hootsuite and SproutSocial, but it’s a really good looking social media management tool that integrates with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube as well as the Russian networks VK and Odnoklassniki. They don’t integrate yet with bit.ly, but they have some enterprise features such as team and role management and delegation. Analytics are currently in beta but look very impressive. There is a mobile app coming, but the website is fully responsive and can be used well on a mobile or tablet. They have a very transparent pricing scheme starting from $5. It basically costs $5 per network, and you can add extra team members for $5 per month as well as other features.

For more information, visit Jollor.


For Instagram

latergramme Latergramme (free and from $19/mth)

Sprout Social does now integrate with Instagram, but only in monitoring. I mentioned above, the only way to publish Instagram posts whilst not going against Instagram’s terms and conditions is via the mobile app (for iOS or Android). There are various tools out there that offer posting and scheduling via another app or through a web app, but they rely on storing your Instagram’s username and password- something that is a big no-no! Latergramme has a different approach. It allows you to upload images via the Latergramme website and it manages your images and captions and allows you to set up a schedule. Instead of posting your Instagram images itself, it alerts you at the time your next image should be posted. You then click on the alert on your smartphone and Latergramme inserts the correct image and caption into the Instragram app. It’s very easy to use and it’s a huge time saver. The premium version allows you to manage 2 Instragram accounts, offers a built in search facility, allows you to post up to 250 images per month and some other features too!


Jollor Jollor (Free trial, then from $5 per month)

For further information, see above. As well as offering unlimited team members for their higher plans, Jollor is one of a relatively small number of social media management tools that offers Instragram integration.


Hootsuite logo Hootsuite* with add on (Free plan and from $9.99/mth)

Hootsuite doesn’t offer Instagram integration out of the box, which in my view is a little bizzare. However, one big advantage with Hootsuite is the Hootsuite app directory which allows 3rd party developers to add extra features and networks to the core features offered by Hootsuite. There are a few Instragram apps which allow you to manage your Instagram account. One of those is free and is ok, but in my view not as good as Picdeck (see above). There are paid versions which may be worth trying, especially if you want to use Hootsuite and require Instragram management.


For Pinterest

tailwind Tailwind* (from $9.99/mth if you pay annually)

Technically Pinterest is more of a content network and less of a social network, although there is definitely a social aspect to it. Pinterest is a powerful network for retailers and for businesses with strong visuals. Despite Pinterest having an API that allows 3rd party tools to build apps, so far Pinterest has only given access to 2 or 3. One of those tools with official access is Tailwind. Tailwind gives you the ability to schedule your pins and measure your success with powerful analytics. Their enterprise plan gives businesses and agencies unlimited scheduling, full brand monitoring and the ability to share access amongst a team (with team roles and permissions).


For more social network integration

SendibleSendible* (from $9.99/mth)

Sendible integrates with a huge number of networks (far more than any other social media tool I’ve come across). Your plan is dependent on how many services you want to add. However a posting to Twitter and monitoring a Twitter stream are treated as different services, and so the costs can mount up if you need to add all your social networks.


MavSocial MavSocial (Free Plan & from $30/mth)

As well as offering the standard social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), MavSocial also allows you to publish to and monitor YouTube and Tumblr. MavSocial works with international characters and is one of the only social media management tools to integrate with the Chinese networks RenRen and YouKu.


Hootsuite logo Hootsuite (Free plan and from $9.99/mth)

Hootsuite integrates with Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages and groups), Google+ pages, LinkedIn (profiles, pages and groups), Foursquare, WordPress and mixi- all in its core offerings. As well as that, you have can select from dozens and dozens of other apps from their app directory. Making managing your Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest accounts a possibility.


Jollor Jollor (Free trial, then from $5 per month)

Jollor integrates with the usual Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but it also gives you YouTube and Instagram, with Russian network VKontakte being added soon.


Multiple Streams on one Page

tweetdeckTweetDeck (free)

One of the first social media management tools- originally as a downloadable desktop app, TweetDeck has allowed you to add mutiple streams from the start. It’s a shame that Twitter (who bought the TweetDeck back in 2011) have removed LinkedIn and Facebook integration, but it’s still a powerful tool for Twitter power users, allowing you to add multiple Twitter accounts and being able to view multiple streams with powerful filters.


Hootsuite logo Hootsuite* (Free plan and from $9.99/mth)

Not everyone is a fan of Hootsuite’s UI, despite the recent refresh. However, I do like the way you can add multiple streams on one page. You can save these and toggle between different groups. That’s useful if you want to view all your Twitter streams on one page, and all your Facebook ones on another.


Jollor Jollor (Free trial, then from $5 per month)

Jollor doesn’t offer side by side streams in the same way that TweetDeck of Hootsuite do. However you can view separate streams of your incoming and outgoing posts and quickly filter by network. You can also group your social networks by project.


Facebook groups

buffer Buffer App (free or $9.99/mth)

Scheduling tool, Buffer integrates with a large number of social networks including Facebook (profiles, pages and groups), Twitter, LinkedIn (profiles, pages and groups), Google+ pages and App.net. You can cross post to multiple networks and decide whether you want to post straight away, add your post queue or schedule at a later date.


Hootsuite logo Hootsuite*

Hootsuite allows you to post to a large number of social networks (especially if you take into account their app directory). they offer integration with LinkedIn and Facebook groups as part of their core offering.


Sendible
Sendible* (from $9.99/mth)

Sendible allows you to post to and monitor LinkedIn and Facebook groups and to cross post to multiple networks at the same time.


More Flexible Scheduling Options

buffer Buffer App (free or $9.99/mth)

(see above)


agorapulse AgoraPulse* (Free Trial, then from $29/mth)

See above. AgoraPulse offers some powerful scheduling features although not a queuing system in the same why that Buffer does.


latergramme Latergramme (free and from $19/mth)

See above (Instagram only)


More Robust Reporting

TwtrlandKlear* (Free and from $49/mth)

Klear integrates with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (with more to follow). As well as helping to find influencers in your area, the paid for version gives you some powerful reports on your social accounts and allows you to compare with your competitors.


agorapulse AgoraPulse* (Free Trial, then from $29/mth)

See above. AgoraPulse offers some really beautiful reports and allows you to export as a Powerpoint presentation.


oktopost Oktopost* (from $49/mth)

Oktopost gives you some beautiful and powerful reports. However, the reports only show you data from campaigns created from within Oktopost. This is fine if Oktopost is your main publishing tool, but if you use other tools, you will only see part of the picture.


Other Resources

If you need to get started with SproutSocial and ask them some questions, then there are many articles out there to help. Also, Sprout Social are fantastic at engaging with you. They’re fairly quick at getting back to you and they’ve done a great job at building up a community of superfans (something other social media management tools could do with learning from).

Here are some other articles that you might find helpful:


What Next?

So there are 7 reasons why you might not want to opt for Sprout Social as your social media management tool. However, it might be after reading this that you’ve decided that Sprout Social is the perfect tool for you. If so, great! However, maybe you agree with some of my points. Either way, please do give me your thoughts in the comments below!

Let me help Choose the best tools for you!

I hope this article has helped you, but perhaps you feel you need some expert help. As well as asking a question in the comments below, you might benefit from a one to one service. I offer a social media consultation service in which I can help find the best selection of tools and solutions for you or your business. If you are interested, get in touch!


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About Ian Anderson Gray

Ian is a speaker, coach, social media consultant, web developer & Partner of Select Performers. In real life he is a husband, dad and geek and is rather partial to tea, coffee & Indian cooking. Find out more



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103 Comments on "7 Reasons NOT to use Sprout Social"

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Zach
Guest
Zach
1 month 10 days ago

Worth an update on pricing: Deluxe now only grants 5 profiles (same $59.00 fee) and premium gets 10. Additional profiles are available as groups of 5 for $25.00

Olivia
Member
Olivia
3 months 28 days ago

Hi Ian – great article, thanks for posting! I’m looking for a tool that works not only with the mainstream social networks, but also hotel/hospitality ones such as TripAdvisor. Do you have any recommendations?

Troy Klongerbo
Member
Troy Klongerbo
3 months 25 days ago

Agree, Olivia!

I do management for many hotels and a TripAdvisor tab would be awesome.

Amber
Guest
Amber
4 months 29 days ago

Thanks so much. I’ve read dozens of articles and reviews on social media tools – and this one was the best and most useful by far.

Troy Klongerbo
Member
Troy Klongerbo
7 months 1 day ago

Ian,

Echoing the thoughts of many here, loved the article. You’re expertise and first-hand experience is evident.

I am a social consultant as well, located in South Dakota, and I’ve been using Sprout now for about 7 months. I love the scheduling, unified feed, managing of different clients in folders, and the reporting. The main thing I went to Sprout for was for the monitoring, but there is a lot of spammy search results with it. Still, a great feature to have.

My two issues with Sprout:

— Lack of posting multiple images
— No ability to report on ad work via Twitter or, more importantly Facebook

In regards to the latter, I know that working this would be a difficult barrier to cross with how complex social advertising has become.

I’ve always been impressed by AgoraPulse and being a small-time social consultant with only a handful of clients, would making the switch be wise?

— Troy

Sven
Guest
Sven
9 months 25 days ago

The more I read up on tools the more confused I get. I use Hootsuite Pro right now and it seems fine. However – the money charged for good reporting is an extra cost. You pay additional reports. And you pay a lot.
Some upcoming clients have Instagram as their most important channel. Ok. Hootsuite does Instagram now.
Now I also know which tools have a single column for different channels (seems weird to me – but maybe I am just too used to Hootsuite – anyway – I dont care that much as I havent been doing ANY community management up till now).
So. Conclusion: Hootsuite is good but as my requirements will change now (much more visual and not posting the same everywhere) I am not sure anymore. What do you guys say if I decide between Hootsuite, Agorapulse and Sproutsocial?

PS: good reporting is important to me and I dont want to use several tools…

Frank M Waechter
Guest
9 months 25 days ago
This is the one of the best articles I came across reseraching Tools, Ian! I am running a small digital agency (fmwaechter.com) and I trialed nearly all the mentioned tools and apps. I started using Hootsuite and Buffer, as well as other different tools for Monitoring and Engagement. In the end, I also went directly to the different native apps for posting, like-unlike, etc. Finally, I switched to Sprout Social beside the (high for small biz) costs. Why? Using many tools is time consuming and I decided to make a fundamental (for me) desicion. All-in-one accepting up-&downsides vs. multiple accepting up&-downsides. Tweet Deck is fantastic, but like kind of stand-allone and not serving me without extra work for integration. I love scheduling with Buffer, and there is no better app than Buffer to do so. I like the low pricing of Hootsuite. I tried Sendible but it didn´t convince me from the user side, felt kind of clumsy to me. Agora is great, but I have too many Social Media Accounts which made it event more expensive than SS to me. I tried lots of tools like Manageflitter, Socialoomph, etc. All great tools, but in the end, none gave me… Read more »
Frank M Waechter
Guest
9 months 25 days ago

Update (after reading all the fantastic comments) I will definitely check MavSocial. Not only because of Chris´ Time-ROI aproach.. liked it!

Interdatingclub
Member
10 months 12 days ago

I tried all of them, but the only one that seems to work best is Mavsocial. However, you always have to select ALL the social networking sites you want to post and there’s no options to post recurring tweets.

Alireza Ajam
Guest
Alireza Ajam
1 year 1 month ago

Great points Ian! SoDash (www.sodash.com) could be a great alternative tool. It covers more social feeds than any other monitoring platform in the market. It also has very advance filtering features that can help you to cut through the noise of the social web and priorities incoming messages. Would be cool to include it in your alternative list 🙂

trackback
1 year 1 month ago

[…] someone about social media management platforms, the only two tools that come up are Hootsuite and Sprout Social. But these tools, although great in their own way, don’t fit everyone’s […]

Chris Hoch HQ
Guest
Chris Hoch HQ
1 year 2 months ago

I just spent the weekend searching for the best free alternatives to curate and share information manually and automatically connecting rss feeds. I am now using Buffer, EveryPost, TwitterFeed, and DLVR.it. Considering HootSuite, SocialPilot and IFTT as tools.

Katie K
Guest
Katie K
1 year 3 months ago

Great article indeed!

kgal1298
Guest
kgal1298
1 year 3 months ago

Actually Schedugram seems to be able to post through the API now on IG and so far I actually like that ability way more since I can manage it from the desktop. Not sure if anyone went over that yet, but it’s good to note. I just wish a single platform would integrate all the platforms to a level that’s available for small business users and corporations.

Hitesh Sahni
Member
1 year 4 months ago

Hi Ian! I just went through your entire post from top to all the comments. The community engagement you have created on this website should be made into a case study 🙂

My business is currently very small so I really haven’t started experimenting with full-fledged social media tools, but I vicariously learn a lot from your posts and will be prepared when I make the transition. I tried Hootsuite once but found it very slow to load and function in a browser. or may be I am missing something others know?

So far I have been a user of Buffer and SocialOomph which seem good enough for my current needs. Thanks.

Dustin W. Stout
Member
1 year 4 months ago

Really great writeup Ian! Blows my review of Sprout Social (still being written) out of the water. I actually don’t mind most of these reasons– especially the multi-column one. I don’t know how people operate with multi-columns, I can’t stand it! I won’t use any tool that has it. There’s three reasons why:

– The interface is REALLY bad on all the ones that do. It’s cluttered chaos and gives me anxiety. For people with ADD, I would think that this is the WORST way to operate. I’ve found that I have to intentionally limit my focus to stay effective.

– It destroys the unique experience that each platform has. It’s like looking at a chopped up, stripped, and unattractive version of what it should be.

– Because of the former, a disconnect happens, I believe, in visual communication/interpretation. You lose touch with the platform a bit.

But that’s just me, and I know everyone is different. The things that were a definite deal breaker for me were your points about bit.ly profiles, the scheduler and the price point. When compared feature for feature, Sprout just didn’t deliver and wasn’t nearly worth the price.

Higgins Marketing
Guest
1 year 4 months ago

Ian – thank you for the incredible detail. I currently use Hootsuite but am always interested in pros/cons for different tools to ensure I am “parked in the right place” for the time being. I plan on checking out your Hootsuite articles as well. I haven’t been overly enamored with the reporting options on the pro subscription (and they charge you to run/generate additional reports which I wasn’t happy to learn), and was disappointed that they were charging for additional reports (beyond a very modest offering). Overall I’m pleased with Hootsuite, but I’m curious to know if Sprout Social has other “extra charges” beyond the subscription amounts (i.e,. adding additional report templates which may cost more than the monthly amount)?

Ashley Faulkes
Guest
Ashley Faulkes
1 year 4 months ago

Ian you have outdone yourself as usual. No wonder you have trouble publishing an article a week :> It is definitely worth the wait.

I have some things to learn from your approach – watch out!

I am not yet at the point of using a lot of these tools, as I try to limit my SM time, as the ROI has not yet been there for me. But in the future I can definitely see the need for something other than TweetDeck and Buffer combo. Although for now it is fine.

I also need severe Pinterest integration and as yet there are not many contenders for that prize (good Twitter and Pinterest) perhaps I am just a bit weird with my network choices :>

Justyn Howard
Guest
1 year 5 months ago
Thanks for the thoughtful post Ian. As you can imagine I have some opinions on the items you’ve discussed but I also believe that the world benefits from differing opinions. Knowing and admitting that we won’t be the right fit for everyone allows us to be an amazing fit for those who benefit from our approach and the decisions we’ve made in building our software. Not offering columns is an unpopular decision, except for the companies who love it and see productivity gains like Adam below. Higher pricing is an unpopular choice, except that it allows us to build and support some really great features that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. It also allows us to offer live support around the clock to every customer, to provide free training, include reports and record keeping and a host of other things we’re proud of. I think because our industry was born from free tools like Seesmic and Tweetie, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, there’s a perception that a few dollars a day for critical business software is expensive. I would challenge that premise. We pay a lot more for a lot less utility every day in business. We’re not for everyone, which allows us… Read more »
Adam Connell
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Ian, this is incredibly in depth – awesome work.

I’ve been trying Sprout Social out recently and I have to say, while there are definite draw backs to it like you mention in this post, I have become at least 3x more productive than I was when I was using Hootsuite.

The time I’ve clawed back definitely makes up for how much more expensive it is in comparison to Hootsuite.

Liz
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

As we’ve discussed, Ian, I live by my lists, so Sprout’s single list view is a big negative for me. It really cuts down on the ease of use. There are other niceties with Sprout, like being able to reply and react to comments and activities of all your connected accounts, and the analytics. Its scheduler is much more streamlined than HootSuite’s. I am grandfathered in at their $9/month price, which makes Sprout a steal. I wouldn’t be paying $59/month though if I were a potential new user considering it now.

As always, an awesome and thorough article!

Chris Hodgeman
Guest
1 year 5 months ago
Ian, once again i am amazed at the level of detail you put into your articles – congratulations another superb post. And thanks for mentioning MavSocial, though i am now a little nervous about what you would say if you decided to do “7 reasons not to use MavSocial”! As you rightly say there is no one tool that works for everyone, and that is the reason why there are tools out there ranging fro free or very low cost at one end of the spectrum and at the other end, you have platforms like social.com, adobe marketing cloud, sprinklr etc that can cost well over USD500k pa! Your comments about cost of teams is an interesting one and the way that we approach it is that if you want simple multi-user functionality then you can license a relatively low cost version but if you want Team and Brands i.e. you have lots of people managing lots of social networks, different brands, different teams, you want different permission levels on what they can do view, edit, post etc then you need to go our Enterprise version which of course cost more. But the one thing i think that is missing… Read more »
Matt S
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Ian, thanks for mentioning Latergramme! Also, lots of new features on their way especially now that our Android app is out.

This article is amazing and thorough, I think overall though I’ve loved SproutSocial for it’s interface but pricing is prohibitive. Some balance between an inbox and streams would be interesting feature/product, maybe that is what Smart Inbox was suppose to be.

Donna Moritz
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Wow Ian great post, and I agree with Matt.. I used to be a user at 29 or 39 and I left it for a while and was shocked to see the price had doubled. I love Sprout but the price was too much when I can be productive and do what I need to do with other tools and I love Post Planner, Agorapulse (especially their twitter tool), Tailwind (Pinterest) and Latergram (just started using it and love it). I know that sounds clunky but in a way it also keeps me productive and focused. There will never be a one tool fits all but I think if Sprout Social even offered a “return at your old price” fee I would be interested… to reward users for coming back.

Donna Moritz
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

PS and I loved the single feed, but I am a notorious tab opener so it was for my own good ;o)

Emeric
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Happy to see you here @sociallysorted:disqus 🙂 I’m preparing a group therapy for compulsive tab openers, and a rehab center, you’re in? 🙂

Emeric
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Very detailed post, great job! No app is a good match for everyone, so it’s good to see who’s a good fit for an app, and who’s not!
I’ve always preferred Sprout Social over Hootsuite because I like their interface better. For example, I prefer their unified mailbox than the overwhelming number of tabs you get on Hootsuite. But this is probably a very personal thing.
The big no-go for me was the cost for teams, Sprout pricing was really through the roof for our team of 6 community managers, total deal breaker. But if you only need one admin, the pricing is pretty good! One size fits all doesn’t exist in our industry. That’s a good thing after all 🙂

David Bennett
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

I just took a look at Jollor and it says “You have 14-Day Free Trial. No obligation. Start managing your social networks for as low as 20 € per month.” Where did you find 5 Euros pricing?

Tish
Guest
Tish
1 year 5 months ago

Hi David, this is Tish from Jollor. That was certainly well spotted. We are currently in the middle of price changes, and in this case it moved a little quicker than we advertised. We’ve adjusted it on our homepage. Thanks for flagging.

Tish
Guest
Tish
1 year 5 months ago

Just to add, David, if you have any questions at all, please do contact me at tish@jollor.com and I’d be more than happy to help.

Brooke Ballard
Guest
Brooke Ballard
1 year 5 months ago

Wow, Ian. This is really robust. I still love Sprout, but I can see some strong arguments for why you would not want to use it. Price is always a factor for us. And hey, some of those “pretty” reports you have posted here are really catching my eye!

Thanks for showing the other side. You did it so nicely and will a lot of facts to back it up. That is REALLY impressive. Keep it up!

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