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7 Reasons NOT to use Sprout Social

Sprout Social Review

Currently being updated for 2018

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 monitor 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

The History of the Sprout

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).

Justyn Howard

Justyn Howard
CEO

Aaron Rankin

Aaron Rankin
CTO

Gilbert Lara

Gilbert Lara
Creative Director

Peter Soung

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.

Reasons you SHOULD use Sprout Social

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 Premium plan) is $99/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

Reasons NOT to use Sprout Social

#1 Expensive – especially for teams

Update (July 2018) - Sprout Social no longer offer the $59/user/month Deluxe plan anymore. It's called the Standard plan for existing customers. Since December 2017, the cheapest plan is the Premium $99/user/month plan.

Update (April 2017) - Sprout Social have updated their team and enterprise pricing. They now charge per user and have reduced the minimum number of users down to one.

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 Plans 2018

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.

Prices now start at $99 per user per month for the Premium Plan. Sprout have axed their $59/user/month Deluxe plan for new users. This plan is for small to medium-sized businesses and allows you to manage up to 10 social profiles.

The corporate plan which will suit bigger agencies as well as bigger brands and businesses costs $149 per user per month. Sprout

It's important to say that Sprout Social isn’t really aiming at the casual blogger or the individual. They grew out of wanting to cater for businesses and brands- and hence the 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 $99/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 Users Description Hootsuite
Cost/yr
(If paying mthly)
Sprout Social
Deluxe
Cost/yr
(If paying mthly)
Sprout Social
Premium
Cost/yr
(If paying mthly)
1 Hootsuite 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
2 Hootsuite 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
3 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 extra user at $9.99/mth). $239.88 $2,124.00 $3,576.00
4 Hootsuite 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
5 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +2 users at $14.99/mth) $599.88 $3,540.00 $5,940.00
6 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +3 users at $14.99/mth) $779.88 $4,248.00 $7,128.00
7 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +4 users at $15/mth) $959.88 $4,956.00 $8,316.00
8 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +5 users at $14.99/mth) $1139.88 $5,664.00 $9,504.00
9 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +6 users at $14.99/mth) $1319.88 $6,372.00 $10,692.00
10 Hootsuite Pro includes 2 team members (+1 at $9.99/mth +7 users at $14.99/mth) $1499.88 $7,080.00 $11,880.00
11 The 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).


#2 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 around 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.”


#3 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.


#4 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 to display 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:

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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:

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Marketing Director, Joe Morris feels the same:

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

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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 prefers 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…


#5 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:

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#6 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.


#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:

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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):

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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?

More Reasons

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 Report Sprout 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 Agorapulse are really comprehensive and look great. It allows you to export as a PowerPoint presentation

AgoraPulse Powerpoint sample AgoraPulse 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

Social Media Management Tools

agora pulse

Agorapulse

Free Trial, then from $99/user/month

A powerful fully-fledged social media management tool

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram Direct Publishing    Instagram Push Notification Publishing  

Social Inbox
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Ad & Dark Post Comments    Facebook Messenger for Pages    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram  

Listening & Monitoring:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Messenger for Pages    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram  

Analytics & Reports:
  Facebook Pages    Twitter    Instagram  

Other features:
Official Instagram Partners, Official Facebook Partners, iOS mobile app, Android mobile app

A powerful social media management tool for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube which aims to offer enterprise-level features at a lower monthly price. It has an inbox zero feature which allows you to get through your social comments and messages really easily or delegate them to team members. There is a very handy automated moderation rules feature for social networks which can filter spam out for you or automatically delegate or review certain messages.

AgoraPulse has a built-in customer relationship management tool (CRM) allowing you to build up a list of your social contacts. The integrated reports and analytics are detailed and engaging and you can also export as a pdf. The publishing feature is really powerful too with Instagram Direct Publishing & YouTube video publishing.

There is a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.

SproutSocial

Sprout Social

Free trial, then from $99/user/month

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    Pinterest    Instagram  

Monitoring:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Messenger for Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter Lists    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn pages    Instagram  

Other features:
Official Instagram Partners, iOS mobile app, Android mobile app

A big competitor to Hootsuite with some awesome features (really snazzy reports, multiple bit.ly URL shortener integrations etc)  - it does have a hefty price tag though- prices start at $99/user/month (sadly, they recently removed the entry $59/user/month plan). There is no free account but they offer a free trial. Do have a look at my related article 7 Reasons NOT to use Sprout Social.

sotrender-white

Sotrender

Free trial, then from $20/mth (for one user) or from $35 for plans with social inbox

A really powerful reporting and social media performance measurement tool with a newly added social inbox

Social Inbox:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Ad & Dark Post Comments    Facebook Messenger for Pages  

Analytics & Reports:
  Facebook Pages    Twitter    YouTube    Instagram  

Sotrender is an incredibly powerful analytics, reporting and performance measurement tool for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Although Sotrender isn't a full social media management tool (in that it doesn't offer publishing or listening/monitoring) it does have an easy to use social inbox for Facebook, analytics, reporting and competitor analysis.

The analytics feature goes far beyond what Facebook and other networks tell you in their insights. As well as data on the demographics of your audience, Sotrender also shows you your top community members. I love the segmentation chart which breaks down your community into different categories - Debators, Occasional, Activists, Likers and Writers. You can also view when your audience is most active, so you know the best time and day to post your contet

I also love the tips feature, where it lists your posts with tips on how to approve for next time.

You can also create stunning reports (perfect for agencies and larger businesses) and compare your social channels with your competitors.

Sendible

Sendible

Free trial, then from $29/mth (for one user)

A full social media management tool with a huge number of integrations.

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    Pinterest    YouTube    Instagram Direct Publishing    Tumblr    Google My Business    Medium  

Social Inbox:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Ad & Dark Post Comments    Facebook Messenger for Pages    Twitter Lists    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn pages    Instagram  

Listening & Monitoring:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Messenger for Pages    Twitter Lists    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn pages    Instagram  

Analytics & Reports:
  Facebook Pages    Twitter    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram  

Other features:
Official Facebook Marketing Partners, Instagram Partners, Google Chrome browser extension, Review Monitoring (including sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor), RSS Feed Importer (adding RSS feeds in bulk), iOS mobile app, Android mobile app

Similar to Hootsuite and SproutSocial with an impressive array of features. Sendible integrates with a huge number of social channels including Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages & groups), LinkedIn (profiles, pages & groups), Foursquare, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and more. You can have as many team members as you like (although you will have to pay per user above your allocated amount) and it integrates with bit.ly and other URL shorteners.

There is no free account but they offer a free trial. Be aware that Sendible includes a certain number of "services" for each plan. For the basic Micro plan you get 12 "services", with the Small plan 48 services and with the large plan you get 192 services. Services can get a little confusing, because a Twitter list stream, Twitter mention stream, Twitter Search stream, Facebook Group and Facebook Profile stream are all classed as separate services. You can find yourself running out of services very quickly.

MavSocial

MavSocial

Free Trial, then from $19/mth for 10 profiles

A full social media management tool that integrates with the Chinese network Wechat on its enterprise plan.

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram    Tumblr    WeChat  

Monitoring/Engagement:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Messenger for Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter Lists    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search    Twitter DMs    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram    WeChat  

Other features:
Official Instagram Partners, iOS mobile app, Android mobile app

A simple and affordable social media management tool for curating, scheduling and managing your socials all in one platform. Integrating Facebook, Instagram (direct publishing), Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr and WeChat, it streamlines the entire social media process from content discovery to audience engagement to reporting. WeChat integration is only available on the business/enterprise plans which start at $199/month.

MavSocial has an AI-powered digital asset management system, scheduling calendar and post recycling tools, Social Inbox, comprehensive real-time and exportable reports, and customizable team management features. Social listening to be released shortly

A mobile app for iOS and Android is available to make social media management even easier on the go.

Social Report

Social Report

Free trial, and from $49/month

Social Report launched back in 2011 and has a robust all-in-one solution covering publishing and scheduling, analytics, reporting, a “smart inbox”, team management and automation. They integrate with most networks out there, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and more. They’re going to be shortly launching direct publishing for Instagram too. It's cost-effective and cheaper for teams when compared to Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer.

Jollor

Jollor

Free Trial, then from $5/month

A lesser-known but nicely put together social media management tool.

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Twitter    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    YouTube    Instagram    VKontakte    Odnoklassniki  

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 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 at $5. It basically costs $5 per network, and you can add extra team members for $5 per month as well as other features.

tweetdeck

TweetDeck

Free

Publishing:
  Twitter  

Monitoring:
  Twitter    Twitter Lists    Twitter Mentions    Twitter Search  

Twitter Management Only.

This used to be one of my top recommendations, but Twitter has done their best to make this less useful. But Tweetdeck is a free way of managing multiple Twitter accounts and useful for scheduling posts as well as managing Twitter Chats.

ContentCal

ContentCal

Free plan, and from $13/month

A social media & content planning solution which has recently entered the social media management tool space.

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    Instagram Push Notification Publishing  

Social Inbox
  Facebook Messenger for Pages    Twitter Mentions  

Analytics & Reports:
  Facebook Pages    Twitter    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    Instagram  
Note that ContentCal's reports only show data on posts posted via ContentCal itself.

Other features:
iOS mobile app

ContentCal is a great visual tool to help solo freelancers, small business owners or agencies (and beyond) manage their social channels. A content calendar is central to ContentCal, giving you a 'birdseye view' of all the social posts going out across multiple channels. It currently integrates with Facebook (Pages), LinkedIn (Pages, Profiles) and Twitter. It has very affordable plans despite some very enterprise focussed features.

Social Media Planning & Publishing Tools

Kontentino

Kontentino

Free and from $10/month

Kontentino is a content planning and publishing tool which has packed some amazing features. It has team planning and collaboration at heart, and it's perfect for agencies who want to work with their clients and get approval. Clients can approve work directly through the web app or on mobile with the click of a button. You can preview how your content looks across all platforms including all the major Facebook ad formats. Kontentino sends over all the scheduled posts to Facebook and allows Facebook to schedule them. This allows you to tag posts and do things that can only be done directly on Facebook.

Social Media Publishing & Scheduling Tools

buffer

Buffer

Free or $15/mth for Pro Plan. Business plans from $99/month

Publishing:
  Facebook Pages    Facebook Groups    Twitter    LinkedIn profiles    LinkedIn pages    Pinterest    Instagram  

Monitoring/Engagement:
No Monitoring/Engagement available,

Other features:
Official Instagram Partners, iOS mobile app, Android mobile app.

Allows you to post or cross-post to Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages or groups), LinkedIn (profile, groups or company pages), Instagram, Pinterest or Google+ business profiles/pages. You can either post straight away or create a schedule for each social network. Buffer is an amazing tool and one that I use every day.

Social Champ

Social Champ

From $10/month

Social Champ allows you to schedule and publish content to a wide variety of networks, not just once, but many times in a cycle. You can also link up your RSS feed and set up filters.

Tool Comparison Table

Scroll to see more

ToolURLParent CompanyYear FoundedHead Office LocationFree Plan?Number of users in free planMax number of users in free planCheapest Paid PlanNumber of users in cheapest paid planMax Number of users in cheapest paid plan
Hootsuitehootsuite.comN/A2008Vancouver, CanadaYes11$45/user/mth/billed annually11
Agorapulseagorapulse.comN/A2011Paris, FranceNoN/AN/A$99/user/mth
$79/usr/mth if paid annually
2Unlimited (extra users $30/user/mth)
Sprout Socialsproutsocial.comN/A2010Chicazgo, USNoN/AN/A$99/user/mth1Unlimited (extra users $99/user/mth)
Sendiblesendible.comN/A2009London, UK NoN/AN/A$29/user/mth
$24/user/mth if billed annually
11
Zoho Socialzoho.com/socialZoho2015Chennai, IndiaYes11$10/user/mth
$8.33/user/mth if billed annually
2Not specified/addit'l user $10/mth
ContentCalContentCalN/A2014London, UK Yes11£15/mth billed annually1Not specified/addit'l user £15/mth
Social Reportsocialreport.comN/A2010New York, NYNoN/AN/A$49/mth55
Muster Pointmusterpoint.ioN/A2012London, LondonNoN/AN/A$35/£25 per month per user1Not specified/addit'l user $35/£25/mth
Jollorjollor.comN/A2014Prague, Czech RepublicNoN/AN/A$5/per mth2Not specified/addit'l user $5/mth
MavSocialMavSocialN/A2012San Francisco, CAYes11$16/mth billed annually11
Tweetdecktweetdeck.twitter.comN/A2008Yes11N/AN/AN/A
KontentinoKontentinoN/A2014Bratislava, Slovakia Yes11$10/mth33
Latelytrylately.comN/A2014New York, USNoN/AN/A$79/mth11

Comparison Tool

Other Resources

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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Uphill Marketing

Oh, Very much appreciate with the information which shared into this article. I have learned lots of from this post. Thank you for sharing such informative post.

sa168s

Thank you for the great article. Very detailed post. Very good job! There is no app that works for everyone, so it’s good to see who is suitable for the app and not suitable for it! Right now, I just started tracking your website. I will use it in my work.

Jon

Hi, Ian. Thanks for the terrific article. I am currently grandfathered in to Hootsuite (5 users, $500/yr), but it does not include 2 new features I have a need for -publishing approval flow and a unified Inbox feature. Adding those would increase price to $600/month!!! As of now, I only need them for 1 user + myself (for approval). I like the ability on Hootsuite to see streams and what posts actually look like after the post. Can you recommend something that combines those features? Primary concerns are posting (not so much scheduling) and engagement. Thanks!

Antonio Santos

Agora Pulse is useless. No keyword monitoring, no RSS feeds, posting is basic and doesn’t take advantage of most API features on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook – lazy developers. Save the money and use social media native tools.

Paul O'Brien

Lead me to the promised land! Even since I spent some time with Sprinklr, I’ve been seeking that Employee Engagement feature alone. Affordable and simply that. Sprout Social seems to be the best alternative to Sprinklr but it’s still bloated with cost and all the other features (scheduling, listening, etc.) that need not be there just to get team advocacy. Any suggestions??

Chris

Information overload here with your article. Too many words. Your headline makes it sound like the software is terrible but then I fell asleep reading that crazy long monologue….

Sierra

Needs another update! You can now also post to Instagram via the Facebook Creator Studio feature for Facebook Pages and Instagram Business accounts 🙂 It even supports IG carousels!

techboy

You are giving me lots of great notes! Thanks again.

acha

Hello, I love this article. Thank you very much – it was very insightful. One issue I am currently experiencing is that the contract with the advertising agency we used to do our social media has been cancelled. My fear now is that when we post or continue with the social media in our own marketing division, they can still view our activity/data in their Sprout account……… Do you maybe know how I can ensure that these “third party” posting tools no longer have access to my Facebook page.

Pi TA

#4 Unified Inbox & No side by side streams – I really hate Side by side view. I used Hootsuite for a month and i gave up

Dio Zhao

#1 Expensive – especially for teams – I the only one use it so it is ok. also, other ones are expensive too, where you have to purchase the reports.
#2 Lack of YouTube and other visual platforms – Pinterest is all good to go
#8 No Multiple image Support – Now you can.
the best thing is we use LinkedIn, it works so well. as most of the tools mostly focus on Facebook etc…
I think Sprout Social is the best for B2B businesses.

Softbenz

Hello Ian thank you for your awesome article. Clearly at one point, I requested a demo from sprout social but halted for the subscription. Can you please recommend some website or software that may automate the post on social sites. Thanks in advance

Nihal Singh

Great insight. Thanks for breaking everything down. We are a fairly new company and definitely want to tap into and grow our social media presence. We are seeking a management tool to help us manage our social media.

Steve

Nicely done Ian…great comparison charts! We (large non-profit) use CoSchedule for scheduling social posts, seems to function quite well also.

Joe Policy

I’m looking for a program to auto post to FB groups that we’re members of (about 600 different groups). Is this within your program’s capability?

Mariel Garcia

Hi Ian, thank you for this helpful information. I came across eClincher would like to know what you think about this tool. Have you already tried it? Thank you!

Neil Garcia

Hi Ian,
Great insight. Thanks for breaking everything down. We are a fairly new company and definitely want to tap into and grow our social media presence. We are seeking a management tool to help us manage our social media. We have made some great strides via FB and have tapped into Instagram. We run an online cigar store so we are limited with restrictions due to our industry and want to do all we can to gain every advantage we can to grow our business. I am new to much of this and I am researching ways to market and grow our business. I was hoping you could suggest a direction for us through your experience. Thanks again Ian!

Natalie D

Hello Ian,

Very interesting article–thank you! I am just getting started with Social Media for my consulting business. I was wondering if you could suggest a management tool that would be ideal for a luxury good consulting brand. I am starting a blog and will use Twitter to cultivate relationships with industry execs as well as influencers. I love video and storytelling and intend to showcase the beauty of the products in the luxury brand categories, (beauty, jewelry and fashion accessories). Thank you again!

Hannah

Ian – thanks so much for these articles – you clearly know a lot about this! Can I ask your advice? Is there a tool that allows an individual to see posts from facebook groups that I am a member of (not admin) in one place? For example, there are great facebook groups out there that I’m a member of, for job postings, but it’s hard to keep up. It would be great to see them all in one place, but Buffer requires I am an admin of those groups. Thanks in advance for any help!

Erin Garrity

I was wondering if you can suggest a Social Media Management Tool (2018) that allows me & my team to have MULTIPLE DIFFERENT CLIENTS so my team can POST NATIVE VIDEO ONTO our clients SOCIAL MEDIA SITES (particularly: LinkedIN, IG, GOOGLE PLUS, FACEBOOK, TWITTER)?
For example: We have 10 different clients/businesses we shoot video for… as well as many other things. My company currently POSTS onto their pages and it is time consuming! IS THERE A company that it like Sprout Social but that is for businesses like mine… an advertising agency… to post video content onto EACH of my clients individual pages?
LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR ANSWER. THANK YOU!

Romain

Hi Ian! Thank you for this biiiig article, very well detailed. The comparison is very useful for me. I’m still hesitating about which tool to choose: i don’t need to publish with own accounts, but just a powerful monitoring ans searching tool to make benchmarks, identify trends, views hashtag metrics to make campaign reports… and exclusively for instagram, don’t need the rest. Do you think Sprout could fit my need?

Chelsie

Thank you for this! I just signed up for Later and am very disappointed. I was just about ready to pull the trigger on Sprout Social but I think I see some other ones in your lists that would be a better fit. Thank you for saving me a ton of time! 🙂

panth mehta

Geat insightful article Ian. Well informed and best reviews I have read on HootSuite and sprout social. I was also looking for one amazing automation tool for my social media. I have found one more if you want to try your hands on. Here is https://socialpilot.co. I haven’t tried yet. But thinking to switch on. Would love to know your thoughts on this as well.

Regards
Panth Mehta

Ronald Hall

PinPinterest is an automation and marketing tool for pinterest that is free to use and runs on the cloud. It is mobile optimised and has Pin Scheduler and Speed control options.
I’ve personally gained more than 55k followers for my pinterest account since I’ve started using PinPinterest, and a lot of them are now regular readers on my travel blog, TravelMagma.
The best feature of PinPinterest is its sophisticated content detection technology, which detects pins relevant to my business and pins them on my account. Also, it makes sure my account is ban-safe by imitating a human-like speed . .
Truly a tool of 2017, PinPinterest is a must-use for everyone!

MarketingGirl007

Hello, I love this article. Thank you very much – it was very insightful. One issue I am currently experiencing is that the contract with the advertising agency we used to do our social media has been cancelled. My fear now is that when we post or continue with the social media in our own marketing division, they can still view our activity/data in their Sprout account……… Do you maybe know how I can ensure that these “third party” posting tools no longer have access to my Facebook page.

Eat Drink Stay Dubai

Hey Ian,

Thankyou for such a detailed, objective and balanced review. Interesting that you have also updated to keep context and relevance.

However, regarding the ‘keeping up with answered messages’ comments, SS allows you to ‘mark as completed’ (often as default). So for example, you can plough through DMs, mentions etc. and then skip over one with the keyboard shortcut, to leave to another time. As long as you have ‘mark completed’ selected with a tick mark, it will update accordingly.

Keep up the great work!

sergey efuni

Hi Ian,

Thank you so much for the article, I tried every service you listed, but none of them have one crucial feature: posting one @mention which would then be translated to all native appropriate formats (facebook, twitter)

For example, if I post “hi @aliciakeys” this will only translate to apropariet @mention in Twitter, but not in Facebook. But if I use facebook format, it will not post as a clickable @mention in Twitter.

Do you know of any website that offers that small but crucial feature?

Thank you,
Sergey

Frank M. Waechter

Hi Ian
I commented here more than a year ago and this blog is still creating discussion! WOW!! That’s an evergreen piece of content, impressive. Also shows that the topic is never-ending, too 😉 I still use Sprout Social, kind of getting used to it and not willing to test all the new tools out there. My main tools for social sharing and insides at this point, apart from native Facebook or Twitter analytics/business insides, are Sprout, MOZ, Canva, Feedly, Pocket and some Crowdfire on the smartphone. Easy to handle number, works great for me. Must admit that I do not use post automation though.

Bianca

Hi Ian

Great article. Have you come across anything that offers push notifications for when someone comments on a post or a message is received?

Bianca

Hi Ian. Funny you say that because they told me they don’t as it would be too ‘spammy!’

I just looked up Klear and it’s $249/month not $49/month. Ouch! Thanks for putting this together… very helpful and insightful… it’s too bad that I stopped blogging for a while and didn’t get on Sprout Social when it was yet affordable. Those were the days! 🙂

Ajinkya

Hi Ian,

I work as a Social Media Manager for a Quick service restaurant (similar to Chipotle/Shakeshack). I am looking for a social media management tool with my priority being 1)Analytics and Reporting – In depth reporting like reach, ROI of my posts, finding out the best times to post, etc. A/B testing if possible – for ads)
2)Support for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
3) Good scheduling capabilities (though nothing advanced required here)

I am currently evaluating SproutSocial, Agorapulse and Hootsuite. I was wondering if you can help me with identifying the most appropriate tool for my needs. My budget is under 100 dollars/month. I dont need advanced team features as of now but analytics and reporting remain my biggest need.

Thanks!

Anna

I can’t see that anything other then twitter works for feeds. You mention toggling between but only twitter profiles seem to be showing up under SS feed.

Zach

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

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

Agree, Olivia!

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

Amber

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

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

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

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

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

Interdatingclub

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

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 🙂

Chris Hoch HQ

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

Great article indeed!

kgal1298

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.

kgal1298

Actually a company I was consulting with was using it so I went through and tested it on a dummy account. It works and at most, most companies I know are trusting strangers with their passwords anyway and they do seem to be pretty open about it and it does seem like an automated system. At first I was wondering if they somehow were hiring cheap labor to do auto-uploads, but I didn’t really see that as being a cost effective method so I asked a programmer I work with how it was possible and he said it is possible to program it that way. Overall if it were a legal issue for IG I wonder why they wouldn’t shut it down at this point? It seems like they’d know about it and since IG is under Facebook now I’d imagine they’d have the legal power to do so. It’s either that or they are planning to open the API eventually to do this and don’t care that much, which they really should do anyway.

kgal1298

Yes, I am familiar IG’s terms. I did a search through Google and Quora after I found it and didn’t find any negative experiences from people using it, but again I’m not sure it’s much different than a company giving someone their logins to work on the account. Latergramme is okay, but it’s just as easy for me to set up notifications on my phone to remind me to post. I just found the app a bit pointless. I’m hoping you are wrong about the posting. I find when FB is involved they want to make advertisers happy and the advertisers would probably love a scheduling tool it just takes time to build out.

kgal1298

Yes! I’ve been at this for awhile. I don’t recommend scheduling for all clients. I do, however, work with some clients that do entertainment news so it works out great for them to schedule. I just make sure to be careful and read the product terms. In some cases, I’ve actually had programmers build workarounds for me. On top of that it’s amazing how many times more accidents happen with an angry intern or ex-employee because they don’t change the password more so than a platform issue. This is why I always tell people when people leave make sure you change up the passcodes as your social media protocol, but a lot of people just don’t bother.

Chris Hodgeman

If i can throw in my 2 cents worth on a couple of these points. i actually think out of the two things that could happen by disclosing your password to a third party (a) IG closes you down or b)your password/user name is used in a way you did not intend) that the last one is the bigger risk. I completely get your point kgal1298 that companies do this all the time and give their passwords to their marketers /external agencies but i think the difference is they know who they are giving it to. But when you provide it an application, you are providing it to a complete stranger! Who knows what could happen to it- do they store passwords securely if they are hacked? Which employees have access to this information etc? Don’t forget that once you give them your password they have the keys to the castle. Caveat emptor! Re IG opening up the API to publishing, Ian i think they will this year- i have spoken to a number of large FMCG brands who will be using IG for advertising.they had been vocal apparently in their discussions with IG that they need better tools to… Read more »

kgal1298

Chris I hope you are right about the API publishing being this year. I was thinking it might be a bit longer, but I also work with a couple agencies and I know they would benefit from having an API for publishing for the multiple clients. As for the password thing I agree with you, it just depends on a case by case. I’ve worked with people who give passwords to oDesk people no problem and I think that’s just as risky. Also, I think this platform might leave itself open to being sued if anything bad happens since they say in their own website rules that they basically use encrypted software for it. I think I might know what workaround they are using and if it’s true then I’d have to imagine they did find a way to encrypt it, but I only do this with clients permission as well. It’s safer that way and again I’ve seen more issues with interns than anything. I think it’s just best to make sure someone has the right contacts to fix it when it goes wrong. When I was with Maker they lost their own YouTube channel, but our Social Media… Read more »

Hitesh Sahni

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.

Hitesh Sahni

Took a long time but the wealth of information you share is well worth it!

May be Hootsuite isn’t that slow but internet speeds aren’t that great in the eastern part of the world 🙂 I agree with your point on SocialOomph. Not very pretty to look at but does what it’s supposed to do. Thanks for the alternatives you mentioned. I’ll check them out.

Dustin W. Stout

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.

Dustin W. Stout

I actually advocate that MOST of your social media engagement should be done natively. However, I do a lot of scheduling. That scheduling though is always based on when I will be on the platform (roughly).

I honestly don’t know how they can continue not supporting multi-bitly accounts. I need a minimum of 3 different bitly custom URLs (My own, Weal Media’s and Warfare Plugins).

Dustin W. Stout

With Twitter it’s not as bad but I still think a slight bit of culture/connection is lost when you’re interacting in a third-party interface. It’s slightly disconnected. But maybe that’s just me.

As far as our situation, I don’t know. Plenty of agencies out there managing multiple bitly accounts and being that Sprout is targeted at agencies it seems weird.

Justyn Howard

Hi Ian. As you know Sprout allows you to assign a unique Bit.ly account per group, which accommodates all of the use-cases we’ve encountered in the past. In thousands of user surveys and feature requests we’ve never had anyone suggest this didn’t meet their needs. That’s not to say your point isn’t worth considering but I was surprised it was a big enough deal to make your list. I guess then it would have been “6 Reasons Not To Use Sprout”.

When you write the followup “94 reasons to use Sprout” let me know and I’ll make sure we give you a proper demo 🙂

Justyn Howard

Of course, and we definitely value all feedback. Drop me a line on LinkedIn if/when you want me to set you up with someone to do a thorough walkthrough and happy to contribute some thoughts in the future. Thanks again for spending some time with Sprout.

karen_e

These are such helpful and comprehensive reviews. So many “actionable takeaways!”

Higgins Marketing

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)?

Higgins Marketing

Thank you for the quick reply. I did start on Hootsuite free and then upgraded to Pro. For my needs it works well except for the analytics, but as business grows our needs may change, so your work is much appreciated! Thank you for sharing that you use Agorapulse. I plan to check that one out (and already had Oktopost on my list as well)… so many tools, so little time :). Have a great weekend.

Carla

Higgins Marketing

LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ for now (and some LinkedIN groups). May branch to Pinterest in the near future.

Higgins Marketing

You are giving me lots of great notes! Thanks again.

Carla

Ashley Faulkes

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

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

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.

Adam Connell

No worries, Ian. Good point – really isn’t for everyone and definitely are areas where it can be improved.

It’s a basic feature, but the smart inbox (particularly the ‘mark as complete’ button) has been the main time saving feature (there are a few others).

I manage a bunch of accounts so with Hootsuite I used to lose track of who I’d responded to (partly because of using Hootsuite across 3 devices) and missed a bunch of mentions. It’s so straight forward to manage responses with Sprout Social.

Good point about businesses. Price definitely amounts up quick.

Adam Connell

Awesome to know more tools have this feature – it’s super important. I’m surprised too, Hootsuite have a lot of catching up to do!