Tool Tuesday: Sprout Social Update

When I last wrote about Sprout Social in May 2011, I’d been using it for a couple of months. And while I found a use for it, I only used it sporadically because it really wasn’t offering anything truly unique. But for $92/year it wasn’t breaking the bank either.  There was a long list of “Meh.” Well, either my blog has some pull, or the survey they sent over the summer was put to good use because Sprout Social is growing up. I think its headed into the social CRM space, which we desperately need in the smaller-than-enterprise world. But when I asked that question, I got an indirect response at best (see Friday’s blog post).

Sprout Social did have some implementation challenges when they released their new features, so I wanted to wait until the dust cleared to write about it. It appears as though the dust has settled and its a new day in social media management. There are some very handy and cool features in the new Sprout Social, here are my faves:

Contact History

This is one reason why I think Sprout Social is trying to move into the social CRM space (I’m hoping and praying they do). This feature allows you to see Twitter conversations with a particular contact, from this dashboard you can add them to lists, add additional contact info, see @mentions. Its a great resource for putting a particular contact into context.

In the picture at right, I’m looking at the conversations I’ve had with Gwen Woltz, SMCHI (Social Media Club Hawaii) Professional and Communications Committee member. She and I do 90% of our communication with one another via Twitter. And it shows. But what’s even cooler, is that ALL of our conversations back to the beginning (9 mos ago). That’s right, way, way after I can’t find the conversation anywhere else, I have it here for reference. This is super ideal for companies who are trying to keep track of their Twitter conversations and has serious CRM implications. Now, if we could only match those darn Facebook conversations, we’d be golden.

Discovery:

Here you can sort your followers in different ways. You can see who you’ve had conversations with recently (or more specifically people who you’ve mentioned or who have mentioned you). I’m not really sure how accurate this is as I THINK it still incorporates Twitter DMs and since DMs have devolved into a “spam” inbox, I wouldn’t call it a place where a lot of conversations take place. I’m not ENTIRELY sure that sums up the “Conversation” potential, but I understand what they are trying to do here and I appreciate it. I also like that I can filter to “influential only”  I bet the filtering options are going to increase… and I hope they add location filtering soon.

Also under “Discovery” are some ways to clean out your Twitter followers (inactives, don’t follow back, etc.). You do have to “unfollow” one at a time, but its still a handy tool if you’ve reached that mysterious Twitter ratio of followers vs. followed.

Twitter Comparison:

Ever wonder how you compare to your biggest competitor? Twitter comparison gives you a place to start.  I really recommend treading lightly here. While this is an addictive tool, its also hard to bring it back to an actual business objective. Do you really CARE how many followers you have compared to someone else? If you do, I hope it relates specifically back to your brand valuation. That said, I’m excited to welcome 262 new followers on Twitter last week…but that looks pretty lame next to Mari Smith’s 3400+. I actually think the more interesting comparisons here are engagements over mentions, that has the beginnings of an interesting KPI.

 

General Reports:

One of the things I originally liked about Sprout Social is the easy at a glance interface. The Reports segment remains easy to review and glance, but its got some new added features. Including Top tweets and Facebook Page posts. I love seeing that information as it helps me better understand what captures the imagination of my audience.

Here too you can see from a single dashboard the Google Analytics info, Twitter info and Facebook pages info. I also appreciate the ability to set custom dates and export information.  New to the reports is the ability to connect locations through Gowalla or Foursquare. If you’re a retailer or restaurant, this is a very, very handy add-on, and its available at the $39/month level.

 

Google Reader Feeds:

Many months ago when I filled out that survey Sprout Social sent me, I specifically remember a question about what it would take to be the only tool I use to post. While I’m still not using Sprout Social to post, the addition of my Google Reader feeds to its interface is mighty helpful, and again, its the interface that makes it manageable here.

Sprout Social InBox and Scheduling:

This is really where they’ve put forth some serious effort. Its easy to sort and share messages from different platforms, this interface is actually much easier than Hootsuite’s, and like Hootsuite, there are team member tasks and assignment options. This doesn’t replace Hootsuite for me yet, because I like to be able to see my streams, I like to know what my contacts are talking about. But with SocialSprout’s key word.

All in all, the Sprout Social team has made some big improvements to the platform…and without surprise, those big improvements come with some heftier price tags. I’d love to see some demos to determine if the Small Biz and Deluxe plans offer enough value to justify the expense for the average small business owner. And I’m not sure that agency package is all that compelling for the price tag. Regardless, I like the updates to Sprout Social and I can see myself using it more at the price point I’m paying, but I also noticed that the level at which I currently pay is going up by about 15%. That’s a big increase, so when it comes time to renew, I’ll reevaluate how often I’m using the tool and decide for myself then how much I need it for myself and my clients.

TELL ME: If you use Sprout Social, what’s you’re favorite new feature? And what feature are these types of tools most missing?

 

 

 

 

PS: HAPPY (American)  THANKSGIVING! See you on the flip side of the official start of the holidays here in the USA!