I have about  A LOT of web-based apps I am using to help make social media tracking easier. Which is why is started “Tool Tuesday”, because I think you, ,my awesome readers might like to know what the experience is like before they plop down their own cash or spend their own time. But the thing is, I’m using so many that I’m getting to the point that I wonder if its getting harder to get easier. But I digress. One tool that I do find myself using regularly is SproutSocial I’ve been using it since about February. I wouldn’t say that I am CRAZY about the tool – but I do go to it regularly enough to share it with you.  You can take it for a test spin for free, but I did upgrade my membership to the professional edition for $92/year.

So without further delay, here’s the SproutSocial scoop as I see it.

What I like:

Interface: Slick interface, easy to see information at a glance. The widgets on the dashboard can be moved around so you’re dashboard reflects the information of the highest priority to you.

Inbox: This is a useful tool as I can moderate Twitter, Facebook (pages and profile)  mentions of my handles as well as business name. I was also grateful to it when I switched my Twitter handle to @taracoomans I could monitor mentions to that old handle easily. I can also view LinkedIn alerts from the “inbox” as well.  The inbox also captures Twitter RT (which Hootesuite does not) so when someone send a RT without the RT tag, I can still catch it.You can also “Flag” messages for response. This is particularly helpful is you are working with a team of people to monitor and respond to tweets.

Contacts: I love that when I click on a contact, I can see the conversations I’ve had with the person. This is probably my favorite feature. Whether you are tracking a twitter account for a business or brand or yourself, seeing a history of conversations is pretty great. Another feature that is “nice” is that  I can also add details like email and phone and note to a contact, but I have to do that by hand..and really..when am I going to do that..and why?   This has serious potential, but as of right now, its pretty static. How about downloading these conversations?   I would get really excited if it were were integrated with Hashable, which attempts to show the depth of  your social relationships. I also notice that the “Contacts in Common” isn’t totally accurate. Not sure how much I care about that, but when I see that, I wonder what “other” glitches there are that are effecting the information I am seeing and using..and in this case, paying for.

Schedule: Like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can schedule tweets from Sprout Social. But what’s unique is that Sprout Social shows you the best times to schedule a tweet to get the most visibility. My guess is that it does this based on past tweet times that generate the most engagement. Although I don’t actually schedule tweets from Sprout Social, I do like this feature. I also think its cool that you can schedule a recurring tweet as well. Again, I don’t use this, but I can see the usefulness of this, particularly for events or tweetchats or similar.”Schedule” also lets you post your RSS feeds if you’re into that sort of thing.

What’s “Meh”

Engagement/Influence Scores: Do I really need ANOTHER one? On the other hand, if your just using “Influence” scores to measure your own effectiveness, then I guess this is helpful. But, they don’t really tell me what they measure, so its difficult to compare how this influence/engagement score compares to others and why theirs is more valuable to me than others. All in all, its a wash in my book.

Reports: Pretty basic stuff. I can get this information and more from my Twitalyzer account. Not only that, but when I export the reports, it comes to me in PDF version. I’d really rather have it in a spreadsheet format. It makes it easier to compare information over time. Another thing that kind’a chaps my hide is that it tells me how many clicks I’ve had, but not what tweets were most popular. What good is knowing the quantity without putting into perspective? I’m not running a popularity contest – I’m looking for good, hardcore data that tells me what my particular audience digs. Also, for those of you who run reports for clients, Sport Social’s aren’t white labeled. That may or may not be important to you..but if it is, its kind’a a deal killer.

What do you guys think? Are you using Sport Social? Agree or disagree with my assessment?