Strategy Team

01/23/2013

The battle of the social media tools: Hootsuite vs. Sprout Social

Strategy Team // in Strategy

Hootsuite and Sprout Social are two popular—some might argue market leading—tools for managing a social media presence. With a wide range of features and functionality, both tools can be used to facilitate the execution of a marketing team’s social strategy, including scheduling messages, assigning tasks, tracking statistics and integrating other social platforms.

We spent a month cozying up with Hootsuite and Sprout Social, using them to manage our own social media presences. We put the tools through their paces in the hopes of making an apples-to-apples comparison. Although many of the features across both tools are similar, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s some of the highlights of what we found.

Publishing

Hootsuite: 
Hootsuite uses multi-column informational streams that make it easy for users to scan their accounts quickly on a single page. You can customize your streams to really understand your audience, such as tracking a trending Twitter hashtag or a particular keyword. We also like that Hootsuite provides you with an option to save drafts for review at a later date. Hootsuite also has an extensive app directory enabling you to add content from platforms like Evernote, Instagram or Tumblr to your dashboard.   


Sprout Social:
Sprout’s ViralPost technology recommends optimal publish times to get the best engagement out of your tweets or status updates based on audience analysis. And Sprout helps you find and connect to your audience with its Discovery feature. Discovery uses keywords and locations to suggest profiles that would interact with your company.

 

Team Collaboration

Hootsuite: 
In September, Hootsuite launched Conversations, an internal communication tool for their system. We liked that anybody in your company could join Conversations and post comments to the thread without having to set up their own social media account. 

Sprout Social: 
We were quite impressed with Sprout’s contact management system, which allows social media teams to store comments and information about their followers. It’s a great collaboration tool so any team member can see all past interactions with a particular contact and respond appropriately, which helps if you’re trying to foster a lead through social media interaction. 

Sprout also integrates with several customer service operating systems, including UserVoice and Zendesk. This two-way integration feature turns Sprout into a customer service ninja by enabling seamless communication between social media and customer service teams. For instance, when a customer tweets that they can’t login to their account, the social media team can immediately create a helpdesk ticket for the customer service team. From there, both teams can track that ticket through the system and make sure the problem is resolved. Notes can also be attached to the tickets to help resolve the situation more quickly. 

Reporting

Hootsuite: 
We like that Hootsuite reports are fairly customized and detailed.  The basic design of the data makes it intuitive and easy to understand at a glance. Additionally, their “Quick Analytics” reports give us a concise snapshot of our most popular tweets for the Vodori Twitter accounts.  

Sprout Social:
The beautiful interface of Sprout comes into play here. The home dashboard is a quick snapshot of your analytics across all your social networks, including an in-depth of analysis of your followers, reporting the percentage of male and female followers and their age demographic. We also liked that you can see how individual tweets performed in the sent messages tab. By seeing an individual message’s reach and click-throughs, you can instantaneously see what messages resonate well with your audience. In addition, we applaud Sprout’s access to unlimited reports for all plans, which is so helpful if you consistently report analytics to clients or internal teams. 

For both tools, the ability to dive deeper into the reports is currently lacking a bit. With Hootsuite you cannot click into a point on the “clicks” chart to easily see which tweets garnered the most response. The same can be said of Sprout Social reporting. Good data, but not great. 

Mobile

Hootsuite: 
Hootsuite’s mobile site is a nice reflection of its browser site, allowing you to swipe through all of your streams quickly. The only major drawback here is that you cannot access pre-scheduled tweets, a feature we happen to love in the web-based version. 

Sprout Social: 
We like that Sprout Mobile has full access to its contact management system and you can easily keep tabs on current activity such as mentions, replies and retweets across all accounts.

Cost

Hootsuite: 
$9.99 per month for two users for Pro Plan, managing unlimited social profiles. 

Sprout Social: 
$39 per month per user for Standard Plan, managing up to 10 profiles.

Both companies offer 30-day trials with full access to features of any plan. 

Bottom Line

Both tools have all the key essentials for managing a company’s social media presence. We favor Hootsuite’s low costs, publishing tools and monitoring features for our needs. However, we’d recommend Sprout for companies with large social media teams and/or have lots of customer service interaction on social channels. We were impressed with Sprout Social’s clean interface, unlimited reports and customer service systems integration. We’ll be keeping our eye closely on this Chicago-based company.

Editor’s Note: A special thanks to our future West Loop neighbors, Sprout Social and Angus Gorberg, who gave us a personal tour of the platform’s features at Sprout HQ. 



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