With so many social media management tools available, it’s difficult to know for sure which platform best suits your organization’s needs. There’s no doubt that there are a lot of great tools out there—and to decide which one is perfect for you, remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Always start with your organization’s goals. Innovate, don’t replicate. Pick the platform that works for you. To help you choose, we’re offering you our objective opinion of two popular platforms: Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
HOOTSUITE, founded in 2008, is in our first corner. It’s old faithful: steadfast and familiar.
SPROUT SOCIAL, founded in 2010, is the young gun of the social media management world. This relative newcomer, also called just ‘Sprout,’ is giving Hootsuite a serious run for its money.
Hootsuite vs. Sprout Social
Hootsuite organizes accounts using a mixture of tabs, dropdown menus, and automatically-updating columns called “streams.” Hootsuite needs work organizationally. If you plan to use it with multiple accounts, be very careful not to send content from the wrong handle.
Sprout: The interface is easy to navigate, with all the major necessities on the top navigation bar in the dashboard. Unlike Hootsuite, is nearly impossible to schedule posts under the wrong account on Sprout, because each account you add is segmented into a named folder.
2. Real-Time Monitoring
Hootsuite: With the capability to set up multiple, real-time “streams,” Hootsuite is a great resource for real-time monitoring. Unfortunately, you are only allotted 10 streams per account with the free version of the program.
Sprout Social sends you notifications for potential engagements in a folder called “Messages.” These occur in real time, and Sprout can segment the feed by mentions, direct messages, retweets, and new followers. However, if you like to view updated feeds in real time, Sprout will not satisfy for your needs.
3. Publishing + Scheduling
Hootsuite’s publishing is easy, if limited. We love the built-in link shortening feature, calendar, and ability to schedule posts anywhere from 5 minutes in the future to months in advance. You can also “Bulk Schedule,” planning up to 350 messages across all of your networks. But there are some significant downsides: Hootsuite does not allow for images, posts can only be scheduled on the 5’s of the hour, and the shorten link will always be at the end of the content
Sprout Social pulls no punches when it comes to publishing and scheduling. Sprout has an auto-scheduling feature called “Queue” which allows you to schedule your content for automated, future delivery. For a price, Sprout also provides “ViralPost,” which analyzes your audiences and posts at optimal times of engagement. Everything is filed seamlessly in the “Publishing” tab by group. In short, it takes the guesswork out of social media scheduling at a click of a button.
Hootsuite provides basic reporting features as a part of their paid function, but does not provide any sort of reporting for free accounts.
Sprout Social: The analytics feature for Sprout Social is genius and eye-catching in its design. Full functionality is provided to both paying and free trial members. Compare your Twitter accounts, segment by social channel, create a group report, view Facebook engagements, and much more.
Hootsuite is very easy to use, but as with any software, there is a learning curve to get used to navigating the streams and the sometimes-convoluted interface. In terms of customer service, they do provide a vast array of video tutorials, blogs, and webinars. A “help” button exists within the platform as well.
Sprout Social has so many features that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Never fear: When you sign up for the free trial, they provide you with a Sprout rep. These individual contacts you, gets you set up with a free webinar, and acts as your personal liaison between you and the program. While neither tool is particularly intuitive, Hootsuite may prove an easier introduction to social media management—but Sprout’s customer service is second to none.