Tools We Use: Sprout Social

This is the second in an irregular series of blog posts about the tools we use to design, develop and maintain websites and the digital products we create. Our first was on the Pingdom Website Speed Test.

We don’t claim to be a social media agency, or even social media gurus (especially since I personally hate that term – it’s filled with a ton of scammy service providers). When we’re working with our clients on their social media plans, we’re focusing on three things.

What social media services are right for your business? It doesn’t make sense to be on Instagram if you don’t have a visual business. It makes sense to focus on LinkedIn if you run a B2B business.

How can you set up your social media profiles for success? From Facebook Cover Photos to leveraging LinkedIn to understanding how users use Pinterest, it’s crucial to have a strong foundation if you want to get any return on investment for your social activities.

How can you use content to educate your customers and find new ones? Valuable content marketing attracts new customers and keeps your current ones informed; social media is a great distribution method for your content.

To manage our social media efforts, we use Sprout Social. Sprout provides a social media dashboard allowing us to integrate all of our linked social media accounts, prepare and schedule upcoming posts and tweets, respond to messages that come in, and generate reports about the effectiveness of our actions.

What We Like About Sprout Social

Here’s what we like about it.

  • New incoming messages (wall posts, retweets, @mentions and more) are separated out into an easy-to-use section, allowing us to engage with a user as quickly as possible.
  • Scheduling messages to multiple services at once is easy; rather than needing to go to each service and post or schedule, our prepared messages can simply be scheduled and sent on time.
  • Reporting shows trends and hits/misses with our content and promotions.

If you’d like to view all of your feeds mashed up together, Sprout also allows you to do that, so you don’t need to check in with every service individually.

Sprout is by no means the only social media dashboard available; there’s Hootsuite, Buffer and a bunch more. It is premium software, so we pay for it, but that’s to be expected for business social media software.

One of the downsides to Sprout is their inability to offer free, view-only accounts. We’d love to be able to give our clients an account that allows them to view their reports and trends with their own login information, but unfortunately Sprout would ask us to pay for an additional user to do that – not worth it, at least in my opinion (we can generate the reports instead).

Social Media is About Engagement, Not Marketing

One of the key things we’re always working hard to do is to make sure that our social media efforts are not simply us pushing out content; there’s already too much noise of people promoting their own stuff. You’ve got to spend time engaging; finding people who are talking about what you’re talking about and joining the conversation.

It’s called social media because the aim is to be social; not to yell and scream at everyone and hope someone listens. Keep that in mind next time you post.

Jason Unger
About Jason Unger
Jason Unger is the Founder of Digital Ink, the creative and digital team that builds brands and helps companies grow. Based outside of Washington, D.C., Jason has done it all, from website strategy, design, development, troubleshooting, maintenance, content and marketing.