By Angie Dunnigan
Whether you’re an individual or a small business, a social media management solution is an essential tool for success. It can help you keep your various social accounts organized, publish and schedule posts, and view valuable analytics on how content is performing.
Of all the tools on the market, two stand out. Undoubtedly the most popular one is Hootsuite, which was the first product of its kind when it arrived in 2008. Today, Hootsuite has a self-proclaimed 10+ million users in 175+ countries. Sprout Social, founded in 2010, is Hootsuite’s major competitor, though it has a much smaller user base.
So, which social media management tool is best for your needs? Here are answers to your most burning questions when it comes to Hootsuite vs. Sprout Social.
Which social media management tools is best for your small business's needs.
How much do they cost?
A major pro for Hootsuite is that it has a very robust free version. This includes management of up to three social profiles, basic analytics and scheduling, and basic app integrations.
The next plan up, Hootsuite Pro, costs an affordable $9.99 per month and includes up to 50 social profiles, bulk message scheduling, and one enhanced analytics report. It also allows for up to 10 users to access the account – a nice capability for collaborative businesses.
Rather than offering a free plan, Sprout Social provides a free 30-day trial for all of its paid plans (with no credit card required). The Deluxe plan costs $59 per user per month and includes management of up to five profiles, a content calendar, and unlimited analytics reports.
While it certainly costs more than Hootsuite – especially if you need access for more than one user – Sprout Social does offer more advanced features to start.
How easy are they to use?
As someone who has used both Hootsuite and Sprout Social, I find the Sprout interface to be much more intuitive and streamlined. It has a standard navigation bar at the top of the dashboard and each social account has its own folder. Now, some people still find Sprout’s multitude of features overwhelming, but that’s easily solved by the company’s top-notch customer service. All users, from free trial on up, are assigned a personal rep to help get them started.
On the other hand, Hootsuite’s interface can be confusing, especially for new users. Each social account has its own column (called a stream) accessible by a tab or dropdown menu. Since all the columns are side by side, it can be easy to accidentally publish content to the wrong account (this mistake is impossible with Sprout). Of course, many people find Hootsuite easy to use once they get accustomed to the interface.
What features are included (or not)?
Both Hootsuite and Sprout offer all the major social media management features: monitoring, publishing, scheduling, analytics, and multiple social accounts and users. But each has its own deficiencies.
For Sprout, the major deficiency is real-time monitoring. It sends real-time notifications, but does not provide updated feeds. Hootsuite, of course, provides those automatically updated streams for each social profile.
On the other hand, if you want robust reporting capabilities, Sprout is the best choice. Its analytics are incredibly streamlined and detailed, and the monthly plan fee covers all reports. Hootsuite provides more basic reporting features – for paid plans only, not the free version – and users are charged per report, which can get very expensive if you’re seeking data on several different social accounts.
Sprout is also the better choice for collaboration, offering fast, seamless assignment of tasks. Hootsuite’s free version allows for task assignments as well, but the collaborative function is pretty basic.
And the ultimate question: Which solution do I recommend?
Obviously, both Hootsuite and Sprout Social have their pros and cons. But simply based on its superior user experience and functionality, I recommend Sprout Social. It’s my solution of choice, and I think it’s a great option for any business.
Of course, the caveat is that Sprout Social costs considerably more – especially if the free version of Hootsuite already meets your needs. If you absolutely need a free or low-cost solution, Hootsuite is a fine choice. Otherwise, I think you will find Sprout Social to be a worthwhile investment for your small business.