social media toolsIf you’re running social media efforts for your business, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve at least tried a free monitoring tool like TweetDeck.

But new social media management tools are popping up like weeds and a couple of them might end up being roses. One new such tool is

Here are the 7 ways to tell if you’re ready to graduate from TweetDeck.

#1: Social media monitoring is eating up a lot of your time

Time is money, as they say, and although TweetDeck is handy, its functionality is limited to the few things it does well.

SproutSocial was launched last November and represents a big step up in terms of performance for a modest monthly fee of $9/month—a fee you may or may not be ready to pay.

Among the many things I like about SproutSocial, an elegantly designed browser-based “social media management” tool, is its ability to save you time on multiple fronts:

  • Providing an inbox that combines your multiple social streams and then allows you to respond or flag messages for follow-up
  • Making it easy to automatically post your RSS feed from your blog to your Twitter accounts
  • Helping you to remember the names of the people you follow by auto-suggesting their handles after you type the @ sign
  • Scheduling recurring messages easily but without being annoying

Creating a recurring message on SproutSocial is quick and easy.

#2: Social media has become a good source of competitive data

Let’s assume you’ve decided to track a number of keywords and phrases via individual TweetDeck columns. At some point, you’ll end up adding too many columns to view them all with ease on one screen.

With SproutSocial, you can aggregate your searches into one data stream, allowing you to see who’s tweeting about you, your competition and your category. You can also search by company name, which allows you to find which of your competitors are tweeting and the size of their following.


This shows an aggregated stream of tweets by individual keywords and phrases selected by the user.

#3: You want to know when is the best time to tweet your particular topic

Though TweetDeck can help you schedule tweets for a later time, it isn’t much help figuring out the ideal time to do so.

Using SproutSocial’s keyword search frequency analyzer, I noticed, for example, that one of my topics of interest, “social media expert,” was mentioned most on Sunday, suggesting that some prospects were in planning mode on the weekends.


You can analyze keyword frequency by time of day and by day of the week.

I also noticed that my other key topics bunched up during the business hours of 12-6pm, suggesting this might be the best time to engage. SproutSocial also helps you assess frequency of tweets by people and by business—another bit of knowledge that could improve the efficiency of your efforts.

#4: You’re wondering how you’re doing compared to others

TweetDeck is like a nifty broadcast center, making it easy to send messages to all your social channels. But among its many shortcomings is its inability to assess how your social program is performing relative to current best practices.

This is one of the areas in which SproutSocial shines, providing scores for both engagement and influence right on your dashboard. Better yet, by following up with items in your inbox, you can watch your engagement numbers improve, making you even more confident that your social media time is well spent.

sprout social dashboard

The SproutSocial dashboard provides a score for both engagement and influence, which gives you a sense of how you're doing relative to others.

#5: You’re managing multiple accounts across multiple channels

If you’re a TweetDeck user, you already know the advantages of being able to direct the same message to multiple accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. But wouldn’t it be great if you could also get a snapshot of how you’re doing across these platforms and toggle back and forth between various accounts?

This is one of my favorite features of SproutSocial, which makes it very easy to add Twitter accounts and then link these to Facebook fan pages and LinkedIn accounts. By bringing these accounts to one place, you can also look at your incoming message streams from each platform, again saving valuable time.


Your inbox on SproutSocial allows you to monitor your feeds from multiple sources, which you can also do on the Chrome browser version of TweetDeck, but not the desktop application that most people use.

#6: You’d like to share progress reports with someone else

Manual reporting is the bane of any of social media manager and TweetDeck offers no relief from this grind. SproutSocial, on the other hand, makes the creation of dazzling reports almost embarrassingly easy.

Starting with your dashboard, you’ll find an instant snapshot of your progress, with six widgets covering things like Twitter stats, most recent clicks and your social scorecard. All of these reports can be turned into PDFs that are easily shared.

The only widget that didn’t work for me was the demographic, which SproutSocial CEO Justyn Howard called a “work in progress [that] will get more reliable in the next few weeks.”

sprout report

Fully customizable by time frame, this report examines my progress on Twitter over a 30-day period, looking at engagement, influence and message type.

#7: You’ve decided you really want to get leads from Twitter

While TweetDeck makes it easy to add a follower from your topic searches, it offers little help when it comes to identifying the titles of the folks who make up your best leads. This is one of the areas that SproutSocial truly shines.

Because many people put their job title into their public profile on Twitter, using SproutSocial’s “People Search” tool allows you to select the titles of your best prospects. You can also add additional contact info to the leads you track, making following up on those leads that much easier.


SproutSocial makes it easy to find potential leads by searching profiles by particular title. This shows the results of my search for "senior marketers" on Twitter.

Final Note:

Just so you don’t think this is an ad for SproutSocial, let me assure you I have no relationship with this company in any way. I also looked at a bunch of other tools like MarketMeSuite, which got good reviews from others but I found it to be so poorly designed that I simply gave up after a couple of hours.

After using SproutSocial for six weeks, I can assure you that there’s still plenty of room for improvement. “We’ll be adding more in-depth analytics, team workflow and white label offerings in the near future,” Howard explained. The good news is that they seem to understand the importance of customer service and responded to my emails and online inquiries with remarkable speed.

Howard also noted that most of his prospects are using free tools and like you, are currently weighing the potential benefits of “business-specific tools to enhance their efforts.” Which begs the question, would you be willing to pay $9 per month to substantially improve and easily track the performance of your social media efforts? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

You can also check out the Top 5 Most Indispensable Twitter Tools for Marketers here.

Do you use free social media monitoring tools? What are your thoughts on TweetDeck and SproutSocial? Please leave your comments in the box below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 480,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...
  • Never really a fan of either simply because they lack functionality in my opinion. Always have used #HootSuite for the most part.

  • Just a question: why you didn’t add Hootsuite to the comparision? Any reason?

  • Drew Neisser

    Felt like Hootsuite had been well covered in previous SME posts.

  • Although Hootsuite has previously been covered here and on many other blogs, I agree that it would be great and really beneficial to compare with SproutSocial and Tweetdeck especially since Hootsuite has just released a new version. I’m also a Hoosuite user but would consider switching if there’s something better.

  • Andrai

    I have tried many including Hootsuite, and maybe it’s just personal preference, but I like Sproutsocial the best. After the free trial, I had no problem paying the $9 for the amount of time saved. There are a couple reporting bugs, but overall it’s pretty smooth. Also support is responsive. I wish they had an iphone app also.

  • Hey Drew! Glad to hear you are liking Sprout Social and thanks for including us in your “head to head comparison” with TweetDeck.

  • Great point. Let me check with the editors at SME about a head to head comparison btw Sprout and HootSuite. Perhaps other commenters will bring more insight to this discussion. One thing for sure, once you get comfortable with one of these tools, it is very hard to switch. Also, I still use TweetDeck quite a bit, so I don’t think it is a question of either or but rather adding tools to your overall tool kit.

  • Thanks for the article Drew!

    @Andrai Just wanted to let you know the iPhone app is definitely in the works! I’ve seen the designs and its tempting me to drop my Android.

    @Genevieve – I encourage you to sign up for our free 30-day trial to go ahead and see if Sprout Social is best for you. I’ll happily answer any questions you may have too!

  • I’ve been using HootSuite (paid) for awhile now, but was not happy with their “upgrade” to the analytics, which makes a lot of information super expensive (plus they temporarily removed the individual URL reports). I’ve been testing SproutSocial for about 3 weeks now and I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve seen. While I agree that it needs improvement, there are a lot of great measurements and metrics that are available for $9/month (vs $50 per report per month with HootSuite). I also like that you can have 5 different profiles for $9/month, so you can get information for at least a few clients fairly inexpensively. At this point, I’m most likely going to pay for at least the $9/month account and see how much I use the information.

  • Hi Drew – I manage multiple Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn accounts and your post caught my eye. I’ve been using TweetDeck because it makes updating the multiple profiles easy and I’ve never had a problem with it. After reading your post, I think you’ve convinced me to “graduate” and at least look into Sprout Social! Thanks for the push! 🙂

  • I’ve used/use TweetDeck/Hootsuite/SproutSocial, my favorite for managing clients accounts by far and away is SproutSocial. I’ve been with SproutSocial for a little of 6 weeks. The reports, ability to I agree they have some room for improvement, in particular making it easier to share articles I’m reading (think hootlet).
    For real time discussions I still prefer TweetDeck. The $9 a month is well worth it.

  • Great post, good and fair :). We use hootsuite and Sprout Social Business in parallel. As a marketing firm we need more than just what either can provide by themselves so the combo of the two works well for us. Since we’ve been using Sprout we see enhancements happening all the time. So I have great confidence that they will continue to get better and better. A feature that we love that isn’t mentioned here, probably bec. you only get it with the Biz accounts, is the Foursquare and Gowalla management. We get alerted of checkins, can follow or interact with Foursquare users who are on Twitter straight from Sprout, get Foursquare usage reporting and can even watch competitors’ store locations…

  • is by far the best, hands down!

  • I just recently finished my 30-day trial period with SproutSocial and I’m missing its analytics features. Personally, I like having TweetDeck running on my desktop to occasionally scroll down any relevant tweets and quickly respond or retweet them. Considering TweetDeck is free, I think I’ll continue using both simultaneously and make the $10 SproutSocial investment for analytics and discovery features. Both are phenomenal tools and after testing out more than six different platforms, I think I’ve found my perfect combo for managing my ad agency’s (and my personal) social media.

    Looking forward to SproutSocial’s features and I must agree – they have excellent customer service.

  • What do you like most about HootSuite? What are its capabilities?

  • HootSuite 🙂

  • Yasmin Bendror

    Drew, thanks for bringing my attention to SproutSocial and in depth overview. I gave up on TweetDeck and only use HootSuite. But I really want to try SproutSocial for the points you mention above, and everyone’s comments. Yes – can you do a head to head comparison btw Sprout and HootSuite…that would be great, save us so much time 😉

  • Perhaps it is merely me being at the beginning of a very steep learning curve, Hootsuite did not seem to differentiate my personal pages from my corporate pages, nor could I seek to monitor my LinkedIn group only (which is private). It is suggested that SrpoutSocial may be able to achieve this, but I do not have different accounts in each channel, I just use them for both personal and work – can it help, or do I really need to set up more than one account in each channel?

  • Andrai, what made you stay with Sproutsocial instead of Hootsuite?

  • Sazbean, apart from the money issue, as a tool itself (in terms of navigation, easy use, programming, etc) which one do you like best?

  • Andrai

    I think it boils down to personal preference for the interface. I just found Hootsuite to be visually overwhelming. I honestly gave them both a shot, and just went with the one I found myself preferring to use.

  • I still like HootSuite for day-to-day scheduling of posts, monitoring and conversations. I think SproutSocial is going to more useful on the analytics & measurement side, especially for figuring out how specific promotions and campaigns are working out, as well as improving strategies and tactics.

  • This looks like a fine tool, but it does not address the #1 question that social media marketers are being asked today which is “What is the ROI of our social media?” You can use SocialEye to both manage multiple enterprise social media accounts AND to calculate its ROI, using both online and real-world ($$) metrics.

  • Based on your recommendation, I started the SproutSocial trial and I like it so far. It looks like the only monitoring is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn….are there other networks in the upgrade? I would really like to monitor our YouTube channel as well. thx!

  • Like the review of SproutSocial, and will go and sign up for it immediately. I’ve used Tweetdeck and Hootsuite up till now, and although Hootsuite has recently added more services, it still isn’t comprehensive enough for me…

  • Thanks for the great article and all your fabulous tips!

    My biggest gripe with all of them is that they advertise themselves through a logo stamp at the end of all Facebook posts…even when you’re paying to use them! I’m fine with self-promotion when I’m using a free service, but once I pay for the privilege, I expect little ads to stop. The only one that I’ve found which is ad-free is MarketMeSuite…and I know they’re really trying hard to improve it…but, as of right now, I’m not a big fan. (LaterBro is ad-free too, but it’s not a SM manager.) To me, Hootsuite is far better than Tweetdeck or Flock (although I haven’t tried Sprout yet). But I just can’t live with the stamped ad at the end of posts. I’m definitely open to any suggestions anyone has…I’ve been searching so hard for the perfect social media manager that doesn’t self-promote…and I don’t mind paying, not at all! Thanks for the input everyone!

  • Thanks for the post! I use Hootsuite at the moment, but I am starting my Sprout Social free trial right now! I have been looking into upgrading my account or finding another tool I am willing to pay for, so this might be exactly what I have been looking for. I will let you know!

  • Olssonkb

    I have used Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. I think that Hoosuite is far superior to Tweetdeck, but there are a couple of things that frustrate me about Hootsuite that you should know before signing the dotted line..

    1) Hootsuite does not have free webinars, tutorials, whitepapers/helpful resources that enrich your experience using the platform. I have the PREMIUM package and had to teach myself how to use Hootsuite. They encourage you to take expensive “Hootsuite University” classes which you basically pay on a monthly basis to have access to information that you should have had access to in the first place.

    2)If you have any technical problems with your account, forget about getting swift technical support. They use Twitter as a vehicle to answer almost all technical support questions which is inefficient and frustrating for the end user. Sometimes they dont even answer your question and you are lucky if you do get a response.

    3)The new Analytics dashboard is the old bait and switch. you get to demo all of these interesting reporting vehicles, come to find out you have to pay for them. Some of the reports do not even refresh with new metrics to reflect most recent posts.

  • Eva

    I am new to using social media management. I volunteer to update Social Network for several non-profits in which I am involved. Would I need an account for each one of these non-profits? Currently, I update each one “by hand.” (i.e. twitter, linkedin, fb & wordpress website) thank you in advance.

  • Karla

    I’m looking forward to exploring SocialSprout’s analytics. I like TweetDeck & Hootsuite but have been mainly using Postling. It tracks people’s comments and posts on my postings very easily.

  • HI Rebecca,

    Let me see if I can explain how “identities” are defined within Sprout Social. For now, an identity starts off with a Twitter account to which you are able to add a Facebook profile and/or fan pages. You can also add a LinkedIn profile page (LinkedIn does not allow us to monitor group/busines pages.) This identity can also monitor Foursquare and Gowalla accounts if connected through the Sprout Social business plan.

    When everything is linked into Sprout Social properly, you will not need to log out to monitor or post to these various networks

    I hope that this has answered your questions. Please let me know if I can help with any clarifications.


  • Hello Elisa,

    Sprout Social does not monitor Youtube at the moment but it definitely a feature on our road map.

    Question: What are you looking to monitor on your YouTube channel?


  • Thanks for giving us a try Matt! Just let us know if you need any help…

  • Hi Eva,

    Depending on how many NFPs you take care of, you’ll be able to monitor and post from them via Sprout Social. With the Professional plan, you can take care of 5 identities. With the business plan, its up to 10. When you start your trial, you can upgrade or down grade for free.

    Also, we have special pricing for non-for-profits, if you’d like more information on that please email us at support at before your trial is over.

    I hope that helps. Just ask if you’ve got any other questions.


  • Drew Neisser

    Thanks for all the great comments. There seem to be some diehard Hootsuite fans out there which is great. Whatever works for you is fine by me. For those of you who end up trying SproutSocial, feel free to circle back and let us all know what you find out.

  • Hi Kathy,

    I can address this from the point of Sprout Social. Those stamps are necessary as a 3rd party app in Facebook. In an attempt to make our stamp less OUT THERE, we’ve faded ours quite a bit. They aren’t little ads for us. Personally, I think its a way for FB to let everyone know the path of the source of information on each person’s news feed.

    I hope that clarifies things…at least from our perspective. Let me know if I can answer any other questions about Sprout Social for you.

  • Hey Louis – do you happen to know who’s behind SocialEye? I’m always wary of sites that have their home page set to a squeeze page. I appreciate there are links in the footer. I actually recently came across this site and downloaded the white paper. Just curious if you’ve used the service?

  • Scott

    It certainly did sound like an advertisement to me….pretty blatant too. Then when you try and show you are not being biased by mentioning another product you bag the $%^& out of it.

    I don’t want to know how it compares to a free program, it should be much much better, but how does it compare with the paid version of Hootesuite? That will tell us something we don’t know.

    I’d be interested to here about that coz i currently use Hootesuite.
    BTW, the product sounds very good but if you didn’t want to look biased you needed to do a better job than mentioning one other product that you hate and comparing a paid product to a free one.

  • Tobenbassat

    Yes, I use SproutSocial and love it. The tool is not expensive, easy to navigate and allows me to share progress reports with my teams. I can monitor with TweetDeck and that’s all.

  • I will check it out, thanks for the info. Once ive checked it, ill compare to TD and hootsuite. I currently use both.

  • Pingback: Today’s Socail Media Links March 18, 2011 | Marketing()

  • Fabio

    Hello, just a question. Is it possible to manage multiples facebbok/twitter acconut at the same time? I mean if a company has different identities and brands could Sproutsocial manage it togheter and crossing results? I hope I’ve been clear… Let me know thanks! Fabio

  • Do you have an example of what your footer looks like in action? You can send me a link to view it @theonlineclose. One thing that MMS does differently with its footer is that it allows you to create your own custom footer text and link so that you’re not promoting the software.

  • Drew Neisser

    Yes it is. You can set up multiple Twitter accounts on SproutSocial and then link each of them to specific Facebook pages. It is quite convenient. Your inbox will then include feeds from both your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

  • Another vote for hootsuite! The only thing missing in Hootsuite is proper Linkedin management, pretty basic!

  • Thanks for the post. Totally agree with everyone else about a SproutSocial/HootSuite comparison post.

    Also, a full comparison chart would be useful to help users visualize the strengths and weaknesses of each tool.

  • Really digging Hootsuite combined with right now.

  • CraigEYaris

    I have been using, and paying for, Hootsuite for some time now, and have found it easy to use. However, I am very upset over the bait and switch analytics I’ve encountered. They offer many reports, but if you really want to use them, they cost $50.00 per report (it seems).

    I am now trying out Sprout Social, to see how it compares.

  • Hi Tessa – just to mention that I signed up for SproutSocial for the trial, and am just spending some time familiarising myself with it. Looking good so far though! Thanks!

  • Christopher Roberts

    Thanks for this article. I’m a little late to comment, but… I’ve just been reviewing the feature set of Sendible and I’d be grateful for any feedback from the author (or from Tessa_at_…) about how these two products compare. It seems that I can manage (many) more accounts and platforms at the same price point via Sendible. Is SproutSocial planning to grow beyond the ten account limit? Also, it’s my impression that Sendible is meant to cover as much of one’s social media presence as possible, whereas SproutSocial is first and foremost a Twitter tool. Having said that, my quick test of the SproutSocial look and feel was quite
    pleasing — I’d love to have an excuse to use it! Thanks.

  • Mari! Fancy seeing you here. Hope all is well in SD!

  • Hi Christopher – we certainly have a slant towards Twitter and Facebook on Sprout Social, as that’s where the majority of our users spend their time. We also support Linked In, Foursquare, Website monitoring, etc. We’ll be continuing to expand our offering, but want to offer the richest experience possible with the most widely used platforms before we dive to deep into the others. That said, I think you’ll find it’s a well rounded tool – look forward to hearing about your experience with it.

    Justyn Howard
    Sprout Social

  • Look forward to hearing how Sprout Social works out for you Craig. As you know, reporting is included in our flat monthly fees.

  • Christopher Roberts

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ll definitely experiment with the trial. I should probably (like others here) embrace the idea that these tools aren’t “either/or” but complementary.

  • Just signed up for Sprout Social after the 1 month trial. It was a no brainer. Great site, easy to use, and beautiful graphs make for impressive reports for clients.

  • I currently use Hoot Suite and have been looking for a better solution. Thanks for the info I am going to check it out.

  • Wow! I just realized I’m actually IN Tip #3 – how cool is that!

    Great comparison post Drew, even though I may be a little biased as to which tool I prefer 😉

    Cheers and thanks!

    Don Power
    Managing Editor
    Sprout Social: Insights Blog
    aka @Sprout_Insights

  • Jude Brown

    Hi Tessa,

    I realize for $50/month (business) we are asking a ton but my options are $600/month/client using Radian6 or $50/month using Sprout (which from an agency standpoint destroys Hootsuite due to the implementation of identities).

    The one huge thing I don’t get from sprout is the monitoring of keywords across the literally millions of blogs, sites, etc out there. Radian6 does this very well and the clients I am attracting want this sort of brand protection and monitoring. I wouldn’t expect this for $50/month but it seems that maybe $600/month is a little high.

    My two cents!

  • Jude Brown

    Speaking of Radian6…..this is not a Sprout Social monitored channel – what software do you guys use to monitor your brand name?

  • @twitter-26846166:disqus Were you asking me? I use Sprout Social 😉

  • Hi Jude,

    Here’s a link to how to look for web mentions in Sprout Social. Its in the Discovery feature.

    Let me know if I can help with any other questions.
    Thanks, Tessa

  • MarketMeSuite

    Hi Drew,

    Usually I’m pretty on the ball but I missed this post. I’m glad I found it though. I’d like to issue you a challenge. Try MarketMeSuite in its current form. We’ve made some major improvements between March and now. We’ve launched our own photo sharing system, free users with permission levels… a lot. 

    Tweet me and I’ll set you up with an account to play with.

    Thanks for the mention though – you know what they say about no publicity being bad publicity. 😉

    ~Tammy, CEO @MarketMeSuite:twitter 

  • Tammy Kahn Fennell

    Hey Drew, just updating the comment thread to let everyone know they can try MarketMeSuite free now:

  • Pingback: Minnesota Social Media Consulting and Twitter’s Potential for Businesses - Minnesota SEO Services | Optimize Guys | Brainerd, Mn | Minnesota SEO Services | Optimize Guys | Brainerd, Mn()

  • Pingback: Which is Better for Social Media Monitoring: TweetDeck or SproutSocial? | e1evation()

  • Beth M. Wood

    Really glad to have found this post!  I have been testing Sprout Social for about 2 weeks now.  I’ve tested Tweetdeck, Twitbird and Hootsuite in the past and was either over or underwhelmed.  I find myself really enjoying Sprout Social – not only is it very easy to use, but it gives me useful information in one spot, allows me to toggle back and forth between social applications and saves me a great deal of time in reporting.  Everyone else I’ve spoken with – both offline and in public forms (i.e. LinkedIn groups) has disagreed with me – seems that Hootsuite is the clear winner, so I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with me!  This confirms that I’m not alone in my preference for Sprout Social…and I’m in no way affiliated with the company either.  Thanks for the share!

  • Pingback: Reviews of Nine Social Media Monitoring Tools « 2012 American Semester Program on New Media()

  • Pingback: Click. Industry Insights from Red Door Interactive | Red Door Interactive()