When I started my current job I did a major reserach of social media monitoring tools.
I'm a big fan of aggregating content and having it on one place and being able to handle various accounts from the same base camp.
However it quickly turned into a nightmare trying out tools and discovering that my dads words "There is nothing called cheap" were true.
You get what you pay for, as always.
In my opinion there are 3 levels of these tools, and nothing in between, except for ONE; Sprout Social
These levels are: Free tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Rowfeeder e.t.c. The free
tools have one advantage, they're free. But just as I hesitate picking the cheapest tomatoes in the super market, I seriously doubt low prices. "Something's gotta be bad".
Free tools don't give you the amount of content availible online and they usually dont filter the relevant stuff.
They don't offer reporting, the ability to export data and create nice graphs that will make your boss think he understands social media.
In the middle level you find tools that have a price tag of in between 100-200 eur. These are usually tools that try to offer the same as the highlevel tools (600-1000 eur/month) but again, there is no cheap, something's gotta go.
I used PeopleBrowser for a while. Started out well and I liked it, until they raised the price tag from 70 eur to 400(!)
In my opinion what puts me off with many tools is the complexity and the technical failures that keep happening. They're often not stabil enough, you need to reload the page, sign in and out 10 times for them to get your data well. The interface is usually complex because they try to fit in as much as possible to show they offer an advanced tool with many of the same features as the Radian 6 or Meltwater Buzz tools.
To me it's about sophistication and simplicity.
Rather a few great things than many OK things.
So what does Sprout Social offer me that was different?
First of all there integration of Google Reader inside the tool. Can I just say one thing: Brilliant!
Gone are the days of copy paste links, importing them into hootsuite and then programming them into Tweets.
Above each news piece there is an "Expand" and "Share" button. Click share and program that tweet instantaneously.
Next thing I love is the Discovery tab. Here I set up my searches and can join conversations in the matter on a click, answer questions from people searching for my product or simply monitoring what people are saying.
The Report Tab is my Friday friend (Fridays I calculate the weekly KPI's). This is a great place to get a quick answer to the number of Mentions, Retweets and other valuable information. You pick the date range yourself and everything just WORKS and works WELL.
The MESSAGE tab has a neat feature under the Sent message sub tab which lets you see how many have clicked or engaged with your Tweets.
These are just a few things that make Sprout Social a great tool. Add to that a fantastic customer service center that helps you faster than you could ever expect.
I'm based in Spain and despite the time difference they always answer within a few minutes. I haven't even mentioned the iPhone app that works superb...
Price? For 2 "seats" (administrators) and the Delux plan we end up with a bill of around 80 usd/month. Well worth it!