The regular old Twitter client on your Android phone is fine for basic updates, but what if you’re using social networks for a small business and you need more features? What if you need to handle multiple accounts and manage different teams of workers? Thankfully, there are more than a few alternatives out there.
Sprout Social has been around as a web-based desktop client for some time now, they’ve also offered an iOS app. Now, they’ve updated us with an Android application to let you better “manage your social media on the go.” This is a companion app for users of Sprout Social, so you’ll need to start with an account there first.
A Sprout Social Overview
It’s clear right from the beginning that Sprout Social is catering itself to business owners, particularly those where there are multiple team members working on the same social media accounts. The core service is designed to give you more information for sales, marketing, and support, as well as that collaborative experience for everyone on your social media team.
You can manage mutliple social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, complete with analytics, monitoring, top performing posts, publishing options, discovery features, task assignment, CRM, and location information. That last bit is interesting, because you can keep tabs on Foursquare locations for check-in data and trends, which is great for brick and mortar businesses.
Navigating the Mobile App
But what about the new Android app?
Everything is laid out in a relatively easy to understand manner, allowing you group together different Twitter accounts into workgroups. From there, you can see the main home feed as well as access your sent updates, look at tasks, and so on. Everything that you’ve come to expect from a Twitter client is here, though I would have liked the ability to “swipe” from column to column rather than simply tapping on the icons near the top.
When composing a new message you can choose which social media accounts you’d like to use (that’s the left column). There are also options to attach images (it defaults to a low-res image to yfrog) and schedule your tweets into the future. Unfortunately, just like HootSuite, there does not appear to be a way to check your scheduled tweets from within the mobile app; you have to go to the web-based desktop client to see that.
The tasks and statistics are available to you, though, so you can see how many clicks and retweets you are getting from your sent messages, for instance. The team management function is great too, since you can assign tasks to team members for following up.
The Smart Inbox
The primary column in the Sprout Social Android app is the Smart Inbox. Again, clearly designed with businesses in mind, this allows you to monitor everything that has to do with your company and your brand from one convenient location. The criteria can be customized, but it effectively lets you see all the mentions and activity related to you across mutliple services.
For instance, I named the workgroup “Mobile Magazine” and linked up my @dotcompho Twitter account. As you can see in the screenshot, it picked up the tweets that mentioned “Mobile Magazine,” as well as the mention directed at @dotcompho. This one inbox gives you an “at a glance” survey of how the social web is responding to your brand(s).
How Much Does It Cost?
Ah, there’s the rub. While the Android app is free, using Sprout Social is not.
Each of these comes with a free 30 day trial with no credit card required, but there is no “free” plan that can be used with Sprout Social. The plans range from $9/month to $899/month, offering anywhere from 10 social profiles to unlimited profiles. The cheapest plan supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Reader, while the higher end includes Foursquare and Google Analytics, as well as local search, task assignments, Facebook tabs, branded reports, and more.
I’m not sure that Sprout Social is quite the right fit for the regular old consumer, but its robust feature set — particularly with monitoring and analytics — and could prove invaluable to businesses of all sizes.