Now that social media is being used more and more for business, it only makes sense that there is a need to measure the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Social media tools that can do this for you are popping up like weeds. Two of the more popular options are Sprout Social and TweetDeck. (We also have an article on Sprout Social vs Hootsuite.) Monitoring your social efforts can still be time consuming, especially if you’re busy running your business. Sprout Social, launched late last year, is available for a fee of $9 per month. TweetDeck was first launched by Twitter in 2008. The most recent version was released in 2011. It is free to use and download. Each service has its pros and cons. Here’s a look at how these two social media monitoring tools stack up.
What’s the Same?
Both TweetDeck and Sprout Social allow you to measure certain variables to keep track of your social media marketing efforts. Both allow you to schedule messages to be sent or posted at certain times. Both work on multiple platforms. TweetDeck was originally designed just to work with Twitter. It has since been tweaked to be compatible with MySpace, GoogleBuzz, LinkedIn, and FourSquare social networks. Both allow you to keep track of volume, as in how many messages are posted regarding your business. You can direct messages to multiple accounts with both TweetDeck and Sprout Social. Both services also allow you link your various accounts to your Facebook fan pages and LinkedIn accounts. This allows you to look at the activity you receive on each account to determine which platform is most effective for you. Both offer real-time stats.
Let’s say you want to track keywords and brand mentions. On TweetDeck you’ll get an individual column per search. While this information is handy, it does get a little confusing when you want more specific stats. You end up with so many columns that you can’t view them all without having to scroll over. Sprout Social, on the other hand, lets you total your searches into a single data stream and drill down to be more specific without ever leaving the main console. With either platform this feature comes in handy when trying to keep tabs on brand mentions, specific keywords or phrases. TweetDeck can help you schedule tweets for a later time, but Sprout Social allows you to see peak usage points to determine when it is best to schedule tweets and other social media interactions. With the average Facebook post only reaching 16% of your fans this information can be vital.
Tracking Accounts Spanning Multiple Platforms
While both services allow you to send messages across multiple platforms, what about tracking & comparing your success across these platforms? Sprout Social allows you to bring all your accounts to one place. This way you can toggle back and forth between multiple accounts and get a better idea of how you’re doing with each platform. This also allows you to see where you need to put more effort. With Sprout Social you can track details such as incoming message streams per platform. This gives you access to stats you need without having to jump around to get the same stats with TweetDeck.
Uses with Facebook
Both Sprout Social and TweetDeck work just fine with Facebook as far as creating links and connecting your other social networks. Both services help you keep track of your contacts with very little difficulty. However, TweetDeck will not accept your Facebook settings. You just get a blank screen and a bland color scheme. If you’re going by full compatibility, Sprout Social is the winner here, too.
Uses with Twitter
The real difference comes when you look at how both services work with Twitter. It would make sense that TweetDeck would work best with all things Twitter related since that’s what it was created for in the first place. For the most part, this is true. You will have no problem following multiple Twitter accounts with TweetDeck. You will get stats about tweets sent and received. You can also schedule tweets to be sent out at specific times. Sounds great, right? It depends on what you want to know about your business tweets. You can easily add a follower from your topic searches with TweetDeck. However, if you want to get more specific info on who is sending tweets in regards to your business, TweetDeck isn’t all that helpful. Most people using Twitter for business have their job title as part of their public profile. Unfortunately, TweetDeck doesn’t capture this info. Sprout Social’s People Search tool does. It also allows you to narrow down your prospects based on other details you choose to capture. You can even break it down by category. This makes connecting with the right demographic much easier, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of prospective leads. Want to target marketing directors of the engine manufacturing vertical? A few custom settings in Sprout Social and you’ll have a handy list of influential people you should connect with.
Manual Reporting and Sharing Data
Manual reporting is really the key to managing your social media. With TweetDeck, you can get the stats you need. However, you have to take those stats and create your own reports with a spreadsheet or other methods. Sprout Social, on the other hand, makes it very easy to generate elegant reports in PDF or functional .csv versions. You can get an instant glimpse of your progress right from your dashboard. Six widgets are at your disposal to give you facts such as who’s tweeting now and how many clicks you’re getting. You also get a social media scorecard that tallies all this data for you. There’s also a demographic widget, but there’s still a few kinks with it. Another big advantage of the Sprout Social platform is the ability to add team members. Once multiple users are involved it opens up a whole new world with features like assigning to-do’s to other users. This is great if you have a main social media expert who could listen to the social landscape and tag specific messages for sales or tech support.
Let’s review how the two stack up:
• Better if you have a continuous stream of tweets you need to manage
• Good for setting up a specific time to send tweets
• Better for stationary users who want to casually monitor business tweets
• New tweets stream into your profile
• Allows you to do posts longer than 140 characters
• Allows you to send messages to all your social channels
• Uses fewer system resources than similar tools
• Free service
• Better for scheduling bulk messages
• Better for combining stats from multiple platforms into various reports
• Good for determining what times are best for sending tweets and other messages
• Allows you to determine how productive our social channels are at any given moment
• Allows you to view your engagement numbers in real-time
• Allows you to toggle back and forth between multiple accounts
• View your incoming message stream from each platform
• Features for teams
• Pricing starts at less than $10 per month
If you’re not doing business on a large scale, TweetDeck is just fine. If you’re seriously diving into social media marketing on a large scale, however, it’s worth the monthly fee to use Sprout Social. Even with the glitch with the demographics feature, there are still plenty of ways to gather information and seperate it in a way that is useful. You can see what’s working – and what’s not. When you log in to Sprout Social you are greeted by the dashboard. You also get all your stats in one place on TweetDeck, but it’s not as easy to grasp all at once. There is still plenty of room for improvement with both services. TweetDeck will likely be available on more platforms as demand increases, while Sprout Social has already announced plans to add more in-depth analytics. If hard-pressed to declare a “winner” right now, Sprout Social comes out on top.
Winner = Sprout Social
If you’ve used either (or both) services we’d love to hear your thoughts.