Traditional forms of advertising are defined by posturing. After all, ads are expressions of a company’s ego. You beam your message out; customers are invited to come in.
Now that power dynamic’s eroding fast, and all thanks to social media.
Social media advertising is a big deal, and it’s far less concerned with projecting a brand image. Much more important is generating empathetic, transparent, and real connections with people.
And so we come to Sprout, a social relationship management CRM developed to meet radically changing customer expectations. Glassdoor, Vice, Penn University, and 24,000+ other brands use it. Should you, too?
Taking social media relationships seriously
When social media started to pick up serious user bases in the late 2000s, businesses slowly figured out that interacting with real people on the internet was a good idea. Now it’s more than a good idea - it’s a must.
Social media has evolved as a key platform for businesses to advertise and communicate with their public. With that comes intensified competition. Keeping pace with changes in online behavior is another challenge.
We all know the horrors of interacting with a customer service agent and receiving an unhelpful stock answer we could’ve read in an FAQ, or being forced to re-tell our case history over and over. When you’re a business in the age of relationships, providing unsatisfying interactions like these are increasingly akin to wishing for slow death.
Data indicates that a good interaction on social media will make someone up to 71% more likely to buy something from you. Conversely, a bad interaction can result in your being blackballed, with a 23% chance they’ll never come back.
To make sure your interactions actually help your business grow, Sprout takes aim at facilitating consistently informed, positive interactions.
Sprout aims for transparency
In 2018, Sprout CEO Justyn Howard was named top CEO on Glassdoor for American companies with less than 1,000 employees for the second year in a row. His approval rating on that site stands at an almost inconceivable 99%. I mean doesn’t anyone hate this guy, even just a teensy-weensy bit?
Anyway, it seems the Chicago-based company really knows how to manage social relationships internally. That definitely bumps up the confidence of the rest of us thinking of using their platform.
Like any good social media management suite, Sprout’s most basic value is in aggregating posts from multiple social channels. But it uses this feed to power a uniquely holistic platform designed to tackle all the social media needs under the sun, from social marketing, social media management and customer care to reputation management, analytics, and social listening.
The platform also provides flexible, intuitive workflow/collaboration tools and a platform for employee advocacy, so your team can coordinate for best practice, generating further value.
As is de rigueur these days, Sprout is available as both a web and mobile-based app, so you can run multiple social channels out of one box from the office, the homestead, or the subway car stuck between stations.
Smart integrations with Zendesk, HubSpot, and UserVoice expand its scope of operations. Social and support teams can work across platforms within the same dashboard, which saves time and prevents miscommunications and redundancies.
But Sprout offers something new with its social CRM.
Sprout automatically generates a record of all the people that follow you, handing what may well be golden information to marketing and sales. Having visibility across your business on customers also feeds a culture of accountability, and hey, that’s good too.
An easy on the eyes experience
When you boot Sprout up for the first time, you’ll find a delightfully clean and fresh user interface, with a dashboard sensibly divided between Messages, Tasks, Feed, Publishing, Discovery, and Reports. In unison, these tools provide the means for maintaining and growing your user base.
Sprout is touted as “built to scale”, adaptable across the spectrum of businesses: from small and medium-size to enterprises and agencies. One of the ways it does this in practice is its flexible way of organizing teams and social media profiles with Groups.
The Groups feature lets you organize teams and set their scope of responsibilities, providing for easy reporting and social media profile management. Set up a group, then link ‘social profiles’, meaning a social media platform your business uses - FYI you’ll need a Facebook or Twitter account to create a new group. Then you invite individual team members and set their permissions.
After that, you can use Sprout to handle engagement on the relevant platform associated with the Group, publish posts, and receive data for analytics.
By starting and monitoring conversations across social media channels, you’ll be able to move fast, seizing on opportunities and quickly defusing grievances before they morph into crises. With a total view of each contact to inform your conversations, you’ll be able to respond to tickets like a champ every time.
Growing your Sprout
The customer journey is as non-linear as it’s ever been - the public is bombarded with choices, and hyper-connected to their own social circles. As a consequence, people are much more likely to come upon your product from peer-to-peer recommendations, as opposed to direct advertising. They’ve also become crazy picky.
Unfortunately for our pocketbooks, that means social media management is now a crucial business investment. Sprout might just fit your needs.
Fortunately, there’s a free trial available for the Premium version. Afterward, the platform is $99/month. The more expansive corporate and enterprise packages will set you back $149 and $249/month respectively.