I spoke to Alex Chang, VerticalResponse's VP of Social Platform. According to Chang, the chief advantage of VerticalResponse is that it was created for small-business professionals who think that they don't have the time for social media and are not tech-savvy. Regardless of your tech knowledge, the service's marriage of email and social media campaigns and its content-library creation feature are both huge timesavers, although the tool does feel pared down to users who are more technically inclined. Despite that minor quibble, VerticalResponse packs the most features in for the best price among the five services here, especially since it permits you to ditch any separate email newsletter service you've been using.
Cost: VerticalResponse Social is $18 per month.
Next Page: Sprout Social, Sendible, and Postling
Sprout Social's major advantages over other social media management tools lie in its user interface and in its detailed but easy-to-understand reports. I also like its ability to assign tasks to team members, as well as its "Smart Inbox," which collects all your social media messages (Twitter mentions and direct messages, Facebook mentions and messages, and LinkedIn messages) in an organized inbox that you can manage from one dashboard.
Sprout's feedback is also extremely useful. After you set up your account, it pulls together your follower demographics within 24 hours, and it tells you what you could be doing better. As an analytics junkie, I find this feature to be my favorite part of Sprout Social by far, but other users will appreciate how easy to navigate the Sprout tool is. Sprout's lack of a tie-in with email marketing is notable, especially if you've tried out VerticalResponse's tool.
Cost: The Small Biz plan, which supports up to 20 social profiles, costs $39 per month. The Deluxe plan includes a maximum of 40 social profiles and costs $59 per month. The Premium plan offers unlimited profile maintenance at a cost of $899 per month.
Sendible drills down on various tasks, giving you the choice of posting to your Facebook personal-page photo album, posting notes to your Facebook page or profile, posting items to a LinkedIn Group or your LinkedIn status, and so on. This attention to specific actions saves you a lot of time, and it makes Sendible's cost over other tools well worth the investment for businesses that use social media more aggressively.
Monitoring social media for business-relevant keywords and managing your social media presence are a natural fit, and Sendible has married the two tasks well, giving you the ability to create custom email alerts for key terms such as your company name. You can send email from within the tool, as well, although Sendible does not integrate email and social media into one comprehensive campaign as VerticalResponse does.
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