Bonus Materials: “How to Choose a Social Media Management Solution” ebook

Are you looking into using Sprout Social for your social media management needs and wondering just how much it actually costs you?

We’ve got the information you need from hours of research.

Like you, we’re highly motivated to find out the true cost and value of using Sprout Social. As one of Sprout Social’s competitors, we have a deep understanding of Sprout Social’s pricing plans—and the real value for one’s money. Knowing those details helps us better position ourselves.

This article is about Sprout Social pricing and how much it actually costs based on your specific needs.

You most likely have already gone through Sprout Social’s pricing page. So, in this article, we uncover the pricing information NOT found on that page.

After all, we know that “under the hood” information is much more valuable and needed in your search for the right social media management solution for your business.

And we make you this promise: If Sprout Social is a better value for money in any given scenario, we’ll tell you.


Want the highlights first?

Here’s a high-level summary:


Sprout Social’s “per user” pricing heavily penalizes teams. Need to add users beyond the number allotted for your plan? Prepare to pay $99 for each. Sprout’s per-user price tag gets astronomical as your team and business grow.
You have to fork over a whopping $999 for advanced listening per month. If you want more than Sprout Social’s limited Twitter-only listening, you have to pay some serious cash for other networks. If you’re on the base plans, your listening is limited to just 10 keywords, and you can’t do reporting on those searches.
Agencies don’t receive any agency-specific features and do get crushed under the weight of Sprout’s pricing. Sprout’s “agency program” doesn’t include special agency-specific features nor publicly offers agency pricing. So, the cost of extra users and profiles, and more followers grows fast. By comparison, Agorapulse has created an agency plan with specific collaborative features, such as a client calendar. We honor your need for agency-friendly pricing.
No VIP treatment despite the VIP cost. On top of what you’re already paying for your Sprout plan, you have to pay an extra $500 per month to view its product roadmap, receive two-hour customer support, and have one-on-one onboarding. (At Agorapulse, you get the VIP treatment built into our Enterprise plan. Not as extra hidden costs.)

If you want to dig into the numbers for yourself before you read, plug the details into well-known UK marketing consultant Ian Anderson Gray’s pricing tool.

Now, let’s unearth the truth about Sprout Social’s pricing.

1. Sprout Social’s “per user/profile” pricing heavily penalizes teams

The first thing you’ll notice on Sprout Social’s pricing page is that all plans display a price followed by the words “per user.”

Sprout Social pricing plan information

Sprout Social pricing plan information

Sounds friendly enough … But then, you start to add up all those users, and it’s not friendly after all.

Per-user pricing

As you multiply that price by the number of users you want to add to your plan, your monthly fee for Sprout Social will grow exponentially.

If you’re successful or if your clients are, you’re going to pay for it: Multiply the price of the plan by the number of users.

Fact: Many businesses and agencies get priced out of Sprout’s costly per-user plan as they grow.

But users are not the only way to make Sprout’s cost skyrocket way above your budget. The number of social profiles you have to manage can also quickly push that price up.

An additional profile on Sprout Social will cost you $25/profile per month.

An additional profile on Sprout Social will cost you $25/profile per month.

Per-profile pricing

Even if you go for Sprout Social’s “Advanced” plan, you only get 10 social profiles.

The average agency, however, needs a minimum of 25 profiles. (That’s going with the assumption that they have at least 4 clients on at least 5 social networks—plus the management of the agency’s own social profiles. )

So, right off the bat, a typical agency will be paying an extra $375—per month. (That’s $4,500 per year for extra profiles.)

This per-pricing plan seems to focus more on increasing Sprout’s finances rather than helping successful companies continue thriving.

After you look at that huge price, you may be tempted to commit to the yearly plan and get a discount.

Think again.

You don’t get a discount if you pay a year in advance.

Nearly all other leaders in the social media management space offer a discount for their annual plans. (For example, at Agorapulse, you can save up to 20% off when you choose annual pricing.)

Annual pricing for Agorapulse

You get a discount on Agorapulse when you choose the annual plan.

What happens if you’re comfortable with your existing Sprout Social plan but then your social media profiles start to have large followings? You’ll need to upgrade your existing plan.

On Sprout’s plan details page (which you can’t immediately access when browsing the pricing page), you’ll find that when your total audience size is more than 500K fans and followers, you have to sign up for the Advanced plan.

Pay more when your social media following grows.

Details are on this page:

That might be a reason for Sprout Social’s lower score in Value for Money by Capterra. It ranks 72, Hootsuite ranks 82, and Agorapulse wins at 88.

Capterra average user ratings for social media marketing products

Capterra’s average user ratings for social media marketing products

We don’t know of any other social media management tool that forces its users to upgrade based on successful follower growth.

That isn’t even taking into account the cost of different features and extras.

Let’s see what happens when we do …

2. You have to fork over a whopping $999 for advanced listening per month

Based on what you’ve read so far, you may think that Sprout Social’s hefty price tag mentioned includes an array of social media management features.

It does not.

“Listening” isn’t even listed for any of the plans.

You only have listening on Twitter in Sprout Social’s Professional plan, which is $149 per user. You can set up a small, defined number of Twitter searches—only 10 keywords.

Want more advanced listening? Sprout Social makes you pay more for it.

Want more advanced listening? Sprout Social makes you pay more for it.

If you need more keywords to stay on top of your competitors, industry, and social media trends, you must subscribe to the Advanced Listening add-on, which runs $999/mo.

Advanced Listening on Sprout Social starts at $999 per month.

Advanced Listening on Sprout Social starts at $999 per month.

So, if listening is important to you, prepare to pay an extra $1,000 per month—that’s $12,000 a year on top of your current plan.

And if you need to prove to your customers that your brand awareness and UGC campaigns are doing well, you don’t have any reporting on keyword and saved search activity nor a representation of the work you are doing.

Sprout Social’s mindset toward listening (as an add-on rather than something crucial to social media management) might explain why Sprout Social scores 8.4 (just a tiny bit above Hootsuite) for Monitoring on G2.

Agorapulse wins the category with 8.9.

G2's comparison of Agorapulse, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite for social listening

G2’s comparison of Agorapulse, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite for social listening

In comparison, Agorapulse offers nearly unlimited searches (100K per 30 days) and a beautiful visual representation of the searches.

Moreover, Agorapulse offers all its paid subscribers unlimited Twitter and YouTube searches. You can also monitor up to 30 Instagram hashtags (the maximum limit allowed by the Instagram API).

In this example, you’ll see how many users within 40 kilometers of Boston mentioned “tacos” on Twitter during a selected time period.

Listening dashboard on Agorapulse

Listening is an integral part of the Agorapulse solution.

At Agorapulse, we understand that, for a growing company (for all businesses using social media, actually), listening is an integral part of marketing and competitive analysis.

You need to know what the competition is saying about you, what your potential clients and your existing audience are talking about, and also monitor hashtags and conversations to stay in the loop.

Listening should not be an add-on. It should be part of the core functionality.

Find out why teams love managing their social with Agorapulse.

3. Agencies get crushed under the weight of Sprout’s pricing and don’t receive any agency-specific features

Sprout Social is not ideally suited for agencies.

Its per-user pricing makes the tool incredibly expensive for agencies. As you add users and additional social profiles, the price grows astronomically.

Also, Sprout Social’s “Agency Plan” features are already existing features in the overall plan. The company didn’t create specific agency-related tools for its agency customers.

In comparison, Agorapulse has agency-specific features, such as its “shared calendar”—a collaborative, interactive calendar to use with clients for content approval.

Shared Calendar:  Our explainer video

Agorapulse’s Premium and Enterprise users get shared calendars already baked into their plan. (More calendars are available as an add-on.) Add as many profiles allowed by your plan to the calendar. Then send it to as many clients as you’d like for instant feedback.

That’s right. Collaborate with as many clients as you’d like on a shared calendar without adding additional users to your plan.

Clients or other external users can leave notes, accept, or reject content.


Client one

Example of shared calendar

In addition to shared calendars for agencies, agencies also want solid, detailed reports to share with their teams and clients.

But creating those reports from scratch can be a tremendous time suck.

Especially if you have to do those reports every week.

With Sprout Social, you can schedule reports to be sent to clients as a PDF. However, this feature is only available on the Advanced plan ($249 per user) or above.

But those reports are not as well-rated as the reports and dashboard of Agorapulse.

G2's comparison of reports and dashboards

G2’s comparisons of reports and dashboards

Agorapulse’s reports help agencies visually demonstrate audience metrics, global metrics, content performance metrics, and community management metrics.

Starting at just $99 for Agorapulse’s Pro plan, users can customize reports and schedule reports (as a PDF, CSV, or PPT, depending on the report) to unlimited internal or external users.

Here’s a cost comparison to run scheduled reports for clients.

cost comparison to run scheduled reports for clients

How much will it cost you to run scheduled reports for clients?

In addition to considering price, Sprout Social and Agorapulse users also rate report customizability and report exporting: Sprout Social is at just 7.9 (a little above Hootsuite’s 7.7), and Agorapulse wins at 8.1.

G2's report customizability and report exporting

G2’s comparisons of report customizability and report exporting

At Agorapulse, we are focusing heavily on developing agency-specific features and services. For example, we created the Agency Love program specifically for them.

4. No VIP treatment despite the VIP cost

Given Sprout Social’s high prices, you may think you’ll get extra-special treatment. Or at least, you expect a certain level of VIP treatment for your plan.

But you won’t get it. At least, not without paying even more for it.

Is it worth the value for money?

Not really. Sprout Social gets a mere 72 for “value for money” compared to Hootsuite’s slightly higher 82. And Agorapulse springs far ahead with a solid 88 on Capterra.

Capterra's rating of value for money

Sprout Social’s value for money is far lower than Agorapulse.

For example, say you want access to the product roadmap. You’d like to see what’s coming up, and you also wish to offer some suggestions.

To do that, you’ll have to pay $500 per month just to access the product roadmap:

road map costs more

Access to Sprout Social’s product roadmap is going to cost you $500 more per month.

Charging for that is not how most SaaS companies do, especially for an enterprise-level plan. (By comparison, Agorapulse offers access to our roadmap as part of an existing plan, and our dashboard has a “Suggest Features” link for its customers.)

You also receive a decent level of customer support from Sprout Social. But for that little extra touch (like “customer support within two hours”), once again you have to hand over a bunch of money—$500 per month.

For that hefty price, you think you receive the absolute best customer support in the industry. But you won’t.

Sprout Social ranks at a decent 8.8, while Hootsuite ranks a dismal 7.8 on G2.

But Agorapulse is far ahead with 9.3 for its stellar customer support. Without charging an arm and a leg for it.

G2 comparison of quality of support

Sprout Social’s rating is decent, but it falls far below Agorapulse’s #1 rated customer support.

5. Who Sprout Social is ideal for

The question here is not whether you should consider Sprout Social but what specific needs will remove it from the equation (or make it a bad “value for money” option).

5.1 Where Sprout Social pricing plans might make sense for you

Sprout Social might serve you well if you need reports on ads you run on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn and are a team of one.

You get paid reports at the Professional plan ($149/mo), which is an affordable alternative to Hootsuite and other social media management tools that offer this feature.

The same is true for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram competitive reports with a team of one. It’s all on the Professional plan.

5.2 Who Sprout Social might not be ideal for

Based on how its pricing plans are built, and what features are available in each plan, here are the use cases where Sprout Social might not be a good solution for you:

5.2.1 You manage more than 10 social profiles

Compared with tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, Sprout’s plans don’t offer many social profiles.

Each additional profile costs $25. So if you need 4 more profiles than those that come standard with your plan, you need to tack on an additional $100 per user per month.

If you’re an agency with 3 clients each having 5 social profiles, you’ll need 15 profiles on Sprout Social. This will cost you at least $349/mo per user per month.

Compare that to Agorapulse where its Premium plan at $199/mo gives you 4 users and profiles to spare (20 profiles). You can use the extra profiles to add your agency’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

5.2.2 You have a team of more than 3 users

If you’ve read through this far, you must know that Sprout Social’s plans run per user. Having more than three users starts to get expensive for each of these plans.

Customer service teams wouldn’t fare well because they usually have large teams. Nonprofits with lots of volunteers also would not do well with Sprout Social.

A total of 4 users on the smallest Sprout Social plan will run you $396/mo.

On the largest publicly priced plan, that’s $996/mo, and this plan is for only 10 profiles and provides very little in the way of social listening.

Let’s look at some examples:

social listening

For teams, the price adds up fast on Sprout Social.

Agorapulse once again is the most affordable solution.. With an annual plan for $1,908 for the year, that’s almost 75% less expensive than the Sprout Social.

5.2.3 You have social profiles with large audiences

If you sign up for the Sprout Professional plan, you get 10 social profiles with a maximum of 500K fans and followers.

That means your profiles shouldn’t have more than an average of 50K followers or you’ll have to sign up for the Advanced plan.

5.2.4 You have very basic publishing needs

If you only need one user, have fewer than 5 social profiles to manage and are only looking to publish content on social media (no need for listening or an inbox), then a tool like Hootsuite is a far better option. It can take care of your publishing needs for just $75/mo on the Professional plan.

If you need an inbox, Hootsuite’s Professional plan is again a good fit.

5.2.5 You demand prompt, friendly, helpful customer support

We mentioned earlier about support on Sprout Social.

Maybe that’s why Sprout Social support rates so weakly in comparison to Agorapulse on G2:

G2 compares Agorapulse and Sprout Social for quality of support

Sprout ranks better than Hootsuite but far below Agorapulse in Quality of Support.

And the same is true on Capterra.

Customer Support on Capterra

Sprout Social’s score is far lower than Agorapulse’s for Customer Support.

A free detailed, helpful pricing tool

Want to crunch your own numbers?

In Ian Anderson Gray’s post about social media pricing, he included a tool (updated at least twice a year) that allows anyone, in less than a minute, to know exactly how much they would need to pay for the four biggest social media management tools on the market.


Brought to you by Seriously Social with Ian Anderson Gray

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