ContentCal compared to Sprout Social
30th December 2020
When driving your business forward, it’s likely you’ll be looking for one of the top social media tools to help you expand your social offering and connect with your customers in a more meaningful way.
A content calendar tool is a way to not only streamline your day-to-day scheduling but generate reports, answer messages and plan for future content.
Considering Sprout Social? This mammoth social media tool is no doubt on your list to check out. Let’s see if it will work for your business, or whether you should look into a Sprout Social alternative, such as ContentCal.
Sprout Social is a market-leading tool that was launched in 2010, after its CEO and founder, Justyn Howard, saw a gap in the market for a content calendar tool that allowed his company to connect with customers and streamline its social strategy.
With over 25,000 customers now using Sprout, it’s a very popular option for many big brands out there.
There are three plans on offer: Standard, Professional and Advanced. Free trials are also available for each plan.
Created by social marketers, for social marketers, ContentCal was launched in 2016 to not only schedule content, respond to messages and create reports, but act as a seamless hub for a company’s marketing activity.
It’s an up-and-coming platform, with a growing number of over 40,000 happy customers and glowing reviews.
Choose from a selection of plans: Essential, Advanced, and Expert.
Sprout Social is fairly straight forward after some exploration of the tool. Your social accounts are connected fairly quickly and the scheduling tool is similar to many others on the market.
You can mark your content as a draft, schedule it at a certain time or use the impressive Sprout Queue, which will help you make the most out of your content. You can configure the queue yourself, or use Sprout's patented ViralPost technology to take the guesswork out of scheduling. This makes it simple to upload content in bulk, plus saves you searching the internet for the best times to post - your times will be tailored to your audience.
The Smart Inbox is where you’ll find all of your social interactions and brand mentions. You can respond directly within the platform or assign it to a team member who’s better placed to do so.
You can view your upcoming posts as a calendar or a list, depending on your preference. There’s no drag and drop functionality currently, which may be frustrating to some users.
The discovery tab lets you search for terms to get involved with conversations happening around the web, which makes it possible to find new followers to engage with.
Sprout Social’s reports are pretty in-depth compared to some of the other top social media tools out there, and they can easily be exported and customized to your brand’s identity.
Once you’ve added your accounts, users, and assigned User Permissions, you can create content in a visual calendar layout with ContentCal. Simply click on the Calendar to create a post, select your profiles, add images, Category Tags, Publish Times and Dates, plus use any saved Hashtags and then send it for approval - if need be.
The color-coding on ContentCal is really useful for those who work visually, and the drag and drop ability is a time-saver when it comes to re-organizing content speedily. The ability to re-use your posts at the click of a button will also be a refreshing change for those with plenty of evergreen content to share.
It's also worth noting that one of ContentCal's key selling points are its approval workflows. Instead of the usual back-and-forth email to get sign off on your content, you can set up your calendar so that nothing is posted to your channels, without going through the people it needs to first. And what's even better? To get that all-important approval, the assigned team members simply have to click a button to give your content the go-ahead. Now that's some serious time-saving.
All of your previous posts, images and more can be saved into the Content Hub, so you’ll never lose track of that brilliant image, blog post, or particular wording again. Marketing teams can also plan out their overarching strategy, by working on campaigns and collaborating with people from across the business.
ContentCal Engage is an all-in-one inbox which allows you to keep track of your comments, mentions, DMs, and more. Similar to Sprout Social, you can reply within the platform and assign tasks to different members of your team. To ensure no crossover, ContentCal also has ‘collision detection’, which will tell you if someone else is currently replying to a message which is a really neat feature.
Along with being an efficient content calendar tool, ContentCal allows you to organize your marketing activity, ridding the need for multiple spreadsheets and logins. An automation tool called Zapier lets you integrate thousands of apps to ContentCal, letting you work from one hub on literally everything; Gmail, Trello, Slack, Dropbox and many more - including Pinterest.
ContentCal’s analytics is simple but effective for most professional or agency’s needs. You’ll get a handle on your top-performing content, see all the relevant metrics and learn how to create better content for your brand or clients.
The Smart Inbox allows you to respond to your followers quickly, plus discover more conversations to get involved with.
If your chosen plan has access to Sprout’s social listening tools, you can monitor sentiments, engagements, measure campaign success, and more.
The Sprout Queue is a real standout tool, making light work of scheduling lots of content and taking the guesswork out of posting times.
Detailed social reports
Access in-depth reports with custom reporting available.
Responsive customer support
Despite how many customers it has, Sprout manages to stay on top of its incoming queries, issues and messages, resolving them quickly and efficiently via several routes.
Expensive for teams and multiple channels
If you’re a large brand with under ten social media profiles, Sprout Social will really suit your needs. However, for social media managers, agencies and companies juggling lots of accounts, the cost soon adds up.
No drag and drop
This seems like a simple thing but for some, but it’s actually such a game-changer. When you’re uploading hundreds of pieces of content per month, the ability to switch it up without editing each post individually is a must.
Content library only available on Advanced plan
The Sprout Social content calendar doesn’t have a central hub on the lower tier plans, so if you want to save your content for a later date, keep images in one place or keep new ideas, you’ll have to find somewhere else to do it.
Ease of use
ContentCal is remarkably simple to use and will really please those who like to plan things visually and ensure their brand identity comes through. Everything is bright and colorful, labeled clearly and there are no long-winded ways of getting the job done. If you like to see a content calendar plan, rather than a list of items, you’ll be pleased.
Approval workflows are the reason why so many customers choose ContentCal over Sprout Social. Having that added layer of security to your content, and making sure no pesky mistakes slip through the net, mean that your content is always ready to go at the right times. You can assign as many or as few people as your 'approvers' as you need to - including clients.
A single inbox to work from means you’ll never miss a message or comment ever again, maximizing the social interaction on your page and splitting the workload within your team.
ContentCal’s unified marketing hub lets you work on shared Calendars, store content, plan campaigns and collaborate with the wider business, making it desirable for agencies, freelancers and social teams.
More than just social media scheduling
The Articles feature allows you to curate other forms of content, such as newsletters, blogs, press releases and more.
Simple content reuse
Your best-performing evergreen content can be used time and time again with ease, plus, you can create templates to save time when creating new content.
Unify your company
The Contributions feature allows you to tap into knowledge around the business, enabling colleagues to submit ideas and suggestions with custom forms.
Availability of support
ContentCal’s team has rave reviews about its support team, who will respond to you within just minutes during working hours.
Measure your performance with the Analytics tab, which features easy-to-read reports, date range capability and insights on how to optimize your content to perform better.
Seamless content integration
ContentCal will become your marketing team’s new content calendar plan, working as a centralized hub for anything and everything they’re working on. Spreadsheets, documents, and shared folders will become a thing of the past.
Pricing is very affordable, with a range of plans available for professionals and businesses.
Although ContentCal is great for helping you collate ideas and inspiration, actually suggesting or generating content is not one if it's strong suits. This is something ContentCal is looking to improve in the future so keep an eye on the product roadmap to stay up to date.
Lack of social listening
If having an in-built social listening tool is a must-have for you, ContentCal isn’t able to provide these insights just yet.
Sprout Social is a brilliant tool that marketers will find makes their job endlessly easier. The Smart Inbox, Sprout Queue and basic Instagram scheduling will all be welcome additions to daily life.
However, to access all the features on offer, users are looking at an eye-watering price, which some small and medium businesses will simply not be able to afford.
It’s clear that the Sprout Social content calendar is aimed at large companies, judging by clientele such as Casio, Zendesk, Shopify and Subaru. Adding in more than ten social profiles (and that’s profiles, not clients) becomes extremely pricey, so it wouldn’t really be suited to agencies and freelancers with lots of clients on their books.
At its core, social is Sprout Social’s focus, so other marketing features, such as a content library, campaign planning and overall marketing activity aren’t included.
On the flip side, ContentCal is affordable and comes with many team features that Sprout doesn’t, including those all-important approval workflows that make so many people love us, so it really all depends on what you truly desire from your content calendar tool. It’s definitely suited to small and medium-sized businesses, along with freelancers and agencies. There’s also more flexibility with workflows and collaboration, plus many more opportunities with integrated apps using Zapier - all for a purse-friendly price.
ContentCal doesn’t, however, have some of the bells and whistles that Sprout can offer when it comes to social listening and queuing content, so it’s all about weighing up which features are most important to you.