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Social Media Management Software Buyers Guide from TrustRadius

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Stanford Business said last year that the world has changed and that “consumers, employees and stakeholders expect to engage with companies and their brands through social media”. In response to this phenomenon, a whole new business software category, Social Media Management Software (SMMS), has emerged as one of the most dynamic sectors of the business software market. This report curated from end-user reviews (including my own) on TrustRadius is intended to provide practical guidance to SMMS buyers to help identify the solutions most appropriate to their needs, and to highlight key factors for evaluation. It is directly based upon the insights of end-users of these products, many of whom are expert users. The report is based upon 100 in-depth user reviews of 36 different SMMS products from users across a broad range of industries. Most reviews are by social media practitioners at companies of various sizes from large enterprises like Dell, Hertz, the US Marine Corp and PayPal, to smaller organizations and around 20 social media agencies. While the volume of content does not yet provide the basis for a definitive sector survey, the insights from users are revealing and point to some broad directional conclusions. As our review base continues to grow, our reports will provide increasingly fine-tuned guidance through the aggregation of additional end-user perspectives.

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Social Media Management Software Buyers Guide from TrustRadius

  1. 1. The Buyers Guide for Social Media Management Software Direct from the Perspectives of End-Users Curated from End-User Reviews on: TM First Published October 21, 2013 By Alan Cooke, Research Director, TrustRadius TM Page 1 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  2. 2. Your Guide To Reading This Report Why You Should Read This Report There can be little doubt that social media has entered the business mainstream evolving from a marketing experiment to an enterprise-wide imperative across many industries. The MIT Sloan Management Review issued a social business research report earlier this year stating: “Companies are developing more mature social business capabilities by focusing on key business challenges. Businesses that have more developed social business capabilities don’t view social business solely as an application or tool. They have integrated it into many functions, such as strategy and operations, and use it in daily decision-making. As a business solution, social has evolved, moving well beyond the marketing department, to address business objectives across the organization: »» 65% of respondents use social business tools to understand market shifts. »» 45% turn to it to improve visibility into operations. »» 45% leverage it to identify internal talent.”1 Stanford Business said last year that the world has changed and that “consumers, employees and stakeholders expect to engage with companies and their brands through social media”.2 In response to this phenomenon, a whole new business software category, Social Media Management Software (SMMS), has emerged as one of the most dynamic sectors of the business software market. We broadly define SMMS as a set of tools to manage or analyze interactions through multiple social media accounts from a single dashboard. Most systems permit listening for brand mentions, posting to multiple channels and running marketing campaigns. They include analytics packages to measure the relative success of campaigns. Within this broad definition, there are distinct use cases which emphasize different feature sets and we will discuss these below. This report is intended to provide practical guidance to SMMS buyers to help identify the solutions most appropriate to their needs, and to highlight key factors for evaluation. It is directly based upon the insights of end-users of these products, many of whom are expert users. This is the first in a planned series of category reports, which will be similarly based on user insights. 1. MIT Sloan Management Review Research Report. “Social Business: Shifting Out of First Gear”, 2013. 2. Matteo Taleo MD of The Conference Board, quoted in Stanford Business Social Media Survey, 2012 TM Page 2 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  3. 3. Why You Can Trust This Report We analyze the sector using insights directly sourced from in-depth product reviews from a community of professionals who purchase, implement and use social media management software. These professionals are members of TrustRadius – the leading online community for professionals to share quality insights about business software through in-depth structured reviews, discussions and networking. The report is based upon 100 in-depth user reviews of 36 different SMMS products from users across a broad range of industries. Most reviews are by social media practitioners at companies of various sizes from large enterprises like Dell, Hertz, the US Marine Corp and PayPal, to smaller organizations and around 20 social media agencies. While the volume of content does not yet provide the basis for a definitive sector survey, the insights from users are revealing and point to some broad directional conclusions. As our review base continues to grow, our reports will provide increasingly fine-tuned guidance through the aggregation of additional end-user perspectives. Cited quotes are hyperlinked so that you can click to read them in the context of the member’s full review. The names or identities (where anonymized) of the reviewers are also hyperlinked so that you can visit their profiles on TrustRadius. Lastly, products cited are hyperlinked to their directory listing in TrustRadius. Seven Use Cases for SMMS To date, much of the coverage in this sector has grouped products that do very different things into the one comparison and additionally covered a small subset of the landscape. By Customer Care contrast, this report breaks the landscape into the seven primary use cases SMMS buyers are trying to address and encompasses a broad range of products. For each use case we highlight several software products in use, Analytics Listening Publishing/Engagement Curation and also share high-level commentary about how well those products perform. While, a few SMMS products span several use cases, in general, we continue to see best of breed solutions in use for specific purposes like Customer Care and Analytics, and Social Selling Promotions new solutions continue to emerge. BUYER TIP: If you have diverse enterprise needs, you probably need to evaluate best of breed solutions for specific purposes in addition to suite offerings that may do a number of things well. TM Page 3 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  4. 4. Social Media Management in Large Enterprises Advanced listening tools are by definition enterprise-level products with the capability of processing very large amounts of data to sift for brand mentions and sentiment. But enterprise requirements go beyond advanced listening and a number of enterprise platforms have emerged that encompass multiple use cases from listening to engagement and publishing, marketing campaigns and analytics. Large enterprises tend to have specific requirements that are not always relevant to smaller organizations. Many of the enterprise-level platforms have been building functionality specifically to meet these requirements. Among the more important enterprise-level features are: »» Scalability »» Governance »» Permissioning / Team Collaboration »» Shared asset libraries »» Access security General Factors of Concern to SMMS Users Clearly the most important factor for any evaluation is how well the product supports your use case. However, once that condition is satisfied, what other criteria should you consider? The SMMS users who have contributed reviews on TrustRadius expressed that the following factors were important to them: »» Mobility – a desire to access SMMS products via mobile devices. »» Integration – capabilities to tie to other systems including CRM and analytics. »» Usability – SMMS users place a high emphasis on usability/ user interface. »» Likelihood and impact of acquisition - while acquisitions can bring integration benefits, they can also alter product direction. BUYER TIP: Before you begin your evaluation, determine which, if any, of these criteria are important to you. TM Page 4 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  5. 5. Seven Use Cases of SMMS Marketing Functions Listening & Sentiment Analysis In the pre-social age, companies wanting to know what their customers thought about their products and services would have to ask them, and try to draw conclusions based on equivocal answers. Today, they simply listen to what they are saying unprompted. Monitoring the flood of public commentary about products or services has long been a primary use case for SMMS. At the most basic level, social listening incorporates scanning for potential PR crises, identifying industry trends, gathering intelligence on competitors and identifying sales opportunities. But the sheer volume of data can be daunting. It’s sometimes difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, even for leading products in the space. At the most basic level, social listening incorporates scanning for potential PR crises, identifying industry trends, gathering intelligence on competitors and identifying sales opportunities. For example, Radian6 (now part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud) “had a lot of ‘noise’ despite filters,” wrote Deirdre Walsh, senior social media manager at Jive Software, who used the product for three years in her previous role as social media manager at the engineering technology firm National Instruments. Specifically, she added, “It had lots of spam included in the search results. I would have expected it to filter this out.” Note that this perspective is now over a year old, and Radian6 has reportedly made improvements in this area. As the listening function has become a basic part of a more complex set of features for enterprise products, some users are still finding themselves forced to choose tools based on the channel they consider most important to monitor. For example, a marketing manager at a PR and Communications agency uses Radian6 to monitor client brands because it is “relatively inexpensive and provides great Twitter metrics.” And a social media strategist at a marketing firm with more than 500 employees chose Sysomos MAP over Oracle’s Collective Intellect, Radian6 and the less-expensive Meltwater Buzz “because it produces much more demographic and Twitter-specific data,” but was frustrated that “less information is available for Facebook (partly due to Facebook’s restrictions).” Carolyn Smith at FleishmanHillard switched from Radian6 to Meltwater Buzz but, although she is getting better customer service, she feels that the product is lacking in functionality. For example: “Radian6 allows you to pick up mentions in mainstream news and compare it to what you see in social media while Meltwater Buzz only looks at social media”. It’s also “difficult to create a share of voce for more than two brands…at a time” and “it’s harder to filter out certain hits and find exactly what you’re looking for”. Full-featured products like MutualMind, Radian6, and SDL SM2 include sentiment analysis, which attempts to provide automatic categorization of comments into positive or negative buckets. However, high levels of accuracy are extremely difficult to achieve through this kind of automation. “The nature of human conversation makes it difficult for a machine to categorize sentiment with 100% accuracy,” writes Brad Lawless, vice president for strategy at the social media company Collective Bias, in a review of Mutual Mind, a listening platform TM Page 5 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  6. 6. with built-in analytics and other functions. “MutualMind gets sentiment right between 50% to 70%, which is within acceptable industry averages for this type of product. With additional tuning (which MutualMind provides) the accuracy levels will increase.” The ability to manually tune the sentiment data by correcting errors is consequently very important. In a review of Sysomos MAP, which is an analysis-oriented product designed for in-depth research on social media chatter, Tyler Sweeney, social media coordinator at RPA, a marketing firm with more than 500 employees, recommends using the vendor’s more basic product, Sysomos Heartbeat, for sentiment analysis: “In Heartbeat you can see what people are saying specifically. You can also alter sentiment (e.g. from negative to neutral). In MAP you cannot manipulate the data in this way.” Hagan Ramsey, social engagement manager at a marketing and advertising agency makes a similar point in his review of Crimson Hexagon ForSight: “Sentiment returns are not accurate unless trained... the sentiment for the “basic buzz monitor” is usually off because the product does not always understand a comment’s context or sarcasm”. Listening Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Adobe Social Beevolve Brandwatch Crimson Hexagon* Expion HootSuite Enterprise HootSuite Pro HootSuite Free* Jive Fathom* ListenLogic Meltwater Buzz MutualMind* Radian6 (Salesforce Marketing Cloud) SDL SM2 Shoutlet Spredfast Sprout Social Simplify 360 Sprinklr Synthesio Sysomos Heartbeat Sysomos Map UberVu Viralheat* *Rating based on one review TM Page 6 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  7. 7. Publishing / Engagement A second common marketing use case is scheduling posts for publication to social media channels in advance, and at the right time, to boost engagement. Publishing functionality makes it easy to draft and publish posts to multiple social channels according to a pre-defined schedule. This is particularly important where multiple marketers are promoting different products or services across many different channels. The ability to plan a shared publishing calendar and schedule posts so that there is an appropriate time lag between each one and to make sure that messages are congruent with each other is often crucial. Many tools like Spredfast and Sprinklr also allow for centralized content libraries where users can pull pre-approved content for specific campaigns. Publishing functionality has become relatively common. Most tools now include it to some degree. Some marketers find basic functionality sufficient: “We were looking for an easy and affordable way to schedule and publish social media posts, get guidance on when to post, engage with our most engaged and most influential followers, and analyze the reach of our posts. Crowdbooster checks all of these boxes,” said Jono Smith, VP of marketing at Event 360, an event management consulting firm serving the nonprofit sector. But strong publishing capabilities alone are often not enough. The increasing demand for team functionality and integration ... have caused some frustration with basic publishing tools. Deirdre Walsh, senior social media manager at Jive Software, wrote that Spredfast allowed a single social media manager “to be efficient with her time. Instead of spending all day hopping around from one social platform to another (i.e. Twitter to Facebook), she was able to proactively schedule content and see conversations across the social web. This efficiency gain meant she could take full advantage of other insights Spredfast offered - like what time it was best to schedule content, what type of content performs the best, which channel is growing the fastest etc. As the team grew and the social conversations became more sophisticated, Spredfast was great for allowing the team to scale.” Although many publishing tools are designed for brand marketing, B2B specialized tools like Oktopost are starting to emerge. Integration with marketing automation tools becomes important here, and publishing to LinkedIn is much more of a focus. As Nili Molvin, CMO at marketing agency Penguin Strategies says: “We started using Oktopost because of the great LinkedIn capabilities that it has. Oktopost enables us to post into multiple groups and analyze the effectiveness of each group and post”. But strong publishing capabilities alone are often not enough. The increasing demand for team functionality and integration – themes that are recurring across the original use cases for SMMS – have caused some frustration with basic publishing tools. Smith added that Crowdbooster “doesn’t seem like an ideal tool for enterprise social media management. It does not have enterprise-level features like CRM & web analytics integration, and role-based permissions.” Similarly, consultant James Young of Left Field Social, reviewing Gremln, stated that “While the publishing is easy, better than HootSuite for example, but less intuitive than other platforms like Spredfast, the listening and measuring aspects are weak. Setting up search streams is fairly well hidden from users, and the process to add streams is not very intuitive.” BUYER TIP: Automated scheduling has become a base level capability. Virtually all products now offer this capability. Focus more on higher order capabilities like workflow and content libraries. TM Page 7 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  8. 8. Publishing Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Adobe Social Argyle Social* Buddy Media (SF Marketing Cloud)* Expion Gremln* HootSuite Enterprise HootSuite Pro HootSuite Free* Oktopost* Oracle Vitrue Shoutlet Spredfast Sprinklr Sprout Social TweetDeck ViralHeat* WebTrends Social* *Rating based on one review TM Page 8 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  9. 9. Promotions Related to publishing, using social media to support marketing campaigns via promotional activities like contests and sweepstakes has emerged as a distinct use case. Beyond posting content, marketers encourage their customers to respond and interact. This creates additional content (often in support of marketing messages in other channels), while also opening avenues for engagement. Several tools have been specifically designed for the creation of customized social content for polls or sweepstakes – typically on Facebook. However, extending this kind of functionality to other social channels has also become more important recently. Melissa Porter, eCommerce administrator at Motionwear, uses Webtrends Social for marketing promotions because the product “allows me to develop a strong following on Facebook by use of sharing and build a strong email database for future marketing campaigns…it allows me to build brand hype. This specific use case is seeing a lot of product innovation and some of the incumbents are starting to fall victim to more nimble competitors. A community manager at a large telecommunications company with 201-500 employees used Wildfire for social promotions and says, “Wildfire is excellent at creating a self service promotion in social. From concept to final product can be achieved in under 20 minutes.” However, he also feels that the product has become a long in the tooth and that “newcomers to the market like Rafflecopter, WooBox and PunchTab are delivering much better results for a fraction of the price.” Similarly, David Pierpont, Director of Social Media at Ansira feels that “the [Salesforce] purchase of Buddy and Radian has nearly halted evolution of both products for the last year, both are falling behind quickly.” On the other hand, according to the aforementioned community manager who ultimately switched from Wildfire, “Punchtab offered powerful custom features, and allows us to run a variety of campaigns across multiple platforms.” Woobox also has its fans: Amos Orr, Content Manager at Southwest Lousiana CVB, comments that he chose Woobox over competitors due to it’s “affordability for the size of our fan base, platform integration (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Vine), ease of use and customizability, mobile friendliness, and types of promotions (Sweepstakes, Coupons, Pin to Win, Photo/Video Contest, Instant Wins, and Polls). BUYER TIP: Don’t automatically assume that the best-known vendors and most established products are most likely to meet your specific requirements. Promotions Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Buddy Media (SF Marketing Cloud)* Engage Sciences Google Wildfire HootSuite Enterprise HootSuite Pro Oracle Vitrue Punchtab* Rafflecopter Strutta Webtrends Social* WooBox *Rating based on one review TM Page 9 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  10. 10. Curation Using social media to establish thought leadership without the burden of content production, social curation has emerged as an important new distinct marketing use case since our original report on the SMMS landscape. Aside from the cost savings derived from repurposing external content, curation promises marketers the opportunity to burnish their brands without coming across as excessively boastful or single-minded. Arguably a subcategory of publishing, some publishing platform vendors have developed curation capability as a platform component. For example Hootsuite has developed a browser plug-in that allows users to share web pages to social networks. But several vendors like Buffer have produced curation-specific tools. Ian Greenleigh, manager of Content and Social Strategy at the social commerce software company Bazaarvoice, wrote that Buffer “makes it really easy to schedule curated content updates on the fly. Click the applet, and it will add it to your social update pipeline based on timing you determine beforehand. Great for helping companies provide valuable third-party content to their networks with optimized timing.” Enterprise curation platforms like Mass Relevance and Livefyre allow large streams of social content to be filtered and displayed on any digital surface including television graphics and jumbotrons. According to a Livefyre survey, Twitter is the dominant channel for real-time social content, with 93% of survey respondents curating social activity for that channel compared to 82% for Facebook. Curation Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Buffer* EngageSciences HootSuite Enterprise HootSuite Pro HootSuite Free* Keepstream Livefyre Mass Relevance Scoop.it Storify ViralHeat* *Rating based on one review TM Page 10 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  11. 11. Analytics Virtually all SMMS vendors provide pre-packaged social data reports to count fans, likes, re-tweets and comments. But these metrics are often less important than measuring reach. This means understanding which content is shared and how often. One option is to simply provide APIs so that the user can leverage 3rd-party analytics packages, but basic integrated reporting is a must. Several reviewers reported using one platform for content creation/scheduling, and relying on a separate listening platform for advanced analytics. Even after combining tools, though, unstructured social metrics can easily turn into another data silo. While social media data is useful in providing insight into consumer opinion, it is less helpful at predicting when a potential customer is ready to buy. Social data needs to be collected and analyzed in conjunction with data from other channels like web and email to provide the whole picture. Beyond data integration issues, some users have found the analytics capabilities of general-purpose tools to be superficial. For example, Tara DeMarco, a social strategist at Bazaarvoice, a social Several reviewers reported using one platform for content creation/scheduling, and relying on a separate listening platform for advanced analytics. commerce software company with more than 500 employees, wrote that Sprout Social does a great job of tracking a variety of metrics that the company cares about like audience size, amplification rate (number of re-tweets) and number of likes and shares, but has: “No real presentation layer. All the data has to be manually exported to Excel to produce a report. It would be nice to have some kind of automated report builder capability.” Another marketing agency with 51-200 employees is very happy with HootSuite Enterprise for listening and engagement, and loves the team functionality, but finds the analytics lacking:  “We use Radian6 for analytics as the analytics functionality in Radian6 is much deeper, and it can search across a wider range of channels, including blogs. In addition, we also use another product called Simply Measured to perform an even deeper level of social analytics. Simply Measured has a powerful reporting engine that allows us to build custom reports to drill into any metric we wish. The reporting capabilities in HootSuite are much more pre-packaged”. Sophisticated listening tools like Sysomos and Radian6 are designed to monitor a huge volume of social media conversations for specific brand mentions, reduce the data to a manageable level by filtering out noise, and then deliver actionable reports. Since this is a highly data-intensive activity, the analytics capabilities of these products can be an order of magnitude stronger than the much more basic tools offered by platforms which are designed more for publishing: For example, Hagan Ramsey, a digital strategist at the marketing firm IQ, chose Sysomos MAP because “the engine is slightly faster and yields better looking reports. Also, Sysomos has superior text analytics.” Similarly, a social media strategist at a small marketing agency is particularly impressed by the sheer number of sources Radian6 covers: “We evaluate up to five listening tools every year and each has their pros and cons. Radian6 satisfied our needs in reporting, insights and the representation of the data. We also liked the amount of data the tool could pull conversations from. We found this tool had the ability to capture a wide range of sources for mentions.  One marketing consultant for a PR firm with fewer than ten employees said that Sysomos MAP “also generated decent visuals. We did not have to export the data to Excel to get acceptable looking charts and graphs. The system generated graphs that we could re-use directly with clients.” Even as these functions become increasingly integrated into packaged systems, specialty tools continue to emerge. SocialBro, for example, drills down into Twitter followings to track location, activity and demographics. Consultant James Young adopted TM Page 11 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  12. 12. the tool because “In essence, I can see when tweets are gaining or losing followers for my account. SocialBro also has great analytical tools like best time to tweet reports. SocialBro also provide a very complete look at each person you follow or is following you. It helps to understand who the people are.” Simply Measured, another specialized analytics tool, also gets a good review from Shubanker Goel at Kaplan Thaler who points out that “Simply Measured “provides a complete social media snapshot report that encompasses key insights from…Facebook, Twitter and many other platforms” and is a “very exhaustive tool with capability to provide in-depth data as well as high-level actionable insights”. BUYER TIP: Understand your analytics requirements clearly from the get-go, and determine whether you need a specialized analytics product in addition to your main SMMS product. Specialized Analytics Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Attensity Crowdbooster PageLever* SimplyMeasured Socialbakers* SocialBro Social Mention *Rating based on one review TM Page 12 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  13. 13. Customer Care Customer care in social has quickly grown in importance. Initially, consumers forced the issue, discovering that the quickest route to a customer service response was not to call the company and open a support ticket, but rather to tweet the issue and have an agent respond to the tweet in almost real time. Part of the reason for highly responsive customer service over Twitter, is that complaints are posted in a public forum, and companies will bend over backwards to prevent having their dirty laundry aired in a public arena. We probably all remember “United Breaks Guitars” which is the exemplar of this phenomenon. Undoubtedly, the real purpose of complaint tweets is just to vent frustration, not necessarily to elicit a response. But research from Nielsen and McKinsey indicates that almost half of all social media users have turned to social channels to resolve customer service issues, and about 30% of social media users prefer contacting customer service through a social channel rather than by phone. Some huge brands like Nike, Blackberry, American, Samsung, and Dell use social media (mostly Twitter) as a primary support channel, for good reason. An American Express report revealed Some huge brands like Nike, Blackberry, American, Samsung, and Dell use social media (mostly Twitter) as a primary support channel, for good reason. that customers electing to use social media for service are typically the most engaged and vocal customers, and are prepared to spend substantially more (21%) with companies they believe provide great service. Ryanair’s recent decision to stop providing customer care to its customers over Facebook and Twitter is a glaring counter-example. The rationale is clearly to keep costs at the lowest possible level in a cutthroat industry. However, in an open letter to the Ryanair CEO, the founder of Brand Embassy, a social customer care platform, pointed out that ignoring customers, leads directly to customer losses, and that losing customer trust is irreversible. But once rapid intervention expectations are established, they can be difficult to sustain without appropriate tools. Many vendors are now talking up this use case for their products. Community platforms like GetSatisfaction and Jive moved into this area quickly. GetSatisfaction allowed companies to add a special “customer support” tab to their Facebook fan pages so that customer support issues are automatically routed to the customer support team for resolution. Similarly, Jive recently introduced an entire “Social Customer Service Solution.” Zendesk too provides functionality that allows customer service tweets to be automatically turned into Zendesk support tickets. In May 2012, they partnered with Sprout Social to offer more social capabilities from within the platform. As companies started to realize that being highly proactive with unhappy customers can yield great results, SMMS vendors highly specialized in this domain started to gain traction last year. For example, David Tull, customer engagement manager at the retailer JackThreads, said that Conversocial “allows us to proactively provide service to customers who have not yet directly reached out to our department, which increases our likelihood of recovering those customers.” Andrey Grigoryev, a social media manager at Hertz indicates that having tried to use a number of general purpose and free tools in combination, they realized that this kind of approach “did not provide the functionality and analytics required to deploy the customer care team on social. We needed a robust solution to manage agent activity, track individual performance and activity, and support our custom communication workflows.” Herz ultimately selected Conversocial as the solution that best met their requirements. Conversocial was selected for several reasons, including the intuitive user interface (very important for CS agents who are already working in a multitude of complex systems), capacity to support our custom workflows and assignment processes, and the robust analytic dashboard capable of reporting on metrics specific to customer care.” TM Page 13 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  14. 14. Social Dynamx, specifically designed for customer care in high-volume contact centers, was acquired by Lithium in October and has been re-branded Lithium Social Web: Another example of the obvious synergy between online customer community software and social customer care. One early Social Dynamx customer, Baochi Nguyen, former director of marketing at the telecom firm RingCentral, put the value proposition succinctly when she said: The product “allows me to monitor a support case all the way from original tweet, through various hand-offs in customer support all the way to resolution.” Another user, a customer service leader at a software company with more than 1,000 employees, said: “The Artificial Intelligence built into Social Dynamx filters tweets, Facebook posts etc, down to a manageable number of the most important to address. This is a big time saver for us. It’s huge.”  Marketing and customer care departments have different needs, and best-of-breed products like Conversocial and Lithium Social Web have highly specific functionality unique to the customer care use case. For example, Conversocial has a natural language processing engine that helps companies filter through the noise and respond faster to customer service issues. It looks at the syntax and structure of sentences to identify issues, and over time learns the type of issues that each individual customer responds to.  These tools also tend to have very specific workflow capabilities allowing work queues to be set up by agent and/ or priority to allow high ticket volumes to be processed quickly and efficiently. Analytics too tend to be use-case specific allowing for things like tracking of SLAs and agent productivity, time of day volume analysis, and issue categorization. However, some users are working with general SMMS tools for this purpose. Customer care is a frequent use case for Hootsuite Enterprise customers. For example, a community manager at a communications technology company with more than 200 employees uses Hootsuite Enterprise to respond to customer tweets relating to customer support issues in almost real time: “When someone has a problem, we have a very limited window to fix it. Speed is hugely important to us. We aim to fix problems in 10 minutes. Performance is fantastic. Mentions are pushed very quickly to appropriate stream and we can respond immediately.” But the demand for enterprise-level functions and integration are quickly coming to even this relatively newer use case. Richard Margetic, director of global social media at Dell, likes Sprinklr as a customer service tool because of its strength in “roles and permissions, scheduling, analytics, calendars, reports, customer service, training,” with the caveat that “their permissions are on the person and not on the platform.” Specialized Customer Care Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Attensity Respond Brand Embassy Conversocial Lithium Social Web LiveOps Social TM Page 14 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  15. 15. General Purpose Tools used for Customer Care SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING HootSuite Enterprise Radian6 (Salesforce Marketing Cloud) Spredfast Sprinklr Sprout Social Viralheat* *Rating based on one review Social Sales Sales Intelligence Some companies are using social media to seek new efficiencies for their sales forces. Products like InsideView, competing with more traditional business information vendors like Hoover’s and Dun & Bradstreet, seek to take the chill off cold calls by providing intelligence derived partly from the social media activity of target companies. Users find the capability valuable, but some say the tools still need to be refined. “I can flag individual companies or job titles or other keywords, and the system automatically tracks these and sends me a daily email feed with updates,” wrote Heather Hoetger, vice president of business development at the marketing firm Bulldog Solutions, in a review of InsideView. But, she added, “The contact information for people working at specific companies is not reliable. I have to double-check each contact against LinkedIn and it often turns out that the job title is wrong, or the person has moved on. This is a major inconvenience.” A twist on the sales intelligence value proposition is provided by relative newcomer Leadspace, which combs through the social web and your contact database comparing people’s online presence to a vendor’s unique ideal buyer profiles. Sales Intelligence Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING InsideView* Leadspace ViralHeat* *Rating based on one review TM Page 15 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  16. 16. Social Selling / Compliance Vendors like Hearsay Social focus on empowering distributed sales teams to engage with prospects. For example, an insurance agent could use the software to generate leads by posting centrally approved content to her Facebook page. Hearsay tools are specifically designed for companies that centrally manage a brand, with branches (franchised or not) or representatives in local markets. Aside from the retail, real estate and hospitality industries, the tools appeal to heavily regulated sectors such as banking and financial services. Socialware is another player in this area that focuses heavily on the compliance value proposition and sells primarily to heavily regulated industries like banks and insurance companies, and brokerages. They work closely with financial regulators like FINRA to ensure their product meets current compliance guidelines. Additional providers in the social compliance space include Arkovi which focuses on archiving of social data and SocialVolt which is a social media risk management platform. Other tools are designed to facilitate sales contact over multiple different channels. For example, Nimble offers a “social CRM” system aimed at small and medium-sized business. The idea is to cull data from the social web and combine it with CRM data so that users can contact customers without having to scour all of their social media outlets. Vendors from adjacent spaces like marketing automation are also beginning to talk about “social selling” as an extension of their platform capabilities. For example, Oracle’s Eloqua has promoted the importance of the social channel for building sales relationships. And companies like SocialPandas, which received funding from True Ventures but has not launched its product yet, also seek to help salespeople reduce the time and energy spent tracking down leads. There will likely be more activity to come in this category as social expands beyond the marketing badlands into other critical parts of the organization. Social Selling Tools SOFTWARE AVERAGE RATING Arkovi Hearsay Social HootSuite Enterprise HootSuite Pro Nimble Social Volt Socialware TM Page 16 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  17. 17. Vendors by Use Case Summary Customer Care Analytics Listening Publishing/Engagement Curation Social Selling Promotions TM Page 17 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  18. 18. Social Media Management in Large Enterprises Although this report discusses a broad array of products, a few are specifically designed for large enterprises. The following represents facets of solutions that are oriented around large enterprise needs. Complex Listening While many publishing/ engagement tools contain some element of listening, most are not designed for more complex listening needs like brand or sentiment analysis. Purpose built listening tools can scan across millions of sources including social networking sites, blogs, discussion forums, and other social media channels for things like brand mentions and then process enormous quantities of unstructured data. A strategist at a marketing and advertising agency with between 51 and 200 employees highlights this as one of advantages of Radian6: “One of the things I love about the tool is the ability to crawl so many sources including social media sites, blogs, mainstream news, forums, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more…the tool covers over 650 million sources. ” Enterprise listening tools are capable of translating this huge quantity of unstructured data into numerical data, which can then be linked to structured data in a database and analyzed with more traditional data mining tools. This is, almost by definition, an enterprise-level activity related to Business Intelligence. Tools like Radian6, Sysomos MAP, MutualMind, and Visible Intelligence are all examples of true enterprise listening tools. The Emergence of Enterprise Suites Large company requirements frequently extend beyond a single use case like listening. The SMMS market remains quite fragmented with a proliferation of different tools designed for specific use cases, but the risk of data silos has also triggered the emergence of a trend towards integrated platforms covering multiple use cases and allowing social activities to be coordinated across the enterprise. Although these suite tools often cover multiple use cases, they can have less depth than best-of breed tools for specific use cases. For example, tools that focus on customer engagement by necessity have to have some level of listening built in, though it may not have to be as deep as to support brand sentiment analysis. Increasingly, customers want to be able to monitor brand mentions, publish posts and engage social followers, and finally gather analytics data all from a single platform. For large enterprises wishing to coordinate social media management across the organization, a number of specific capabilities are required. These capabilities are somewhat intertwined, but the main components are: »» Ability to govern large numbers of social accounts: The number of social channels managed is one criterion. The ability to manage very large numbers of social accounts across departments and geographies is also crucial. Large enterprises may have hundreds of social properties and managing them can be a significant challenge. It’s TM Page 18 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  19. 19. important to be able to audit properties and track who has access to which accounts. Just as important from a governance perspective is the ability to set up rules to flag content that is unacceptable, to build complex escalation workflows, and to manage passwords. »» Multi-lingual support: Global enterprises often need to manage foreign language social channels including ones using multi-byte characters like the Chinese sites Weibo and RenRen. For such channels, in-line translation capabilities are important. »» Team Collaboration: Support for multiple teams with hierarchical permission structures allowing different users varying degrees of access. Team collaboration around engagement can be particularly complex in very large organizations. Communication pathways between teams, based on product and/or geography tend to multiply exponentially and can be hard to manage without sophisticated workflow capabilities. »» Asset libraries: Shared, multi-lingual content libraries for content publishing that can be accessed across the organization. »» Sophisticated analytics: Reporting across multiple channels, but also across multiple brands and organizational functions. The ability to report across use cases is also important. Marketed mainly to larger enterprises, Sprinklr has taken advantage of the growing demand for enterprise suites. For example, a manager of a very large public utility chose Sprinklr because “it scales very well. You can have a number of users with customer permission levels [and] the digital asset library is a huge value-add component.” Dennis Smith, Social Media Strategist at Dell is also impressed with the workflow features: “Sprinklr makes it easy to manage multiple different Twitter accounts and Facebook pages all at the same time with a centralized view. There is also team functionality / workflow which makes it quite easy to assign actions to other team members, and route requests based on automated rules etc.” Spredfast too is focused on this segment of the market. Deirdre Walsh, senior social media manager at Jive software, chose Spredfast because it was “great for allowing the team to scale. We can setup approval teams, customized workflows, permissioning, etc. Additionally, it allows us to build an enterprise repository so we can share social media assets. A Marketing Manager at a major supermarket chain was equally impressed with the flexibility: “Spredfast supports out complex and asymmetrical social media deployment effortlessly. We can configure user permissions, workflow, and analytics in whatever ways are necessary to support the many accounts and users we have in play at any time. We can modify our approach as our business needs change.” Even mid-sized organizations benefit from enterprise capabilities. Hootsuite Enterprise is particularly strong in the areas of team functionality and collaboration, and a marketing manager at an advertising agency with 51-200 employees placed particularly high value on this functionality, calling it a primary criterion for platform selection: “We have a huge social media team and one of the best features is the Teams functionality that enables us to configure the product to reflect the way we are structured. We can build separate organizations with different team. Each team member is in turn mapped to a social media profile, or account (several people can then contribute to a single profile discussion). This functionality enables us to build a highly collaborative platform where we can have multi-threaded conversations. This allows for much deeper conversations that are possible in the single response model of other tools.” TM Page 19 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  20. 20. Similarly, after starting with Tweetdeck and the free version of HootSuite, Joe Recomendes, director of online marketing at Command Partners, an Internet marketing agency with a social media marketing practice, upgraded to HootSuite’s enterprise tools to best serve “team members and multiple accounts. Some of the other popular social media dashboards do not offer an organizational system where you can offer different roles and responsibilities to different people within the company. HootSuite allows me to delegate tasks and monitor independent employee performance on the networks.” But the amount of control companies require varies widely. In a TrustRadius discussion on workflow rules, the role of corporate culture emerged as a significant criterion in setting workflow rules. By extension, this factor tended to drive product selection. For example, one social media strategist at an advertising firm with more than 500 employees described a seven-step process that starts with brainstorming. The firm reviews proposed topics, obtains client approval and then assigns a special team to write posts. After another internal review and client approval, the firm schedules posts using a publishing platform. Finally, managers review the whole operation through monthly analytic reports. In contrast, one marketing employee at a telecom company with 200-500 employees using HootSuite said that after agents receive training (internally and from HootSuite), “there are no editor safeguards or moderation in place here, and agents are trusted and empowered to respond as they feel necessary.” The company with no safeguards was small (200-500 employees). The ad firm with a meticulous process was bigger (500-1,000 employees). But culture is about more than size. Consider the protocol in place at Dell: “We empower our employees to engage directly in social media without a review process,” says Rishi Dave, executive director of Digital Marketing at Dell. “We require them to go through training and become social media ‘certified’ before they can engage on Dell’s behalf. Once they do this, they are empowered to engage directly with customers in authentic, real-time conversation. TM Page 20 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  21. 21. General Factors of Concern to SMMS Users Mobile Access Several reviewers made mobile access a top selection criterion. While many vendors have started offering apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, some are focusing their resources elsewhere. Twitter subsidiary TweetDeck, for example, shut down its mobile apps in May, announcing plans to concentrate on the web. “Lack of mobile apps was a huge deal breaker for us and really enabled us to rule out most products,” wrote a community marketing manager at telecom firm with 201-500 employees. “In our roles, it’s vitally important that we have access from anywhere. Only HootSuite and TweetDeck had mobile applications. We use [HootSuite] for listening / customer support and sharing data with our clients.” A manager at a utility company with more than 10,000 employees chose Sprinklr for workflow processes and scalability, giving close scrutiny to the mobile performance: “The approval process for reviewing messages prior to posting on social channels is clean and simple, and very easy to do from the mobile app,” but “The Android app is a little buggy and the lack of an iPad app is disappointing.” Integration For a variety of users, the ability to integrate SMMS platforms with other software products has become important. For example, companies using social media customer support solutions wanted to be able to hook their SMMS into the main support ticketing system or their CRM. There is also a desire to integrate SMMS tools with analytics platforms. Users report success with Spredfast for an even more common use case, integrating web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Site Catalyst (formerly Omniture) for a complete analytics snapshot. Additionally, integration with community platforms has become increasingly valued, giving an advantage to companies like Jive that are strong in the community platform space and also offer social tools. In fact, communities and “sense and respond” activities on the social web can be considered as the two halves of social support. One Jive Fathom user, a marketing manager at an electrical manufacturing company with more than 5,000 employees, commented: “[We have] seamless integration with our internal community. We can easily create new discussions around actionable mentions, bringing in experts, stakeholders when needed.” TM Page 21 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  22. 22. Similarly, the acquisition of SocialDynamx by Lithium achieves the same goal. Lithium community users can now expect seamless integration between these two complementary systems. Ease of Use Across nearly the entire range of use cases, ease of use has become a crucial factor in product selection. For the most part, this trend results from the spread of uses and users company-wide. The usability expectations for this category of products is very high indeed; products are judged as though they were consumer products, rather than traditional business software applications. For example, a marketing employee at a telecom company with 201-500 employees chose Punchtab to build buzz with sweepstakes partly due to “Ease of use - we can create a new campaign in under ten minutes.” One social media strategist at a software firm with fewer than 200 employees chose Sprinklr over Radian6 and Desk.com to support global customer service teams partly because the firm was “looking for better ease of use, more channel coverage, better customization and applicability to social support functions and more responsive customer support staff.” But even after The usability expectations for this category of prioritizing that criteria in selection, the reviewer still noted products is very high indeed; products are judged that Sprinklr’s “UI can be confusing or awkward at times.” Keith Bailly, regional director of marketing at the recruitment firm Phoenix Staff, chose Hootsuite Pro because of the user as though they were consumer products, rather than traditional business software applications. experience, and because he was able to implement the product in-house and praised it as “easy to set up.” A marketing manager at an advertising agency with 51-200 employees loves the Hootsuite Enterprise UI: “The UI is extremely clean and [offers] great user experience”. But judgments about UI can be very subjective. Social media consultant James Young, switching from Spredfast to Hootsuite Pro for cost reasons, found that “across the board, usability is poor. I find it extremely difficult to navigate and perform common functions. Reporting is labor intensive, requiring me to build nearly everything by hand. Listening is difficult because streams UI is confusing and disjointed. Influencer identification is a hidden function that I had to search the internet for help to find. Hootsuite actually does everything I need; it just makes it very difficult to do these things. For example, publishing to multiple platforms requires me to manipulate two separate elements that are not obviously related to each other.” Scaling Sprinklr across a utility company with more than 10,000 employees, a manager complained (in an otherwise largely favorable review) that “the old UI still exists in certain areas, though the new UI is much nicer & faster. The learning curve can be a little steep because of the many features so it does take some perseverance to really master all the capabilities (reminds me of learning guitar, it take practice, practice, practice).” Acquisition Risk/Impact The last few years have seen multiple acquisitions of SMMS vendors by big software companies. These acquisitions reflect the demand for social functionality within large enterprises and commensurately the desire among the large enterprise software providers to have competitive social offerings. In many cases, the acquisitions have shifted the focus for the acquired companies from new feature innovation to integration with the acquirer’s other products. Social media data is inherently valuable, but is much more valuable when integrated and correlated with data from other sources like CRM systems. This trend has been a driver behind some notable acquisitions. For example: Oracle bought Vitrue, Involver and Collective TM Page 22 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  23. 23. Intellect, gaining tools for social media management, app development and monitoring. These tools are now part of the “Oracle Social Relationship Management Suite” and they can now be accessed from a common interface via single sign-on. However, this is a baby step towards real integration of the social components, not to speak of integration with data from other parts of the Oracle product portfolio like Oracle CRM. Salesforce has pursued a similar strategy acquiring Buddy Media’s Facebook marketing tools and the Radian6 listening platform and combining them under the Marketing Cloud moniker. However, some users complain that the pace of integration is slow. The addition of marketing automation to the Marketing Cloud following the recent acquisition of ExactTarget promises broader marketing functionality, but it will bring even more complex integration issues. Last year brought several other notable acquisitions. Google was beaten to the punch by Salesforce in its bid to acquire Buddy Media. However the acquisition of Wildfire, a contest and promotions specialist, was a consolation prize giving the traditional search giant a back-door entrance to the social media information flow. HootSuite acquired Seesmic, and Lithium combined its customer community offering with SocialDynamx’ customer support tools. Marketo is the first of the marketing automation vendors to add some social marketing luster to its platform through the acquisition of CrowdFactory. Despite the market consolidation, no single vendor has yet become dominant, though leaders are emerging by use case. BUYER TIP: Don’t assume that products that have been recently acquired by larger platform vendors will have good integration. It’s likely that acquired products will function independently for some time and will take time to become assimilated and integrated. TM Page 23 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  24. 24. What You Should Take-Away Use Cases for Social Are Expanding Use cases for SMMS tools are broadening and infiltrating other departments beyond Marketing. As we have seen, Customer Care and Sales are two of the newer areas where there is increasing activity and interest. But marketing departments are also benefiting from entirely new capabilities like social curation, which enable them to harness social content in the pursuit of uniquely authentic marketing. New “Best of Breed” Solutions Continue to Emerge While some vendors are consumed with integration challenges, or with building out more complete suite functionality, there is still a lot of innovation in specialized functions where emerging vendors are beginning to pose a threat to established solutions. One example of this is in the analytics space where a vendor like SocialBro has quickly established a reputation for very strong capabilities in the relatively narrow area of Twitter analytics. Similarly, PunchTab is challenging the incumbents in the promotions space. Specific Capabilities Required by Large Enterprises Large enterprises have specific requirements and a number of vendors have focused on building out highly scalable platforms designed to meet the needs of these larger organizations. In particular, enterprises need the ability scale across multiple entities and to foster collaboration across the organization with hierarchical permission structures and libraries of shared content. Governance issues have also become critical. Acquisitions Have Focused On Desire to Integrate with Other Systems The need for integration of social tools with other systems like support ticketing systems, CRM customer data, web analytics, and community platforms is strong and is a big driver of the many acquisitions that have occurred in the space over the last couple of years. However, not all of these acquisitions have gone well, perhaps due to an underestimation of the integration challenges. The result is palpable frustration with some of the acquired products like Radian6 and Wildfire that used to be leaders in the space but are now being challenged by new entrants. TM Page 24 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013
  25. 25. Usability Is a Key Factor Usability is one of the primary capabilities upon which social tools are judged. There is an expectation that tools in this category have elegant consumer-like UI’s and that they are a pleasure to use. There is very little patience for poorly designed user interfaces. Almost all vendors have made considerable efforts to improve user interfaces as a way of gaining market share. Mobile Access is Increasingly Important Mobile access is becoming another very important selection criterion. The ability to access the publishing engine from mobile devices is becoming a critical requirement and, again, vendors are struggling to meet this need. TM Page 25 of 25 ©TrustRadius Inc. 2013