It’s yet very early days for this industry of “Social media vendors”, these tools and platforms still have a long way to go in order to fully scale and integrate within larger enterprises, which most of them target.
Forrester research just released a great report listing 15 Social Media Management tools categorized under:
- Social publishing and promotion building
- Social publishing only
- Promotion building only
A buyers tips for you from someone who has been through most of these tools; list down everything in forehand you want the tool to do, create a wish list of all features, platforms it should connect with etc. Use your notes to create a short-list of vendors that you schedule demo sessions with. And when you schedule a demo, ask to have one setup with your own brand and social profiles.
This will clearly save you valuable time when shopping around for a software solution best matching your specific needs.
Vendors branding themselves as “Social CRM/Social media dashboard” almost always means the ability to reply to tweets using some kind of build in back-office ticketing system. This beacuse most of the vendors have a history of being Twitter management tools. Hootsuite is one such example, although today they integrate very well with more platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Google+.
Social Media Monitoring is complex, there’s a huge difference in monitoring using just the free APIs of Socialmention and BoardReader versus what Brandwatch, radian6 and other vendors specialized in just monitoring offers.
- What propriety i.e. owned social media channels do you manage today, what are you likely to manage tomorrow? Does you vendor support publishing/monitoring in these channels?
- Monitoring in social media channels is a field of it’s own. Whilst getting data from Twitter is fairly easy, monitoring other social networks has proven more difficult due to privacy settings etc. What data does your vendor provide you with?
- What are you reporting needs? Don’t let the vendor answer this question for you. Fancy PDFs are just that and most often nothing more. Make sure the tool can provide you with the metrics you need.
- Does the tool plugin with your existing web analytics provider or not? How about link-tagging?
- Assuming that your tool will be the supporting infrastructure for CRM, Customer serice and Sales, how well can you map you social media profiles with your customer records?
Social publishing platforms and promotions builders
- Context Optional
- Buddy Media
Primarily social media publishing tools
- HootSuite (affiliate link)
- Socialware Compass
- Sprout Social (affiliate link)
Primarily social media promotion builders
- Stuzo social