Table of Contents
Section I: Market Overview
Section II: Enterprise SMMS Market Trends
Section III:Enterprise SMMS Platform Capabilities
Section IV: Choosing an SMMS Platform
"Enterprise Social Media Management Software" editorial team:
Michelle Stinson Ross, Social Marketing Manager, Offers.com
Karen Burka, Senior Research Consultant
Claire Schoen, VP, Marketing Services, Third Door Media
Brian Kelly, Principal, Candlewood Creative
Hootsuite Media, Inc.
Oracle Social Cloud
Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud
Finding the appropriate social media management tool for your business can be a challenge. This buyer’s guide provides a framework for deciding if you need and EMMS solution, details the capabilities of the leading platforms, and compares offerings from leading vendors.
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from "Enterprise Social Media Management Software". You can download the report here free.
Social Media Management Software (SMMS) platforms have become must-have toolsets as digital marketers and agencies recognize the impact that social conversations have on every part of the enterprise, from engineering and product development to marketing and sales.
The platforms being used range from freemium services to enterprise-wide solutions like that can cost tens of thousands of dollars per month. Many enterprises license more than one SMMS platform and use only the most robust features available from their vendors.
Enterprises deciding whether or not to license a SMMS platform or to upgrade from their existing freemium platform need to first consider the following:
If the answer to one or more of these questions is "yes," it may be time to consider using a SMMS platform.
Choosing an SMMS platform calls for the same evaluative steps involved in any software adoption:
An important step in the decision process is to assess the enterprise’s internal resources. Social media has made its way into all aspects of most organizations, from the HR department to the marketing and PR departments. Before investing in a SMMS system, make sure you understand who and where you will be using the software. Know how many accounts exist, and where and which ones are critical to your social media strategy. Consider the following:
It is equally important to evaluate the type of SMMS vendor that will provide the best fit for your organization’s unique and specific social marketing needs. For example, enterprises with skilled in-house social marketing practitioners and resources may prefer a platform which is built on a proprietary Social Markup Language (SML) and allows internal developers to build completely customized social content and applications.
Enterprises with fewer in-house skills and resources may be better served by a vendor which provide a plethora of social media consulting and program execution services.
Many SMMS vendors serve specific vertical markets by offering strengths such as regulatory and compliance monitoring of social media marketing content and campaigns, or a specific platform for enterprises with a large network of dealers, agents and franchisees.
Virtually all enterprise SMMS platforms available today offer a core set of social media tools and capabilities that focus on:
The platforms begin to differentiate by offering additional capabilities, often requiring additional investment, that include but are not limited to:
The following section discusses some of the key considerations involved in choosing a SMMS platform.
While Facebook still represents the lion’s share of social media traffic and brand pages, the majority of SMMS platforms are expanding the depth and breadth of social media networks they support. It is equally important to distinguish between a SMMS platform’s ability to publish to social networks versus its ability to listen to or monitor social media conversations.
The vast majority of SMMS platforms provide marketers with the ability to create customized social content for applications such as Facebook Pages, polls, or sweepstakes as well as to utilize pre-built application templates in which users drop in branding and specific promotional language. Some platforms allow users to design the template, lock certain content elements, and allow other elements to be customized by local or regional offices. Many platforms feature a centralized content library that allows users to pull pre-approved content pieces or assets for their specific campaigns or promotions.
Virtually every SMMS platform licenses its technology on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis; the technology is hosted by the vendor and customers log into a web-based dashboard to utilize the system. Customers license the use of the technology on a monthly basis although the majority of vendors require an annual contract to be signed.
Pricing varies among vendors in terms of whether the licensing fees are charged by the user or seat, by the social media channel or page, or by the location, brand or department (also called a subaccount by some vendors). As such, pricing can range from $25 per user per month to several hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, depending upon the scope of the enterprise’s social media marketing programs.
A platform’s Application Programming Interface (API) is a source-code based specification that allows other software systems to communicate with it. In other words, the API is the key that can either lock or unlock the platform for integration within other platforms.
Several current SMMS vendors opened their platforms’ APIs to provide more seamless integration with customers’ existing CRM, web analytics and email platforms. Many marketers are seeking this type of integration to eliminate data silos within the enterprise and to create a more holistic approach to customer relationship marketing, as well as a better understanding of the impact of social media on other marketing initiatives.
Analytics and reporting have become some of the most important functions of any SMMS platform. The volume of social media data available to marketers today is overwhelming, and without strong analytics and reporting capabilities, is unusable.
Virtually all SMMS vendors provide a pre-packaged set of social data reports that focus on quantitative metrics such as number of Facebook fans, likes and comments, as well as number of Twitter followers and retweets. User engagement, which looks at how often and how many times specific users engage with brand social content, is becoming more critical, as are metrics involving reach and virality or "true" reach, which measure how often and how much content is shared by followers, fans and other users. Reports can then be customized in any number of ways, including by social media channel, brand and location for enterprises with multiple locations.
The availability of more qualitative data, which measures the tone or sentiment of social media content, varies widely. Many vendors rely on their platforms’ open APIs to integrate with existing social listening or monitoring tools including Radian6, Crimson Hexagon and Social Mention; others provide proprietary sentiment engines usually driven by keyword filtering to determine if user content is positive, negative or neutral.
The importance of strategic consulting services, defined as services that help marketers set goals, develop content, execute and analyze their social media content initiatives and campaigns, varies according to the needs of the enterprise. Some marketing organizations have strong in-house staffing and skills to operate a self-serve platform. The majority of SMMS vendors, however, offer a range of add-on social media consulting services designed to help educate customers but keep the vendor’s customer account staff involved in the strategy, execution and analysis of their social media efforts.
Before talking to any vendors, just as you would for any business investment, ask others who may be in a similar situation for recommendations and suggestions. Involve those in your company who will be working day-to-day with the SMMS. Be sure to interview several vendors. Refine your questions as you go along, and don’t hesitate to ask for additional information and recommendations. Here are six key questions to ask in every interview.
Download "Enterprise Social Media Management Software 2014: A Marketer’s Guide." The 58- page PDF includes additional valuable information including: