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By: Jamie Beckland
June 25, 2010

White Horse reviews the leading social media management platforms (SMMPs)

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Wh white paper_smmp

  1. 1. White Horse | White PaperSocial Media Management Platforms:Reviewing the Competitive LandscapeBy: Jamie BecklandJune 25, 2010www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 1
  2. 2. In This Report About the White Horse reviews the leading social media management platforms (SMMPs), Author which enable the corporate marketer to:Jamie Beckland is Emerging Track your social media effectivenessMedia Manager at White Horse. He has designed and implemented Save time updating social mediadozens of marketing programs Scale your ability to manage dozens of social media accountsusing new and emerging Coordinate your team’s social media updatestechnologies and is a frequentwriter and presenter on social Discover compelling content for your audiencemedia strategy. Improve your social media outreach Track revenue from social media efforts IntroductionSMMPs Reviewed:Argyle Social Social media offers strong and compelling benefits to the customer or prospect:Awareness Social Marketing • More access to the brandSoftware • A louder mouthpiece to gain attentionCoTweet® • Easier methods of communicationHootSuiteObjectiveMarketerPostling Naturally, many customers now use social channels to connect with key products and services.SocialOomphSpredfast Social Media But this new landscape overwhelms corporate marketers. The sheer volume is much larger than current teamManagement System structures can handle. In White Horse’s recent survey of corporate marketers, 58% of respondents confirmed thatSprinklr Social Media Marketing insufficient personnel was their top obstacle to maximizing social media opportunities. And the channel continuesSolutions to grow, with customer adoption increasing. Of course, these challenges are added to the marketer’s existingVitrue responsibilities. And the cost of failure can be public flogging that is virtually guaranteed to go viral, obliterating years or decades of cultivated brand preference at Internet speed. www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 2
  3. 3. Social Media: Take Control of Team Productivity Boosts“Managing multiple distinct Marketers are all too aware of these challenges, but have no choice but to push marketing efforts forward into thesocial media accounts can social media sphere. It is not unusual for corporate marketing teams to start 10–40 new social accounts for each newbe a point of failure for your campaign. Even without additional resources, each one of these accounts must be managed on an ongoing basis.business.” This explosion of platforms, accounts, and voices means that the entire team must work together on maintaining a unified social presence. Social media management platforms (SMMPs) are quickly becoming a critical part of the marketer’s arsenal. Social media management platforms are designed to: • Give one person the ability to manage multiple social media accounts • Give multiple team members the ability to manage one social media account • Coordinate social media participation effectively and efficiently • Track and analyze social media marketing performance These platforms are critical tools, and every marketing team needs to implement one of them. In 2010, social media management is more than a complicated headache-inducer; managing multiple distinct social media accounts can be a point of failure for your business. Marketers should not wait until they are juggling many accounts before evaluating SMMPs. It’s important to take time to select the best product for your needs. The entire marketing team will spend a lot of time using the tool. Think of this decision less like a first date and more like a marriage. It takes hours of use to be able to maximum the benefits of these systems. And there will be a learning curve, so understanding the user interface before the first campaign sets up the team for success. This report outlines the challenges and opportunities for corporate marketers of using SMMPs. Through conversations with SMMP sales teams, interviews with leaders, and hands-on demos and use, White Horse has gained a comprehensive understanding of the landscape. We reviewed these products in several functional areas including supported social media platforms, their flexibility and comprehensiveness in managing external social media accounts, and their reporting and analytic capabilities. www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 3
  4. 4. Supported PlatformsIf you already have social accounts set up on various platforms, it is critical to work with a platform thatsupports your existing accounts. The foundation of supported platforms also helps establish the expected userbehavior for the platform. CoTweet only supports Twitter; therefore retweet and direct message ability is builtinto the platform. In contrast, Vitrue only supports Facebook, so group messaging is built into that platform.The following chart may not reflect all of the integrations that the platform offers, but covers the principalsocial sites where marketers are commonly operating already. Many support blogging platforms to somedegree (e.g., allowing the user to post a new blog post, but not review or respond to comments) from theplatform itself. ObjectiveMarketer’s development team can integrate niche communities quickly, making itattractive if you have a strong presence in underrepresented social sites. SMMP Applications Social Site Integration Team Management Analytics Rated on a scale of 1-5 (variety of platforms, robustness (flexibility of user permissions, (engagement metrics, website1 2 3 4 5 of activities supported) degrees of control) analytics integration) Argyle Social Awareness Social Marketing Software CoTweet HootSuite ObjectiveMarketer Postling SocialOomph Spredfast Social Media Management System Sprinklr Social media Marketing Solutions VirtueIn the future, expect more robust integration with niche social networking platforms like Ning and forumplatforms like vBulletin and phpBB. While the presence on these niche communities may be small, theyhave a highly engaged audience around a narrow subject matter. This makes them highly influential withintheir subject matter, and important targets for social engagement. The “long tail” of online communitieswill continue to drive online influencers, and support from these platforms will allow marketers to pushmore dramatically into the space in a manageable way.www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 4
  5. 5. Management Capabilities: OverviewCampaign-focused From saving time to building deeper engagement, SMMPs have many benefits. When used to their full potential,platforms SMMPs can even drive sales activity directly from social sites. As social media sites continue to evolve and addAwarenessObjectiveMarketer features, SMMPs are updating their own service offerings and making tactical implementation easier.SocialOomphVitrue Monitoring vs. ManagingConversation-focused The tools for monitoring social media have been around for several years. But the tools for managing socialplatforms media are still very young. While all of the tools that we reviewed had some capacity to search the social stream,CoTweet none offered a comprehensive monitoring solution. Therefore, digital marketers will continue to need a separateHootSuite social media monitoring solution (for guidance, see our previous report on social media monitoring systems.)Postling Campaigns vs. ConversationsBalanced focus Corporate marketers use social media for two distinct reasons:ArgyleSpredfast 1. Social platforms offer the ability to broadcast messages in a way the organization controlsSprinklr 2. Social media allows for direct audience engagement Broadcasting is most effective as part of a larger marketing campaign, while the engagement potential is part of ongoing conversations with the audience. SMMPs have a natural inclination toward either campaigns or conversations. While any social engagement will have both aspects, choosing a platform depends on the primary needs of your brand. Are you more interested in engaging with individuals? Or are you trying to support product launches and external marketing initiatives that have larger lives in other non-social places? www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 5
  6. 6. Management Capabilities: Inbox vs. ChannelizationInbox Aggregation There are two basic user interfaces for social media management tools:ArgyleSprinklr 1. The Inbox model aggregates all social media accounts into one location, allowing the user to get an overCoTweet view of all activity across accounts easily.Channelization 2. The Channelization model segments the user view by topic, search, channel or other user-defined theme,Segmentation allowing the user to focus on one specific task or account at a time.HootSuiteObjectiveMarketer Understanding your needs as a user is critical for selecting the right tool. Decide if it makes more sense for yourPostling team to look at everything that is coming into all accounts in the aggregate, or if it’s more important to focusSpredfast on specific accounts or tasks for a particular batch of updates. While it may seem convenient to have an InboxNone view of all account activity, White Horse has found that usability suffers. The very concept of showing the newestAwareness posts on top, which is typical of the traditional email inbox, is even more frustrating with real-time information.SocialOomphVitrue A more user-friendly model for reviewing new social feedback is an aggregated view sorted algorithmically by influence. This would help marketers identify the accounts that are the most important to respond to as well as the greatest opportunities for positive testimonials and feedback. In the absence of this functionality, White Horse recommends a workflow that includes separate review of each campaign’s comments. Many of the platforms offer this capacity through either filters or tabs. www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 6
  7. 7. Team Management CapabilitiesTake the time to evaluate You must consider the needs and structure of your team in order to determine which tool is best for you. Willyour needs now; your team you have Marketing, PR, HR, and Product Development all using one platform for engagement? If so, the amountwill use this tool extensively. of team management functionality need is much more robust than is needed by a small core team of socialFor example: media users. 6-person marketing team If you will have many users accessing the system, roles-based permissions are critical. Spredfast and Sprinklrx4 hours social engagement weekly offer robust role definition, which allows partial read-or-write access to entire accounts, specific posts,x52 weeks / year assignments, and workflows. HootSuite and ObjectiveMarketer offer some of this functionality with user1,248 person hours annually permissions and shared columns for keyword monitoring. CoTweet offers the option to give each user all-or-using your SMMP nothing access to a social media account. Scheduling and Social Sharing All of these platforms allow for scheduling posts in advance with release on a specific date and time. However,“If you will have many users ObjectiveMarketer and SocialOomph allow for more sophisticated scheduling through drip queues. Drip queuesaccessing the system, roles- are automatically fed into the social stream at predefined intervals (e.g., “every 6 hours” or “every 15 minutes”).based permissions are Messages can be aggregated into the queue at any time, and users can be notified when a queue is low oncritical.” content. In this way, you can establish a regular posting schedule that followers can predict. Branded sharing frames differentiate ObjectiveMarketer from other platforms. Since sharing and passing along relevant content is such a crucial part of social interaction, marketers must plan to promote interesting content from others. Typically, this interaction leads the user to an external site. But ObjectiveMarketer wraps external content in a custom frame that allows you to promote your own brand, social channels, or even custom offers on all shared links. Branded frames add a tactical, conversion-based approach to the altruism of link sharing. www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 7
  8. 8. URL Shortening“Short URLs serve as brand Twitter’s 140-character count forces users to shorten URLs before sending. Third-party URL shorteners suchreinforcement for every as bit.ly add value by integrating clickstream analytics into their platforms.impression…” We believe that the short URL is one of the most critical considerations for serious corporate social campaigns. Short URLs serve as brand reinforcement for every impression, yet in most cases that brand impact accrues to the short URL service itself. Moreover, many Web users are confused about exactly what short URLs are. White Horse recommends that branded short URLs (e.g., http://pep.si for Pepsi) be used for all marketing interactions. This allows the brand to accrue the branding value of the short URL. Sprinklr and Spredfast both allow for full custom URL shortening, and others have confirmed that they will be adding that functionality in the near future. Both also make handling URLs very easy for the user. There is no need to pre-shorten the URL. Adding any URL into a new post automatically shortens it and prepares for tracking and analytics. Spredfast even creates automatic tracking URLs that allow site analytics software to track users from social media as they expore your site. www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 8
  9. 9. Analytics and Reporting CapabilitiesSocial media can quickly become an insatiable maw that needs to be continuously fed. Therefore, measuringeffectiveness and impact of your social media campaigns is critical. With that understanding, you can select a toolthat has the right built-in reporting and analytics capabilities.There are several different types of reporting available.ROI If you have a transactional site or have assigned a value to certain actions on your site, then you can jumpright into measuring the ROI of your social activities. However, you should not solely judge social programs onROI. While your social ROI may not initially be as efficient as other channels, it offers other important benefits.Customer engagement, product development, and brand perception all are valuable additional metrics to track.Argyle focuses on demonstrating social media conversions with a dashboard dedicated to showing the directrevenue from campaign efforts, making this attractive for direct response uses.Engagement Social media conversations promote brand consideration. If your marketing goal is toincrease consideration by a target market, valuable metrics to track include dialogue, references, citations,and link sharing. Platforms with nested conversations make it easier to measure engagement; nearly all offerreporting on aggregate performance of accounts by impression count and clicks.Site Analysis If you are primarily concerned with driving traffic into your existing conversion funnel, youshould track your site’s clickthrough and resulting behavior. With that goal in mind, make sure the platformwill be able to seamlessly integrate with your site analytics software. Nearly all of the platforms integratewith Google Analytics, but relatively few integrate with Omniture, CoreMetrics, WebTrends, and others.Spredfast, in particular, offers robust site analytics integration.Virality If reach and impressions are important to your marketing campaigns, plan to track social shares,retweets, and other pass-along metrics. Tracking virality by channel and account gives you actionableinformation that can help you adjust tactics on platforms that are performing well for you.In that case, measure social metrics like social mentions, reposts, and individual post performance.Awareness does a particularly good job of tracking pass-alongs on Facebook.www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 9
  10. 10. Platforms In-DepthArgyle Social focuses specifically on tracking ROI metrics, and is best for Web-based businesses that havealready built in conversion events on their site. Its Google Analytics integration pulls conversion informationinto the platform data, and then analyzes the performance of individual posts on an ROI basis. This type ofinformation is very useful for creating a direct response element in social channels. However, take care to setthe expectation that not every Status Update or Tweet should push a conversion; you want to integrate with thenorms of each platform appropriately, including sharing content from others.Awareness Social Marketing Software grew out of a social community software platform andtherefore offers the ability to build a custom branded community. It focuses on using social media primarilyas a broadcast platform. Newly released functionality allows users to manage engagement from the tool aswell. Awareness continues to add new social channels into its publishing protocol. The user permissions arenot granular—users have either full access to an account or no access at all.CoTweet was one of the first tools to allow multi-user management of Twitter, geared toward thecorporate marketer. CoTweet offers the ability to assign follow-up actions to specific users of the systemand for users to review their assigned tasks. Twitter is the only platform currently supported with moreplatforms and new functionality planned for launch in Q4 2010. If you already use ExactTarget for emailmarketing, CoTweet offers robust integration between social media and email programs.HootSuite is a solid solution for medium or large teams. It offers clear role-based permissions, andintegrates with a wide range of social platforms. HootSuite also offers strong localization and translationservices using the Google Translate API. If your organization has a worldwide presence, this service cangive you a strong understanding of local nuance and opportunities. Assignments and forward-to-emailfunctionality also allow for robust team management of follow-up items.ObjectiveMarketer is innovating in a number of functional areas, in particular its use of custombranded frames for off-site link sharing. It offers strong conversation capabilities and is able to integratenew social media sites into their platform easily and quickly. ObjectiveMarketer would work well for teamsthat work internationally and therefore need a presence on niche social communities.www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 10
  11. 11. Platforms In-DepthPostling was created for small businesses. Corporate marketers will find the functionality solidly built, butultimately lacking the depth of reporting and management functionality necessary for multiple overlappingcampaigns, and large dispersed teams.SocialOomph focuses on power-user individuals and small businesses that use social media for theirown branding. SocialOomph lacks some critical functionality for the corporate marketer, in particularthe ability for team management. However, it does have a number of forward-looking features, includingintegration with Google Buzz and drip queues, which are much easier to maintain than is individual postscheduling.Spreadfast is built for corporate marketers with robust analytics integrated into the platform. Its rolesand permissions are highly customizable, and it allows for status updates from other platforms to beintegrated within the Spredfast reporting suite. It has strong conversation and reporting functionality.Spredfast integrates with all major Web site analytics vendors and uses sophisticated handling of links tomake data-driven improvements to campaigns in real time.Sprinklr is an enterprise-level solution with full functionality built by its development team. It has astrong vision and leadership team. The product is a highly customized solution for very advanced socialmedia teams.Vitrue allows for Facebook updates, but does not integrate with other social networks. It offers Facebookapps with management tools, so the platform may be attractive for Facebook-specific campaigns, but willnot be effective for a broad, multi-channel social media campaign.www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 11
  12. 12. Platform Pricing“SMMP’s costs are minimal, In any evaluation, pricing is a factor. However, in social media marketing, the software cost is minimalso choose a platform that compared to the overall program investment. The majority of your costs will be person-hours and managementbest fits your needs, regard- costs. Therefore, choose a platform that best fits your needs, regardless of the cost. This will ensure that youless of the cost.” gain maximum value from social media efforts through frequent and improved use by the entire team. Currently No Cost Per User Cost Per Campaign Cost Flat Fee Cost www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 12
  13. 13. The Future of SMMPs These platforms and other potential newcomers will continue to expand their features and functionality in the next 12–18 months. We expect that as social media sites continue to grow, the need for these tools3747 NE Sandy Blvd.Portland, OR 97232 will drive their further adoption. Look for new social sites to be added into these services; new functionality to be authorized with existing platforms (e.g., posting photos and video directly into Facebook); and more sophisticated reporting and analysis. Ultimately, social media marketing does not live in a vacuum. Instead, it provides yet another path for moving a prospect into the existing marketing funnel through user-driven discovery and consideration. Therefore, in the future, expect to see tighter integration with email marketing platforms, Web site analytics vendors, and content management systems. This integration will occur in a variety of ways: partnerships between these vendors and others; new entrants into this space; or other vendors building their own social integration capacity. Find out more about the solutions discussed in this document: Argyle Social www.argylesocial.com Awareness Social Marketing Software www.awarenessnetworks.com CoTweet www.cotweet.com HootSuite www.hootsuite.com ObjectiveMarketer www.objectivemarketer.com Postling www.postling.com SocialOomph www.socialoomph.com Spredfast Social Media Management System www.spredfast.com Sprinklr Social Media Marketing Solutions www.sprinklr.com Vitrue www.vitrue.com If you have any questions or comments about SMMPs, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with us at contactus@whitehorse.com. For more marketing insight, see the White Horse resource center at http://www.whitehorse.com/resources. www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 13
  14. 14. SMMP Evaluation Checklist for Corporate MarketersDoes a social media management platform make sense for your brand? Determine your need by checking all ofthe statements below that apply to your brand and marketing efforts. My brand has more than four social media accounts. My brand is currently on more than two social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). There are more than two people updating social media accounts for my brand. The marketing team reports at least monthly on social media performance. We measure how traffic from social media behaves on our Web site. We measure the volume of social interactions with our brand. We receive more than ten customer service requests monthly via social media. My brand has more than five unofficial brand presences on social media sites.Bonus questions My brand has more than 40 social media accounts. There are more than 12 people updating social media accounts for my brand.Scoring: Add one point for each statement you checked to calculate your score. 0–1: You do not need a SMMP with your current social media presence. 2–3: Start planning to migrate to a SMMP in the next 6–12 months. 4–5: Begin evaluating SMMPs now to adopt at the launch of your next campaign . 6+ or Checking either “bonus question”: Plan to migrate to a SMMP immediately.www.whitehorse.com | 877.471.4200 | contactus@whitehorse.com 14
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