There is no set standard on how to classify social technologies. And analyst firms like Gartner or Forrester don’t do a good job helping B2B buyers make sense of the technologies that power social media.
Peer-to-peer software reviews sites like G2 and Trust Pilot provide detailed information based on customer reviews. It’s almost like Yelp but for software. G2 plots and ranks software suppliers based on platform ad data from web sources and social networks. They use an algorithm to determine real-time customer satisfaction and market presence levels. This is G2’s take on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.
The challenge with these review sites is that they classify social technologies into more than one category, and some are classified incorrectly. Even though the space is converging, buyers need to understand where their investments are going and what problems various social technologies will solve.
Note: This is not a comprehensive guide to all social technology vendors. I oversimplify everything in my life, so I will categorize these technologies and social media platforms in a way that makes the most sense. From there, it’s up to you to do your diligence and find the right platform to meet your business needs.
Social technology is still a new category and will continue to evolve.
Social Media Marketing Software
The simple definition: Software to publish content to various social media channels without natively logging in and out of each one.
In the early days of social media, dating back to 2008/2009, just a few platforms published content directly to social media channels. Since then, there has been an all-out convergence in the market. For small businesses, social media technologies like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Hubspot Marketing Hub benefit from being early to market and having a solid foothold in the space.
A few others worth looking into are Buffer, Agorapulse, and Later. Each of these social technology platforms has varying degrees of differentiation, but they all do pretty much the same thing.
Social media marketing software technologies like Sprinklr, Khoros, and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud are market leaders for enterprise brands. Over the last several years and through various acquisitions, they have all added new capabilities–customer experience, content management, social listening, brand advocacy, influencer management, communities, and social care.
Other technologies and social media providers like Falcon (Acquired by Cision) and Meltwater have similar capabilities.
Before you decide on a social technology vendor, you should first consider the basics:
- Governance: Are there security controls that safeguard company passwords and customer data? This is a significant feature for large enterprise brands with multiple handles and global channels.
- Content & Editorial Approvals: Does the technology enable you to create content approvals? This is a critical feature for teams because it streamlines content ideation, creation, approval, and publishing processes.
- Escalation Workflows: These workflows are critical for community management, customer care, and crisis management.
- Dashboards: Measurement dashboards with roll-up performance metrics and analytics across all channels with different views.
- Paid media: Integrating paid media activation with supported reporting can build efficiencies for digital campaigns and organic social media management.
Social Media Listening Software
The simple definition: Software that allows you to monitor and analyze conversations across news media, blogs, forums, and social media. It’s important to note that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram restrict what data these platforms access, so ask many questions if one of the technology vendors tells you otherwise.
This is also a crowded market. I have written extensively about the tech vendors I have worked with in the past, so I will highlight just a few points. I am of the mindset that software companies that have a single vision are the ones that are innovating the most and providing the best quality of service. This is one reason I’m not a massive fan of social media management platforms that try to be everything to everyone. It’s not that they have a terrible product; their vision is to be a one in all solution for enterprise companies by monitoring all PESO channels, so they don’t go as deep with certain features.
The social listening vendors focus 100% of their time, effort, and development resources and improve how they provide insights and analysis for their clients.
Forrester does provide some reporting on this space, although they call it AI-enabled Consumer Intelligence platforms. The only issue I have is that they’re missing a lot of good vendors for various reasons.
A few to consider for small businesses are Keyhole, Brand24, YouScan, Mentionlytics, and Mention. For the most part, most of the smaller social listening vendors have become a commodity. None of them stand out or have differentiated feature sets.
I have started to track and curate all social media monitoring tools I have used or reviewed. Most top platforms include Infegy, Brandwatch, Netbase Quid, Synthesio, Pulsar Platform, and Digimind. Below is an example of how Infegy analyzes content. They have one of the strongest text analytics tools on the market.
There is also something to consider with ethics and social media technology related to data and consumer privacy. As mentioned, a few platforms restrict access via their API. So be careful about those vendors that say they have access to such data.
Audience Analysis Software
The simple definition: Software technology that can help you create audiences, segment them into smaller sub-groups, and analyze their media affinities and social media conversations.
Like social listening tools, I have also curated a list of the top audience analysis tools and software. In previous posts, I write a lot about the difference between audience intelligence and social listening. The main difference is that social listening will provide insight into what the world is saying about a topic, brand, or competitor. Audience intelligence gives insight into what a group of people is saying and is focused on audience segmentation.
The top players in this space are Audiense, Affinio, and Helixa but do your research. Brandwatch Audiences are also worth keeping close attention to. Below is an example of how Audiense segments its data based on common affinities and other factors.
Influencer Marketing Software
The simple definition: Software that allows you to identify influencers based on topic, location, or channel. Most software platforms can also help manage programs and general campaign influencer tracking.
The consumer marketplace is very different than B2B. Consumer brands seem to get more attention in the media for the campaigns they launch and manage. Part of this is that newer(ish) social networks like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram have much younger audiences–millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are on the rise. These audiences drive demand for every consumer product on the market today.
This is why most innovation and focus on building new capabilities are geared toward these new channels. Today’s top influencer and conversational marketing platforms are Tagger Media, CreatorIQ, Uplfuence, Klear, Mavrck, and Captiv8.
Most of these influencer software providers do the same thing, and there isn’t a lot of differentiation between the features and services they provide. However, Tagger Media is the only one to stand out as they are building what could be described as a social listening platform for the creator community.
Below is an example of Tagger Media’s social intelligence engine, Signals. As mentioned, it provides unique insights into the creator community–content, posts, and profile data. The screenshot below shows data pulled from Fintech influencers. I don’t think any of the creator platforms listed above have anything close to this.