Social Media Technology: Making Sense of Social Software

The social media technology market is complicated but it can be broken down by social media management, publishing, listening and analytics.

By: Michael Brito

Category: Analytics

What is social media technology? Well, if you are new to PR, digital or social media, you might find the social technology landscape to be a bit confusing. That’s because it is. There is not just one answer.

There is no set standard on how to classify certain social technologies that are available in the marketplace. With other types of enterprise software, large analyst firms like Gartner or Forrester will categorize different technology stacks, write industry reports and sell them to enterprise clients and B2B buyers.

There are peer-to-peer software review sites like G2 and Trust Pilot that provide detailed information based on customer reviews. Think Yelp for software. G2 plots and scores software vendors based on reviews from their platform, ad data aggregated from online sources and social networks. They apply an algorithm to calculate the customer Satisfaction and Market Presence scores in real-time. This is G2’s version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

The challenge with these review sites is that they classify many of the software providers into more than one category. And I don’t think that some of the vendors are even categorized correctly. Even though many of the social technology vendors are converging, it’s still important to simplify the process of new buyers because it’s much easier for them to peel the onion back and go deeper on the tech stack once they have a better understanding of the social media technology landscape.

Let me just say that this is not a comprehensive guide to all social technology available for marketers to use. I’ve always been the type of person to oversimplify things but in this case, the market is so diluted and it’s converging so quickly, that simplifying it will make it easy to understand. From there, it’s up to you to do your own diligence and find the right platform that will meet your business needs.

The thing with technology and social media: it’s complicated. The category is still new and will continue to evolve and change.

Social Media Management Software

The simple definition: Software that allows you to publish content to various social media channels without having to log in and out of each one natively.

In the early days of social media, there were just a few platforms that would publish content directly to social media channels. Since then, there has been an all-out convergence due to mergers/acquisitions and general technology innovation. For small businesses, social media platforms like Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Hubspot Marketing Hub have the benefit of being early to market and have a solid foothold in the space. A few others that are worth looking into are Buffer, Agorapulse, and Later. Each of these social technology platforms have varying degrees of differentiation.

Sprout Social Technology

On the enterprise side, social media management software platforms Sprinklr and Khoros are market leaders. Over the last several years and through various acquisitions, they have added several new capabilities–from social listening, brand advocacy, influencer management, communities, and social support.

Sprinklr Dashboard

Other software tools for larger enterprise companies are Falcon (Acquired by Cision) and Salesforce Studio. When exploring social technology, it’s important to consider a few of the basics:

  • Governance: the ability to create workflows and approval processes for posting and responding content, password protection, etc.
  • Escalation workflows: This is important for social support and being able to manage a crisis quickly.
  • Measurement: Roll up analytics across all channels with the ability to deep dive into each one, if needed.
  • Paid media: Integrating the ability to execute paid media programs and pull aggregate reporting

Social Media Listening Software

The simple definition: Software that allows you to monitor and analyze content across the news media, blogs, forums, and social media. It’s important to note that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram have strict restrictions on what data these platforms have access to.

This is also a crowded market. I have written extensively about the 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 provide the best quality of service. This is one reason why I’m not a huge fan of social media management platforms that try and be everything to everyone. It’s not that they have a bad product, their vision is to be a one in all solution for enterprise companies.

The social listening vendors are focusing 100% of their time, effort, and development resources and improving 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 do the same thing. For larger companies, there are few that I think provide analytics and insights for marketers to make data driven decisions.

I have already curated a list that I keep up to date on all social media monitoring tools. For the most part, the top platforms include Brandwatch, Netbase Quid, Synthesio, Pulsar Platform, Infegy & Digimind.

Talkwalker Technology

There is also something to consider with ethics and social media technology as it relates to data and consumer privacy. As mentioned, there are a few platforms that restrict access via their API. Be careful about those vendors that say they have access to such data.

Audience Analysis Software

The simple definition: Software that allows you to create audiences using social media handles (Twitter mainly) analyze their brand and media affinities in conversations.

Similar to 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 own research.

Audiense Technology

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 campaigns and general influencer tracking.

There are several tools that provide influencer tracking and general campaign management but there are a few points that I want to make.

The consumer marketplace is very different than B2B. Consumer brands seem to get more attention in the media for the campaigns they are launching and managing in the marketplace. Part of this reason is because newer(ish) social networks like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram have much younger audiences like younger millennials and Gen Z. These audiences drive demand for just about every consumer product on the market today.

In B2B and even Healthcare, buyers skew older and don’t typically use the newer social media networks as much, therefore don’t get the same attention.

This is one reason why all of the innovation in the influencer software space is geared towards consumer brands. Some of the top influencer marketing platforms available today are CreatorIQ, Uplfuence, Klear, Mavrck, Tagger Media and Captiv8.

Most of these influencer software providers do the same thing and there isn’t a lot of differentiation with the features and services they provide.

For B2B and technology brands, there is really only one player in the space, Onalytica.

Onalytica Influencers

I really hope you enjoyed this video. I do my best to create content that’s actionable and provides value to the work you do.

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