The innovation in social media technology has given marketers new ways to automate and publish content online without much effort. It’s given analysts, strategists, and planners a peek into customer behavior and finding hidden data patterns that help uncover white space. It’s given PR practitioners easy-to-use social technology that can monitor media coverage.
And the best thing about all this is that enterprise SaaS providers are still innovating, so there’s much more to come.
What is Social Media Technology?
You might find the social technology landscape confusing if you are new to PR, digital, or social media. That’s because it is. But, unfortunately, there is not just one answer.
There is no set standard on how to classify certain social technologies that are available in the marketplace. However, large analyst firms like Gartner or Forrester will categorize different technology stacks, write industry reports, and sell them to enterprise clients and B2B buyers with other types of enterprise software.
Peer-to-peer software review sites like G2 and Trust Pilot 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 real-time customer Satisfaction and Market Presence scores. This is G2’s version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant.
The challenge with these review sites is that they classify many software providers into more than one category. And I don’t think that some vendors are even categorized correctly. So even though many social technology vendors are converging, it’s still essential to simplify the process for new buyers because it’s much easier for them to peel the onion back and go deeper into the tech stack once they better understand the social media technology landscape.
This is not a comprehensive guide to all social technology available for marketers. I’ve always oversimplified things, but in this case, the market is so diluted and converging so quickly that simplifying it will make it easy to understand. 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 Management Software
The simple definition: Software that allows you to publish content to various social media channels without natively logging in and out of each one.
In the early days of social media, just a few platforms 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 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.
Social media management software platforms Sprinklr and Khoros are market leaders on the enterprise side. Over the last several years and through various acquisitions, they have added several new capabilities–social listening, brand advocacy, influencer management, communities, and social support.
Other software tools for larger enterprise companies are Falcon (Acquired by Cision) and Salesforce Studio. First, however, when exploring social technology, it’s essential to consider a few of the basics:
- Governance: the ability to create workflows and approval processes for posting and responding to content, password protection, etc.
- Escalation workflows: This is important for social support and managing 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 restrict what data these platforms access.
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 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.
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 do the same thing. However, for larger companies, I think few provide analytics and insights for marketers to make data-driven decisions.
I have already curated a list to keep up to date on all social media monitoring tools. Most top platforms include Brandwatch, Netbase Quid, Synthesio, Pulsar Platform, Infegy & Digimind.
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 that allows you to create audiences using social media handles (Twitter mainly) to analyze their brand and media affinities in 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.
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.
Several tools 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 launch and manage in the market. Part of this is that 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 all the influencer software innovation is geared towards consumer brands. Today’s top influencer marketing platforms 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 between the features and services they provide.
For B2B and technology brands, there is only one player in the space, Onalytica.