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White-Horse-Social-Media-Management-Apps-BenchmarksOver the past few months, the number of social media management applications to choose from has exploded.
 
In addition to well-known contenders like HootSuite and TweetDeck, there are more than a dozen other new applications designed to help teams manage multiple social networking accounts and measure the ROI of their efforts.  In this episode, you’ll find out which apps are the clear winners and what exactly makes them so much better.

White Horse emerging media manager Jamie Beckland (@jbeckland) the lead author of a report that ranks 10 social media management applications against each other in three categories, shares the inside scoop on the winners and explains which features marketers should be looking for when they evaluate enterprise class software applications for social media engagement.

White Horse calls them social media management platforms and ranks them for their ability to integrate with social networks, offer practical rules and permission-based team management and provide the best measurement capabilities.  If you’re business is social media communications, this is an episode you definitely don’t want to miss.

SHOW NOTES

01:18  Social media management platforms are web-based tools accessible via browser that let you manage your social networking engagement activities in a variety of popular and niche social networks in one, consolidated tool, gives teams a practical solution managing branded social networking accounts and provide integrated tracking and analysis of interactions that ensue.

03:11 Social media management platforms offer social media monitoring to varying degrees of success, but currently White Horse advises clients to keep social media monitoring activities separate in order to aggregate a more in depth perspective of who’s saying what where. While social media management platforms vendors claim robust monitoring, the solutions are not as comprehensive as those from vendors who specialize exclusively in social media monitoring.  When it comes to monitoring, social media management platforms are weakest at tracking conversations on the blogosphere and in online forums.

04: 46 Social media management platforms make it easy to publish to variety of social networks from one place, but they don’t capture and display all the social interaction that may ensue in the social network to which they’re published.  It’s a dynamic space and this is changing, but currently social media management platforms are better for talking that they are for listening.

05:44  The inability of social media management platforms to see and report back interactions that transpire inside native social networks is partly due to the capacity of the developers behind them, but also because Facebook may actually block some of that activity from being captured by third-party applications.  Jamie Beckland calls these “growing pains for social media and corporate marketers in general.”

06:44  Jamie likens the rapid pace of innovation in the social media management space as the “Cambrian period” where things are moving so quickly, with many new entrants promising to be all things to all people, and marketers need to be careful not to rely too heavily on social media management platforms at this early stage.  “You’re going to still need to use the native platform.  You want to be able to have an authentic conversation on Facebook, you need to understand what the rules of engagement are on Facebook,” says Jamie.  Having that first person experience in the native social network where the conversations occurs, rather than through a social media management platform, is critical.

07:35 Social media management platforms use two different presentation styles for their user interfaces.  One is the inbox style, which consolidates all your activities into one central stream and the other is the channelization style, which displays the streams separately by social network, so you can appreciate how they interaction differs from social network to social network. The inbox presentation style requires the user to invest more attention prioritizing messages, according to Jamie, while the channel style provides a degree of segmentation that makes it easier to engage with a large number of people.

11:23 In a new report, White Horse ranked social media management platforms in three categories: social site integration in terms of what they offer today and what their roadmap is for staying up to date with the social networks of tomorrow, team workflow management and measurement analytics.

11: 48  HootSuite, Objective Marketer, Spredfast and Sprinklr scored highest for social site integration with 4 out of 5, but no one scored a perfect 5 because no social media management platform currently integrates non-text based information such as podcasts as online video, posing significant engagement challenges. Some of the tools do use the meta data or text comments associated with YouTube videos to find and display that content, but until they consider the actual video content, either by tracking closed captioning or by introducing an audio to text translation solution, this will remain a handicap of social media management platforms.

14:51  Spredfast and Sprinklr ranked highest for team account management because they had the most sophisticated understanding of how marketing teams are structure, and because they did the best job using analytics to help teams find those conversations most worthy of engagement at any single moment in time.  These social media management platforms also do the best job integrating automated sentiment analysis and ranking which conversations are coming from the most influential online voices. Spredfast and Sprinklr also both offer the ability to set up rules, from a content management system perspective, to offer team members varying degrees of authority based on permission levels.

16:12  On the analytics side, the top scoring social media management platforms were Argyle Social, HootSuite, Objective Marketer and Sprinklr, primarily because they integrate with third party social media measurement platforms like Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst.  Measurement is the basis of justifying social media marketing to the C suite, and those are the social media management platforms that do the best job tracking, incorporating and delivering that data.  Argyle went live with Google Analytics support at the outset, integrating with Omniture and pulling conversion tracking data back into their platform.  Argyle tracks on a per-tweet and per Facebook status update basis the monetary value of particular social media message.  HootSuite and Objective Marketer both integrate with Google Analytics and HootSuite does a good job building their own analytics capabilities. Sprinklr ranked highly for their ability to perform custom integration with whatever measurement package the client requests, a process which Jamie says Sprinklr has performed successfully for clients “a number of times.”

19:22 The White Horse social media management platform ranking study rates HootSuite, Spredfast and Sprinklr highest but the final decision should be based on personal preference with respect to how the application works, who within the organization will be using the tools because different business units have different needs and the management structure of the organization.  If you have a very strong need to demonstrate ROI through conversion analytics tracking, that’s going to narrow down the field of choices considerably, so the choice should be made based on the objectives the marketer is trying to achieve.

22:30 End

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ABOUT THE PODCASTER

@EricSchwartzman provides online communication training, strategy and social media governance to public relations, public affairs, corporate communications and marketing specialists. He has extensive experience integrating emerging information technologies into organizational communications programs through public speaking, hands-on training seminars, consulting and the development of corporate policies on social media usage.

His clients have included Boeing, BYU, City National Bank, Environmental Defense Fund, Government of Singapore, Johnson & Johnson, NORAD Northcomm, Southern California Edison, UCLA, US Dept. of State, United States Army, US Embassy of Athens, the United States Marine Corps and many small to medium-sized companies and agencies.

Eric is the instructor behind PRSA’s top-rated social media and emerging treads training seminars, the Social Media Boot Camp and the Social Media Master Class, which are offered monthly in the US.

His book "Social Marketing to the Business Customer" with Paul Gillin about B2B applications of social media communications is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders.


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