A Guide To Enterprise-Level Social Media Management Tools close

Beth Gladstone
Beth Gladstone
In Online Innovation
21st November 2014
A Guide To Enterprise-Level Social Media Management Tools

In 2013, Digital Marketing Depot created a market insight report to take a look at Enterprise Social Media Management Software (SMMS) platforms and how marketers use them. The idea behind the report being, that as social media evolves into a more established method of marketing, we should probably stop guessing what it’s doing for our businesses and instead, find out.

Since the initial report was released, it has been developed and added to further, in light of the changing social media market and the sheer volume of new tools that have been released over the past year or so.

The report looks to answer some key questions surrounding SMMS platforms, some of which, we’ve summarised below, in order to see what issues are affecting those using the tools and also, those developing them.

To begin with, it’s important to note that the definition of a Social Media Management Software Platform for the purposes of this report, is of a tool that can be used to manage, analyse and track multiple social media accounts. The focus is also on ‘leading’ enterprise SMMS systems that include multiple functionalities, rather than single-function tools that only focus on one aspect of social media management such as monitoring or posting.

Let’s take a look...

Question 1: What trends are driving the adoption of enterprise SMMS platforms?

According to the report, nearly half of all social media strategists surveyed are planning to increase their spend on SMMS systems this year. This is great news for SaaS providers, like ourselves, who can use the demand in order to invest in better infrastructure and a fuller range of tools within our platforms.

This has been due to many trends such as the growth of social media teams within medium-large enterprises and distributed enterprises, particularly in the Retail sector, who have expanded what was once a single social media point, into several localised ones. For example Boots, McDonalds and Aston Martin are all brands who have individual accounts for different countries or Cities - all of which need to be managed from a central point. Also, with so much data now available, social media teams are often struggling to make sense of it all. Therefore, SMMS platforms are trying to hone in on what the data means for the brand and the way in which it targets its audience.

The third trend is based on organisations trying to find a universal answer to what merits ‘return’ on social media activity. As we all know, it can be difficult to define results when the channels are all so different. Does a Pin merit more than a Facebook post, or what about a retweet or favourite on Twitter? All these questions, and more, have led social media marketers to look for a central platform that can help provide the answers.

Question 2: What capabilities do we need SMMS platforms to provide?

The report outlines the key capabilities desired in enterprise-level SMMS platforms to be:

  • Content creation, scheduling, publishing and moderation
  • Social engagement
  • Data analytics and reporting
  • Structured collaboration and workflow management tools

Within this list, you may argue that simple SMMS tools offer just as much functionality. For example, with scheduling tool Buffer you can create a tweet, schedule and publish it. You can then come back to view the activity on that tweet, see what the engagement was and different members of your team can log in and manage the account.

However, the report then lists a second set of capabilities that are more advanced and require a more integrated approach:

  • Social listening and sentiment analysis
  • Vertical-specific compliance tools that allow customers to monitor local or regional social marketing campaigns
  • Integration with legacy marketing and analytics platforms
  • Marketing campaign automation
  • Strategic social media consulting services

For social media strategists, Sentiment is the big one here and seems to be the latest buzzword within social media, allowing those using it to analyse how people feel about their brand and business. However, even the best high-level enterprise tools aren’t foolproof, so it’s important to not get too carried away and bear in mind, that while you can automate most things, sentiment is not always one of them - you only have to look at the recent Samaritan App scandal to realise that.

For developers, it’s important to also consider two other important capabilities the report highlights - the desire for a tool which is mobile responsive and/or has its own app and one that has a flexible API. Many social media strategists have been ‘born digital’ and this is only set to grow as Generation Z arrives into the workforce over the next few decades. As a result, they expect the platforms they use to be available on mobile, with almost the same capability as you would expect from desktop. This is an important fact to note and one which will undoubtedly, define many product’s roadmaps throughout the next few years.

Question 3: How can you tell which SMMS tool you should employ?

As you would expect, many of the big players in the SMMS market were suggested in this report, including Hearsay Social, Hootsuite, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Sprout Social.

However, regardless of which platform a business eventually chooses, the report is quick to highlight that the important factor is choosing one which is right for your needs. Providing a list of questions and considerations you should ask before committing to a SMMS tool, it promotes you to firstly understand your current marketing processes and how you measure success, before you even begin to think about which external tools are needed.

The report then highlights a list of questions you should put to your SMMS vendor which should help you to determine how ‘future-proof’ your investment will be, particularly in light of the shift to mobile and an increasing demand for 'real-time' monitoring.

One area the report does fails to touch on in regards to choosing a SMMS tool, is the shift to ‘social shopping’ which will undoubtedly grow over the next few years. With Twitter experimenting with ‘buy it now’ buttons and apps such as Like2Buy which allow you to purchase almost-straight from Instagram, it won’t be long before shopping and social become a synonymous experience and this is something to also consider when investing in a tool for the next 12-18 months.

In conclusion, this report shows that the demand for robust, useful SMMS tools at enterprise-level is high, as marketers begin to harness the power of social media interactions in order to gain better insights into their customers. For developers, this is undoubtedly a growing area ripe for the picking- providing you get it right and can come up with an integrated and future-proofed approach, the enterprise-level social media management market is only set to grow.