Altimeter Group‘s newest research report, “A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation,” labeled as a “Buyer’s Guide,” is out and offers a deep look at social media management systems and how brands are using them. The report, which is free and available for download on Altimeter’s website but is also embedded below, is the first deep dive into the SMMS space which grows increasingly confusing and crowded. This report, authored by Jeremiah Owyang, will help brands better understand what is available and what platforms they should consider based on their strategic goals for social media activity. (Disclosure: I was interviewed and am included in the research for this report.)

As we’ve discussed here before, there are many different components to a complete social media management system. None of the current vendors on the market really offer everything, or at least none offer everything well. Social Media Explorer’s definition of what components comprise an SMMS platform varies from the Five Use Cases for Social Media Management Altimeter presents. Our 8 Functions (monitoring, publishing, engagement, organizational management, lead & conversion tracking, measurement, customer relationship management and social advertising management) are more practical and tactical than Altimeter’s defined use cases: Intense Engagement, Social Broadcasting, Platform Campaign Marketing, Distributed Brand Presence and Tailored Customizations. But ours fit into their descriptions well.

Perhaps the best part of the report for brand managers and marketing decision-makers is an Altimeter Radar chart comparing 27 different SMMS providers. While there are far more than 27 out there, Altimeter has defined each of these for Altimeter’s audience: enterprise clients. That factor must accompany your reading of the report because medium and small businesses don’t much matter to Altimeter. They see the world through large corporate lenses, mostly because those lenses have larger dollars signs etched into them.

Still, the comparison chart looks at these vendors and rates them on their ability to fulfill the five use cases defined by Altimeter. Syncapse, Vitrue and Engage 121, among others, come out looking very strong. But again, this is through the five use case filter. Altimeter’s definitions do not drill down to the practical applications of these platforms. So, if you’re looking for something that does good lead and conversion tracking, for instance, the chart won’t help you.

I was happy to see Expion, an SME client and Explore sponsor, highlighted in one of the case studies presented in the report. Spredfast, Argyle Social, Shoutlet and Awareness, all companies I have client or sponsorship relationships with here at SME are also well represented. But I was disappointed to see campaign-centric applications like WildfireApp still listed as SMMS platforms when campaign gadgets like them provide very few of the qualities an SMMS platform should have. There are also a number of platforms left out of the report’s per view, probably because Altimeter doesn’t define them as being suitable for enterprise clients. HubSpot, Raven Internet Marketing Tools and many others provide more robust functionality than many of the platforms analyzed, yet weren’t included.

Still, this report is a must-have companion for the digital marketing decision-maker. The social media software universe is vast and confusing. Even a small business can look at the information in this report and have a better understanding of how businesses are using social media management systems, what systems are out there and what business can use SMMS for. Altimeter continues to do valiant work in researching and interpreting the social technology space for us all, even if we’re not big enough to be in their target audience. For that, I’m thankful.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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  • John Cass

    Great post Jason. I look forward to reading the report with interest. What features do you think are missing from many of the vendor’s solutions? What is on your wishlist?

    • JasonFalls

      It varies, John. Good monitoring ones lack good measurement, good measurement ones lack publishing or engagement, etc. None of them really do lead generation and conversion tracking well other than Argyle which started as a tool for that. They all have strengths, but no one hits all the angles. And few of them integrate well with email, mobile, etc., to give brands a one-stop shop for their digital effort.

  • Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Jason for the review, a couple of responses to your post:

    We included many software vendors that are there to serve small and medium sized businesses, in fact the matrix is sorted in that order (small business at top, and enterprise class at bottom).  I agree this list of vendors is NOT complete, as the space has many new entrants within the last quarter.

    Also regarding the specific feature comparison comment you made. We intentionally focused on the use case level, as the features and functions are so rapidly changing.  The use case rating and ranking of vendors is based on all the features, capability, team size etc rolled up into it, so it certainly factors in.  We know that focusing on use case will serve buyers better –as they often don’t even know which features are they need.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful review, and allowing us to interview you. 

    • JasonFalls

      Fair points sir. Thanks for the clarification.

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  • Maya Grinberg

    Hey Jason,
    Thanks for your attentive look at the the report and for keeping your readers so well informed on the state of the industry. One thing I’d like to point out, and I invite you to check out a free demo of the Wildfire product at any time, is that Wildfire is no longer a campaign-centric platform, as mentioned in your post. We’ve released a complete social marketing suite, which includes solutions for page management (on and off Facebook), Messaging, Promotions (as you’re familiar with), and deeply integrated performance analytics. 

    Further to the Altimeter report,in the months following our interview for inclusion, we’ve implemented many, many enhancements to our platform. We’ve deepened our language capabilities and permissions, enabling our customers to control campaigns in scores of countries and languages. We’re getting glowing feedback about the upgrades from numerous customers that manage several hundred or even several thousand pages using Wildfire, including Facebook itself, which manages 60+ of its own brand pages with our platform. It’s fair to say we are now very strong in the Distributed Brand Presence category. 

    We’ve also added new capabilities to our messaging product; under the category of Intense Engagement, we cover the vast majority of the features you’ve mentioned desiring including: monitoring and alerting tools, workflow routing, and tiered governance features. We look forward to seeing these improvements included in upcoming reports, and also within the Social Media Explorer. 
    Thanks again for the shoutout!

    • JasonFalls

      Thanks, Maya. Glad to know you’ve made a pivot there. I’ll be in touch soon. Would love to see a demo. I’ve used Wildfire before on behalf of a client (and recently) but was not aware of anything other than campaign management tools. Thanks!

  • Web design London

    We intentionally focused on the use case level, as the features and functions are so rapidly changing.  The use case rating and ranking of vendors is based on all the features, capability, team size etc rolled up into it, so it certainly factors in. 

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  • Taylor Marek

    Wow, this slideshow is beefy! Time to dig in!

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