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.