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Selecting your next SMMS provider – Part 2: What is needed: A Social Media Business Platform

Social Media Listening, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy

In this three-part blog series, we will reveal the brief history and advancement of social media management platforms and how they have improved to better equip enterprises to run the social aspect of business. Because many departments within an enterprise now use social media, data has existed within silos, forcing enterprises to piece it together. This created inefficiencies, is expensive to maintain and impairs the ability to gain meaningful insight from social channels.

Our first blog post in this series, Part 1, introduced why first-generation platforms are no longer effective for enterprises to meet the risks of conducting social business. The new consumer has now taken the reigns on how a brand is publically viewed.

Given that social media is such an integral part of business, enterprises need a social business platform that goes beyond the capabilities of first-generation social media management platforms in significant ways by providing:

An end-to-end, unified platform for the entire enterprise that provides, at a minimum, listening, intelligence, advanced analytics, engagement and monetization functionality
Deep, data-driven, actionable insights and predictive, proactive recommendations to inform engagement and content strategies and strategic business decisions
Insight on context (geo-spatial, behavior, time of day, etc.), as well as how communities that talk about brands are pieced together
Support for global brands, including multiple languages and a scalable architecture
Ability to interpret videos, images and other non-text posts
Integration with other data sources and marketing platforms

These criteria differentiate social media business platforms from simpler, social media management tools.

Enterprises are all too aware that social media networks contain vital market intelligence regarding their products and services, and are keen to discover, harness and put that insight into action. But the challenges to effectively manage and optimize a social media strategy across the enterprise are great.

As mentioned in the previous section, enterprises have been forced to piece together numerous point solutions to manage their social media businesses. This Frankenstein architecture creates inefficiencies, is expensive to maintain, and impairs the enterprise’s ability to gain meaningful insights from their social channels.

The limited depth of data and insights is a huge issue for enterprises, and one that marketing, public relations and customer care executives cite most frequently. Enterprises complain that the data they receive today is superficial, and inadequate for making strategic business decisions.

For instance, most social media management platforms deliver data in broad brush strokes (e.g. 60% of our audience is positive; 30% is negative; and 10% is neutral). How is a CMO supposed to use this kind of data when there is no insight into who is positive or negative and, most importantly, why they feel they way they do?

Related to data depth is data context. Engagement experiences are multi-faceted, and should be driven by consumer behavior, key events, locations, time of day and influencers. Unfortunately, most social media management platforms can’t collect and report context-based data. Yet this insight is essential in the development of an effective engagement strategy.

Enterprises need to understand how their brands are socialized, both among large audiences and communities, as well as individual consumers and influencers. Most current social media management platforms lack the ability to scale up to millions of people, as well as zone into influential individuals.

For most first-generation platforms, analytics is limited to tracking the number of times key words are mentioned, with no context into who’s using them, in which channel, when, where, and frequency. As a result, enterprises can’t examine these discussions through the lens of “Who are these people who talk about my brand?”

Sentiment engines are a central part of listening, and are table stakes to social media management. Generally, engines rely on proprietary algorithms that score every post as positive, negative or neutral. Yet most engines are highly inaccurate, foiled by multiple sentiments expressed in posts and tweets, as well as by linguistic nuances, irony and humor.

For example, suppose a consumer with 5,000 followers sends a tweet stating, “I love my new phone. The screen resolution is great. But the battery is terrible, and it’s too expensive.”

A first-generation social media management platform would see the phrase, “I love my new phone” and merely label the tweet as positive. But it misses the opportunity to inform the brand where additional investments are required to secure its position in the marketplace.

Enterprises know that they can’t engage everyone, so they must select the consumers and influencers who will respond most positively to their outreach efforts. But social media management platforms provide no real data to help them understand their audiences, how they’re networked together, or how they behave – all of which are critical for targeting (as well as developing an effective engagement strategy).

Enterprises need to know in real-time when issues, problems and opportunities arise that need their immediate attention. More than that, they need specific advice on the best ways to respond to specific consumers, as well as the optimal context in which to respond (i.e. channel, time of day, content recommendations and so on).

Social media management platforms look at each social platform in a silo. But as every brand manager knows, influencers exert their power across multiple platforms, blogs, comment sections of major publications and so on. Enterprises need a way to look across all of these activities holistically so they can better understand their influencers, their level of influence, as well as the spheres in which they’re most influential.

Global brands are keenly interested in holistically monitoring their social media networks in every market in which they operate. Most social media management platforms can only interpret posts in a handful of languages, however.

As a result, regional marketing teams will implement a platform that supports their local languages. This prevents the enterprise from gaining complete insights into their social media networks, and to share best practices across all of the markets in which they operate.

Global brands also need an architecture that is scalable to support marketing, product development, PR and customer care teams in all of their regions and markets.

All social platforms now support multimedia, enabling consumers to share videos, images and other non-text messages quicker and more easily than typing a text-based post. For the most part, social media management platforms are unable to interpret non-text posts, and miss a significant portion of what consumers are saying about a brand.

The next post in this series, Part 3 will focus on what is needed in a social media management platform to help enterprises successfully run its social efforts.

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