As part of Stand Out Social Marketing, I offer marketers a window into the crowded landscape of social marketing management software. One the points I raise in the book is that the landscape is crowded, congested and confusing to buyers. Last month, Nate Elliott of Forrester Research released a comprehensive Forrester Wave report covering the Social Relationship Platform vendors and reaches many similar conclusions regarding the space’s complexity.
The report profiles and evaluates vendors who provide software that “...helps marketers publish content to third-party social networks as well as monitor, moderate, and respond to customer posts on social sites.” The category is similar to what Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group coined as the Social Media Management Software space a few years back. Elliott’s evaluation includes a detailed look into eight products including Adobe Social, Hearsay Social, Buddy Media, Shoutlet, Socialware, Spredfast, Sprinklr and Syncapse. The most noteworthy omission from this list is Vitrue who was acquired by Oracle last year. It would be interesting to know if they did not meet the Forrester evaluation criteria (which I doubt) or they simply opted not to participate. Either way it would have been good to see how they stack up against the other players.
A former board member often described this space as ‘frothy,’ meaning that is was confusing for purchasers to understand the inherent differences and differentiators of each player (which is clear by taking a passing look at each of the vendor websites). That said, Elliott does an effective job at highlighting the benefits of the space as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each player. Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Little differentiation between vendors in the space. What Elliott does not capture is that buyer confusion extends well beyond the vendors covered in the report. The overlap of messaging extends to the peripheral players in this space and those that offer best of breed functionality.
- There is no clear leader in the space. What the report makes clear is this space is still very much in it’s infancy. Elliott states ‘the strengths and weaknesses [of the products] are all over the map.’ This suggests that the vendors are still in the process of figuring out what marketers need in a social relationship platform. Buyers are likely to face challenges with vendors who are likely balancing customer demand with innovation of their long-term strategy that aligns with broader market demands.
- No platform has all desired functionality. This could lead to organizations taking a ‘best of breed approach’ to acquire the best functionality for each aspect of their social marketing strategy (for example, a client may cobble together Hootsuite for engagement, Radian6 for listening, Wildfire for Facebook campaigns, etc.) while forgoing integration in the short-term.
UPDATE: The Wave diagram was included however Forrester asked it to be removed.
Elliott also summarizes the vendors as follows:
- Sprinklr offers the most powerful technology in the market but usability is difficult.
- Hearsay is the tool to evaluate to empower your sales people within social.
- Spredfast gets the top score for ‘strategy’ and boasts a very satisfied customer base.
- Shoutlet claimed the top score for ‘current offering’ with a long list of solid functionality.
- Buddy Media is solid for posting and syndication of content and will be an even stronger solution when it completes integration with Radian6.
- Adobe is solid with the basics and deep integration with Ominture makes it the tool to turn to for detailed measurement.
- SocialWare is strong for risk and compliance, but not a marketing tool.
- Syncapse is built for services, not technology.
I’m really looking forward to watching the evolution of this space over the coming months and years. What is going to make this exciting is that there is a lot of room for growth for the players on this list (or those not included) to emerge as leaders.adobe social, altimiter group, Buddy Media, forrester, forrester wave, hearsay social, jeremiah owyang, Shoutlet, social marketing management software., social media management software, social relatinoship platform, Socialware, spredfast, sprinklr, Syncapse