Social media technologies are massively confusing today. Not because they aren’t powerful or capable of substantially benefitting your organization, but because there are so many to choose from…
During my research while writing my book, Social Media Metrics Secrets (Wiley, 2011) and through countless interviews with social media practitioners and leading vendors in the industry, I developed a categorization schema for understanding social media technologies. I call this the Social Media Technology Spectrum. Across this spectrum, there are five primary functions that businesses can accomplish with social media technologies:
Discover > Analyze > Engage > Facilitate > Manage
While, I go into great detail about each category in the book, I’ll offer an overview here:
- The Discovery Tools (Social Search) Discovery tools are social media solutions that effectively act as search engines for social media channels and platforms. Typically, Social Search technologies are freely available, but they don’t allow you to save search queries, download data or export results. Example Discover vendors include: SocialMention, IceRocket, Backtweets, Topsy, and hundreds more.
The Analysis Technologies (Social Analytics) These tools are most commonly associated with listening platforms, but in my view, Social Analytics vendor requirements include: filters, segments, visualizations and ultimately analysis. Example Analyze vendors include: Alterian SM2, Omniture SocialAnalytics, Radian6, Sysomos, and many more.
The Engagement Platforms (Engagement/Workflow) Vendors in this category extend their Social Analytics capabilities to include workflow delegation and engagement capabilities from directly within the interface, it places more controls at the fingertips of your internal business users. Example Engage vendors include: Crimson Hexagon, Hootsuite, Objective Marketer, Collective Intellect, and many more.
The Hosting and Facilitation Tools (Social Platforms) If you need to offer your community a social media destination like a user group, a forum, or a designated social media website. That’s where the Social Facilitation technologies provide a platform that can facilitate the conversation, the dialogue and the learning experience. Example Facilitate vendors include: Mzinga, Pluck, Ning, Lithium, Jive, Telligent and many more.
The Management Solutions (Social Management) This group of technology offerings includes social customer relationship management tools, internal collaboration solutions, and social media aggregation services that enable businesses to manage their social media efforts in an orchestrated way. Example Manage vendors include: BatchBook, Flowtown, Salesforce Chatter, Yammer and many more.
As you can see, each category has associated vendors. While there is certainly some cross-over here, there is also a lot more depth to each of the categories. For each category, you can delve deeper by specific social media channel (i.e., there’s a whole cast of Social Analytics tools specifically for Twitter). Yet, in a technology environment that is so cluttered with options and new entrants, I feel that some categorization is merited.
But what do you think? … Am I on the right track here? Do you use technologies from multiple categories? …What did I miss?