As a social media analytics and research company, we find ourselves in a really exciting space. The social landscape changes extremely quickly, with new networks and trends emerging all the time.
All of this change clearly shows that companies using social to reach their audiences have to constantly adapt to the new playing field.
When it comes to enterprise tools for social media, companies invest in solutions for their publishing, analytics, and listening needs. For each marketer, there are two different directions: choosing a "one size fits all” enterprise social management platform with a host of solutions, or choosing specific "best in class” tools for their goals. Looking at the current state of the industry, the data points to the "best in class” as marketers’ preferred choice.
We especially started noticing a couple major shifts in the industry when it comes to the tools companies use to publish content on social media.
There are a number of major trends:
- More and more companies are using publishing tools much less in general, and are instead opting to publish content natively (i.e. directly from the Facebook and Twitter websites without an external tool) – see chart 1
- On average, companies still use 4 publishing platforms to publish on Twitter – that means a combination of native publishing, advertising, responding, and enterprise publishing tools. Clearly, this doesn’t show a huge trend in consolidation in the industry – see chart 2
- Many of the management and publishing tools that were in for top marketers just a year ago have lost half their clients to either other platforms and native publishing, showing that the industry is still maturing
Big publishing tools got hurt the most, when we look at Hootsuite, for example, it was used by almost 20% of pages, where today it’s down to under 10%. This means that Hootsuite did not appeal to some of the top enterprise tools and is being used often as an entry tool – see chart 3
- Further, those companies that are using these tools are switching between tools on a regular basis.
- Although Twitter native platforms are growing and have a majority, the average number of platforms used is stable.
It means that bigger platforms lose more clients than smaller platforms.
It’s easy to see why marketers are making these choices across the board. First, they’re unfulfilled by current marketing suites that claim to provide a host of solutions, since they don’t excel in any of the individual facets of social marketing. As Forrester stated in its latest social enterprise report, "Unified suites are rarely best in class for individual technology categories […] we've yet to see any end-to-end social suite maintain leadership across the social technology value chain.”
Second, and more importantly, a unified marketing suite doesn’t make sense when it comes to social media. Social is no longer just another channel; it’s the modern way organizations and people interact. Because of this, it’s grown to be a lot more complex than other channels like email marketing. Tools for social must reflect this complexity, especially since they’re being used by different departments across a business. The best bet, then, is utilizing tools that are best in class for each social goal, rather than employing a "one size fits all” tool. Companies that focus on the latter approach end up bolting together a bunch of tools that are not necessarily the best performers.
I believe that we are in such a dynamic market that some full enterprise tools today are failing to keep up with the many social trends occurring simultaneously. This is why most marketers today are looking for point solutions in the market. Specialized tools used by knowledgeable teams will lead to a much stronger, data-driven social strategy.
The fact that the industry has not matured is also a problem for us. Outside of our goal at Socialbakers to be "best in class” in Analytics, we have a publishing tool as well, and we have deployed a huge amount of resources and also keep struggling to maintain every single functionality at its best, like every other have. This is why we had to pick our fights and really worked on the collaboration, publishing, and the responding element, but I believe no tool in the market today fits 100% of the client needs, including ours. This is why we have changed our strategy and will integrate many of the other tools inside Socialbakers as opposed to try and win in every single area.
All data used in this article is from the TOP 3000 brand profiles on Twitter (by order of followers). Full list here.
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