The Social Media Battle Royale

The Search for the Best Social Media Tool

As a Social Media Project Manager, I am constantly asked by my clients, “What’s the best social media CMS tool?” The answer is not that simple. In this ever growing digital age we live in, there are a number of social media tools that keep popping up and claim to be “the best” for reasons X, Y, & Z. Just “Google” it and you’ll see what I mean. I think most marketers would agree that different platforms excel in different areas. While some tools are better for easily publishing social media messages and interacting with fans, others have much more in depth analytics that offer valuable insight into future marketing efforts.

That’s why I decided to put some of the top social media tools to the ultimate test. One might call it “The Social Media Battle Royal!” My goal: to highlight the benefits of each social media tool to help businesses find the right solution for their needs.

When reviewing platforms, my main criteria included the following:

  • Social Channels Connected
  • Publishing Ease
  • Workflow
  • Reporting
  • Campaigns/Promotions Builder
  • Number of Profiles Connected
  • Cost

The social media players stepping into the ring:

  • Hootsuite
  • Conversocial
  • Simplify360
  • Meltwater Buzz
  • Spredfast
  • Sprinklr

Hootsuite:

Originally developed in 2008, Hootsuite is now a leading social media platform used by over 3 million users. The thing I love most about Hootsuite is its ease of use. It’s extremely easy to set up a Hootsuite free version for your personal needs and get a taste of what the pro/enterprise plan would be like for your business. (This is something I would highly recommend if you are considering the platform). Hootsuite also enables your business to connect with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages, and over 90 applications in their App Directory. In regards to scheduling social media posts, you have the option to schedule content to multiple channels at once or post messages to each channel individually. With an enterprise account, you can also make use of their bulk uploader feature which lets you upload a CSV file with multiple social media messages. However, this capability does not allow you to add images to your posts (a major downside in my personal opinion since photos have higher engagement than text only posts).

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The workflow in Hootsuite allows you to set up listening streams so your eyes and ears are always on your brand. You can set up streams for keyword search, @mentions, hashtags, and smart queries for multiple terms. This is especially useful for times when people used an incorrect hashtag or @mention when talking about your product or brand. Listening streams also enable you to filter by Klout, keyword, language, and geolocation. Next time you are beginning a blogger outreach campaign, you can filter your current followers by Klout and see who you already have established relationships with.

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Like most social media tools, Hootsuite understands the importance of assigning messages to specific team members (customer service brands, I’m talking to you…). However, compared to other social tools, this is not one of Hootsuite’s strengths.

Hootsuite does offer reports (for a price) but you can gather most of the information they offer from the native social media platforms. Hootsuite simply organizes it into a more detailed and formal document.

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One thing Hootsuite is really missing out on is the ability to set up social media campaigns and promotions directly from the interface.

Overall, if you want simple publishing, basic reporting, and the ability to include listening streams, then this is the platform for you. However, if you are a business that has a lot of team members, cost can be a considerable factor. There is a base fee for the Enterprise account along with a fee of about $1500/user. That’s where Conversocial joins the ring.

Conversocial:

Conversocial was founded in 2009 to address the shift in online customer service. Businesses were in need of a platform to manage social conversations and connect individuals to customer care experts. Conversocial recognizes the importance of agents being active on social media. Thus, they’ve developed a platform that is efficient in managing customer care conversations and developing more effective processes for businesses. This is Conversocial’s greatest strength and I firmly believe that it will only continue to improve over time.

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Within the Conversocial interface, marketers can link their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ accounts. Like other platforms, search streams can be set up to improve listening and filters can be added to highlight “priority” conversations (see the red section in the image below). Bit.ly is the approved link shortener for adding links when scheduling content and when responding to social interactions.

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Since the tool is meant to improve customer care efficiency on social media, the reporting feature is structured to highlight how customer care experts are managing the influx of messages and conversations. Businesses can get valuable insight into how many messages are coming in, the times that messages are often coming in, the sentiment surrounding those conversations, and how long it takes different agents to answer questions. In addition, businesses can analyze brand mentions, tags and word clouds with common terms associated with their brand.  From this information, businesses can then re-evaluate how their social care processes are impacting their business goals and brand sentiment both online and offline.

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The cost to use this platform isn’t stated online because it varies depending on the number of users as well as the number of mentions you are pulling into the platform. Overall, this is an excellent platform for brands managing customer care & conversations through social media. Next up in the boxing ring, Simplify 360.

Simplify 360:

Simplify360 is the “underdog” of the social media tools. It is new to the US but should not be overlooked since the premier package is only about $2000/month. Simplify360 connects a variety of channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. It also has a bulk uploader publishing feature (similar to Hootsuite) with a link shortener (bit.ly) and Facebook targeting options.

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Similar to Conversocial, Simplify360 has an intelligent workflow for tagging messages, assigning conversations, and recording response time.

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Most importantly, it shows you a campaign dashboard with hourly click breakdowns so you can see top performing links, the demographics clicking on those links, and referral sources. This will help you adjust your campaigns accordingly. Simplify360 is a total knockout when it comes to diving into analytics. For those of you who have used & loved Radian6, this is a comparable analytics dashboard.

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If you’re looking for an inexpensive platform with extensive reporting capabilities, Simplify360 is definitely a great option. Setting up the channels can be tedious but there are a lot of benefits to this robust tool that can help you identify your audience, see how you stack up against your competition, and strategize key times to post. If you’re looking for a similar dashboard that also integrates your traditional marketing efforts, Meltwater Buzz is another solution.

Meltwater Buzz:

With Meltwater Buzz, you can access up to 2.5 billion posts monthly, utilize advanced keyword search queries using Boolean logic, filter posts by geography and sentiment, and receive alerts for issues or priorities.

Meltwater can connect up to 20 Facebook or Twitter accounts (big/global brands stay tuned). Similar to the previous platforms mentioned, you can schedule content, assign messages to other team members, and engage with fans within the interface. You can also tag messages, record sentiment, and view detailed information about conversation history. This will help you keep track of all the conversations you’ve had with an individual, see who was the last person on your team to respond, and follow up with information so that no fan goes unnoticed.

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The reporting functions of Meltwater Buzz are similar to Simplify360 and Radian6. You can measure engagement, sentiment, top posts, brand impressions, campaign performance, conversation clouds, sort conversation by media type, and view conversation trends. In addition, you can identify top influencers and filter them by Meltwater’s predetermined klout score ranking of 1-10. One of the best reporting features (in my personal opinion) is the report for top clicks per post broken down by hour. This will help your marketing team identify optimal post times when scheduling content based on previous engagement metrics. In addition, Meltwater’s map reporting feature allows you to view conversation distribution by region or country. For national or global brands, this is definitely a major benefit so that you can see where your fans are talking most about your business.

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The cost to use Meltwater is about 20k for 12 months and 20 users (not including the Facebook promotions builder). Like most social media CMS platforms, cost can vary based on social needs and custom packages.

Spredfast:

Spredfast is a social CMS platform with active monitoring, publishing, and work flow capabilities. Similar to the other tools, you can add tags and notes to your incoming messages so you can keep track of your conversations. In addition, you can identify your key influencers by adding them to an influencers list within the platform.

For brands with multiple franchises or locations, this tool lets you dive deeper into performance across divisions, campaigns, and regions. You can compare each of your locations using the analytics “scoreboard” and see which strategies are working, which locations have high engagement, and which channels are driving traffic to your website.

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Cost for this platform is customizable and therefore varies by business.

Spinklr:

“Got Wildfire? Turn on Sprinklr.” Sprinklr is a genius CMS marketing platform taking full advantage of Wildfire’s soon to be demise. This tool is for the big league players who manage global accounts or numerous properties at once. They partner with well-known brands including Virgin America, Samsung, and Dell (just to name a few). Their goal: to help global businesses be profitable and personal.

Some of the social media platforms that they connect with include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and SlideShare. Because this is a global marketing solution, Sprinklr also connects to international social media platforms including Sina, Tencent Weibo, RenRen, and VK. Their social distribution tool helps you manage global accounts and a variety of locations from a local level and a company level.

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They also have a Social Asset Management capability which easily lets you share and reuse content across the organization.

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Another added bonus, their reporting! They have a fully customizable reporting dashboard so you can add in the elements that are important to your business. You can create aggregate comparison reports as well as review social insights, sentiment, mentions, employee performance, and followers. Cost varies for this platform depending on which elements you want added to your dashboard.

So who has my vote to win the “Battle Royal”? If budget and resources weren’t an option, Sprinklr is a total knockout. Who has your vote?

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