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Interactive Tool Helps Companies Find the Right Social Software

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Jan 3, 2014 5:00 AM PT

Software Advice recently unveiled an interactive tool designed to help companies navigate the complex and confusing social media software market.

Interactive Tool Helps Companies Find the Right Social Software

Called "Social App Map," the tool is designed to serve as a guide for potential software buyers as they start to evaluate the many different vendors and options in this sector.

Social App Map
(click to enlarge)

Software Advice recognized a need for this kind of tool not because of any lack of marketing on the vendors' part or lack of market awareness on the part of buyers, but simply because this sector has a problem with definitions, Ashley Verrill, managing editor for the company, told CRM Buyer.

"We decided to create this after many months of being frustrated with this market segment," Verrill said.

A Guide

Before developing Social App Map, Software Advice evaluated the more than 100 social business applications on the market. It eventually focused on 59 that it felt were the top in their particular niches.

The app provides information about each product platform's features, pricing and target customer size.

When users click on the app, a filter tab comes up along with icons of all of the social media software offerings included.

Clicking on the filter pulls up a list of software categories and the specific feature sets each category typically contains.

Social Media Management, for example, contains "publishing," "optimization" and "engagement."

Social Communities Business Collaboration, meanwhile, contains the features "discussions," "content management," "collaboration" and "in-app activity reporting."

Other categories similarly dissected in the app include Social CRM, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing/Advertising and Social Media Monitoring.

Pick and Choose

In any case, from that point users can indicate which features they want, causing the app to return the vendors that offer products with those features.

So, let's say it is really important to you that your social platform offers analytics (found under Social Media Monitoring), ad reporting (Social Media Marketing/Advertising), social contact profiles (Social CRM) and in-app activity reporting (Social Communities Business Collaboration).

Click on the result, and a slew of applications come up, ranging from Agora Pulse to Little Bird to Meltwater to Viral Heat.

Click on all of the features under every category and a surprisingly robust list appears again, with vendors including Artesian, Lithium, TechCanary and Nimble.

The app also has definitions embedded in its features, just in case there is any confusion about what "social contract profiles" means, for instance. (According to Software Advice, it is defined as "streams of social activity of contacts, stores social profiles with contact information and displays social influence of contracts.")

Blurry Definitions

Adding this clarity was important to Software Advice because social software has been unusually blurry with its definitions, which can change on a vendor-by-vendor basis, says Verrill.

"Companies will use the same terms to describe two different things or targeted at two different outcomes," she explained. "What one vendor will call 'social enterprise,' another will call 'business collaboration.'"

At least, though, the buyers in the industry are learning to break down what "social CRM" means, she added: "It seemed at one time every vendor under the sun said they had social CRM capabilities, even if they offered only one small feature or function in this space."

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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