If you work in social media, you probably are already familiar with Gartner's Magic Quadrant on Social Software, Forrester's Wave on Social Relationship Platforms and Altimeter's report on Social Media Management Software (SMMS). Now social media professionals have yet another source to help in the selection and evaluation of the many competing SMMS options: TrustRadius has published its own guide to SMMS platforms.
In an approach reminiscent of Altimeter's "open research" methodologies, the TrustRadius report is both free and crowdsourced. It summarizes the experiences of actual social media practitioners, ranging from employees of large firms such as Dell and Hertz to professionals at agencies with fewer than 200 employees.
The source for this information is TrustRadius's website, which is a sort of Yelp for business software. The site permits professionals to share their observations and ratings of the business platforms they use. To increase trust, every reviewer is authenticated and every review vetted before publishing. TrustRadius has found the reviews the site receives are quite substantive, averaging more than 500 words.
Culling from the reviews and content offered by its users, TrustRadius has separated the plethora of SMMS products into seven primary use cases:
The report acknowledges the limited input from users, noting, "While the volume of content does not yet provide the basis for a definitive sector survey, the insights from users are revealing and point to some broad directional conclusions." I expect TrustRadius will repeat this process periodically, and as more reviews are received, the depth and quality of the report will improve.
I also had questions about potential conflict of interest in some of the information furnished. For example, the CMO at marketing agency Penguin Strategies praises Oktopost, but a visit to the Penguin website reveals Oktopost is a client of Penguin Strategies.
Conflict of interest is always a risk with this sort of open source research, but despite the concerns, there are many ways the TrustRadius guide can be of assistance to social media practitioners, especially since the price (free!) is right. First of all, it helps to define the players in the SMMS space and aligns them to specific use cases, which can help define the candidates to consider early in an RFP process.
Second, while I would not base any decisions on the praise and criticism contained in the report, the user comments can help guide vendor selection research. For example, the knowledge that some users have concerns about spam in Radian6 results can encourage you to explore recent improvements in that platform's spam filtering.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for both social media professionals and TrustRadius, this guide can lead readers into the TrustRadius website where much deeper information is found. Few of us base moviegoing decisions simply on star ratings, preferring instead to dig into reviews to tell if a given film might be appropriate and interesting. In the same way, social media practitioners can start by reading the report but then dig into TrustRadius.com's in-depth data.
For instance, the Sprinklr page on TrustRadius.com furnishes not simply the overall rating (4.25 stars out of 5) and nine user reviews, it also aggregates ratings in attributes such as "Likelihood to Recommend" (8.6/10) and "Performance and Reliability" (9.1/10). In addition, TrustRadius has a nifty feature that permits simple head-to-head comparisons of competing products, such as this page which stacks Sprinklr up against SpredFast.
The report is useful, but the real value of the report is to lead readers into the deeper crowdsourced information found on TrustRadius's site. As more social media experts take the time to review the tools they use, the value of TrustRadius will only grow.