Salesforce is the latest company to outline its vision for integrated social media marketing. There are lots of great social media tools (many of which we have reviewed here in SMToolbox) but users, particularly enterprise users, prefer integrated tools. The new Social Studio product brings together two popular products - Radian6 and Buddy Media to create an integrated suite of tools. We take a look in this week's SMToolbox.
As you would expect from a company like Salesforce they have taken a very strategic view of the challenges facing enterprises when it comes to social media marketing. These challenges include:
managing many different software tools
planning and producing quality content marketing
engaging on social media at scale
tracking and monitoring activity
generating insights to improve performance
social media is a high risk area, witness the recent US Airlines tweet issue
To meet these needs, the large marketing software players are acquiring and developing integrated end-to-end digital marketing and social media software suites. Smaller companies are also actively pursuing partnerships for the same purpose of providing more integrated end-to-end solutions.
In developing Social Studio, the CEO of Hootsuite has claimed that Salesforce are just copying what they are doing. However, the picture is more complex. Many tools are developing integrated offers, Hootsuite themselves acquired UberVu to add functionality to their offering. The vision of an integrated offering may be the same but Salesforce have executed with an enterprise product.
In order to create their integrated digital marketing suite (ExactTarget Marketing Cloud) Salesforce has invested heavily. In 2010 they acquired social monitoring company Radian6 for $326m. In 2012 they acquired Buddy Media for $689m. In 2013 they acquired ExactTarget for $2.5bn. ExactTarget had themselves previously acquired Pardot, a well respected marketing automation suite for $95m.
The new Social Studio integrates two of ExactTarget Marketing Cloud’s key tools, Radian 6 and Buddy Media, in a new HTML5 and mobile first platform. The tool is a great example of an integrated social media marketing suite and a clear direction of where the market is heading. This is not to say Social Studio is perfect and the team themselves recognize the improvements they need to make. For example, to date the tool has focused on Twitter and Facebook, when social networks like LinkedIn are critical in B2B industries. I understand LinkedIn is being added very shortly, which will be a major improvement.
The tool is clearly designed for enterprises but the cloud based nature of the software means it is accessible and affordable for smaller companies. Prices start at $1,000 a month.
The Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio
The social studio has four main elements:
Workspaces - to support team management and effective workflows across an organization
Content marketing - to help plan, source and publish content that resonates with audiences
Engagement - to enable social engagement at scale
Analytics - to help you assess performance, to learn and to improve
Each individual element is not necessarily better than other platforms, you can make a case for other software tools in each area but where the Social Suite excels is in the integration. I would also argue it gains from taking a ‘less is more’ approach. The interface and design is stripped back so that it is easy to use. The tool has cleverly avoided the dangers of too many features and too much functionality. This makes it quick to get teams up to speed with using the tool.
A simplified interface does not mean the tool is not powerful, Radian 6 has indexed over 144bn posts going back to 2008 and it adds over 200m brand mentions every day. The tool monitors over 450 video sites alone and is expanding the list of overseas sites it monitor such as tencent in China.
I have outlined some of the key features below.
You can set user and workflow rules. Thus some users may be able to create content but it is subject to review before publishing.
In workspaces you can allocate social media posts to people to handle or manage. You can select multiple posts or you can build macros for example, all negative sentiment posts get assigned to Bob and given a high priority.
You can also set an approval process with mutliple approvers as required.
These workflow tools are essential in larger enterprises to manage the volume and complexity of social media work.
Content Calendar and Content Marketing
The content calendar is designed not simply to help you plan but allows you to see what performed well last week. You can see who published each post and the amount of engagement it received. The shared calendar also promotes collaborative planning and information sharing by being able to quickly see what other teams are sharing and planning.
You can create, schedule and publish posts for Facebook and Twitter in Social Studio. LinkedIn and Google Plus are being added shortly. The creation tool shows you format options for each network and gives you a preview. You can also use Facebook audience targeting.
One of the nice integration features is content sourcing and discovery via third party apps. If you are curating content to share in your calendar Social Suite integrates with third party apps and allows you to search and share content from these apps from within Social Suite. You simply click Get Content from Apps and a right hand panel appears with tools such as Kontera and Trendspottr. You can then select a tool and search for relevant content from the tools in the side panel and share the selected content.
This is a nice content discovery and curation feature. I hope we will see BuzzSumo searches in the side panel one day, allowing users to search for the most shared content on targeted networks.
You can also search for images for your posts through integrations with Shutterstock or Getty images. I think we will see far more of these integrations and apps in future.
These integrations are not unique to Salesforce. Hootsuite also has a lot of third party app integrations for example. However, the Social Studio integration goes much further than many tools as it also integrates with the Salesforce CRM and allows you to set rules engine, for example is someone mentions you in a positive post and a post and they have more than x followers, they can be added automatically to your CRM database. The Social Studio is part of a much bigger Salesforce eco-system that includes the CRM and systems such as Exact Target and Pardot.
Analytics and Reporting
The analytics and reporting features are strong with a range of interactive charts and customizable reports. You can get overall summary statistics on engagement levels and trends. You can also dive into great detail to review high performing posts and why they were successful.
The platform is billed as a mobile first platform but it will also support command centers with large screens showing real time activity.
In the future there will be much greater integration of social media tools to enable the end to end management of digital and social media marketing. The Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio is an example of a major player creating an integrated social media suite. Their design approach provides companies with an easy to use and simple interface to help manage a complex and fast changing social environment. The simplicity and integration sets a benchmark for other suppliers in the market.
My one request, please simplify the name as the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud - Radian6 BuddyMedia Social Studio does not trip off the tongue.
To find out more about Social Studio go to http://www.exacttarget.com/products/social-media-marketing/social-studio.