Mary Anglade joins Engage121, Inc. as Senior Vice President Marketing Responsible for all marketing, branding, corporate communications and PR.
Nick Cifuentes joins Ancestry.com as Global Director of Social Media Operate all social media related activites, channels and properties related to any and all Ancestry.com brands
Kris Kozamchak joins BT as Head of PR & Corporate Relations (US & Canada) Media relations, social media, executive positioning, brand messaging
Michael Rubin joins Redbox as Senior Manager of Social Media Responsible for developing and executing a clearly defined social media strategy to foster ongoing engagement and advocacy with redbox consumers.
Altimeter’s continued research on the Social Media Management System (read all posts) space has found some interesting findings. In fact, our recent survey out to corporate marketers at large corporations yielded a surprising number of social media accounts.
Above: Companies average an overwhelming number of corporate owned accounts: 178. Note: This does not include personal accounts that an employee would take with them if they left the company.
Number of Accounts To Increase as Social Business Matures
The above data is a sample of the data we recently got back from the field on the growth from 140 global national corporations with over 1000 employees averaged. Large corporations have dozens to hundreds of products, and each can be regionalized spurring on the number of accounts, plus corporate level accounts, as well as campaign focused accounts created by agency partners. While 178 seems like a lot now, it’s only going to increase, what’s spurring this growth? This is an indicator that companies are shifting into hub and spoke and multiple hub and spoke, also known as “Dandelion“, which our research on maturity models indicate this a growing trend. Beyond the data, it’s just common sense as each business unit beyond corporate communications wants their own account.
While Only 6 Quarters In, Number of Vendors Nearly 30 -Expect Over 100
In fact the number of vendors continues to increase, just yesterday I added Webtrends, Targeted, and SproutSocial onto The List of Social Media Management Systems. While only about 30 vendors now, this will continue to grow, I expect the category set to reach 100 vendors just as I saw the same patterns with the community platform space, also a commodity marketplace. In fact, expect more software incumbents that help to manage communications (email, marketing auto, crm, analytics, customer support apps and beyond) to integrate these features by building or buying in rapid succession. In fact, the Financial Times just published a piece on the growth of this space, and cited our research on spending.
Corporate Social Strategist at Risk Falling into a Role of Sanitation
So what does this mean for the Corporate Social Strategist, who we conduct research on frequently? This is an indicator that if they don’t have a strategy to safely manage growth they are going to head into the ever reactive sanitation role of social media helpdesk soon. What does the Helpdesk look like? It’s simple: they are constantly responding (but falling behind) on requests from stakeholders who want their own social accounts. If they don’t provide a strategy, the business units deploy it on their own. The end state? the strategist still has to clean this up or close down accounts –it never ends.
Get Ready Internally: First, got their company ready by setting up internal requirements checklist for Business Units before they asked. This would include needs, education, process, policy and continual training and communication
Develop and Audit Process: Internal inventory and audit of all accounts, and a ‘certification’ program to ensure business units agree to the above item, then they are listed on the official index lists as sanctioned.
Enterprise Workflow: Deploy an enterprise wide process on how information will be listened for, triaged, tagged, accounted for, and reported in a daily routine as customer data flows across the enterprise and beyond
Provide Software: Finally purchase an enterprise wide Social Media Management System that meet the business needs listed above, and integrate with customer software platforms
Rollup Reporting: Provide enterprise wide reporting to executive heads by aggregating data from the disparate business units.
Currently we (Brian Solis, Andrew Jones, Christine Tran, Zak Kirchner and myself) helping brands with vendor selection, and will be publishing a report on this topic, and are happy to provide additional data and analysts perspective to press and media.
This will be the fourth, (or wait, fifth? I can’t keep track over the years…) design iteration of the Web Strategy blog, and I’m pleased to share an upcoming sneak peek comp.
Overall, we leaned on a focus on accessing information quickly –rather than a complete new look, you’ll notice many of the same familiar UI elements, but with greater access to reports, graphs, and popular posts that may be ideal to reference.
We’re thankful for your feedback (we listened, responded, and factored it in) so I really want you to know how important your feedback is. If you’ve any other final comments, kindly leave a comment below. Thanks to the Engage Sciences web design team for their assistance, and for WordPress Expert (he really knows his stuff) StudioNashVegas who’ll start production shortly, and we’ll have a staging site up for testing.
A few design notes on how I plan to serve you better:
You’ll see a mixture of the best features from comp 1 and 2 (link above)
Reduced dead space like header and banner –just get to the point dangit!
We’re gonna try something new and show a waterfall of posts, so the most recent post will have more content, but older posts will display less –in order to prevent excess scrolling.
I’m surfacing events higher up, as a big part of my business is professional speaking and webinars, I’d like to further promote them
Lastly, because this blog is often used as a reference to find research, stats, lists, webinars, we’ve created a library-like section at the bottom for faster indexing and ability to quickly retrieve beyond search methods.
Below, if you click on this screenshot, you’ll see the life size version, I look forward to any comments you have below, your reactions?
In this continued digest of job changes, I like to salute those that continue to join the industry in roles focused on social media, see the archives, which I’ve been tracking since Q4, 2007.
People on the Move in the Social Business Industry:
Lindsay Grubbs joins Seafoam Media Media as an Analyst. Lindsay monitors clients’ online reputations and builds their social presences through studying analytics, building communities, and creating inspiring content.
Keith Paul joins EMC as Chief Listener developing global listening and engagement program across EMC.
Lewis Bertolucci joins Humana Inc. as Social Media Marketing Consultant Responsible for developing, socializing and driving the Humana Social Media strategy across the Enterprise.
The Internet Continues to Shift Power to People –Away from Institutions. Four years ago, I had the fortune of meeting with one of the god fathers of the internet industry, esteemed Doc Searls you may know his contributions to the book The Cluetrain Manifesto. Doc invited me over to the uber think tank, the Harvard Berkman Center which focuses on how the internet impacts society and. Over lunch, Doc shared with me his woes of how each medical provider (from Pharmacist, to PPO doctor, and beyond) lacked any comprehensive data records capabilities, or how sales people would contact him when he wasn’t ready to buy.
Understanding VRM Systems
As a result, he started to explain to me about Vendor Relationship Management systems (VRM) are designed to put the buyers and people into power over institutions. What’s a VRM system? It’s a continued trend in the social business space that puts the power in the hands of the people: It allows for buyers to submit anon bids to sellers, and forces sellers to bid for business based on the terms that buyers want. No more intrusive sales calls have to be accepted, no more spam has to be reviewed, and it allows buyers to quickly force vendors to bid against each other in real time –dropping pricing as well speeding up the sales process.
Simply Put: VRM systems put power in the hands of the buyers, forcing sellers into their process, and shift power away from sellers.
Consumer Space Yields early VRM Forerunners
About a year later, I made some predictions with my former employer that we’d start to see VRM systems appearing, and while we were directionally correct, it happened slower than we predicted, but now, we’re continuing to see growth. It’s been several years since the VRM space has been predicted to grow, and now we’re seeing movement. First of all in the home owner space, we’re already seeing Red Beacon, FindaPro, and in some form, Angie’s List which allows home owners to put out a request for quote to local handymen and servicemen. Yet unlike a ‘wanted list’ on Craigslist, these systems are designed to put the buyer in control, by allowing for a systematic process to emerge to allow the buyer to quickly sort and organize the quotes, not just be swamped with a variety of sellers.
For the IT Community, Spiceworks launches a VRM, called “RFQ”
Fast forward to today, I was briefed a few weeks ago how one of Altimeter’s clients (read our disclosure page, on how and why we disclose) the growing IT community Spiceworks is launching the first (or one of the first) examples of VRM for the IT industry. This allows their community members (IT Buyers) to use the Request for Quote (RFQ) to identify which lower cost products (like laptops, printer ink, and other commodities) they need to purchase into their RFQ process, and it can anon send quotes to sellers, who will then provide bids. There are four key feature areas for buyers including: Anonymous Quote Requests, this empowers the buyers to avoid getting spammed outside of channels they don’t want, putting power in buyers hands, secondly, the RFQ system provides multiple vendor support so any vendor who wants to harness this channel can. Lastly the RFQ templates provide a way for buyers to save their RFPs and then share and learn from other buyers.
What it Means:
Buyers will assert control over the buying space –potentially reducing margins. While this systems is currently being offered for lower cost technology goods (not expensive multi-year IT deployments) expect this trend to continue up stack, and then into other enterprise markets such as facilities, marketing goods, and sales operations.
However savvy sellers could benefit by streamlining friction in sales process –reducing sales costs. While there’s been a continued shift towards buyers and people from internet technologies, savvy sellers can leverage this by finding prospects that are in consideration and intent stages
IT Vendors and Sellers must assign sales resources to monitor and manage. It’s key that your sales team assigns a sales operations and appropriate sales reps to monitor these channels, quickly respond, and triage requests to the right teams.
Up front disclosure: Altimeter believes in fostering trust with the market, and we disclose who our clients are, providing they agree. Some of the vendors listed below are clients.
Summary: Nascent Market Appears Similar, Confusing Buyers
Overall, the Social Media Management System (SMMS) space lacks market differentiation when it comes to market positioning, which is often reflective of feature set. Furthermore, many of these low-barrier technologies are being developed rapidly, and a feature war has set in. As a result, buyers are often confused, resulting in longer evaluation and consideration phase, and heterogenous mix of vendors in an RFP processes. Furthermore, the lack of market differentiation hurts vendors, who may have greater sales costs, and longer sales cycles during a convoluted RFP process. This is normal in an emerging market, and expect the maturity of the nascent SMMS space to follow similar patterns to the maturing Community Platform space.
Buyers often indicate they are very confused by the vendors in the Social Media Management Systems space, let’s probe to find out why. One initial observation is the explosion of over 25 vendors in a short period of time, the following analysis is based of the following vendors: Argyle Social, Awareness Networks, Buddy Media, Constant Contact, Context Optional, Conversocial, CoTweet, Engage Sciences, Expion, Hootsuite, MediaFunnel, Moderation Marketplace, Mutual Mind, Objective Marketer, Postling, Seesmic, Shoutlet, SocialVolt, SpredFast, Sprinklr, StrongMail, Syncapse, Vitrue, and Wildfire.
Why Positioning Is Important
Messaging is often the first thing prospects see and as a result, where I will focus today. Why? This is the first thing that buyers see (positioning) before even evaluating the feature set. Furthermore, I’ve done a similar exercise before with the community platform space a few years ago, a space I draw clear parallels as the SMMS space follows suit. Clearly this isn’t a comparison of features or offerings (we may do this in our next report), but a sampling of what prospects see as they first glance at this emerging and growing market.
Method: Visiting Each Vendor’s Website, Like a Buyer
Here’s how I conducted this process: First, I put myself in the place of the buyer and imagined their task of sorting through this new space and short listing it. Then, I went to the website homepage and sought to find the dominant messaging that would resonate from the vendor: tag lines, descriptors or even the HTML title at top of browser. If they didn’t have this, I had to go to About page or even Product page in some examples. To show my work, I’ve also provided a Google sheet where you can see my tallies across the 25 vendors.
List of Positioning Statements from 25 SMMS Vendors
Here’s what I found (vendor names removed) can you identify which of the messaging applies to which vendor? (answers in link below).
Social Media Marketing
Offers you the most comprehensive suite of features designed to take your social media campaigns to the next level.
Social Media Management System and Content Aggregator for publisher and Developers
Social Media Management for Business
How Business Gets Social
SocialVolt Social media management software for Businesses and Agencies
Social CRM Enterprise Software for Social Media Marketing
Social Marketing Software
Every Brand needs a Buddy
“Vendor” is a social media management system (SMMS) that helps businesses get closer to customers to create online engagement where it matters most.
Build and monetize your Facebook and Twitter following through social campaigns
We make brands social
Interactive promotions for brand marketing by “Vendor”
Social media marketing for small business
Enterprise Social Media Management
The Social Marketing Suite is the leading fully integrated, software as a service platform for managing social media presences
Social Media Management System
Is a social media publishing solution that enables marketers to monetize their investment in the channel through the proper application of proven direct marketing principles.
Your Social Media Management & Technology Partner
Engage Everybody. Everywhere. Easily. Create on brand identity, managed from one place, living simultaneously, on many sites and devices
Power your brand on Facebook + 100 other social sites Create, manage, and measure all of your social media marketing communication with one powerful but intuitive tool.
Social media applications for web, mobile, and desktop
Provides small businesses with the tools, alerts, and insights to get the most out of social media.
Social Media Dashboard for the Social Enterprise
Social Media Dashboard
See Answer Sheet with Vendor Names
To see the name of the vendor and the associated messaging above, see the answer sheet.
Above Graphic: Most vendors have centralized their messaging around “SMMS’ (10/25) or “Social Marketing” (10/25) yet few have evolved messaging to either specific markets, verticals. There were stronger mentions in differentiation around market purpose: with more focus on Business (4/25), Enterprise (3/25), and even SMB (2/25). However, there is differentiation in terms of channel with a peppering of mentions around Mobile, SCRM, Facebook/Twitter. Overall, when removing company name from taglines, most taglines (aside from Buddy Media) were indistinguishable from the next.
Market Positioning Centered on variations of “SMMS” and “Social Marketing”. High adopt of category term, Most vendors (10/25 vendors), adopted the term Social Media Management System or Dashboard in their primary messaging. Secondly followed by high adoption of permutations on the phrase “Social media Marketing (10/25 vendors). While I certainly encourage the adoption of the term SMMS (which I use as the category name since March 2010), the term Social Media Marketing isn’t fully representative of the overall use case, which can include support and customer service. Furthermore, four of those those that did use the terms SMMS, didn’t have follow up descriptors helping to differentiate.
Some Vendors Lacked Appropriate Descriptors. During my visit to all 25 vendors pages, not all of them had consistent taglines, descriptors, or positioning. In some cases, I had to go to the product pages to find out exactly what they do, which can be a turn off for buyers. I’m sure that many vendors will suggest that I got the wrong messaging they were trying to convey, but I treated each experience the same, acting like a buyer, if I didn’t get your intended message, that in itself should be evaluated, as likely your prospects may be experiencing the same.
Despite a Market of 25 Vendors, Few stood out from Pack. Take a look at that list above, these positioning statements are pretty much the same, there’s no doubt why buyers are so confused. This space is confusing, they all look alike, except for Buddy Media. yet despite being the sole stand out, their tag line isn’t descriptive of what they offer, nor a value statement. Traditionally, marketing tag lines require years of investment and market awareness before shifting to a non value-statement tag line. While cute, I don’t think it’s as helpful compared to their title statement “Facebook Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Power Tools for Facebook” which is descriptive, if Buddy could merge both catch line and descriptor, they could be a contender to stand apart.
What It Means:
Lack of Market Positioning is a sign of lack of Product Differentiation. While we’ve not made a direct causation between similar features and positioning statements, we know from vendor briefings and client meetings that the offerings are often the same. As a result, buyers rely on WOM between each other, as well as viability and vision crafted by each of these vendors.
Immature Market Lacks Educated Buyers –and Vendors Not Sure Future Vision. The market confusion isn’t just stemming from the vendors, buyers are still getting educated on this space as we know that adoption is growing –slowly.
Rapidly Changing Feature Set Will Continue Confusion. This space is early, it’s just over a year old from category naming and it continues to evolve. Expect the vendors to ever battle over features, matching what other competitors beat them in bids. Like the community platform space, we saw similar confusion and then market clarity as winners emerge.
Continuing Altimeter Coverage on the SMMS Space
We’re currently doing data cuts on a survey to 140 enterprise buyers on the SMMS space, and about a similar amount for the SMB space, and have data on: number of accounts companies have to manage, number of business accounts, top feature desires, feature satisifaction, adoption rates. Altimeter clients have access through advisory opportunities. Also Brian Solis is helping with vendor selection for a global national brand, as do I short list for buyers. Altimeter Group will be producing a report on the SMMS space, follow me on Twitter, and Andrew Jones to learn more.
Nehemiah Burney-Porter joins Press Of Atlantic City as Integrated Marketing Specialist Handles the ATS facebook page and reports on social media analytics. Also handles email marketing and research analytics.
Ivan Kayser joins Code and Theory as Vice President I’m a lead strategist at digital design firmCode and Theory. I help organizations embrace and make the most of change caused and enabled by digital and social trends.
I like what Joe Chernov at Eloqua did, I think he’s doing some of the most interesting stuff in this space when it comes to marketing in new mediums, he created a Probook that has elements of stories, data, graphics, in a deeper format. As one of our clients (disclosure), I worked on this project with Joe and Jess3, who popularized this medium, so much so, that many other firms are emulating Jess3. I look forward to seeing how they will continue to push the medium forward.
If you see some interesting evolutions of infographics (3D, interactive, digital books, video) please leave a comment and shout out these new projects, let’s give them some visibility.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of presenting at Sydney’s Amplify festival, which was hosted by AMP, one of the largest financial institutions in Australia. I spoke three times, from workshops and keynotes. A majority of the attendees were employees from AMP, and a sprinkling of folks from outside also attended.
What struck me as very fascinating was how this event, which was organized by Annalie Killian, was leading the charge of innovation at the firm. I asked her title and she told me she was the “Director of Magic”, and boy did she deliver. It’s rare to see organizations to fund innovation events as much as AMP does, but a great way to learn is to bring in outside presenters and share their vision.
You can see ALL the youtube videos, (there are four) and I’ve embedded the first one below with the accompanying slides. For this event, I focused on friendly interaction, group exercises, over 18 examples from the regulated space, and providing pragmatic recommendations for the regulated space in this 2 hour session involving a few hundred folks.