In 2013, Community Managers are trending, both online, and their impact to their organizations and the customers, who they serve.
Community Managers are the most powerful group online
As professional online communicators, Community Managers are the most powerful group for 5 reasons: 1) Professionally trained 2) Access to top tools 3) Manage the largest social media accounts in world 4) Highly connected to each other, and 5) Their interactions with market are public, which resonate. I’m pleased to report that yesterday, on Jan 28th the Community Manager Appreciation tag (#CMAD) became a Twitter trending topic in at least Finland, France, and United States for over five hours.
Recognition of the Community Manager Role, Globally Known
Each year, Community Manager appreciation day grows in size and in location, this year I was stunned by the community involvement and market reaction. I heard comments that while in emerging markets there’s still justification required for the role, but within US, there’s already wide understanding and approval of this role within today’s modern company, both big and small. Last night, at the SF meetup whether or not CMs were the final decision maker for social tools and software, and depending on size of company, it could vary, however they often short-list the social business toolset for management and teams to analyze. While they often need to work with the Corporate Social Strategist, they’re internal influencers on how programs role out.
2014 CMAD Will Host A Theme to Advance the Career
Next year, in 2014, Community Manager Appreciation Day will be on Monday, Jan 27th. (It’s on the fourth monday, every Jan). We will discuss this year what the theme will be –beyond appreciation. While some markets still need awareness and justification of the role, developed markets are seeking to push the agenda and be forward moving. We’ll find a theme, announce it in Dec, and ask the industry to collectively move forward. It goes without saying, that appreciation doesn’t stop, but now that we’ve collectively raised awareness, let’s advance as one.
Here’s a wrap up of all the events that happened around the globe, and analysis on the online impact, from a number of social analytics tools. Please leave a note or URL in the comments, and I’ll update it.
Social Analytics Reports from Industry
A number of social analytics firms are running reports, I’ll cross link to all analysis and capture highlights here, it’s interesting to see the common data points and look at averages points and trends. It’s interesting that the various tools have roughly the same data frequency count.
||Provides a list of the top 1000 Community Managers
||Social graph heat maps finds influencers, see my take, see the Twitter list
|| Mid Day Capture Yields: 17.1 million impressions from 5,121 tweets… 3,096 mentions, 1,644 retweets, 381 @reply – #cmad
||Mid-day capture, not a full 24 hour run, but roughly matches other data sets
||10,004 Mentions, thanks Rich Schwerin for the URL.
||Can’t leave date range, so this report may phase out over time.
|Keyhole (report also in Spanish)
||17,548 tweets by 13,479 users
||Interesting tool. Showed hotspots in CA and NY, with Mashable as a major influencer
||16,628 Total Tweets. 8083 Total tweeters
||Shows keyword map, and analysis. Most active include jpedde, evanhamilton
||Shares that the hashtag was used 17.5K times
||Indicates most activity in United States
|NodeXL (Social Graph Analysis)
||This focused data set analyzes the interactions with the core graph during a period of time, shows Mashable at core.
||Several leaderboards on top URLs, and top tweeters, keywords used
|Salesforce Marketing Cloud (slides, also embedded below)
||24,000 conversations, most on Twitter, in English followed by Spanish
||Interesting how dominate Twitter is over FB and Blogs.
|UberVu (dashboard report)
||19k Tweets, 281 plusses on Google+, 256 posts on FB
||Interesting how the sentiment was overall good, at 43%
|| I’ll cross link
Above: UberVu has a dashboard of metrics
Above: Screenshot of Bluenod
Above Screenshot: NodeXL has a detailed visualization of the cmad social graph
Above Screenshot: Topsy
Above Screenshot, Keyhole
- There were multiple physical locations spanning SF, Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Tokyo, France, Finland, and beyond, it’s difficult to track them all.
- Online events included a 12 hour Google Hangout, I watched a few hours, learned from global CMs, see videos
- Percolate hosted an all day event in NY for CMs
- At SF’s packed event, I spotted Bill Johnston’s with this clever shirt (pic)
- Of course, some CMs get their desks decorated, or cupcakes, flowers.
- Events in DC, at LivingSocial locale (pic)
- The Online Project in Jordan had an event, complete with banners, food
Media, Press, Blogs
Voices of Community Managers, and Shout Outs!
Technology Vendors and Innovators (alpha sorted)
Collection of 2013 Community Manager Day Artifacts
Above: Yammer Community Playbook
Above: Get Satisfaction provides insights for CMs
Above: Get Satisfaction provides infographic on the Hats of a Community
Collection of CM Advice via MarketWire
Uservoice has several clever CMAD cards. Ironic empathy makes me feel ok.
SocialFresh offers a helpful infographic with demographics and salary data
Please leave a comment below of any coverage I missed, I’ll add.
Update: Here’s a Wrapup of #CMAD 2013, which Trended.
Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day, in celebration of saluting this important role changing the face of corporations and customers everywhere, I wanted to share original data and insights on the state of the space. Community Manager Day (#CMAD) is hosted globally every fourth Monday in Jan, I’ll do a wrap up post and cross-link for this fourth year. Why do Community Managers get their own day? Essentially, they serve customers every other day, so they should get a day of thanks to highlight how they’re changing the face of business, customer care, and our industry. Here’s key stats on the essential skills, requirements of community managers, as well who they follow the most on Twitter.
1) Top Required Skills of the Community Manager
Altimeter Group conducted analysis of 30 global job descriptions of Community Managers to ascertain patterns on job requirements and skills.
Above: Out of 30 Community Manager job descriptions, the most critical requested skills were writing ability (83%), customer relations in online channels in normal daily conditions (76%), and working with other departments (53%). Other critical skills included reporting, and providing feedback to product teams on innovations and improvements. A few of the requirements included passion/tact/clever people skills, as well as passion for the topic and vertical the CM was covering.
2) Top Tools of the Community Manager
Above: Interestingly, 43% requested that Community Managers to participate in social networks –not just online communities owned by the brand. The heritage of the term originated with online communities (before Facebook and Twitter were founded) but the job requirements now suggest that 43% of community manager roles must interact with customers wherever they go.
3) Top Experience Requirements of the Community Manager
Job Experience Requirements: Out of the 30 job descriptions, 13 (43%) required bachelor degrees, and a majority required that they have Years required about 2.5 – 3 years of experience in social/marketing/customer service. Additionally, 6 companies had a requirement that the community manager have 2.5 – 3 years of experience in the specific vertical which they were serving.
4) The Most Followed Community Managers are in America, Western Europe
If you’re seeking to reach community managers in person, you’ll find key global hotspots in East Coast US, Western Europe, and a scattering up and down the West US Coast. This represents the top 500 followed community managers (update: Little Bird has provided a method and list of top 1000 CMs), and is not representative of the thousands of total CMs in the entire industry.
5) Most Influential Community Practitioners
Long time friend, Marshall Kirkpatrick (RWW, now entrepreneur) provided me data on influential community managers in Twitter. While I’m not involved in creating his social analytics product, Little Bird they provide this service analysis to any topical community. By analyzing which Community Managers are most followed in Twitter by their peers, he generated a list. Here are the most followed (thereby highest potential of Influence) Community Managers followed by their peers. Caveat: I recognize that measuring influence can’t be a sole number, but the data provided is interesting on heat maps on a social graph.
Community Managers followed the following folks, who are mostly providing services, resources, information and guidance to other community managers. Out of the top 500 Community Managers on Twitter, the 5 most-followed by their peers are:
- Jenn Pedde (@JPedde) Community Strategist at 2U and Co-Founder of CmgrChat is followed by 74% of the top Community Managers on Twitter
- Blaise Grimes-Viort (@blaisegv) Head of Community Management & Social Media with @eModeration is followed by 66% of the top Community Managers on Twitter
- Rachel Happe (@rhappe) Principal at The Community Roundtable is followed by 64% of the top Community Managers on Twitter
- Jim Storer (@jimstorer) Founder of The Community Roundtable (like Rachel, above) is followed by 61% of the top Community Managers on Twitter
- Tim McDonald (@tamcdonald) Community Manager for @HuffPostLive is followed by 53% of the top Community Managers on Twitter
Yours truly (@jowyang), is followed by 43% of the top 500 CMs, thank you!
6) Most Influential Community Managers at Corporations followed Community Managers
The top 500 Community Managers followed the following corporate community managers the most:
- Maria Ogneva (@themaria) at Yammer (which is a social business vendor, kudos Maria)
- Lauren Vargas (@vargasl) at Aetna
- Paco Vázquez (@pakvazquez) at Telefónica
7) Top Software Vendors Followed by the top 500 Community Managers
The following are the most followed social software vendor corporate accounts (not personal accounts, like Maria) of the top 500 Community Managers. While just one data sample, this gives light to the mindshare owned by actual product users in the industry:
- Salesforce MarketingCloud (@marketingcloud) is followed by 26%
- Wildfire (@wildfireapp) 11%
- BuddyMedia (@buddymedia) 8%
- Lithium (@LithiumTech) 8%
- Cotweet (@cotweet) 8%
- Sprinklr (@Sprinklr) 6%
- Spredfast (@Spredfast) 6%
- Adobe Social (@AdobeSocial) 3%
- LiveWorld (@liveworld) 3%
- Involver (@involver) 2%
- Little Bird (@getlittlebird) 2%
- Oracle (@oracle) 1%
8 ) Most Influential European Community Managers
Out of the top 500 Community Managers in Europe, the ones most followed by their peers are:
- Camille Jourdain (@camj59)
- Christophe Ramel (@Kriisiis)
- Cédric DENIAUD (@cdeniaud)
- Flavien Chantrel (@moderateur),
- Jean-Luc Raymond (@jeanlucr)
- Isabelle Mathieu (@isabellemathieu).
9) Rising Stars in Community Manager Space
Globally, the most Emergent CMs this year, defined as new but already followed by a large number of other leaders in the field are:
- Hootsuite’s Laura Horak (@laurahoots)
- Rolando Cuevas (@cuevas_rolando) of Spain’s Community Next
- Mark Schwanke (@AdoptACM) formerly of Motorola Mobility
- Fer Rubio Ahumada (@FerRubioAhumada)
- Patricia Fernandez (@triciafernan)
10) Most Connected Community Managers
Globally, the CMs who are following the largest number of other top CMs on Twitter are:
- Nissim Alkobi (@nis519) at Payoneer
- James Baldwin (@TwistedEdge) of the International Game Developers Association
- Paulette Bleam (@paulettebleam) of stealth startup Sumazi
- Jim Storer (@jimstorer) of Community Roundtable
- Robyn Tippins (@duzins) of ReadWriteWeb
Summary: As the broader category of Social Business continues to proliferate around the globe, these day to day business programs will be staffed, run, and managed by Community Managers serving on the front line with customers, employees, and partners. This key role represents the shift to digital real time communications in the business workplace, and demonstrates the changing role of authentic and human customer interactions.
Credit to data analysis by Julie George of essential skills in data point 1-3.
At the start of each year, we often see a flood of new hires, as many are hired over Q4 for the new year. Find out who’s investing in social business by tracking who got hired, the savvy will examine role, industry, title to find interpret growth in our space.
Both the submissions on this job announcement board, as well as available social media positions at corporations continue to pour in. 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 2007.
People on the Move in the Social Business Industry:
- Christopher Carfi joins Swipp, Inc. as VP, Platform Products Chris will be leading Swipp’s platform efforts for enterprises and developers.
- Talented and former colleague Zach N. Hofer-Shall joins Twitter, running Certified Products program, his inbox overfloweth.
- Shel Holtz is now working with Academy of Art University, SF, teaching a 15-week graduate course on social media in mid February
- Leona Hobbs joins Sequentia Environics as Head of Agency Services strategic direction, service innovation and talent development
- Michael Rubin joins Allstate as Senior Marketing Manager, as Social Media Lead social media efforts to drive engagement, strengthen relationships and increase brand awareness.
- Kim Snedaker joins Barclaycard US as Assistant Vice President, Social Media Developing, launching and managing social media strategy and initiatives for US operations.
- Tom Diederich joins Percona as Community Manager managing community/social media at Percona, the largest independent MySQL services company. Percona provides MySQL support, consulting, development, and training services to customers worldwide including Groupon, Facebook, eBay, Craigslist, LivingSocial, and Box.
- Nick Cicero joins Livefyre as Lead Social Strategist Building leading social engagement strategies for publishers and brands internationally.
- Pelin Thorogood joins Anametrix as CEO Thorogood will direct the company’s strategy, expand the team to meet rapidly growing customer needs and introduce groundbreaking platform innovations.
- Travis Williams joins Thismoment as Designer responsible for supporting all design projects at the company, working closely with the sales and marketing teams to produce creative assets and marketing materials as well as design as needed by Thismoment customers.
- Lisa Thoman joins Thismoment as Account Executive Selling the Distributed Engagement Channel (DEC) directly to clients and agencies located in their designated sales region.
- Justin Morrison joins Thismoment as Director of Sales Sell the Distributed Engagement Channel (DEC) software solution to senior-level executives within the Fortune 1000 as well as Top 100 advertising agencies.
- Emmett Keyser joins Thismoment as Systems Engineer Oversee the DEC information systems.
- Teri Foley joins Thismoment as Senior Trainer Teach customers how to utlize DEC.
- Christien Louviere joins Anametrix as Sales Director – Southeast Christien leads the new Anametrix Southeast office from Atlanta.
- Paul Taft joins Anametrix as Sales director – Northern California Paul will lead the new Anametrix Northern California office from San Francisco.
- Jill Nissen joins Gigya as Acting Chief Privacy Officer and will provide expert guidance to company executives and clients on consumer privacy regulations, laws, and best practices in the US and EU.
- Richard Korzeniewski joins HootSuite as Regional Sales Director On the strategic accounts team and is responsible for the following five vertical markets: Media & Entertainment, Telecom, Transportation, Chemicals and certain Boston-area accounts.
Submit a new hire:
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, which includes paid submissions from the top brands in the world.
Please congratulate the new hires!
Research, workout, or write down your thoughts each morning. Don’t check email, as that’s paying someone else.
Email, while a dominant form of business communication isn’t effective: The more you respond, the more emails you’ll receive. The tool is over burdened for its initial use case. You’re teaching your network you’ll forever be reactive.
I pay myself first. I focus my priorities on the tools that will maximize my time. For example, rather than responding to multiple emails or conversations on one topic, I leverage broadcasting tools, like this very weblog.
This isn’t a new concept, as many financial advisers will suggest that you invest in your future (funds, roth, 401) before fully paying down your debt. In the long run, your compounded growth of investing in larger payoffs will yield a greater nest egg. This same concept applies to how you spend your time, each morning.
Imagine if everyone around us (colleagues, partners, vendors, family) was a little less reactive, and instead invested a bit more growing themselves, perhaps we’d all be better off.
So there you go, resist the instinct to dive into email each morning, instead pay yourself by reading, investing in your wellbeing, or sharing your insights with others. You’ll increase your value by growing, demonstrate to your network you’re not just reactive, and you’ll hopefully feel that you’ve accomplished more.
Ergo, pay yourself first each morning, don’t check email, as that’s paying someone else.
I originally posted elements of this concept a few years ago (and more recently, on Medium), but begs to be resurfaced, as we all need to be reminded of it from time to time.
The purpose of this post is to clearly delineate the distinct differences between strategy and tactics, and show how they work in tandem for your organization.
Often, we use the terms strategy and tactics interchangeably and in a haphazard manner. When probing at online definitions and dictionaries, they often share many of the same characteristics, making them difficult to differentiate. Rather than debate Greek military etymology, Sun Tzu philosophy, or latest publications from the Harvard Business Press, here’s a simple way to look at strategy and tactics by their associated actions:
[The difference between strategy and tactics: strategy is done above the shoulders, tactics are done below the shoulders]
While a tweet-worthy catch phrase, this metaphor risks glib over-simplification. To explore deeper, let’s dissect strategy vs tactics in the following breakdown:
Breakdown: The Difference between Strategy and Tactics
||To identify clear broader goals that advance the overall organization and organize resources.
||To utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals that support the defined mission.
||Individuals who influence resources in the organization. They understand how a set of tactics work together to achieve goals.
||Specific domain experts that maneuver limited resources into actions to achieve a set of goals.
||Held accountable to overall health of organization.
||Held accountable to specific resources assigned.
||All the resources within the organizations, as well as broader market conditions including competitors, customers, and economy. Yet don’t over think it, to paraphrase my business partner Charlene Li, “Strategy is often what you don’t do”.
||A subset of resources used in a plan or process. Tactics are often specific tactics with limited resources to achieve broader goals.
||Long Term, changes infrequently.
||Shorter Term, flexible to specific market conditions.
||Uses experience, research, analysis, thinking, then communication.
||Uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes, and teams.
||Produces clear organizational goals, plans, maps, guideposts, and key performance measurements.
||Produces clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools, time.
Strategy and Tactics Must Work in Tandem
These two must work in tandem, without it your organization cannot efficiently achieve goals. If you have strategy without tactics you have big thinkers and no action. If you have tactics without strategy, you have disorder. To quote my former business partner, Lora Cecere, she reminds me that organizations need big wings (strategic thinking) and feet (capability to achieve).
To illustrate, here’s some specific examples across different industries of how strategic goals can be communicated with clear tactical elements, in a linear and logical order:
- Strategy: Be the market share leader in terms of sales in the mid-market in our industry. Tactics: Offer lower cost solutions than enterprise competitors without sacrificing white-glove service for first 3 years of customer contracts.
- Strategy: Maneuver our brand into top two consideration set of household decision makers. Tactics: Deploy a marketing campaign that leverages existing customer reviews and spurs them to conduct word of mouth with their peers in online and real world events.
- Strategy: Improve retention of top 10% of company performers. Tactics: Offer best in market compensation plan with benefits as well as sabbaticals to tenured top performers, source ideas from top talent.
- Strategy: Connect with customers while in our store and increase sales. Tactics: Offer location based mobile apps on top three platforms, and provide top 5 needed use cases based on customer desire and usage patterns.
- Strategy: Become a social utility that earth uses on an daily basis. Tactics: Offer a free global communication toolset that enables disparate personal interactions with your friends to monitor, share, and interact with.
Action: Using Strategy and Tactics to advance your Organization
First, educate your staff and colleagues on the differences of terms and how they vary. Next, ensure that all tactics align to business strategy, and all strategies take into account tactics on how they will be achieved. Finally, cascade in all communication how strategy and tactics work in tandem, advancing how your organization can see the larger goals, and better utilize resources to achieve.
That’s my take, but please expand the conversation with your perspective, in the comments below.
Image credit: “Telescope” by Kristin Marshall, used within creative commons licensing.
Research has found that out of 55 Social Business Startups that a majority (69%) have received early and late stage funding, averaging $14m in total funding. A significant 31% have not taken investor funding, which we’ve listed 6 reasons ranging low costs of operations, self-funding, VC avoidance, and market saturation of startups. 18% of startups had achieved a material event (acquired or IPO) and of them, 40% we’re not funded. Expect three macro trends in 2013 including: 1) Startups focus on business value to battle software giants, 2) Investors hot on SMMS market, but wary of vendors who lack differentiation, and 3) As Social Business Software market matures, expect growth in late stage investments
I’m continuing industry analysis of Social Business Software funding and will do a series of data cuts from my sample of 55 software vendors to tease apart trends, insights, and built a forecast for what is to come. First, read part one on The State of Social Business Software (including methodology of this study), which dissects into funding amounts, averages, and frequency of funding rounds. I interact with VCs, startup entrepreneurs, software giants, brand buyers, press and media to obtain multiple points of view.
Above: Figure indicates that while two-thirds were funded, a large set of social business software vendors were not funded, a rate greater than I expected to see.
Above: Of the two-thirds who were funded, a majority of them raised a small amount of money, most commonly under $10m, a paltry amount compared to funding rounds in other tech categories in prior decades.
Above: The industry ratio of 18% of startups achieve a material event, still holds as an industry benchmark. I found that consumer based startups may have a lower rate of material event, but with larger returns. Interestingly, 40% of those who achieved a material had no public records of funding from angel, seed, or venture investors.
Key Data Points
After cutting/comparing/probing this data sample of Social Business Startups (not consumer startups like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) the following data points were discovered:
- A total of 55 Social Business Software Vendors were selected for this sample set.
- 17 (31%) did not take funding per our searchers on public websites, press releases, S-1 filings and Crunchbase.
- 38 (or 69%) were funded in public records listed as Angel, Seed, or various Venture Rounds
- Of the 55 startups, 17 we’re not funded, and the majority who we’re funded (16) received less than $10m in total funding
- 7 startups were acquired by larger corporations (Buddy Media/Radian6 to Salesforce, Context Optional to Adobe, Viture/Involver to Oracle, etc)
- 3 startups achieved IPO (Liveworld, Bazaarvoice, Jive)
- A total of 10/55 (18%) of startups have achieved a material event.
- 6/10 (60%) of the startups who achieved a material event (IPO, Acquired) were funded.
- Of the 6 startups who achieved a material event, they averaged total funding amount of $26.3 million.
- Of the 6 startups who achieved a material event, the largest round raised was Buddy Media’s D-Round at $54 million.
Material Events, defined, debated.
For the purposes of this report I’m defining a material event such as an acquisition by another company or IPO for publicly traded shares. There have been many arguments made that successful companies do not need a material events, if they can yield consistent dividends to investors. The challenge is that the venture model requires multiples returned per fund to LPs in order to raise monies for future funds. VCs tell me “You’re only as good as your last fund” and with fund management being 5-10 years, there’s a time clock on returns, causing pressure on executive teams to achieve a material event. It’s also worth noting that in some cases, an acqusition occurs because a company is distressed and is auctioned as a fire sale.
Nearly One-Third of Startups Avoided Funding
Six Reasons why Startups Don’t Obtain Investor Funding
While over 2/3rds of startups took funding, a surprising 17 (31%) did not take funding in the form of seed, angel, or venture funding (A, B, C, D, rounds). This number is shockingly high, as in previous decades tech startups were dependent on Sand Hill investors to anoint companies to market. Today’s market has changed and startups are not dependent on VCs. Even of those who achieved a material event, 4/10 (40%) did not have funding. There are six primary drivers why entrepreneurs have confided in my why they don’t take funding
In near future, I’ll post why 60% of startups prefer funding, surprisingly, it’s not just about the money.
||What Entrepreneurs Don’t Tell Anyone
|1) Self Funded
||In most cases where I see self-funded startups, often the executive team are self-funding from prior wins as a serial entrepreneur.
||This means more money for them, control. In some cases, the serial entrepreneurs I’ve met are doing this company both for personal accomplishment, fun, and are no longer driven by monetary gain alone.
|2) Company Too Early Stage
||A large portion of startups in our sample set were early stage, (many in SMMS market) who do not yet need expansion and growth funds.
||In some of these crowded markets, they’re struggling to get favorable terms as first time entrepreneurs, slow growth, or in a crowded market.
|3) Low Costs to Start Company
||Today’s startup needs a few 10′s of thousands of dollars to get going, with recurring SaaS licence revenues, they can sustain after one year of landing a few key brands.
||Cloud technologies, open source, virtual workforces, and overseas developers make today’s startup a low cost.
|4) Seek Lifestyle Company
||Often a controversial discussion in tech circles, many entrepreneurs want to avoid pressures of a material event put on them by investors
||Being an entrepreneur is tough work, when your company does well, the board may want the founder out, requiring them to go to beach get board, and get itch to restart. An addictive, never ending cycle.
|5) VC Avoidance
||Unfavorable terms, pushy board members, or lack of value-add cause entrepreneurs to shudder. Additionally, the time required to pitch, negotiate, expose secret plans, and deal with new influencers on board a risk if they don’t see eye-to-eye.
||Many serial entrepreneurs confide that they’ve been burned by VCs in the past, and as a result seek to avoid them as long as possible.
|6) The Startup is a Bust
||Some startups are clones, unoriginal, and will not succeed and VCs simply know a failure when they see it. In fact, we track 28 SMMS vendors in the active market.
||Entrepreneurs are prone to bluntly admitting this. Instead, expect euphemisms such as “strategic roadmap pivot to respond to changing market conditions”. ahem.
Market Trends: 2013 Social Business Software and Funding
Expect three macro trends in 2013 when it comes to social business software, their buyers, investors and last year’s activity, they include:
- Startups focus on business value to battle software giants. Have At the high level, social business startups must focus on value creation and market domination as after the rash of M&A in 2012 (Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, Google), this has left an opening for independents to build value while blue chip software companies re-tool and figure out their suite strategy up until the second half of 2013. With the IPO exit taking a major beating from Facebook, Groupon, Zynga, and questionable results from Bazaarvoice, social business startups must focus on recurring revenues through business value to clients.
- Investors hot on SMMS market, but wary of vendors who lack differentiation. While the brand monitoring, community platform, ratings and reviews space has already consolidated, VCs look at SMMS market, despite a handful of acquisitions. My time on Sand Hill road has yielded excitement and hesitation from VCs examining the fast growing –yet crowded– social media management systems space. Expect SMMS vendors who can achieve market differentiation and integration with larger blue chip software players to be ideal for investor funding –our findings indicate the market is not strong at differentiation.
- As Social Business Software market matures, expect growth in late stage investments. There’s room for independent players who’ve not yet been acquired to land and expand their enterprise clients, some claiming 400 year over year growth in revenue run rates as social licenses are spread enterprise-wide. As these companies seek funding to grow in international markets, hire seasoned enterprise sales and account teams and acquire smaller competitors, they’ll need late stage investing over $10m, which bolsters overall valuation before a material event.
Future reports to come: We’ll explore status of top funded investments, which VCs are most active in funding Social Business Software, and other data cuts.
Social Business Software vendors (Startups that offer social technology software and solutions for corporations to use to interact with employees, customers, and partners) have raised on average $14m with the most common round being an A-Round at $5.2m. A few vendors have received large D-Rounds, however most are receiving $5-10m rounds from a series of investors. Brands must ask vendors at least 5 questions on who and how this money is and will be used, to understand the strategy before buying.
[Funding in social business software is an indicator of a Vendor's potential to quickly accelerate to meet the needs of corporate customers]
Why this Research:
As an Industry Analyst, I look at The Three Spheres of Web Strategy of the market to understand it: 1) Consumer behavior (who brands want to reach 2) Brand appetite (customers of software vendors) 3) Technology providers (those who aid brands, like these players). On a weekly basis I interact with Brands, Media, Software Vendors, and Media to exchange information. I wanted to bring some hard data to the conversation on the funding aspect which fits in the technology sphere.
[Investor relationships with software vendor shape the direction by providing guidance, network access, and may guide a 'material event']
Above: Figure 1 indicates that across these 55 startups, the total funding amount was $765. Please read method and scope below to understand this is not the full space.
Above: Figure 2 indicates that on average, Social Business Software vendors have raised $14m in funding.
Above: Figure 3 indicates that on average, the average funded round is the A-Round.
After probing the data for hours, I found some interesting trends in the market worth notating.
- Total Funding across these 55 active vendors is $765m. with most funding occurring in last few years however some vendors like Lithium have been present for over a decade. This is a relatively small amount of funding in the VC space, as some giants like Andreessen Horowitz are managing over $1b for a fund, and my finger to the air estimate is that many a Sand Hill VC average around $400m per fund in my space.
- Funding is significantly smaller compared to consumer cousins. For comparison, Facebook received a total of $2.2b of funding, and Groupon with $1.14b and Zynga with $860m. I’d argue that the returns on B2B players revenue (on a percentage basis) may be higher. While bluechipper Facebook is on track for a potential $4b runrate, but Zynga and Groupon have questionable destinies. Furthermore, the startup costs for Social Business Software vendors is low with open software, cloud infrastructure, and sometimes virtual workforces.
- On average, vendors raised $14m across all rounds. On average, these startups took a relatively modest amount of revenue over the lifetime of their companies. While the scope of startups includes both established and early stage, $14m is a relatively modest amount when software salaries, the high rent in coastal cities, and compared to consumer startup giant funding, is relatively small. Many vendors boast annual revenue streams of about $5m-$10m of SaaS best repeatable revenues in my interactions over past 5 years, with exceptions on both ends.
- The A-Round is most commonly funded round. The A-Round investments lead the back, 8 of the total 88 investment events (33%) were at the A-Round at $5.2m. This crucial round demonstrates to the investors that they’ve received corporate traction in an addressable market, and are ready for faster growth to keep up. For further momentum, the most common round was a B-Round which comprises of 22 of 88 events, (25%). Although there are fewer D rounds, the average value exceeded $42m, a goliath size readying the company for a material event.
- D-Rounds lead the largest portion of overall funding dollars. This later stage fund is often ‘double down’ money by VCs who look for companies that have proven their mettle and are ready for expansion at a rapid pace. (product, sales, territory, aboard offices and M&A), or are preparing for sale to third parties (Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, Adobe have rapidly entered this space). In some cases, late stage dollars increase overall value of software firm to raise valuation amounts before a material event.
- Confusion over terminology of funds makes tabulating not clear. The amorphous term “Venture Round” spanned funding that was pre-A and even post-C (like Gigya). In some cases, some vendors received only 1 round of funding and titled it Venture Round, which could be assumed as A. In some cases Venture Round was an extension of a A-C round (Gigya’s latest large round was listed as a venture round, post-C), and while that data is likely listed in the S-1, I chose not to dive into it to dissect for purposes of this industry level data.
- Only 18% of Startups had a Material Event (M&A, IPO). For some startups the mecca is a reaching a material event, which would involve M&A or IPO. While it may seem like there’s been a rash of M&A activity, in this particular data set, only 7 of the 55 vendors (12%) have been acquired and a notable IPO of Bazaarvoice with the media questioning the performance of stock, also LiveWorld went IPO nearly a decade ago. So that’s 10 materials events out of 55 companies, a 18% rate. Granted, a few vendors that were acquired did not make this list, but overall, there’s been few material events. (edits made to this section, see footnotes)
Five Questions Brands Must Ask Software Vendors
Brands are making million dollar commitments to these software vendors, and often their careers, and quality of worklife will pin on choosing the right vendors. Beyond features and functions, buyers must pay attention to the root of funding as it shows financial stability, ability to grow, and credibility from third party investors who also believe in the company. As vendors pitch brands their software and services, it’s important to carefully pay attention to the slide on funding, as it helps to give an anchor point on where the firm has come from, and how fast they may grow in the future.
- How much have you raised and from whom? What other software companies are in the VCs portfolio are related? Find out who has invested and look at their websites for a track record of successful investing in enterprise software. They’re often key advisors, or make connections for the startup, you’ll want to know every angle.
- What is that money going to be used for? How have you used it in the past? How will this help customers? As you look under the hood, find out how they’ve used investor dollars in the past, and look for key acceleration points, if you don’t see this, raise a red flag. For recent funding, ask how they’ll strategically use this.
- Do these investors advise your company on a frequent basis? Are they on the board? Ask specifically what each round was used for, and what were the business impacts. As firms raise new money, have a frank discussion on how they’ll use it going forward.
- So you raised a big ton of money, are you going to sell the company? If a vendor has raised significant money as a later stage, have a frank discussion on their exit, while IPO is no longer attractive in today’s market conditions, we’ve seen a number of acquisitions occur which will impact customers.
- You haven’t raised much at all, why? If a company has not raised much funding, find out why and how. Question if they’re going to match growth rates with competitors who have cash on hand to do expansions and potentially purchases of competitors. In some cases, vendors have inability to raise much money, due to VCs passing up on the deal, due to issues, it’s key you track this.
Methodology and Scope
First, we developed a data set of vendors based on feedback from my initial vendor set who we hear about from clients, press, and VCs, as well as took in input from Altimeter’s research team. Then, I commissioned a researcher to conduct public research to collect all this data with sources and I vetted data content.
This research was conducted across 55 social vendors spanning 6 sub-categories including: Social Media Management Systems (like Sprinklr, Hootsuite, Buddy Media), Social Commerce (Bazaarvoice), Social Integration (Gigya, Janrain, Echo), 2 Gamfication (Badgeville, Bunchball), Community Platforms (Lithium), Listening (Radian6, Social Bakers). A majority of the sample set are SMMS vendors who are the most active funded at this time. The time tables on these funding notes typically span 1-5 years, but there are records of some longer term vendors that were included that have been funded over 10 years ago.
This study does not include funding from consumer startups Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Zynga who all leave these other vendors dwarfed with total funds amassed. This is only a sample of 55 vendors out of 100s, the total sample size was intentionally limited vendors on my ‘coverage radar’.
I’d like to thank the following people for their assistance: Jennifer Jones for her guidance on the VC landscape, Nadim Hossain (seasoned Social Business Exec), Blake Bartlett (Battery Ventures), Andrew Jones (Altimeter Researcher), Christine Tran (Altimeter Researcher), Julie A for data research.
Social Business Software Vendors Evaluated (55):
- Argyle Social
- Awareness Networks
- Buddy Media
- Context Optional
- Curata HiveFire
- Dialog Solutions
- Echo (Aboutecho.com)
- Engage Sciences
- FALCON Social
- HearSay Social
- Mass Relevance
- Meltwater Buzz
- Nielsen Buzzmetrics
- Sociable Labs
- Social Bakers
- Targeted Group
Future Data Cuts I’ll explore:
Funding across category types, top VCs funding Social Business Space, profile of the top 5 Funded Social Business Software startups. Please check out my full body of research
to learn more about my coverage.
(Update: I discovered another material event after posting this, and have updated these numbers to correctly list 18% –prior was incorrectly listed at 16%, Jan 10, 2013)
Community managers are the most powerful group on the internet, they manage the largest social accounts –but ironically are hidden behind the scenes.
It’s that time of year again, to send a kind note to the Community Managers who have helped your company, or you as a customer using social media channels. Like System Admin day, or Administrative Professionals day, we take one day a year to thank and appreciate those who are helping us connect to customers in a sometimes thankless job.
While no gifts are required, the purpose is to give a genuine thank to the never ending, often thankless job of supporting customers and balancing internal stakeholders, a tough balance when the whole world is watching. Whether you’re a community manager at a tiny startup in India, or the head of community at Adobe (hola Rachel Lux) or community manager at an agency like Edelman representing your clients, now’s your time to shine.
Or, if you’re a community manager, write about why you are doing this role and what drives you to get up every morning to do your job.
Over the years, this even has become a global phenomenon, as people organize in person events, workshops, conferences, cocktails, dinners and publish digital artifacts. I’ll cross link to all who are planning an event (real world or online) in the hopes or coordinating as a central place.
So please, leave a comment about your upcoming event
Global and Online
Asia Specific Events
Europe Specific Events
North America Specific Events
- Atlanta is hosting a physical event
- San Francisco will host an event in SOMA area at 6pm, (I’ll be there)
- Boston is hosting an event
- Chicago is hosting an event
- Austin is hosting an event
- Atlanta is hosting an event
Community Manager of the year Contest
Oracle (Vitrue) has created three videos of Community Managers, who are the finalists, watch in here, and learn about their position. They’ll be announcing the winner, on Jan 28th on Facebook
. I’m one of the judges, and have given my feedback.
I’m adding to this list, and sorting the list as the events are added to the CMAD twitter stream and in my comments below.
Market Positioning Signals Company Capability and Market Maturity
Messaging is often the first thing prospects, investors and analysts see, so it’s important to focus on it as much as core capabilities as we’ve done in our research report which has been viewed 164k times on the vendor landscape. Over a year ago, I conducted the same exercise to compare the positioning of this same space, and wanted to compare the changes in the space based on data and then draw insights.
Method: Visiting Each Vendor’s Website, Like a Buyer
This exercise was conducted in the mindset of the buyer (heuristic review as a social marketer and executive) using the following method: First, I built a list of vendor names, working with Altimeter’s Andrew Jones, then, I put myself in the place of the buyer and imagined their task of sorting through this new space and short listing it. Then, a researcher and I went to each website homepage to glean the keyword set, graph on worksheets and conduct data analysis. We looked at tag lines, slogans, keywords, browser title tags.
After some data modeling, here’s the positioning each of the 27 vendors, including: Actiance, Argyle, Awareness Networks, Buddy Media (Salesforce), Context Optional (Adobe Social), ConverSocial, CoTweet (Exact Target), Engage Sciences, Expion, FALCON Social, Friend2Friend, HearSay Social, Hootsuite, HYFN8, Liveworld, Shoutlet, SocialVolt, Spredfast, Sprinklr, SproutSocial, Syncapse, Targeted Group, TigerLily, Tracx, UberVU, Vitrue (Oracle) and WildFire (Google).
Here’s a list of all the positioning statements. Two of the positioning statements had vendor names included in them, which I changed below to “vendor”.
- One Platform to Manage All Your Communications & Collaboration
- Professional Social Media Management
- Acquire customers, socially
- The world’s only unified social marketing suite
- It’s time to take the guesswork out of social media.
- Powering Social Customer Service
- Create Exceptional Social Media Marketing Programs
- Empower, Centralize, and Localize Your Social Presence
- Complete Social Media Management for Teams and Enterprises
- Vendor Powers Social Engagement
- Succeed with the leading enterprise social sales, marketing, and compliance software
- Social Media Management
- Do Social. Better.
- Vendor is a user content management company providing technology and services to help brands scale social media.
- The only do-it-yourself, all-in-one social marketing platform
- Manage Social Media Across Networks, Accounts, Staff and Brands
- Social Media Management
- Social media management for exceptional companies.
- Enterprise social media marketing, management, measurement and platform solutions
- Social Media Marketing Agency
- Stand out on the social web
- Social intelligence
- Solutions for social media marketing
- Build brands on social with Vendor
- Complete enterprise social media marketing software
- NA: There was one vendor where the market positioning was not clear
Above: Even after over a year, the market still focuses on keyword terms like Social Marketing, SMMS there was increased deviation in market. Last time 40% used SMMS (10/25) or Social Marketing (10/25 or 40%) as the highest frequency. This year, 8/27 used Social Marketing in taglines, which is just about 30%. What was interesting is that we’re seeing some unique identifiers used by just a few vendors, showing that they’re slight differentiation from player to player.
Above: Ironically, most of these SMMS vendors were not integrating social onto their own corporate websites. While 25 of the 27 would link away and promote their social media accounts, only 7 were aggregating discussions from their own market place and a few were explicitly encouraging sharing of content. None had Social Sign On (SSO) which I consider is a sign of social maturity.
Above While not an indicator of much, there was a strong preference for white and blue brand colors. Those that didn’t take to this could potentially stand out if all logos were listed on one page. In my experience, blue tends to be a dominant color in tech field, so there isn’t that much of a surprise.
There’s a number of smaller, interesting findings that I wanted to include from the study.
- There were multiple acquisitions resulting in the influx of the parent brand (Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, ExactTarget)
- We found that 21 of the 27 vendors had business value messaging (offers to improve customer value, business value) and 8 of the 27 had feature and function capability offerings. Tracx and Falcon were able to pull off both at same time.
- In the last study, SMB was marketed as a keyword set, but was not in this current finding set.
- Since being acquired by Salesforce, Buddy didn’t use campy tagline “everyone needs a buddy”
- We found that Syncapse and Hearsay had a much larger keyword set indicating that they have wider capabilities. Our research in previous reports correlated with this as Syncapse scored strong in multiple categories and Hearsay has a strong foothold in Legal, Risk, Compliance, and Financial Services, a unique market to manage.
- The research team was confused by CoTweet’s lack of positioning on the page, and would expect that prospects would be left scratching their head and either look for additional information, or leave.
- Sprinklr had a unique message “Social@Scale” which is both plays to their identifiable capabilities, unique, and marketable beyond a campy slogan.
- Awareness provided a verb based tag, “Acquire customers, socially”, but didn’t say what would happen afterwards (management, growth, support, etc)
- For kicks, there are fewer than expected animal logos, with Hootsuite owl, Tracx primate, Tigerlily grinning feline, and a wing from Falcon. Had Seesmic been around, we would have added a crook eyed Raccoon.
- Spelling-wise, this market is still plagued with oddly spelled vendors names. I find myself frequently have to tell clients how to correctly spell it out, slowing down inquiry calls. This includes vendors like HYFN8, Sprinklr, Spredfast, Tracx, UberVU and Vitrue (Oracle).
Overall the market is still pinning on social marketing and SMMS as a category. There was slight market differentiation matching the deviation as the market continues to mature. Some vendors are finding some unique categories to market their offerings, while some are still going broad to appeal to a larger set. Expect to see more M&A this coming spring as incumbent software vendors need to quickly get in the game, I’ll post more on this in future.
Credits to third party researcher Julie George for the data collection via TaskRabbit.