When Social Media Marketing Software Grows Up
Imagine, for a moment, that the software that makes social media marketing possible was a person. Imagine that not long ago, that young person was surviving their awkward teenage phase, and then, in their college years, full of self-discovery and experimentation. If social media software were in fact a person, that person would now be graduating from college—ready to face the world, more prepared than ever to help businesses connect with the people they care about most.
The maturation of social media software has happened thanks to the latest market demands: increased configurability, adaptability, and specialization in the form of solutions anchored around advanced capabilities mapped directly to core business objectives.
In the grand scheme of things, this evolution has been a quick one. It can be broken into three distinct phases - the “tool” period (or, if you will, the teenage years) during which software companies established the primary problem they intended to solve for the market. Once they proved their software could solve a narrow problem, they had to grow (or, ahem, head off to college), which meant adding scale, support, stability, training—basically, adding a framework for solving secondary challenges and impacting a customer’s business more broadly.
Social media has evolved quickly—and social marketing software has changed alongside it.
And then there’s adulthood: Social media now impacts businesses across departments, breaking down walls between marketing, customer service, human resources, communications, customer insights, and product development. Software platforms must evolve to align with how these various teams now use social media. Our graduation has happened; it’s time we roll up our sleeves and get to work. But before we dive into how we should work today, let’s take a closer look at what got us here.
Tools: A Foundational Identity
When businesses first realized social wasn't just a way for kids to boast about what they did last night, but instead another audience they could reach, they chimed in, too. Their goal was simple: acquire as many followers and likes as possible to build your potential audience (remember, this was before the Newsfeed existed). But managing multiple networks and accounts on a given network was operationally difficult, so tools emerged to solve this fundamental yet narrow social marketing need. Many of these Social 1.0 companies were gobbled up by big marketing clouds or the networks themselves.
New networks, ongoing innovation and increased capabilities added by each social network create a fertile breeding ground for niche tools to help businesses maximize these new features or channels. That said, when the demands of customers increase and the specific networks begin to deliver more tangible, measurable results for businesses, there’s desire to do more outside the tool’s core competency while also increasing scalability and stability. At this stage, the software company must make a decision: exit and become part of a larger company or meet this new need.
Platform: A Time to Find Yourself
The transition from high school to college can be tricky, because what you did in high school might not necessarily yield the same success. But if you can navigate the changes and increased independence, the rewards are tenfold. Graduating from tool to platform is quite similar—if you execute the transition the right way, there’s a huge opportunity to grow, develop, expand your scope of expertise, and set yourself up for a bright future.
Social media now impacts businesses across departments.
At a base level, a social media management platform allows a social marketing team to—from one place, and at scale—publish messages to followers, engage with them, and track social signals through the noise. It also allows a team to report back, analyzing social performance to drive strategy.
Scale, openness, support, focus, and reliability also are essential to compel companies to invest in a platform over a variety of tools. But platforms have limits serving the needs of advanced, specialized teams that simply require greater configurability. The users and teams have become experts in the foundational components and expect more out of the software —they demand solutions.
Solutions: Welcome to the Real World
After graduation, you’re hired for a specific role, within a specific company, focused on distinct, measurable business goals. This is where we are now in the world of social software. While some companies still silo social media and continue investing there to drive traditional marketing objectives, almost universally, social teams are growing. As the social networks add more and more ways to connect with people, and collaboration happens at a global level across other departments, companies require a deeper understanding and alignment of software to the fundamental goals of their various teams.
For these specialized use cases, software should evolve. At Spredfast, ours has, and offers solutions that feature four main components:
- (1) distinct and empathetic user interfaces
- (2) configurable flows, processes, automation, and collaboration
- (3) advanced analytics and reporting (both operational and performance-based)
- (4) integrations into best-in-breed technologies.
By delivering in these four key areas, software that has historically been designed to drive adoption across a distinct set of users can now be distributed across various teams with myriad business objectives, all while driving more tangible value.
These solutions are built upon a strong, foundational software platform—albeit one that has a single, modern, fast and decoupled infrastructure supporting configurability and open integration alike. This is especially important when you have inherent dependencies on third party APIs and participate in ever-shifting social network ecosystems. Once adopted, these solutions help break down traditional barriers and make social mission critical for the business to operate. Companies also benefit because they’ll no longer need to adapt their existing processes—because the software is configurable, it fits within a user’s daily life and activities.
This maturation opens new ways for companies to more deeply integrate social media activities and data into their overall business and receive tremendous benefits.