The Wild West of Social Media Management

December 7th, 2014

The social media management software industry is a bit like The Wild West.

Exhibit AHerehere and here are three different ways of naming and categorizing the tools that help businesses manage multiple social media accounts.

Exhibit B: There are 140+ products listed on TrustRadius that assist with some facet of social media management or marketing, meaning that this vendor landscape we launched last November is pretty much out of date. (This trend matches the proliferation of marketing technology in general: See the evolution of Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape.)

Exhibit C: In a recent poll of the TrustRadius audience, 75% of the respondents who use social media management software use more than one tool… and 14% of those who use more than one tool actually use six or more.

How many social media management tools does your company use?

In a follow-up question, we asked respondents whether they prefer to use a single tool with comprehensive social media management capabilities, or multiple tools with specialized features. Respondents that currently use more than one tool resoundingly would prefer a single tool — 71% of them, to be exact. And respondents that currently use one tool definitely want to keep it that way — 100% of them prefer a single tool.

Usage of social media management software

Software vendors are certainly aware of their customers’ collective desire to tame the beast. Vendors that were once focused on social listening are adding engagement features, and vendors that were once focused on management are adding more depth to their listening capabilities. Many are adding more niche capabilities to their arsenals through acquisitions. See Spredfast’s merger with social curation platform Mass Relevance, HootSuite’s acquisition of social analytics tool UberVu, and Sprinklr’s decision to launch a paid media product.

Then, there’s the marketing cloud vendors beefing up their social offerings as well. Salesforce is finally launching a unified social tool through Radian6 + Buddy Media Social Studio, and Oracle built its Social Relationship Management Platform through the three acquisitions of Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver.

Can there really be one social media management tool that does it all? Maybe. But Richard Margetic, head of social media at Intuit and previously at Dell, says it hasn’t happened yet. “We’ve got to pick and choose among the landscape to meet our needs,” he says. “Each one does something well, but fails miserably in other areas that are important to a company. We end up with multiple tools that have overlapping functionality in order to get everything we need to be successful in social. We’re not optimizing our spend, and still not getting the cohesive capabilities that we need to meet the business requirements.”

Our poll respondents who use more than one social media management tool but would prefer just one would likely agree. What do you think?