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Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software Evaluation and Selection Guide

Summer/Fall 2013

How to use this guide Today’s enterprises increasingly recognize that they need a technology solution to manage their social media marketing (SMM) efforts. Every week at Wildfire, a division of Google, we talk with hundreds of enterprises that are looking for a SMM solution. Faced with numerous options, the choices can be confusing, so enterprises often ask us for help in how to evaluate and select the right solution. We’re providing this guide as just one tool and input into your evaluation and selection process. Of course, as a vendor and pioneer in the SMM industry, we believe Wildfire is a great choice for most enterprises—but we recognize it may be not right for every organization. So we’re providing this guide as a framework to help you take a structured approach to evaluating different options in a consistent way. The heart of this guide is the Solution Checklist (pages 6-7), which breaks down core SMM functionality into 61 criteria in 11 different categories. Since no two enterprises are alike, we’ve designed the checklist so that you can prioritize and weight the criteria however makes most sense based on your needs.


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

Why you need technology Today’s enterprises know that maintaining a robust and active presence in social media is now an imperative for virtually every brand. With over 1 billion consumers active in social media—a number that continues to grow every day—businesses must be present in social media or else risk becoming less relevant to consumers. That’s why 100% of Fortune 100 companies are active in social media. But managing social media at scale is a huge challenge: According to the research and advisory firm Altimeter Group, the average corporation manages 178 different social media properties or accounts. These can include multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook and Google+ pages, YouTube channels, as well as properties on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and others. Managing these social channels in an efficient, consistent, and compliant way has become a major headache for many organizations. Even for enterprises that maintain just a handful of social properties, there can be enormous complexity: Numerous stakeholders —across brands, departments, and regions—are often involved in producing content and in monitoring and responding to user posts and comments. Coordination of things like permissions, workflows, and approvals is a huge undertaking that requires technology support. Manual processes simply won’t scale. So it’s no surprise that according to a Q4 2012 study by Altimeter, 47% of enterprises plan to increase their spending on social media management technology.

Social media technology for marketers Enterprises are turning to social media for a variety of reasons, including marketing, customer service, social listening, and product development, among others. At this time, no single technology platform addresses all of these functions in a fully integrated way. This guide is intended for enterprises that are looking for a social media marketing solution to support and enable outbound and inbound marketing.

In general, marketers are looking for such a solution to help with one or more of the following business objectives: • Build brand awareness and word of mouth • Generate leads (e.g., for sales, trials, marketing database) • Engage users and nurture customer relationships • Amplify the reach and impact of other media channels (e.g., TV, print) • Increase sales conversions (e.g., by driving traffic to online or offline transactions) The technology capabilities detailed in the Solution Checklist, as well as the associated services discussed in this guide, are directly relevant to these marketing objectives.

Keys to social marketing success While the focus of this guide is on choosing the right technology platform, enterprises need to understand that technology by itself is not a complete solution. Based on our experience in working with thousands of companies, several critical factors need to be in place to ensure success: • Goals tied to business objectives – Enterprises that succeed with social marketing have well-defined goals for their social marketing efforts, which are directly tied to key business objectives. A consumer goods company, for example, that’s launching a new product may want to use social media as part of an integrated campaign to drive trials. Using a special coupon offer, their goal might be to drive 50,000 coupon redemptions. • Multi-network strategy – Consumers are active across multiple networks—including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, among others—and they use those networks for different reasons. Successful social marketers understand which networks their


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

audiences are spending time on and why, and they develop their social strategy based on that understanding. Media and entertainment companies, for example, may find YouTube to be the primary network where their target audiences are spending time, whereas a B2B technology enterprise may find their users concentrated on LinkedIn. Social marketing leaders, such as PUMA, are active across multiple networks and take a distinctive approach to each one. • Organizational structure and resources – Organizing and resourcing for social marketing success is one of the biggest challenges for enterprises. Social media has become ubiquitous, spanning nearly every part of an organization—every region, division, and function. Increasingly, all of these stakeholders want a voice in the company’s social channels. Without the right organizational structure and resources in place, the situation can quickly spiral out of control, leading to noncompliant communications, reputational risk, and even legal exposure. At Wildfire, our strategists advise enterprise clients on best practices in organizing for social success. While every company is different, the core of successful organizational structure is the “hub and spoke” model, whereby a social media “center of excellence” with expert resources is set up to support multiple “spokes” of social media activity across different regions, brands, departments, and other units. Your technology solution can be easily configured to support this structure, so that your enterprise can reap the benefits of centralized administration while also giving each “spoke” the flexibility and agility to operate efficiently but within enterprise-compliant policies.

• Measurement and attribution – Measuring the impact and results of social marketing efforts is key to ongoing improvement and ensuring a return on investment. Enterprises need to define key social metrics at the outset, which should be tied to their specific business objectives. From a technology perspective, the solution must be able to track and report those metrics. Attribution—i.e., the ability to identify the impact of social interactions on a conversion (for example, an online purchase)—is a critical technical requirement. For example, enterprises need to understand and see the “conversion path” of a consumer who clicked on a link in a tweet and visited a landing page, and then later purchased a related item on their website. Even though the social interaction (clicking on the link in the tweet) wasn’t the last click before the purchase, it was a valuable contributor. That information is essential to understanding the impact of the social channel on the conversion and to knowing which tactics and channels to invest in.

SMM functions and capabilities Many SMM technology solutions are available in the market today. Following are the key functions and capabilities that enterprises require for a SMM platform: • Messaging management – Most important to marketers are tools to automate scheduling, approvals, and posting of messages across various social sites, and responding to inbound messages. This includes tools for filtering, flagging (e.g., to remove profanity), and auto-routing for review and response. • Page management – This category includes tools and apps that enable marketers to develop and publish engaging content on multiple social properties and networks (e.g., YouTube brand channel, Facebook brand page, etc.).


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

• Social advertising management – The ability to run ads on social networks is increasingly important to marketers, since organic posting of content typically reaches only a small percentage of an enterprise’s social audience. This functionality enables marketers to manage the full range of advertising functions for multiple social networks, including planning, purchasing, optimization and automated testing of creative content. • Mobile support – As consumers and business customers increasingly access brand information through mobile devices, the SMM platform must provide native support for mobile content and the full range of devices. This includes auto-optimized content that enables marketers to design content once and deploy it to any mobile device. • Analytics and attribution – Effective measurement requires robust analytical capabilities that include dashboards and reports providing multi-level detail, as well as referral, conversion tracking, and website attribution. Additional capabilities include industry and competitive benchmarking. • Global deployment support – If your organization operates internationally, you will need a solution that enables global deployments, including support for multiple languages, geo-targeting of messages and content, and the ability to set region-based permissions.

• Security, compliance, accountability – Capabilities to ensure security, compliance and accountability are essential for an enterprise-class SMM technology solution. This functionality includes access controls, role-based permissions and customizable workflows. The platform should provide a fully secure data environment, including data encryption and an audit trail. • Usability – Enterprise SMM users typically are business rather than technical users, so ease of use is especially important. Deployment should be fast and simple, and your agencies and other external partners should be able to customize content using the SMM platform. • Platform and infrastructure – Basic requirements of the SMM platform include SaaS/cloud architecture, high scalability and availability and multi-language support. Updates should be frequent enough to ensure the platform stays current with rapidly changing social networks. • Services and support – Customer service and support are essential to the success of any SMM solution. Requirements include a proven methodology and process for quickly on-boarding and training customers, including technical support offered via web, phone, and email. Some enterprises may require consulting and professional services, such as strategy and campaign design.

• Social network support – Enterprise-class SMM solutions need to support the major social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. SMM platforms should continue to add new social networks as they gain favor and broad usage in the marketplace.


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

SMM solution checklist Must Have

Does the Solution Offer:

Vendor 1

Vendor 2

Vendor 3

Messaging Management Unified social message inbox Publishing of messages to multiple social properties and networks Central calendar Message scheduling and automated posting Batch message uploading Customizable role-based permissions and workflows Keyword filtering and flagging (e.g., for profanity) Rules-based message routing Rules-based auto deletion of user posts (e.g., inappropriate content) Real-time message tracking and analytics Page Management Ability to publish to all major social networks Support for wide variety of promotion types (e.g., contests, coupons, sweepstakes, quizzes, trivia, etc.) Plug-ins for apps and pre-built engagement content (e.g., fan-gated contests, polls, quizzes, etc.) Pre-built, customizable page templates to eliminate need for custom development Flexibility to build fully custom pages from scratch beyond simple drag-and-drop functionality Ability to create custom pages that can be shared across the enterprise Ability to lock down page components to ensure consistent branding Real-time content performance tracking and analytics Social Advertising Management Advertising across multiple social networks Ability to optimize for any business goal, including leads, revenue, entries or views Social advertising planning and support throughout your campaign Support for all major ad types, including display ads and promoted content Automated multivariate testing of advertising creative content (i.e., thousands of ad variations) Real-time ad performance tracking and analytics, including post-click engagement activity Mobile Support Native support for mobile content and devices Mobile-specific promotions such as user-generated contests or location-based coupons Auto-optimized content for any display (design content once and deploy it to any device) Analytics and attribution Unified cross-network dashboards and reporting Multi-level detail: By activity, campaign, property, etc. Fully customizable reporting based on user role Industry and competitive benchmarking Social referral tracking to identify most influential consumers Social-to-ecommerce attribution (ability to track social clicks through to website sales)


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

Must Have

Does the Solution Offer:

Vendor 1

Vendor 2

Vendor 3

Global Deployment Support Ability to auto-target languages based on social network user’s settings Geo-targeting of messages and pages Region-based restrictions (i.e., limit messages and pages to specific regions, countries, or markets) Multi-language support Social Network Support Support for all leading social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest Security, Compliance, and Accountability Access controls Role-based permissions Customizable workflows for approvals and alerts Audit trails Data encryption Secure data environment Usability Ease of use: Provides flexibility to support users with little specialized skills (as well as advanced user requirements for building fully custom content) Customization: Allows agencies and other external partners to easily customize content Rapid deployment to drive near-term benefits Platform and Infrastructure Secure Software as a Service (SaaS) architecture Secure network to handle sensitive user data Frequent updates to keep pace with changes in social networks High scalability High availability Strategy Services and Technical Support Comprehensive training and e-learning options Proven methodology and process for onboarding, training, and results-driven deployment Organizational structure recommendations Online knowledge base Internet, phone, and email technical support Dedicated strategic support: e.g., On-going campaign concepts; Messaging and content best practices Social analytics reporting and analysis Quarterly account reviews Access to ongoing and relevant thought leadership materials and webinars

Interactive solution checklist available online – download an interactive, electronic version of the Solution Checklist here. The worksheet (in Excel format) allows you to input your own weights and scores for each criterion, and automatically calculates the resulting aggregate score for each solution under consideration.


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

How to use the checklist The Solution Checklist provides a comprehensive framework and list of features for evaluating potential SMM solutions. In scoring solutions, use a scale such as 0 to 3: A score of 0 means the feature is missing entirely; 1 = partially meets the requirement; 2 = adequately meets the requirement; and 3 = fully meets or exceeds the requirement. Tally the individual line scores to get an overall lead candidate. The solution you choose should meet as many of your “Must Have” requirements as possible and have a credible roadmap for delivering on any missing “Must Haves” in a reasonable time frame. The Solution Checklist is a useful tool, but your selection decision will be based on multiple factors, including vendor qualifications (see below), quality of service and support, references, and of course price and business terms.

Subscription pricing model A monthly or annual subscription fee is the primary pricing model used by the SMM industry and most SaaS/cloud-based software providers. Vendors typically offer multiple subscription tiers, with varying levels of functionality, service and support. Cloud-based solutions offer the advantage of providing automatic updates to the platform without any effort required by the customer.

Costs you can expect Based on the industry standard monthly subscription model, here is what you can expect to pay for a SMM solution. These costs are per brand and/or property (or business unit), and scale up based on additional users, properties or data usage: • Annual fees – Annual fees typically begin at $30,000 to $50,000 for enterprise-class SMM software • Contracts – The trend is toward multi-year contracts for SMM solutions (which results in more favorable pricing)

• Discounted rates – In addition to the favorable pricing offered for multi-year contracts, most SMM vendors also provide discounts for multiple brand/ property deployments

Other potential costs As with any technology investment, there can be other costs associated with the purchase. Some solutions, for example, may require specialized services to install, configure, and manage the software. If you are looking to minimize service costs, areas to investigate include: • Are there fees associated with training on the system? • Are there installation, strategy, or management fees? • Will there be maintenance or upgrade fees charged for updates to the platform?

Vendor qualifications Social media is a highly dynamic and fast-changing space. Beyond their current product offerings, the vendors you are evaluating should have a demonstrated focus, commitment, and track record in social media marketing. Areas to evaluate include: • Experience: How large is their customer base? How extensively has their platform been used (e.g., how many campaigns has it run)? • Innovation: Do they have a track record of technology innovation? • Reputation: Do they have a reputation of being responsive, easy to work with, and providing excellent service and support? • References: Can they provide references and case studies of proven customer success and satisfaction? • Viability: Do they have the resources and commitment to ensure long-term viability? • Vision: Does the vendor have a compelling vision of where social media marketing is headed and a credible roadmap to get there?


Enterprise Social Media Marketing Software

Vendor evaluation and selection p[rocess Following is a step-by-step approach for mapping your vendor evaluation process and ultimately selecting the SMM solution that is right for your company. A typical timeline for completing this process end-to-end is 5-8 weeks: Assess Requirements 1-2 weeks

• Establish evaluation team from stakeholder groups (marketing, sales, IT, etc.) • Define business objectives for SMM system • Create and prioritize software requirements checklist (refer to “Solution Checklist” provided in this guide)

Research 2-3 weeks

• Search vendor websites (download vendor collateral, view demos) • Read industry publications and reviews • Attend social media conferences and trade shows • Ask industry colleagues for recommendations • Develop a short list of potential vendors (2-3)

Evaluate 1-2 weeks

• Use your prioritized “Solution Checklist” as basis for evaluation framework (weight features per your specific requirements) • Invite short-listed vendors to provide product presentation and demo • Evaluate vendors based on your evaluation criteria (your weighted Solution Checklist and Vendor Qualifications)

Select 1 week

• Select vendor that provides overall best performance against evaluation criteria • Negotiate pricing and define on-boarding and deployment plan

About Wildfire by Google Founded in 2008, Wildfire was a pioneer in providing technology solutions for social media marketing. Acquired by Google in 2012, Wildfire offers a comprehensive suite of applications that help brands efficiently build, grow, and monetize their social audience across multiple social networks, including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Using the Wildfire Social Marketing Suite, brands can create and publish engaging content, manage inbound and outbound messaging, design and launch promotional campaigns, and track and

measure social marketing results across all their social properties, all from a single platform. And Wildfire’s enterprise-class workflow and permissions management allows brands to ensure compliance with company standards and guidelines. Used by 31 of the world’s 50 top brands, Wildfire offers a complete social marketing solution, backed by strategic services and support from a team of social marketing experts. To learn more about how Wildfire by Google can help your brand’s social marketing needs, view our demo at

Note on source materials for guide By permission of the author, this guide borrows content from “Social Media Marketing Solution Evaluation and Selection Guide,” which was commissioned in 2012 by Wildfire Interactive (then an independent company) and produced by Thunder Factory.


Enterprise Social Media Marketing SoftwareEvaluation and Selection Guide  

Enterprise Social Media Marketing SoftwareEvaluation and Selection Guide