As social media use increases and the number of platforms grows, so do the number of social media accounts a business must monitor, manage and measure. A survey of 140 global corporate social media program managers by the Altimeter Group revealed that these organizations are struggling to manage a staggering average of 178 business-related social media accounts.
Social Media Management Software (SMMS) promises to address the challenges of doing business in a social world but selecting a solution for your business can be a challenge of its own. This post explores how to prepare your company for using and selecting an SMMS.
Managing Social Media: More Than Software
With over 30 vendors providing SMMS solutions, it might seem that selecting one is the main task. However, choosing an SMMS from the available options is not easy and not in itself a panacea to the problems of proliferation. To maximize success with an SMMS, companies need to be ready to make an intelligent choice among software solutions, have a plan for how to compare vendors and implement a structured roll out the software.
Below are three steps to SMMS success with recommendations and graphics from the Altimeter Group‘s report, A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation that will help with the selection and implementation of an SMMS.
Step 1 | Get Your Company Ready for an SMMS
Your social media efforts should be tied to business goals. If they are not, an SMMS won’t help your company produce better results from social, it will simply add another tool to a confused set of activities.
- First make sure your social accounts and activity are connected to your businesses’ strategy and goals. This will help you determine your business needs with respect to an SMMS. For example, are you focused on monitoring your brand or responding to customer concerns? Take a look at the use cases Altimeter identified and see which apply to your business.
- With your goals in mind, conduct an audit to evaluate the health of your social media accounts. Jettison abandoned or one-time promotional accounts, shut down rogue accounts, and invest in a minimal number of corporate and global accounts that can be managed.
- Establish a social media policy with permissions, processes, roles and responsibilities for using social media accounts. Determine who creates, edits, and posts content and responds to comments. Also create a library of approved content, a style guide and best practices for sharing via sanctioned social accounts.
Step 2 | Compare Vendors & Select an SMMS
- Having identified your business and user needs, force rank vendors based on your priorities and on usability for your users. Think about what your business needs to monitor, manage and measure and look for an SMMS that mirrors your company’s workflow to make it easier to adopt. SMMS provider Awareness, Inc. has a guide to questions to ask vendors. Altimeter has also provided an assessment of vendors based on the use cases shown above.
- Use webinars and demos to refine your SMMS list but make sure to test the software before you buy. Consider setting up a dummy account to assess how each user might use the tool and running simulations of daily and worst case scenarios.
- With a better idea of how each SMMS performs, you will likely see some gaps in fully addressing your specific needs. Anticipate and discuss fees and timing for any customizations and consulting. Also consider any agency support you might need. Fees for these services can double or triple the total cost of implementing an SMMS.
Step 3 | Power Up Your SMMS
A successful SMMS launch will require some planning and extra steps.
- Create an education and training program to prepare your company to use the new SMMS. Don’t underestimate the effort needed here or its importance. Companies surveyed by Altimeter reported a definite learning curve that needs to be planned for. A best practice is to develop testing and certification programs in addition to basic training.
- Pre- or post-launch, simulate challenging situations with users. Prepare your organization for making a major announcement, handling high traffic volumes, or a brand crisis. Fire drills and the process work you did earlier will pay off when crises eventually happen.
- Think about how 3rd parties can help you do more faster. Perhaps you have realized as part of this process that you want to develop several communities. If you don’t have the resources to do so in house, think about working with an agency or specialist that can help you extend your capabilities and work with your SMMS to integrate and measure activities.
- Use your SMMS’ measurement capabilities to gather insights and provide product or service recommendations and measure the ROI of your social efforts.