Following on from our social media management tools wiki we thought it would be nice to catch up with our friend Joshua March, CEO and co-founder of Conversocial about his tool, social media management and the value to brands and businesses.

What do you feel is the most accurate definition of a social media management tool?

Social media management covers quite a wide area. Conversocial focuses on the core communication management through social channels, in terms of team workflow, content publishing and engagement analytics. We call Conversocial a social-media-management-system.

It’s also important to differentiate monitoring tools, that look at what people are saying about you, to management tools, which help with what people are saying to you. In our opinion, if people are saying something directly to you it’s much more business critical than if they’re talking about you generally on the web.

Why do you think they are valuable to brands or businesses (ie, time savers etc)?

Social channels like Facebook and Twitter are different from other marketing channels in two important ways. First, distribution is largely governed by fan engagement. No matter how many fans or followers you have, if they don’t like your content, it won’t be seen.

Almost all engagement with brands happens in the newsfeed – fans rarely go to a Facebook page directly. Facebook explicitly holds updates in the newsfeed for longer if they get more engagement such as comments and likes; and in Twitter, @replies and re-tweets directly increase visibility in the feed. So engagement with content is key – but how do you know how to increase this? Measuring and analysing engagement is therefore key – otherwise brands risk losing out of most of the value in social channels. If they’ve spent a lot of money to build up their fan base, this value can be huge.

Secondly, the nature of social channels is two way. Companies are used to having separate marketing and customer support channels – but in social these are the same. The more you push a Facebook page or a Twitter account for marketing, the more customers will use it to ask questions or grieve their complaints. But, responses from the brand are usually public, and directly from the brand – not a private email from Jenny in customer services. This means that new tools and processes are needed to manage this relationship between the two functions; without it, companies are at series risk of jeopardizing both the marketing value of social channels, and their customer relationships.

Social media management systems like Conversocial also of course save time and make team management easier; but this is secondary to ensuring the marketing and customer services are managed effectively for maximum value.

What do you think is the most accurate way of tracking social media activity without using a tool?

The key metrics are to compare not just fan growth, but also the engagement with content. There’s no use in increasing your fan base if they’re ignoring what you’re saying – unengaged fans have no value.

Explain how Conversocial works and why it is an effective tool for social media management.

Conversocial is a website that connects to your Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. It provides tools to help publish content, measures the engagement with content via our own metric – IPM (interactions per thousand fans)- and makes it very easy for a team of people to manage all the incoming comments from fans in terms of moderation and community management workflow.

We work really hard to keep the system as simple and intuitive as possible to allow minimal training, with the tool being very fast to use. One of the moderation teams for a large media brand who use Conversocial for all their fan pages state that they can moderate 1,000 comments an hour using our system, which is pretty fast!

For reporting, we also try and just focus on the most important and useful data – ie the key engagement stats – rather than overwhelming users with everything available. We want to give real actionable data that allows customers to straight away start enhancing the content they publish and increase the engagement with fans, as well as making it easy to generate reports.

What platforms does Conversocial cover?

Right now it covers Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and Facebook comment wall plugins on third party websites. Coming up we have plans to integrate YouTube.

How are you different from other social media management tools on the market?

Our key differentiator is our focus on increasing engagement and large-scale moderation of Facebook pages. There are quite a few tools out there that help with general management of Facebook and Twitter, but none that provide the engagement analysis we do, or that make it so fast and effective to moderate.

Who do you see as your main competitors?

We view CoTweet as our primary competitor; however Vitrue, Buddy Media, and Hootsuite are all in similar spaces, depending on the client requirements.