Smart businesses use analytics to gauge customer sentiment on social channels and respond, resulting in valuable two-way communication that bolsters brand equity. “Social media really is just another channel for customer communications,” says Brian Vellmure, Focus network adviser and principal and founder of Initium LLC, a California-based strategic consulting firm. Vellmure coached us on some of the major players in this arena. “New players are seeking to enable bi-directional communication between companies and customers. Many of them [handle] a different piece of that communication.”
“Radian6 is one of a hundred companies that does social media monitoring. What they do is scour the Web for mentions of a particular brand or a particular key word, surface all of those mentions, and then provide a level of analytics on top of it,” Vellmure says. “So, an example might be if you are McDonalds, Radian6 would help you to listen to everything that everybody in the world is saying about McDonalds on the social web, tell you the most common key words associated with McDonalds, and help you know what people saying about the Big Mac, or it can allow brands to trial new products and listen for and analyze unstructured feedback associated with it.”
“HootSuite has a similar play, but largely grew out of Twitter,” he says. “HootSuite enables an individual and or a company to listen, segment and respond to specific pieces of content or conversations. Using the McDonald’s example again, if someone on Twitter asked if anyone knew where the closest McDonald’s was in a particular city, HootSuite would let a user listening for those key words immediately reply on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. So it is basically a conversation platform,” explains Vellmure.
“Cotweet is a different way to attack a similar challenge. Picture a large organization that has five or ten people responding on Twitter to customer complaints or customer questions. The next obvious question is ‘Who is going to respond to what?’ Some issues are going to be PR issues; some issues are going to be customer service issues. Cotweet basically provides [a way] to route [comments] to the proper person within [an organization] to respond appropriately,” says Vellmure.
“SocialText [is a] totally different animal altogether, [representing] a segment of software that has traditionally been labeled Enterprise 2.0, which helps to enable internal collaboration. Once an issue or an opportunity gets raised up or found on social channels, SocialText brings the conversation inside an organization to find the right people and answers in order to present the appropriate response to the customer,” Vellmure explains.
“HubSpot is largely a marketing platform which encompasses things such as social media monitoring but it’s also a blogging platform with a message distribution platform that has a slew of analytics to track who has responded to what message and how they responded,” he says. “I would say it straddles the fence between social CRM and marketing automation.”