Thursday, December 08, 2011

Social Media Features in Marketing Automation Systems: Who Does What?

Social media is arguably overhyped as a marketing trend: it gets well under 10% of marketing budgets (different surveys have figures from 3% to 8%) and results are questionable (it was rated the least effective content marketing tactic in a recent MarketingProfs study).  But social is clearly growing fast and has great potential. So marketing automation vendors are understandably eager to support it in their systems.

I recently took a quick tour of vendor sites to see what social features they’re offering. Results are summarized in the table below. I need to stress that I’ve only credited vendors for features they list on their site. I strongly suspect that the data is incomplete, especially for basic features that are so common the vendors simply don’t bother to mention them. (Note: the table has been updated after the original post based on vendor feedback, so it's a bit more reliable than it was originally.)

The features fell into four broad categories:

Basic posting and sharing: the most common features and the simplest level of social media marketing. As I wrote above, most vendors probably have most of them even though the chart doesn’t show them.

Social media monitoring: watching social media for mentions of the company or other topics and responding when appropriate. Plenty of third party applications can do this, so providing it within the marketing automation system is mostly a matter of convenience.

Importing social data: loading social data into the marketing automation database so it can be used for segmentation, analysis, and sharing with salespeople via CRM integration. This is harder than monitoring since it requires linking social identities to marketing leads and connecting to the social system’s API.

• Social platform integration: using native features of the social platforms by writing to their APIs. This can be tricky for the marketing automation vendors to build but it lets their clients take greater advantage of social media possibilities.

Looking at the chart as a whole, what stands out is the sheer variety: once you get past the basics, no features are common enough to consider them standard. This contrasts sharply with mature categories like email, landing pages, and nurture campaigns, where dozens of features are shared by most systems.  The reason is obvious – social media is still very young – but the disparity still provides interesting insights into what different vendors feel are most important to their clients.

The variety also illustrates that a great number of social media applications are possible (with plenty more to come). Naturally, the vendors will borrow features from each other, so we can expect some convergence over time..  A standard set of features will emerge as the industry figures out what’s really important.

The list below presents each vendor with a brief explanation of the table entries. Links on the vendor names go directly to the vendor Web page or press release that described their social media capabilities.  In cases where the data came from different sources, I've put the link on the items themselves.

- posting: central panel to post tweets and Facebook updates
- sharing: place sharing buttons on emails
- tracking: measure clicks on links in system-generated posts.
- Facebook forms: use forms within Facebook pages and apps to gather customer permissions
- social sign-in: use social media sign-in services to replace marketing automation forms
- personalized Facebook ads: display different ad versions on a Facebook page based on the user’s profile, including both Facebook and non-Facebook data

- sharing: place sharing buttons on landing pages
- tracking: measure visitors from the shared pages
- load Twitter feed: connector to load Twitter conversations to lead profiles and use the conversations in campaign rules

- sharing: place sharing buttons on emails and other marketing materials
- social sign-in: use social media sign-in services to replace marketing automation forms
- Klout segmentation: add Klout scores to lead profiles and use them in campaign rules
- show Twitter feed: let salespeople see a lead’s Twitter posts on their Profiler dashboard

- social monitoring: use CoreMetrics Social to find social media mentions of company

- posting: manage blog posts with review process and SEO recommendations
- sharing: place sharing buttons on email and microsites
- tracking: integrate with third party web analytics to track social referrals
- monitoring: integrate with third party social listening tools for monitoring

- posting: central panel to schedule and send social messages
- load social profile: use Qwerly to import social media profiles and add to marketing automation lead profile
- show social profile: show social profile data in CRM

- posting: send posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and/or RSS feeds along with email sends
- sharing: place sharing buttons on email
- social sign-in: use social media sign-in services to replace sign-in forms
- Facebook forms: add registration forms to Facebook and blogs
- badges and buttons: embed buttons and badges in email for Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, StumbleUpon, XING

Act-On Software
- tracking: embed trackable links in system-generated posts
- social prospecting: find relevant social conversations and send to in-box; send template-based responses

- sharing: place sharing buttons on email and landing pages
- tracking: embed trackable links in system-generated posts and online documents

TreeHouse Interactive
- sharing: place sharing buttons on email and landing pages
- tracking: embed trackable links in system-generated posts
- Facebook forms: build advanced forms that can work within Facebook pages

- load social profile: find data about visitors on Jigsaw, Linkedin, Twitter and post to marketing automation lead profile

- tracking: embed trackable links in personalized web promotions and chat messages

- social monitoring: use Collecta realtime search to find social media mentions of company

- posting: send social media messages and blog posts
- sharing: place sharing buttons on blog posts and other content
- social monitoring: find social media mentions of company and respond
- Facebook forms: build ‘welcome’ app to capture leads on Facebook page


Unknown said...

Hi David -- Great post. Very helpful to see all this laid out in one place.

Just a couple notes on HubSpot's offerings (as you say, these aren't explicitly listed in our product description):

(1) We do offer social badges & buttons in email (in fact, if you have your Social Media accounts enabled in HubSpot, "Follow Me" buttons are added to the footer of your emails by default (of course, you can turn these off, if you want).

(2) We have a basic social monitoring tool.

(3) HubSpot Enterprise customers have social prospecting tools. For example, they can setup a report to view all people who mentioned "HubSpot" or "@dharmesh" on Twitter.

Overall, our engineering team is making a massive investment in this area. We believe marketing automation works best when it is seamlessly integrated with (and powered by data from) the social web. We'll have lots of news to report in the coming months.

All the best,
Rick Burnes (@rickburnes)
Director of Product Marketing, HubSpot

David Raab said...

Thanks Rick. I updated the table, although I didn't give you "credit" for prospecting since that involves a full workflow to load relevant posts to a queue, distribute them as appropriate, send template-based responses, escalate posts that require special attention, etc.

You didn't mention click tracking on social posts. I suspect everybody does that -- no?

Unknown said...

Thanks for updating, David.

Currently we don't offer click data for social posts.

In our own analysis of social marketing, we actually don't focus too much on this number. We're much more focused on social traffic sources and social events for closed leads.

Mickael Bentz said...

Hello David, first, thank you for this great blog post. The way you separate the 4 types of social marketing features really makes sense!

I just wanted to give you more details about Neolane Social Marketing to complement what you have found on our website:
- Facebook forms: Neolane Social Marketing manages forms and multipage surveys. It can also automatically adapt to Facebook users’ language preferences.
- Social monitoring: As a direct marketing solution, Neolane Social Marketing tracks every message sent on social media (comments, likes, shares, clicks for Facebook, retweets, and clicks for Twitter).
- Load social profile and show in CRM: One of the main features of our platform is to “convert fans and followers into personal, sustainable and profitable relationships.” To do so, we ask and manage “social opt-ins” to load Facebook users’ profile information (gathered through Facebook applications and Facebook Connect) into the CRM.

For more information, please download the Neolane Social Marketing datasheet:

I hope this helps,

Mickael Bentz (@mickael_b)
Product Marketing Manager of Neolane Social Marketing