How to Choose a Social Media Management System (SMMS)

Let’s say you work at a company that has 20 Twitter handles and 20 Facebook pages.  Then it’s likely that you also have about 100 people who are content contributors; and you might have twice as many stakeholders who are interested in the results of the efforts on all those social media profiles.

Enter Social Media Management Systems (SMMS).

SMMS are tools designed to help enterprise companies better publish, manage and track their activities within social media.  Read some of Jeremiah Owyang’s posts about SMMS‘s for more background.  If you’re in the market for an SMMS, read on.

One thing I’ve learned from hearing countless vendor pitches from companies proposing to solve any and all of my social needs: no solution is perfect.

Every vendor has strengths and weaknesses, and they’re all trying to prove that the features they offer are the features you need right now.  Realistically, the space is changing so quickly, that it’s difficult to say which vendor is the very best. To help you choose between the multitude of vendors, you should first understand your needs explicitly and then see if there’s a tool out there that might help.

Here are some tips I’d recommend to others who are exploring SMMS options for their brands:

  • Think realistically about the personalities of your users.   Ultimately, adoption of an SMMS is key to getting value. So, if the tool is too complicated for the people using it, then it doesn’t really matter how feature rich it is.  We learned this the hard way. It might be better to take a simpler tool with slightly reduced functionality, if your users aren’t necessarily focused on SM.
  • Understand what kind of load the tool is built to handle. If you have hundreds of accounts with hundreds of users, does the SMMS’s system have the capacity to still process functions quickly? Drill them on this one, and ask for similar client use-cases.
  • Map out exactly what your workflow will be. For example how does the tool enable publishing content, can multiple users propose multiple pieces of content on different profiles, how do you monitor the results of your content after it goes live and how do you respond to content.  Unfortunately, a lot of these tools don’t give you good test trials so you can’t really find out some of your workflows until you’re fully spun up.   It’s important to see if the SMMS you pick will fit in with your existing workflow, or at least offer a better alternative to what you’re already doing.
  • Think about what functionality you like on the social platforms you use, and ask if those are mirrored through the SMMS. For example – you can’t tag another page in a status update using an SMMS. From what I understand none of the tools offers this, but it’s a good idea to start a list of that kind of functionality so you can set expectations internally on when you might have to veer away from the SMMS and use the native platform. Another scenario we ran into was with YouTube. While you can schedule videos to go live at a certain time using NVIDIA’s vendor, we couldn’t access the embed code early – we needed that embed code in advance in order to provide it to media and our own web team for inclusion on sites. So, we still had to use YouTube.
  •  As with all these new services, try to find some kind of guarantee that once you’re through the door, you will have a service rep on hand to help with training and support. They should also be open to taking feature requests.  As enterprise users, we have insights that the people making the tool don’t – so our feedback should be integrated and timelines/roadmaps should be flexible to accommodate that feedback. Again, our vendor started out very rusty on this but they’ve improved over the last couple of months.
  • Know that none of these vendors is perfect, and no matter what you’ll have to do a little bit of shoehorning to make the solution work for you.  Just have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and then see if  the vendor’s proposal addresses your needs.

Happy shopping 🙂

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