20 Strategic Social Business Tools for 2011

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2010 marked an important milestone in the young social media industry. Mainly because businesses began to leverage social media to be closer to their customers, have a better and almost real time understanding of their markets and reduce marketing expenditure while growing brand reputation and market share.

Businesses who are not leveraging social business technology to monitor, research, connect and collaborate socially with their clients will have a competitive disadvantage over those companies who do.

* 60-80% of purchase decisions are based on recommendations
* Time in the social web exceeded time spend on TV
* 16 Million search results on “has anybody experience with…” indicates that product and brand exploration is no longer influenced by traditional advertising

Social business tools will become strategic in 2011.

Social Media Monitoring

Tools to monitor the market and gain deeper insights in what people talk about, what needs they have and what they are looking for. It helps identify influencer, major contributors and active voices for specific industries, products, markets or behaviors.

Tools include companies like Alterian/Techrigy*, Radian6, Sysomos* or Tweetalizer

__________

Social Relationship Management

Tools that help business teams to keep socially in touch with a large audience and still be personal. SRM tools allow sales teams to reach out to more people in a given timeframe than cold calling or email shots. SRM tools also help business people to become more approachable and make it easier to do business with. SRM tools typically can be integrated into traditional CRM or support systems.

Tools include companies like Gist, Shoutlet, Sociotoco or Xeesm*

__________

Online Communities / Forums

Those are tools to gather customers in closed or open but branded communities. Those communities help to relocate conversations from many isolated groups or forums into one big branded group.

Professional tools include companies like Jive, Lithium*, Ning, or Telligent

__________

Blog Technology

Blogs became one of the back bone technologies in the social web. Questions starting with “Has anybody experience with…” typically find their answers in either a forum or on a blog.

Professional tools include Joomla, TypePad, WordFrame or WordPress*

__________

Social Media Marketing Software

SMMS are tools to help orchestrate social media marketing efforts. Managing multiple platforms serving them in various countries can be a daunting task and tools help to organize those engagements.

Professional tools include Awareness, HootSuite*, HubSpot or SproutSocial

__________

The above selection of products are not a suggestion but shall help to get a feel for the technology as you can select products from nearly 10,000 social media tools and addons these days. The ones with an asterisk (*) are the ones we internally prefer and help our students to work with.

Free or paid applications?

Interesting to note is that none of the above tools are free. Non of the above companies bet their business success on advertising but on the happiness of their customers. In other words, all of those companies are driven by the needs and requirements of their users and customers. We have seen many of the free tools come and go in the past 5 years. Business solidity is certainly another aspect when you decide in which technology you invest time and team resources.

Most of the times a social business strategy goes hand in hand with the tools selection as tools are the enabler to actually execute such a strategy.

Our research team and world wide over 50 CSMS (Certified social media strategists) have the skills and experience to help you select the tools that are best suited for your specific needs.

You may plan to join the Social Media Tools Week – SMTW 2011 in February to get some latest insights into what those tools are capable of.

6 COMMENTS

  1. At the bottom of your post you summed up by saying:

    “Interesting to note is that none of the above tools are free.”

    Actually, many of the tools you listed are free. Particularly your blogging/CMS tools as well as other like: Gist, Hootsuite, etc… Though some have premium models available.

    Another interesting point is including Ning in this list of “customer focused” companies. They started as a free ad based network that locked your data to their servers then moved to a paid service forcibly changing their business model after they reached critical mass. Now, I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like a particularly customer focused action.

    Customer focus isn’t predicated on a fee based model or an advertising model. It’s predicated on a customer model. For a marginal list of social services and their “benefits” you probably want to keep to the facts and forgo the hyperbole.

  2. @Sean, you are right almost all tools have a free version. This is the today’s way of getting people to try it out. Our own is the same way – but the fully commercially usable version is a paid license.

    Ning moved away from a free version where nearly a million people created a community and basically used up resources but didn’t do anything to make it a success. I’m not judging the way how they moved from free to pay – but I guess it is what need to happen. We all know – nothing is free. And vendors gladly move to a more transparent model so a customer knows what the business motives of a company is.

    Well I’d argue with you that user focus is predicated on a free vs. paid model. Simply the one who pays dictates the direction where a company goes.

  3. @axels – Thanks for the response. I would love to hear your thoughts on the how and why companies focus on their users.

    I think there are some pretty interesting case studies you might pull from. But, what really interests me is why you believe – I am guessing – that a company needs to charge for their service to be customer focused.

  4. Hey Sean – this is a great conversation as it challenges the current business models – and me 😉
    And instead of moving the conversation from strategic tools to business model question I’d like to formulate my answer on a separate blog post. You will see it here today.

    Axel

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