Can A Single Tool Really Simplify Social Media Management?

Social media managers are increasingly turning to social media management tools to make their lives easier. With an ever-increasing list of tasks (more networks to manage, different types of content to push, more detailed analytics to accumulate, more targeted campaigns, and so on and so forth…), it’s become virtually impossible to run an effective social media marketing campaign directly from the social media networks themselves.

According to Kissmetrics,  only 34.1 percent of social media management tool users claim to be “happy” with their current social media management tool, whilst 60.1 percent are just “okay” with theirs (the remaining 5.8 percent are actively “unhappy”). This shows that no tool is really blowing away users.

Why?

The biggest by far is that the needs of individual social media managers vary considerably.

For example, one may run campaigns only on Instagram and Facebook. Such an individual would then want to plan, implement, analyse, and review these campaigns scrupulously, and expect their tool to offer the functionalities to match.

Another social media manager may be expected to run campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Vine, and the rest. This person, since they’re spinning more plates, may want less detailed analytics presented in an easy to understand and actionable way.

As a final example, yet another social media management tool user may also be the owner of their business. This character is likely to want tools which speed up their social media management activities and make them more efficient.

Creating a tool that satisfies such a diverse range of requirements is tricky, to say the least.

However, if a tool falls short in just one area, users are likely to be underwhelmed by their experience, hence the disappointing user satisfaction scores.

Most of the social media management tool market’s leaders (Hootsuite, HubSpot, Buffer, etc.) offer comprehensive, one-stop-shop solutions. But increasingly, other tools are beginning to offer more nuanced services aimed at niche social media management demographics.

For those with little time to create content, there is Edgar, the content recycler. For those with a specific interest in finding engaging Facebook and Twitter content, there’s Post Planner. For those who love a serious Twitter session, there’s Twitter’s own TweetDeck.

viral photos

As the needs of different social media managers become clearer, I believe that we will see more of these less comprehensive (though no less ambitious) tools emerge. After all, such tools are often less expensive and can be used to supplement tools which sell themselves as a one-stop-shop.

And this isn’t a bad thing. Today’s market leaders, the one-stop-shops, may even be able to offer third-party integration with some of these tools. Such integration would allow social media users to use the comprehensive tool as a base before selecting which third-party tools to add as an extra in order to match their exact needs. Buffer is already making good progress in this area.

In order for the social media management tool market’s leaders to survive, they may have to focus less on trying to please everyone, and more on allowing people to please themselves using supplementary third-party tools.

With this in mind, what functions should those comprehensive tools retain as core functions?

Content curation, I think, will have to remain as a standard. Having a place from which to sort through vast amounts of web content and being able to present in a meaningful way is one of the most attractive of a social media management tool’s propositions.

Similarly, publishing and scheduling will also remain a necessity, since such tools work best if integrated with multiple sites and allow cross-campaign analysis (which is the comprehensive tool’s forte).

A social inbox will also stay crucial, since users can save huge amounts of time being able to respond to messages and interactions from various networks in one place.

Finally analytics probably should not be outsourced to a third-party, since having cohesive reports concerning a wide range of different social media aspects is one of the social media management tool users most important and consistent requirements, and third-parties are less well placed to offer this service.

Other functions, such as keyword analysis, more nuanced tools for managing specific networks, content creation tools, and other innovations that no one has even thought of yet, could be provided by third-parties.

Now, if I’m right, and social media management tools do indeed involve in this way, which comprehensive tool is best to pick as your “base”?

Recently, iag.me teamed up with g2crowd.com in order to find out which social media management tools were the best according to their users. The infographic they created, based on ratings and reviews, listed users’ favourite tools (Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, Sprout Social, and Sendible), and rated them in terms of:

  • User satisfaction
  • Product direction
  • Usability
  • Maintenance
  • Meeting requirements
  • Market presence
  • And price

social media tools rated

All of these tools fall into the one-stop-shop category, and so the infographic is a good place to start when it comes to choosing the right comprehensive social media management tool for you.

As the needs of social media managers continue to diversify, it may not be possible for one tool to meet all of their needs single-handedly (however, I’d love to be proven wrong!). That said, tools which embrace and integrate third-party offerings may still be able to offer their users something that covers all of their bases, and allows them to satisfy their more particular needs.

Do you agree that social media management tools are likely to evolve in the way outlined above? Or do you think one tool can rise to the occasion, and keep all of its users happy? Let me know with a comment.

This is a guest post by Lilach Bullock. Lilach is a highly regarded on the world speaker circuit who has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. 

Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. A recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business.