A New Category Defined: Social Performance Software

A new software category has emerged to bring performance marketing to social channels.

After interviewing over 10 software companies and 10 agencies, a new trend has emerged that will change the social business landscape. What is this trend? The marketing performance techniques to refine TV, Radio, SEO and other marketing mediums are now moving to the social space.   Read my definitive post on Mashable to learn how this impacts not only brands, but also Facebook and my long term predictions on how this will play out.

Market Needs
Companies are struggling to scale to keep up with all the conversations in this space, secondly, the noise is becoming deafening with everyone from consumers to brands all shouting in social that targeting is needed to cut through the noise. Those that deploy volume quickly find they’re part of the noise, and get cast by the wayside.  As a result, we’re seeing a new category emerge, called Social Performance Software.

Social Performance Software Defined
Software tools and methods that analyze, plan, deliver, and measure media such as ads, content, and conversations published in social channels. For example, they will analyze the conversations of your followers, then suggest which content and media to publish, then determine when to publish, on which channel, and to whom. As a result, content will reach the intended audiences and result in higher resonation, or higher call to action rates

List of Vendors focused on Social Performance
Here’s a list of the vendors, if you know of others, leave a comment below. Please note that this category stretches across a number of product lines, as this will be a horizontal feature set spanning nearly every social software company.

  • Adobe Social, which includes multiple acquisitions including Omniture and Context Optional.
  • BuddyMedia, offers both campaign platform marketing tools along with social ads with their Brighter Option acquisition.
  • Bazaarvoice, now has turned their earned content from ratings and reviews into a new social ad unit –even outside of FB.
  • Crowdbooster, analyzes, measures and then optimizes when content should publish.
  • Prosodic, which analyzes the who, what, where, and aids publishers.
  • Shoutlet, focused on larger scale companies can help with complicated publishing needs, at scale.
  • SocialFlow, analyzes your current socialgraph activity, guides users on content creation, then publishes at highest resonation.
  • Tigerlily, focuses on publishing content by theme, audience and location, increasing relevance.
  • UberVU, who first mines and analyzes data, then optimizes when content will publish.
  • Webtrends Social, tracks content and ads, and measures performance across these multiple locations.
  • Wildfire, a campaign platform marketing company has recently partnered with Adaptly to provide social ads and more

I’ve written other posts discussed why this trend will be important, one major industry force is that with Facebook and Twitter now offering ads (and new ad networks will emerge off FB and Twitter) we’ll continue to see social media agencies turn to advertising. I’ll be writing more about this space in the coming quarters, such as benefits and downsides of automation, and where this future will head.

Update: This is on the official Altimeter blog, and CMS Wire.

54 Replies to “A New Category Defined: Social Performance Software”

  1. May not be performance, per se, but Mass Relevance is a great tool to break through the noise, curate the conversations and better prepare conversations and information for analysis.  Great Jeremiah.  Thanks as always.

  2. I recently spoke to Mass Relevance and Echo, I see their solutions as slightly different than the publishers listed above.  As you note, these players curate and aggregate content. 

  3. Jeremiah, while “targeting is needed to cut through the noise” to keep up with the conversations/content…there are few of us who are focusing on targeting and cutting through the noise when it comes to the people – profiles – community/audience. Unless you are a consumer brand, discovering and curating a legitimate community can be a challenge. Thanks for your post 🙂

  4. Jeremiah, while “targeting is needed to cut through the noise” to keep up with the conversations/content…there are few of us who are focusing on targeting and cutting through the noise when it comes to the people – profiles – community/audience. Unless you are a consumer brand, discovering and curating a legitimate community can be a challenge. Thanks for your post 🙂

  5. Josh.  We’re finding that community managers are struggling to scale with engagement of thousands of conversations.  

    These new strategies can enable them to scale, but the downside is losing that human touch.

    Expect a combination of social performance and classical community management.

  6. Josh.  We’re finding that community managers are struggling to scale with engagement of thousands of conversations.  

    These new strategies can enable them to scale, but the downside is losing that human touch.

    Expect a combination of social performance and classical community management.

  7. Jeremiah — Good start to this conversation. Thanks, as always. 

    One point that I’d encourage you to think about when you talk about automation is that content authenticity and reaching a fast moving audience on the social graph are two completely different problems to solve. This is all the more true when you factor in the need to scale at an enterprise level. 

    No one will argue that content needs to be pure in that sense and humans will always beat machines when it comes to this. However, when you’re engaged in a battle for attention on the networks, doing it based on gut, intuition and historical data falls short. 

    Combining what humans are great at (content creation and engagement) with data-powered intelligence and machine learning (for scale) is the way we need to be thinking about extracting max value from audiences and content on the social graph.

  8. As far as other platforms are concerned, HYFN8 is the only platform owned and operated by a creative agency (HYFN). It launched about a week ago.

  9. Given the extent to which social is also reshaping Performance Management within the worlds of HR and Talent Management, can I humbly ask that you call this new category something closer to Analytics and not Performance?  Social Performance as a concept already exists, but it’s about social performance management, not social media analytics and optimization. I understand the need to craft definitions for new market segments, but I think this term is going to cause confusion given the overlap within HR.

  10. Jeremiah, thank you for putting some order to the “tools market chaos” (again).  It’s hard to keep everything straight with so much innovation coming online.

    As I see it, there are three different problems being solved by the tools on your list: 
     
    1.  filter-out noise to find relevant signals:
         signals might include: quality content to share, a person with intent

    2.  determine the right response to that signal:
         responses might include: share content with followers; reply to a person; present an ad

    3.  optimize use of paid & earned media to deliver the response:
         this is basically ROI/yield optimization applied to 2.

    Because the first problem, “find relevant signals”, directly impacts the quality of 2. and the ROI of 3., then it is arguably the most important problem to solve first.  If the volume of social media posts and spam continues to double each year, then this will become painfully clear to everyone, soon enough.

    By the way, I’d love to discuss whether our company, NeedTagger, belongs on this list.  We are a filtering/engagement platform:  we detect human needs expressed in social media that an organization can meet with their existing content, and we help meet those needs quickly and efficiently.  No keywords or consultants are required to build filters.

  11. Hi Jeremiah,  when do you think you will put a list together of the cos focused on what SirMichael  pointed out?  This is a great formation “Combining what humans are great at (content creation and engagement)
    with data-powered intelligence and machine learning (for scale) is the
    way we need to be thinking about extracting max value from audiences and
    content on the social graph.”  

  12. Hi Jeremiah,  when do you think you will put a list together of the cos focused on what SirMichael  pointed out?  This is a great formation “Combining what humans are great at (content creation and engagement)
    with data-powered intelligence and machine learning (for scale) is the
    way we need to be thinking about extracting max value from audiences and
    content on the social graph.”  

  13. I would definitely put SimplyMeasured in this category. Their product concentrates on the major social networks rather than casts a net over the entire web, but they are specifically designed to do just this.

  14. jeremiah, in this light, would you agree that in terms of how the player line up, the social software / management space is constructed this way — 1. social listening; social performance; social management / engagement?

  15. Jeremiah, thanks for carving out a category for this as we believe this kind of software will be very important going forward to maximize the performance of social marketing channels, comparable to how SEO has been for search.  We at Socialrithmic are very much focused on this, as we conduct rigorous analysis of a marketer’s various social accounts across channels to identify the types of content, time segments, and various other post characteristics that perform the best. One notable feature is that our analysis is objective-based, meaning instead of only optimizing for say, reach, we’ll identify factors that can optimize for various other metrics such as engagement or economic value based on the goals. 

    One thing I should note regarding this space is that technology for social ads performance (Facebook in particular) seem much ahead of other organic social content optimization.  Companies like adParlor, Nanigans, and several others have been optimizing for cost-per-action on Facebook ads for a while, and Facebook itself recently launched their own system that basically can optimize any on-Facebook action for the ads.  But the equivalent system for owned and earned social content has been much slower to develop likely because of the lack of standardized platform support for this and probably the inherent need for the “human touch” for the content.

  16. This is one technology that I would love to be able to use for myself. It’s definitely a cut above the rest and I can’t wait until my provider has it. Your insight was what I needed. Thanks

  17. Scott, overall, I agree with the general categorizations however there’s a lot of overlap and bleeding.  In particular, Adobe and Lithium span all those pieces. 

  18. Right now, the Social Media Management Systems (SMMS) Space is focused on engagement tools.  (see the tag “SMMS” on my right nav to learn more)

    The Social Performance category focuses on automation, optimization, which is a different category.

    We do see overlap with these.

  19. Jeremiah, thanks for sharing this list and your insightful Mashable post. It will be interesting to see what unexpected impacts this technology has on social marketing, and not just at social agencies per se. For instance, I’m curious to see what happens if and when some of these tools drop in cost to the point where even very small businesses can carry out sophisticated analyses of their social media presence and strategy. Also consider what nonprofits, and even political campaigns, could do… are we on the verge of the era of the autotargeted attack tweet?

    There’s also the incredible amount of noise that this technology could itself generate, because it encourages posting more. Consumers are already bombarded with messages from companies/brands, so much so that brands they are interested in become “just more noise.” The true winner in this space will be the company that can consistently deliver messages to end users in a way (method, format, time) that distinguishes those messages as meaningful.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on how all this will play out!

  20. Jeremiah great article, as social media continues to evolve and becomes
    more adopted by businesses, I believe that social media management
    software will need to provide business solutions. Social software has the potential to address operational pain points and significantly enhance business performance in the short-term and transform it in the long-term and has unique capabilities to address current operating challenges and improve operating metrics.

  21. Jeremiah great article, as social media continues to evolve and becomes
    more adopted by businesses, I believe that social media management
    software will need to provide business solutions. Social software has the potential to address operational “pain points” and significantly enhance business performance in the short-term and transform it in the long-term and has unique capabilities to address current operating challenges and improve operating metrics.

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