I’m beginning to prep for a future report on a new breed of tools designed to help companies manage complex social media accounts, relationships, communications and internal roles.  If you have some experience, know some tools or just have some questions you’d like answered, please weigh in!

In the old days (of 2009) many brands had just one Twitter account and one Facebook account maintained by one (or a small set) of people, so the brand’s social media presence was relatively easy to maintain.   Today, the challenge is much greater—some brands have dozens of accounts in multiple languages focused on geographies ranging from the entire globe to individual countries and cities.  At the same time, demand has increased with a greater need to listen and respond to the growing audience in social media, and to handle that inflow, marketers are involving more and more employees.

We’re seeing the rapid development and adoption of a new breed of tools—call them Social Media Management Platforms—which include solutions from Buddy Media, Vitrue, Awareness, ExactTarget, StrongMail, Involver, Hootsuite, Context Optional, RightNow, Expion and others.

None of all of these tools offer the same set of features, and we'll see a great deal of change in the next couple of years as consumer demands, enterprise needs and social networks change.  For now, effective social media management requires a combination of:

  • Account management: Companies don’t want 100 people managing 100 Facebook accounts.  This is inefficient and causes problems when employees change jobs. 
  • Listening:  It isn’t just about broadcasting tweets and status updates.  Being able to listen and respond to social channels is vital.
  • Workflow management:  Complex social media environments require tools to assign, author, track and approve messages and responses.
  • Tracking/Results:  Of course, we need to know the results: How many people are we engaging? How often are they clicking and sharing? And how are we affecting sentiment?
  • Roles: Within the enterprise, people have different roles with respect to social media.  Not every person can post to every Twitter account, and increasingly we’re seeing situations some employees may author responses while others review and approve those responses before posting.
  • Archiving: Regulated industries have legal needs for archiving, but all industries have practical reasons to do so.  Three years from now someone will say, “Didn’t we address this problem back in 2010?” With appropriate archiving, that question can be answered easily. 

Do you have any experience with tools for managing social media in this way?  Or are you struggling to manage your company’s social media presence and want to chime in with a wish list of questions or needs?  If so, please let us know.

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