Today we released an update to our Forrester Wave™ on social relationship platforms. Forrester defines social relationship platforms as technologies that help marketers publish organic posts to social networks as well as monitor and respond to customer posts on social networks.

We identified the 11 most significant vendors in the category — Adobe, Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Salesforce, Shoutlet, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social— and researched them, analyzed them, and scored them on 41 criteria. Clients can find the full report, including some very detailed product reviews and scores, here.

One of the things we looked for in our evaluation was vendors’ ability to automate key SRP functions. We know — automation remains a dirty word in social media. No brand wants to repeat the automation-driven mistakes of Coca-Cola or Bank of America. But marketers say one of their top social challenges is hiring and training enough qualified staff. In this environment, the greatest value that social relationship platforms can offer their clients is lightening their workload.

And social automation doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, we loved seeing vendors automate “up to the last click” — letting the platform do most of the work but still leaving final control in the hands of social marketers themselves. For instance, Falcon Social’s Priority algorithm tells clients which post they should respond to next but lets community managers write the actual responses. And Hootsuite’s Suggestions tool automatically creates and schedules posts based on marketers’ favorite keywords but waits for client approval before publishing.

We hope you find our new Wave useful. And we look forward to seeing where vendors go next with safe, effective social automation.