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For: Marketing The Four Social Marketing Tools You Need

Leadership by Nate Elliott and Zach Hofer-Shall, August 7, 2013


Key Takeaways

You Need Only Four Social Technology Partners (At Most)

Social technology vendors are constantly trying to differentiate themselves based on the
features they offer. But they do that for their benefit, not yours -- and focusing on small
distinctions between platforms just complicates an already confusing marketplace. In reality,
there are only four social technology vendor categories that matter.

Select Social Vendors Based On The Challenges They Address

If youre trying to plan better social programs, hire a social listening platform. To reach new
audiences in social media, pick a social reach platform. To put social tools on your website,
find a social depth platform. And when youre ready to engage customers on sites such as
Facebook and Twitter, select a social relationship platform.

Forrester Research, Inc., 60 Acorn Park Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140 USA

Tel: +1 617.613.6000 | Fax: +1 617.613.5000 |
For Marketing Leadership Professionals August 7, 2013

The Four Social Marketing Tools You Need

Tools And Technology: The Social Marketing Playbook
by Nate Elliott and Zach Hofer-Shall
with Melissa Parrish, David Truog, and Sarah Takvorian

Why Read This Report

Marketers spend billions of dollars on social media every year, and theyre increasingly turning to
technology vendors to support their social programs. But for many marketers, the social technology
vendor landscape verges on indecipherable. To select the right tools and technology for their social
plans, marketers must classify and choose vendors based not on the characteristics of their technologies
but instead on the distinct business value those technologies offer. To aid in that process, this report
introduces the four categories of social technology that marketers should consider: 1) listening platforms,
which help companies plan social marketing programs; 2) reach platforms, which allow marketers to
deliver messages to audiences beyond their fans and followers; 3) depth platforms, which help marketers
add social tools and experiences to their sites; and 4) relationship platforms, which help companies engage
customers on social networks. This report serves as the tools and technology component of our social
marketing playbook; it has been updated to add specifics about relevant Forrester Wave evaluations.

Table Of Contents Notes & Resources

2 Four Types Of Vendors Serve Your Social Forrester met with more than a dozen social
Marketing Needs technology vendors in researching this report.
Listening Platforms Support Marketers
Planning And Intelligence Related Research Documents
Social Reach Platforms Help Marketers Reach The Forrester Wave: Social Depth
New Audiences Platforms, Q3 2013
July 9, 2013
Social Depth Platforms Put Social Tools Onto
Marketers Sites The Forrester Wave: Social Relationship
Platforms, Q2 2013
Social Relationship Platforms Help Marketers April 16, 2013
Interact On Social Networks
The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening
WHAT IT MEANS Platforms, Q2 2012
8 Consolidation And Competition Will April 24, 2012
Revolutionize The Landscape

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The Four Social Marketing Tools You Need 2

four TYPES of vendors serve your social marketing needs

Marketers can use social media in many ways, and many vendors stand ready to help. But decoding
and navigating the crowded social technology vendor landscape isnt easy. Most vendors offer a
unique range of social technologies, but no single vendor covers the entire value chain. Meanwhile,
buzzword-packed marketing materials make it difficult to differentiate the players and find the right
fit. The result? Marketers remain baffled about which tools to choose and are often caught in a large
and tangled web of social vendor partnerships.

Rather than categorize social technologies based on the type of tools they offer as most vendors
and marketers do Forrester groups social platforms based on the marketing challenges they
address (see Figure 1). Today, we see four distinct types of social marketing technologies. The first
helps marketers plan social programs, and the others help marketers execute social reach tactics,
social depth tactics, and social relationship tactics (each part of what Forrester calls the marketing
RaDaR).1 Together, these four technology categories should serve any marketers social needs:

Social listening platforms help marketers plan their programs. These tools aggregate social
content and analyze social data to uncover insights and drive intelligent marketing planning.

Social reach platforms help marketers use social media to find new audiences. These tools help
create and spread content that lets new customers discover a marketers products and services.

Social depth platforms help marketers add social tools to their own sites. These tools build
social content and experiences into marketing sites, offering the depth that customers seek
when exploring products and services.

Social relationship platforms help marketers leverage third-party social sites. These tools
engage a companys existing customers by publishing marketing content on sites such as
Facebook and Twitter as well as by allowing marketers to monitor and respond to user posts on
those sites.

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Figure 1 The Social Marketing Technology Value Chain

Social Social Social Social

listening reach depth relationship
platforms platforms platforms platforms

Measurement has yet

to emerge as a point
Add social to your site. Measure on the value chain.

Plan Engage on social networks. Measure

Reach new audiences through social. Measure

90461 Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

Listening Platforms Support Marketers Planning And Intelligence

Most marketers subscribe to the social adage start by listening. By tapping into the social
groundswell, marketers can learn from customers conversations and better plan their social
marketing strategies. Identifying consumer opinions, getting product and campaign feedback,
and tracking the buzz around their brands and their competitors gives marketers rich planning
insights. But its not easy to find actionable marketing insight from within hundreds of millions of
daily conversations spread across thousands of fragmented social channels. To solve this problem,
marketers turn to listening platforms.

Social listening platforms are technologies that mine and process social data to derive marketing
and business insights.

By using listening platforms, marketers can:2

Aggregate social content. Social media is simply too big and moves too fast to manage without
vendor assistance. Listening platforms connect to the breadth of the social Web by working
with data providers such as DataSift and Gnip as well as through direct connections to social

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networks feeds and through their own proprietary crawling and scraping technologies. Many
of todays leading listening platforms started as social media monitoring vendors public
relations technologies that scour social media for brand mentions.

Analyze social data. Once theyve aggregated social content, marketers use listening
technologies to identify actionable insight. These tools leverage text-mining technologies
such as sentiment analysis, trend detection, or influencer identification to analyze the
aggregated data.3 Listening platforms help weed out spam, identify relevant content, gauge
relevance, and turn online conversations into qualitative and quantitative data points ready for
marketers to analyze. As one European packaged goods firm told us: Consumers mention our
products over 100,000 times every week on social media. Wed never be able to keep up without
our listening platform analyzing the posts and picking out the important ones.

Drive social intelligence. Listening platforms greatest value comes from the insights they
uncover and the actions they inform. Marketers adopting social intelligence the analysis of
social data used to activate marketing and business programs rely on listening platforms
to help them proactively inform business decisions. Todays leading listening platforms plug
social data into other critical marketing technologies, including social relationship platforms,
customer relationship management (CRM) systems, campaign management tools, and customer
and business analytics systems.4 Samsung, for example, uses a listening platform to optimize its
media planning and buying.5

The listening platform market is vast and diverse, including dozens of viable tools from small
startups as well as some of the largest technology vendors in the world. Within this range of
offerings, listening platforms also vary in their focus: Some offer dashboards targeted toward
market insights teams; others are designed to support campaign planning; while still others focus
on brand protection and providing crisis alerts. In our most recent analysis of social listening
platforms, Forrester evaluated nine vendors, including Attensity, Converseon, Lithium Technologies,
Networked Insights, NM Incite, Radian6, SDL, Synthesio, and Visible Technologies. For further
detail and insight, read The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012.6

Social Reach Platforms Help Marketers Reach New Audiences

People cant buy products theyve never heard of so to help target audiences discover new
products, services or offerings, marketers turn to reach tools such as traditional advertising.
Marketers can also leverage social media to create new discovery; generating word of mouth
remains one of marketers top social objectives, though its not the only way that social can help
marketers reach new audiences. To drive discovery through social channels, marketers should
leverage social reach vendors.

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Social reach platforms are technologies that help marketers deliver messages to social audiences
beyond their existing fans.

Social reach vendors help marketers create discovery through two distinct approaches:

Driving word of mouth. Agencies have long offered viral marketing services but influencer
marketing is finally being seen as a science rather than an art. Vendors are now using data
to help marketers identify key influencers from either the general online population or a
marketers existing customer base and then to recruit those influencers into technology-driven
and highly trackable viral sharing programs.

Paying for social advertising and promotion. Paid promotion is the only way that marketers
can guarantee they reach new audiences on social sites, whether buying standardized social ad
units (such as Facebook marketplace ads or YouTube paid search listings) or paying to promote
their social posts (such as Facebook promoted posts or Twitter promoted tweets).

These two approaches are so different that combining these vendors into a single category invites
controversy. Certainly, most social advertising vendors (such as Kenshoo Social,, and and most word-of-mouth platforms (such as Extole, Klout, and Zuberance) would
argue that theyre not competing for the same customers. But despite the large differences in
methodology, these two types of vendors offer exactly the same value to marketers: reaching new
customers through social channels. In late 2013, Forrester will publish its first Wave evaluation
focused on social advertising vendors.

Social Depth Platforms Put Social Tools Onto Marketers Sites

Once theyve used listening platforms to help plan their social strategies, marketers must use
different social strategies and tools to support customers at different stages of the customer life
cycle.7 For instance, reach tactics and technologies are most effective in helping customers discover a
marketers products or services, while relationship strategies and tools work best when used to foster
post-purchase engagement from existing customers.

And when customers have already discovered a product but havent yet bought it, theyre likely to
explore that product in more detail on a marketers website. To support this exploration with social
tools, marketers turn to social depth platforms.

Social depth platforms are technologies that add social content and experiences to marketing sites.

The specific features and tools offered by social depth platforms include:

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Ratings, reviews, and comments. Highlighting direct customer feedback on products and
services on your own site ensures that your prospects make the right purchase decisions. Social
depth vendors allow marketers to collect and display simple numerical ratings, or longer
comments and product reviews, from their customers. For example, clothing retailer Chicos added
ratings and reviews to its eCommerce sites, resulting in a 200% increase in online conversions.8

Blogs. Corporate blogs give customers and prospects insight into the company itself and
into how to get the best value from the products or services theyre considering. They also give
marketers an opportunity to aggregate social content about a brand or product from around the
Web into a single socialized blog.9 For instance, Whole Foods Market uses a blog to showcase
organic recipes and help customers make better, healthier eating decisions.10 Patagonias
company blog promotes its corporate values and inspires customers through employee-written
stories of travel and adventure.11

On-site communities. Hosting a full-fledged brand community on your own site creates an
interactive destination where customers and prospects can connect with each other and learn
more about your products and services.12 For example, Vistaprints on-site forum lets consumers
discuss business cards, letterhead, and other printed products and allows them to explore the
companys offerings in more detail.13

Emerging on-site social interactions. Vendors are also helping companies offer social sign-
on letting users log into marketers sites using Facebook and Twitter credentials rather than
creating a new account on every site as well as helping marketers gamify their websites.

Marketers turn to social depth platforms to host these communities on their own websites. Social
depth vendors come from a wide range of subcategories, including those who specialize in each of
the features listed above. In our most recent analysis of social depth platforms, Forrester evaluated
nine vendors, including Acquia, Bazaarvoice, Get Satisfaction, Jive Software, Lithium Technologies,
Livefyre, Mzinga, Pluck, and Telligent Systems. For further detail and insight, read The Forrester
Wave: Social Depth Platforms, Q3 2013.14

Social Relationship Platforms Help Marketers Interact On Social Networks

Most marketers have high hopes for their Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, Twitter accounts,
and YouTube channels; they believe that these profiles will reach broad new audiences and close
innumerable new sales. But the reality is that these tools play a specific role at a particular stage
of the customer life cycle. Consumers report that they primarily engage with brands on social
networks after theyve made a purchase when they know a company and want to engage that
company further. To manage their public social interactions with those customers, marketers turn
to social relationship vendors.

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Social relationship platforms are technologies that help marketers publish content to third-party
social networks as well as monitor, moderate, and respond to customer posts on social sites.

In particular, social relationship vendors help marketers:

Publish marketing content. Many marketers rely on social relationship tools simply to schedule
and post text-based content. But most vendors in this category can also create or post rich social
content such as Facebook tabs and Twitter cards as well as rich experiences such as contests,
games, polls, and social applications. Social relationship platforms also typically manage content
posting across multiple sites and accounts and leverage the content targeting options offered by
some social sites.

Monitor and respond to customer posts. Tracking users social posts was once purely the
domain of listening platforms, but no longer. Companies cant successfully engage customers
in public social sites without monitoring whats happening on those sites both on their own
social media profiles and elsewhere on the social Web and most leading social relationship
vendors have added basic monitoring functionality to their platforms. And once theyve tracked
customer questions and comments, social relationship tools help marketers analyze which
require attention and then allow them to respond to those posts.

Manage their workflow and tasks. Publishing, monitoring, and responding across a wide range
of social sites often requires a concerted, multidepartmental effort so social relationship
platforms help marketers manage all of a companys social accounts and all the employees
who can post content to those accounts. Most vendors allow companies to manage different
permission levels for different groups of employees as well as offer both inbound workflows
(which rout each post to the right team) and outbound workflows (so content can be reviewed
and approved before its published).

In the past, the social relationship space was served by two distinct types of vendors one set of
tools focused on posting and rich experiences and another set focused on monitor-and-respond
functionality. But today, leading vendors have expanded across both subcategories, creating a class
of category-leading vendors that provide most of these services through a single platform. In our
most recent analysis of social relationship platforms, Forrester evaluated eight platforms, including
Adobe, Hearsay Social, salesforce.coms Buddy Media, Shoutlet, Socialware, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and
Syncapse. For further detail and insight, read The Forrester Wave: Social Relationship Platforms,
Q2 2013.15

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W h at I t M e a n s
consolidation and competition WILL revolutionize the landscape
The social technology value chain described above should help marketers understand what types
of partners they need in the near future. But the landscape will be radically different within two
years. Leading social vendors will continue to partner and merge with each other a trend that has
already seen vendors such as Adobe, Lithium Technologies, and make acquisitions
that help them cover several pieces of the value chain and stragglers will be swallowed or
trampled by larger players from outside the social space. In the next 18 to 24 months:

The social listening category will die. For too long, listening vendors focused on tracking
and reporting what happened in social channels, an approach that offered marketers
limited insights and a flawed, incomplete view into social measurement. Today, many
listening vendors keep social data in a silo, intent on building their own database and
marketing technologies. But listening platforms will be unable to replicate the functionality
of established marketing technology categories, such as marketing automation, email
marketing, and big CRM companies, and so are likely to fail. The future for listening
platforms is grim, unless they can improve their ability to turn data into insights and those
insights into action through integration with broader marketing technologies.

Social vendors will face increasing competition from outside the social space. Social
technology vendors have spent the past few years targeting each others markets: For
example, relationship tools have added reach capabilities, and depth tools have added
listening functionality. But these vendors may as well be guppies fighting over each others
food while failing to notice the sharks that have started to circle. The social reach space is
already filled with paid search vendors such as Kenshoo and Marin Software as well as real-
time bidding platforms such as DataXu and MediaMath. We expect social depth vendors to
see increasing competition from traditional web content management players such as Adobe,
Autonomy, and SDL, and we think that listening platforms will face challenges from business
intelligence players such as IBM and SAS.

Measurement will emerge as its own category of social technology. Social depth,
relationship, and reach vendors all say they offer measurement. But the truth is that they
track only user interactions with their tools rather than the business value those tools
have created. Likewise, social listening platforms have worked hard to position themselves
as measurement tools, but their own data undermines this claim.16 In the next two years,
savvy marketers will demand social measurement tools that demonstrate how their social
programs are creating marketing and business success. Those tools are likely to come from
vendors with expertise in tying marketing spend directly to business outcomes including
cross-channel attribution players such as ClearSaleing and Visual IQ or mix modeling
vendors such as MarketShare and ThinkVine.17

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This report of our social marketing playbook lays out Forresters vision for how social tactics can supply
reach and depth and relationships to your marketing plan. See the August 7, 2013, Integrate Social Into
Your Marketing RaDaR report.
Listening platforms come in all shapes and sizes and even appear under many titles, such as social analytics,
social media monitoring, and social intelligence tools. The landscape consists of hundreds of players, with
a few dozen supporting the largest clients today. See the April 24, 2012, The Enterprise Listening Platform
Landscape report.
Listening platforms employ text analytics technology to turn unstructured social dialogue into analyzable
data points. See the September 28, 2011, Executive Q&A: Text Analytics For Customer Intelligence report.
Integration is now a key component of successful listening platforms. Instead of trying to hold onto social
insights, the best platforms help active those insights within other technology systems. See the May 17,
2012, The Social Intelligence Market Is Immature report.
Samsung combines marketing metrics from social and traditional media channels to optimize its media
spend. See the November 30, 2012, Ten Steps To Successful Social Intelligence Measurement report.
For more information on the leading enterprise listening platforms, see the April 24, 2012, The Forrester
Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012 report.
Customers tell us that when theyre open to discovering new products and services, reach channels such
as word of mouth, online search, and TV ads are most effective. When they want to explore a product
offering in more detail or make a purchase they turn to depth channels like marketers websites and
retail stores. And to stay engaged with a brand after theyve made a purchase, they turn to relationship
channels like mailing lists, loyalty programs, and companies social profiles. See the July 22, 2013, Mix Art
And Science For Marketing Success report.
Chicos used ratings and reviews to drive consumer engagement and discussion around popular products.
In the first year, Chicos found a 200% increase in conversion from customers engaging with the ratings
and reviews. Source: Chicos achieves over 200% increase in conversion with Bazaarvoice Conversations,
Bazaarvoice (
This socialized blog strategy has been successfully followed by leading marketers, including Disney,
General Motors, and Pepsi. See the April 1, 2011, The New Blogging Strategy For Consumer Brands report.
One post in February 2013 highlighted recipes for making healthy Valentines Day treats. Source: Mary
Olivar, Healthier Valentines Day Treats, Whole Foods Market, February 6, 2013 (http://wholefoodsmarket.
And, of course, the blog features Patagonias trademark photos of its gear being put to use in extreme conditions.
Source: Colin Haley, Climbing Season in Patagonia La Via Funhogs, The Cleanest Line, February 4, 2013
Not only that, but owned communities help you bring your best customers social activities onto your own

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site. See the June 21, 2012, Build A Push And Pull Social Marketing Process report.

Vistaprint listens to its community for product ideas and to gain customer feedback and encourages

customers to connect with each other to share their thoughts about Vistaprints products and services.
Source: Lithium Technologies, Vistaprint Case Study: Measuring Positive ROI from Social Engagement,
SlideShare (

For more information on the leading social depth platforms, see the July 9, 2013, The Forrester Wave:

Social Depth Platforms, Q3 2013 report.

For more information on the leading social relationship platforms, see the April 16, 2013, The Forrester

Wave: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2013 report.

One leading listening platform, Converseon, asked academic statisticians to compare its sentiment data

for one client with that same clients brand survey data and found there was no correlation whatsoever
between the two. Source: David A. Schweidel, Wendy Moe, and Chris Boudreaux, Social Media
Intelligence: Measuring Brand Sentiment from Online Conversations, Robert H. Smith School of Business,
June 2011 (

Of course, you should be using attribution tools or mix models for your entire marketing spend not just

for social media. See the April 30, 2012, The Forrester Wave: Cross-Channel Attribution Providers, Q2
2012 report and see the September 21, 2011, The Forrester Wave: Marketing Mix Modeling, Q3 2011

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