There was a time when Community Managers would need a separate solution for almost everything. You’d need a social media monitoring tool to pick up brand mentions, an analytics tool for reporting and an engagement dashboard to publish content. Increasingly vendors are trying to integrate all of these into one platform.
The fact that so many brands are still using specialist tools suggests that there is still work to be done, but some vendors are getting close. If you’re looking for a new engagement dashboard, here are some of the things you should consider:
1. What social networks does it support?
Social media users are spending their time on an increasingly wide range of niche social networks. It’s no longer just about one or two giants and you need a platform that support all the networks you plan to engage on.
2. Teamwork functionality
It’s not just marketing and PR that have a vested interest in social media; a dashboard also needs to accommodate the needs of other departments including Customer Service, Legal and Product Development. It’s vital that users are able to assign queries to these different teams and to specific members within those teams who have specialist knowledge.
3. Customer service
If you get a lot of customer service queries it may be worth looking at a specialist social customer service tool such as Conversocial or Sentiment. These tools offer much of the functionality you see in call centres such as last agent routing, automations and supervisor visibility.
As a social media agency we have access to a large number of client accounts so security is paramount. Staff shouldn’t be able to access accounts they aren’t directly involved with and there must be systems in place to ensure there’s no possibility of posting from the wrong account.
5. Different user roles
Another aspect of security is ensuring there are different levels of user roles available. You may want some staff to have access to analytics but not to be able to publish, whilst you may want content from some staff to be submitted for approval before it’s published.
6. Mobile experience
Community Management isn’t 9 to 5. You need to have access to your account from any location at any time and that means mobile.
7. Suggested Content
Suggested content is an increasingly popular feature, with some dashboards automatically suggesting content to be published based on the topics you talk about. Whilst this can be a great time-saver, it also takes away from the personal nature of social media and should be used sparingly.
Brands need to be able to see what’s being said about them, their competitors and their industry in real-time. This can help identify disgruntled customers, identify brand advocates, collect feedback on products and identify possible sales opportunities.
9. Instant alerts
If there’s a social media crisis brewing then brands need to know about it at the earliest opportunity. To ensure this happens, some monitoring tools will send an alert via email or SMS if there’s a sudden spike in mentions.
We all need to demonstrate the value of our work and in this industry that means analytics. Check that your engagement dashboard provides exactly what you need and in the format you need. Is the data well presented? Can you customise the branding? Can you schedule them to be automatically generated? You may also want to look at what specialist vendors, such as Socialbakers, have to offer.
There’s a lot to think about and, of course, you have to be realistic about how far your budget will stretch. This is different for every brand in every industry and for many the answer is still a mixture of multiple tools. The important thing is to make sure you do try several options before settling on one.
We’ve recently been through this process at Our Social Times and found Sendible to be a really good option that meets all our requirements. But what do you use and what would you recommend? Is there one tool that meets all of your requirements or do specialist tools still have their place?
We are also part of a new LinkedIn Group for UK Marketing Consultants, where we’ll be discussing tools and tips from now on. I hope you can join us there.