My latest update saw numerous changes, reflecting increasing competitive pressures in a very cluttered marketplace. A half-dozen companies have disappeared completely, and several others have moved on to provide different solutions only tangentially related to social media metrics. There's also been a small number of acquisitions, most notably Salesforce.com buying the market-leader Radian6 in March this year. The net result is that the total number of solutions has fallen, although the quality of the survivors is very high.
If you're looking to buy a social media measurement solution there's a few important takeaways from all these changes:
- It's a Buyers Market
Despite the predicted consolidation, there's still an abundance of companies supplying solutions. Companies are eager to get your business and you should be able to cut a deal for the right solution.
- Buyer Beware!
Expect the consolidation to accelerate over the coming year. Be cautious about companies that aren't able to demonstrate good market traction, supply a full list of references, or just seem too desperate; they may well be gone in a year or two.
- Understand Your Requirements
There's a broad spectrum of solutions out there, and every day new features are being added. Make sure you have a strong understanding of what you need to do and how a tool will help you do it. Take a look at the guides from many industry analysts (mine is here).
- Recognize that the Market is Still Maturing
There is no perfect solution out there. Sourcing data, avoiding spam, providing adequate filtering, integration to marketing automation systems, providing easy-to-configure dashboards and reporting, alerting for your customer services folks... these are just a handful of important issues that are still being worked out.
- The Giants are Coming
Finally, we 're still waiting for the obvious market giants... Google, Microsoft, maybe Facebook... to really enter this market. There's been ongoing rumors that Google was going to release a full-blown media monitoring solution; if they ever do, it could upturn the market and put an end to many of the companies I list. Stay tuned...