I was on hand recently for three sales pitches from Radian6, Hootsuite, and Meltwater. These are powerful platforms capable of boosting your business’ social media efforts in different ways. But which one is right for you? And is there a ‘best’ enterprise social engagement tool?
Before I begin, a trio of disclaimers: The Radian6 presentation was almost a month ago so my memory might be a bit foggy. Furthermore, I have used Hootsuite Free and Pro personally over the past couple of years. Finally, this is not an endorsement of any of these three products but merely an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
Without further ado, here’s what I found out broken down by features.
If you’re interested in monitoring social media for mentions of your brand, Radian6 is the best way to go. It has highly customizable search options to let you find mentions of your keyword(s) while removing ones that don’t apply. For instance, if you were the manager of a high-end coffee shop in Ottawa and wanted to find mentions of your shop and other specialty shops while removing any that mention ‘Tim Hortons’ or ‘Starbucks’ or maybe a shop with a similar name that was in another city, you could do that with Radian6. Furthermore, you could flag individual tweets for follow-up by another member of your team, and gauge ‘sentiment’ – how you are perceived over social media. The sentiment measurement isn’t perfect but you can override its judgment if you read a tweet that is labeled negative but is actually neutral, or if you spot a tweet which isn’t referring to your brand specifically.
Meltwater is really two separate products, and their efficiency at monitoring is mixed. Their Buzz product, which is for social media monitoring, offers a clean and fairly easy report of your mentions (both those who use your Twitter handle and those who mention your keywords), but if you’re watching your Twitter account during the day you would likely have seen these already (might be something to hand to your boss if s/he is wondering what you’ve been up to). There are also charts for measuring whether you are receiving more or fewer mentions online based on historical data, and some other basic stats. Meltwater News is a different animal altogether as it is concerned with traditional media and the blogosphere. It scours the web for mentions of your keywords and is fairly efficient at weeding out the irrelevant (Kijiji listings, for example). Taken together they are quite effective, but this drives the price up significantly.
Hootsuite has keyword searches, but their primary focus is not on search functionality. You can measure similar metrics through their reporting software, such as Twitter sentiment, but it doesn’t offer the same ability to drill down and re categorize tweets. It is quite robust at keeping you up to date on your click-through rates through the provided ow.ly URL shortener.
When using these tools to share content, Hootsuite Enterprise is your best choice by far. It allows you to post to far more networks (both in terms of having many different types of account, and many of each type of account), and support for new networks is added fairly regularly. The connected accounts are laid out in a way that is visually appealing and customizable, and it is very easy to get new users working with the system even if they’re still learning how to use social media. There is also app support for networks that you wouldn’t necessarily post to through Hootsuite (Youtube, Flickr, etc.) and this ensures you can monitor comments and quickly reply to questions or negative comments across all your networks. For those organizations with teams posting to social media, creating user accounts is easy, and they can be tweaked so only certain people can access certain accounts. Finally, they have a robust tweet scheduling system so you can ensure content that needs to go up on certain days is posted ahead of time, making your workload lighter.
Meltwater Buzz has a slight advantage over Radian6 in the engagement department because they have a post scheduler (though the Radian6 team is apparently working on one), but each tool only offers support for Twitter and Facebook accounts, and their posting tools are not as clearly visible and well laid out as Hootsuite‘s.
Coordinating a Social Media Strategy
All three tools offer an ‘Assignment’ option, where you can instruct a colleague to respond to a tweet or Facebook post. I will admit such a feature has not really come in handy in my line of work so far, but I suppose if you have a group of people handling social media and each was an expert in different fields, you might want to use it to get that person’s attention (and that way, only one team member needs to regularly monitor the social media channels).
Hootsuite Enterprise also includes an approvals process, where users must flip a switch before posting to certain networks. You can also lock out users from certain accounts by assigning them to specific teams or organizations, and then drill down to each user and specify the access you want them to have (example: They can schedule posts for “Facebook Account X” but can’t actually post on that page). You can also share your created reports among your team members which I believe was a feature also offered in Meltwater and Radian6.
Which one is right for me?
Each tool has its selling points so it depends what you want out of it. If you’re looking to post content and are only somewhat concerned with monitoring the reaction, go with Hootsuite. Note I didn’t specify the Enterprise edition, as many will find the Free or Pro edition sufficient (especially if you’re not concerned with monitoring or having a lot of team members).
If you’re determined to capture every mention of your brand on social media, Radian6 is the way to go. This is doubly the case if you are trying to isolate out mentions of your business, and your business happens to have a common name.
If you want to not only track mentions of your brand on social media but also traditional media and other websites, Meltwater would be your best fit.
Ultimately, buying the tool is not enough to guarantee social media success. Having the staff in place will, in the end, win you the day. Tools like Radian6, Hootsuite, and Meltwater simply make the work of your staff that much easier, and help them prove to you the value of social media engagement.
If you work for any of these companies, feel free to post that you found this (and how long it took you)! If you don’t, let me know: what are you using for your business? What are you looking at? Do you think tools like these would help you do your job?