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The number of social tools is bewildering: what is the difference between a social media listening tool and an engagement platform? What are Enterprise 2.0 platforms?
For anyone who is perplexed by the number of social tools, here is an overview of eight types, based on a report written by our Social Strategist Miranda Man.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive or definitive list!
Social media analytics and social listening tools: what do they do?
Analytics tools are valuable for the quantitative analysis of social media metrics that are often taking place on owned social media channels.
They enable companies to gather data from their social media channels for example, the number of fans and engagement rate. Examples of analytics tools include Google Analytics, Socialbakers and Pagelever
Listening tools extract and filter online conversations from social media platforms. They can help to derive meaning and sentiment from the mass of online noise. Examples of listening tools include Radian 6, Synthesio and Brandwatch.
Example use cases
Analytics tools are ideal to determine brand reach and fan demographics. So, if you are not sure of the extent of your brand's online presence or if your social media fans actually match your target audience then analytics tools can help.
Listening tools can help businesses to identify key influencers and to discover what your customers are saying about your brand.
Social media engagement and content creation tools: what do they do?
Engagement tools enable users to take action, respond, engage and communicate with their audience directly on social channels.
Typical functionality includes content authoring, scheduling and publishing, workflow management and real time routing of actions. Examples of engagement tools include Spredfast, Sprout Social and Conversocial.
Content creation tools facilitate the creation and distribution of socially enabled and / or interactive content. Whilst engagement tools also enable users to create content, this content tends to be a Twitter or Facebook update.
A content creation platform includes content creation templates and enables users to distribute content to a number of social media channels. Some platforms can facilitate live streaming. Examples of content creation tools include Thismoment DEC, Scribblelive and Buddymedia (Profile Buddy and Reach Buddy).
Example use cases
Engagement tools are ideal for community management as they offer the functionality of posting to a number of different social media channels from one platform. They can help you to interact with your social media customers quickly.
Content creation tools can help you to create a unified brand presence across different channels and help you to publish content across a range of social media channels.
Analytics, Listening Engagement and Content Creation Tools are Social Business Intelligence Tools and are used to manage a company's social media presence and online brand.
They also enable businesses to derive insight from online customer conversations and take action from those insights. These tools are sometimes referred to as Social Media Management Platforms.
The following tools are Enterprise 2.0 platforms and concern employees rather than customers. These platforms are used to support internal processes and can help to facilitate employee engagement.
Enterprise social platforms and enterprise activity stream platforms: what are they?
Enterprise social platforms are internal platforms that offer portal like functionality in addition to social tools such as blogs and wikis and are used to foster employee collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Enterprise activity stream platforms are also used for employee collaboration and knowledge sharing but have a core microblogging functionality and focuses on the activity stream. Examples include Tibbr, Yammer and Socialcast.
Both platforms feature functionality typical of social media platforms, for example, creation of groups, blogs, news feed and easy uploading and sharing of content.
Example use cases
Both types of platform can be used for knowledge sharing and to improve collaboration amongst employees regardless of location.
However there are further use cases, for example, enterprise social platforms are great for content collaboration and content management. They can also be used to create social intranets.
Enterprise activity streams are good for internal social networking and due to the more transient nature of the activity stream, can be used to provide real time response to queries.
Community platforms and e-learning platforms: what are they?
Community platforms are used to build online communities and can be used both internally and externally, for employees and customers. Typical functionality include forums and user groups. Example community platforms include Telligent, Lithium Community and Moxie Community.
Social e-learning platforms include collaborative functionality such as blogs and shared spaces. These include both authoring platforms (to create content) and learning management systems.
Example use cases
Community platforms can help to connect users to experts and to build collective online communities of people with common interests and experiences.
E-learning platforms (in the social context) can be used to create interactive and engaging online assessments. They can also be a means for learners to share their experience with other learners.
It is fair to say that the number of social tools has increased significantly over the past five years and that the social technology landscape is evolving constantly.
Social technology is therefore dynamic and responsive – the eight types of platform outlined above are just a few examples of the type of social tool you could use in your business. We hope we have helped you to navigate part of the social technology landscape!