Last month, Twitter announced a slew of new products for marketers. The first one is essentially a Twitter management tool.
It’s called Dashboard, and it’s actually pretty awesome. In a blog post, Twitter describes the new feature:
With an iOS app and desktop web experience, Dashboard offers a single destination to get things done. It gives business owners a clear picture of what’s being said about their businesses, lets them schedule Tweets, and offers insights about their Tweet performance.
The company also announced Engage, an app that gives marketers and influencers more in-depth analytics and real-time data. (The app is available in the U.S. only for now.) Twitter videos have also been extended to 140 seconds—up from the previous limit of 30 seconds.
All these changes emphasize something I’ve been thinking about lately: social media management software companies are at a serious risk of becoming irrelevant—and it’s because social media behemoths are innovating a lot faster.
How social media dashboards became popular
A few years ago, companies like Hootsuite, Buffer and SproutSocial became marketers’ BFFs because they made managing social media accounts scalable. While the design and features offered by these software varied, they had a very similar list of value propositions:
- Scheduling tweets, Facebook posts and other social media posts from one platform
- Analyzing your social media ROI by collecting engagement metrics like clicks, reach and retweets or shares
- Monitoring what people are saying about your company
Slowly but surely, however, all of these line items became irrelevant in the social media marketing world.
The ability to schedule posts, for instance, has become less important now that most major social media networks have introduced newsfeed algorithms. When you post your Facebook update is less critical now because what determines whether Facebook shows your content to people is how engaging it is.
Secondly, as Twitter’s Dashboard demonstrates, social media sites have introduced ways for marketers and community managers to schedule posts natively, within the sites or apps themselves. Often, these native capabilities offer better capabilities. Using Twitter directly to tweet, for example, you’ll soon be able to include stickers—something that, as far as I can see, won’t be available if you’re doing it via Hootsuite or Buffer. Tweeting a pic through Twitter also allows you to tag people—something you can’t do in social media management platforms.
Social media sites have stepped up their analytics offerings, too. Facebook Insights offer more actionable metrics than Hootsuite, for instance. Even LinkedIn has made some traction on this front.
The third value prop—monitoring conversations about your brand—is still largely the domain of social media management systems. Providing awesome customer support on social media is a lot more manageable using an enterprise Hootsuite account than relying on Twitter’s native tools, for instance. But as Twitter’s Dashboard illustrates with its brand tracking feature, social networks have the capacity to fill in this gap as well.
Most importantly, companies like Hootsuite and Buffer haven’t done anything to serve what has become an important aspect of social media marketing: paid programs. If I want to launch and monitor Facebook ads, the best way I can do that is to go to the Facebook Business Manager. Even with an enterprise account, I can’t do that with Hootsuite. This is a big deficiency given that marketers are putting more money towards Facebook ads and other forms of social media advertising.
The way forward for social media management tools
Social media dashboards and scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer are still important part of the marketing technology stack. But as a social media manager and content marketer, I do think these companies are starting to become less important.
A large part of that is because social media networks are innovating at a much higher pace. I’m rooting for social media management software companies to succeed, but if they want to stay relevant, they need to innovate and disrupt their own industry. If they don’t, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks will do it themselves.
Photo credit: Jason Howie
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