When you pay more, you expect more.
But does that correlation always prove true?
Because the social media management tool market is still in its infancy, and the fact that the state of social media itself changes so quickly (with new sites quickly rising in popularity and old sites regularly implementing new features to stay relevant), it is clear that the market is yet to settle.
And with social’s fast-moving, fledging status, consumers are far from sharing the values they wish to see in a product. For example, some may absolutely need Instagram integration, others may be crying out for integration with Asian social networks, and others may still desire more automation.
Because the needs of consumers often change on a monthly, if not weekly, basis, no one product can be said to safely dominate the market. All of this uncertainty means that the price does not necessarily reflect quality.
For example, some tools may offer incredibly wide-ranging tools to manage many sites simultaneously. The cost of these tools may thus be high, since they required a lot of coding and development to create.
But if you only use a few of these networks, what’s the point of paying for the others?
Similarly, a tool may offer quality tools to solve all sorts of social media management problems. These tools require time and concentration to master so, whilst perhaps being ideal for agencies and freelancers (or for whom social media constitutes a large portion of their job), they may be of limited value to the small business owner who spends just an hour a day managing social media. Such a person would likely prefer to spend on time-saving and efficiency tools.
With such diverse needs, consumers are unable to use price as an indicator of quality. Instead, to get the best solution for them, they will have to do their own research.
Such research can be difficult.
Although no one tool can be said to dominate, there are market leaders. These tools which we’ve all heard about, and generally they offer a fairly comprehensive set of functionalities. For example Hootsuite, HubSpot, Buffer – all offer scheduling to multiple networks, tools to aid content creation, analytics and reporting functions, and CRM capabilities (or third-party integrations which enable them).
At the same time, more and more small tools are becoming available that seek to solve only one problem or to meet the needs of a relatively niche market. Edgar, which recycles social media content on your behalf; Twitter’s own Tweetdeck, which allows for real-time tracking, organization, and engagement; and Post Planner, viral content posting tool, can all be said to belong to this category.
The more comprehensive tools may come with a hefty price-tag. Whereas the more niche tools may be more cost-efficient. Most social media managers will need a comprehensive tool. That said, by combining a few niche tools, other social media managers may be able to build their own social media management system that best suits their needs.
With so many options, where do you begin?
Although very few studies have been done on social media management tools, recently iag.me partnered with business software review site G2Crowd.com in order to assess what users’ favourite social media management tools were.
Using reviews and ratings, the two companies produced this infographic, which details social media managers’ favorite tools – Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, Sprout Social, and Sendible – and rates them in terms of:
- User Satisfaction
- Product Direction
- Meet Requirements
- Market Presence
- And Base Price
It’s interesting that, when it comes to actual users’ favourite tools, only a few of the “big” names show up. The other spaces are occupied by lesser-known tools, which highlights an immediate difference between insider’s preferences and market leaders.
The other thing to note is that all of the tools rated offer a fairly comprehensive offering – i.e., no niche tools appear. This is likely because niche tools, by their very nature, appeal to smaller demographics, and so can’t be expected to make it onto lists such as these which depend on mass appeal.
That said, most social media managers will require at least one comprehensive tool which they can then supplement with other niche tools, and so this infographic is a good place to begin your research.
Depending on your requirements, one of these tools may match your general social media needs perfectly. What you need to make sure of is that you’re not paying for functionalities you don’t need.
Do you agree that price is not a good indicator of quality in the social media management tool market? And what tools couldn’t you live without? Let me know with a comment.