October 27, 2011

Leveraging a Social Platform? Six Ingredients You Should Evaluate

The social technology space is crowded with thousands of vendors and tens more are added daily.

This makes deciding which platforms to leverage a daunting task for CMOs and marketing professionals.

To help you, I have outlined below six ingredients to look for when evaluating social platforms. Note: some points are more weighted to specific types of vendors, such as social media management systems (SMMS), advocacy tools, social gaming, social television or social commerce.

1. White-Labeled

A white label product allows marketers to rebrand it, making it appear as if they made it. For example, in a user-generated photo competition within a Facebook tab, the user-interface is completely branded as if the application was created by the brand. The obvious advantage of white label products is that they enhance brand authenticity and consumer trust.

2. Analytics Dashboard

Social ROI is pivotal, and without an advanced dashboard it is hard to demonstrate. Among the many features to look for, make sure it has:

• Client login capability
• Real-time metrics
• Intuitive user-interface
• Boolean logic functionality
• API data hoses 

3. Market Differentiation

For every platform you evaluate there are a dozen more that achieve the same or similar functions. What separates the vendor from the rest of the pack? Get a clear answer to this question (not only from the sales team, but from the product guys too).

4. Product Roadmap

I ask this one of every vendor: “What’s on the product roadmap? Where do you see your product two years from now?” Once you implement their technology (especially under a lengthy contract) you need the confidence that their product will continue to meet the demands of the social web.

5. Value Proposition/ROI

No rocket science here! Make sure there is value proposition and that the money, time and people you invest are worth the social profits.

6. Team

There is a saying in Kabbalistic literature, “Water mirrors the face that peers into it” i.e., the product is a reflection of the people who create it.

It’s a simple formula: the sharper the team, the sharper the product. Implementing technology always involves building a relationship with the manpower behind the platform. Make sure they are people you can work with.

Do you have other ingredients to add to the mix? Let me know in the comments section below.


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