The Altimeter Group published “A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation” today. You can download a copy here or view an embedded version below.

I received an advance copy of the research earlier this week. I think it is great that a research organization is focusing on our industry and on social media management (SMM) products. And I think that this is a fantastic report for the most part.

That said, I do have some reservations. I sent the following feedback to the authors – Jeremiah Owyang and Andrew Jones – and thought I’d also share on the Argyle blog.

First of all, I’m happy that Argyle is included in the report. We’re a younger company and we’ve raised less capital than our competitors, so the fact that we’re “in the game” (so to speak) reflects the quality of our product, our focus on our customers, and our ability to execute as a team.

Though the report makes a great effort, I think it does little to clarify some of the market confusion. The intended audience for this report is very obviously the enterprise buyer – all of the examples are Fortune 500 brands and massive corporations. Thus it is very misleading that the report compares vendors targeting different segments as apples to apples. HootSuite is a small business offering – its pricing starts at free. Argyle is targeting the mid-market with products in the hundreds of dollars per month. Syncapse is doing full-service deals at $3M per year. These are apples, oranges, and bananas.

While we’re all in the same category, SMM vendors are building very different products for very different customers. If a prospective buyer is making a purchase decision between Syncapse, Argyle, and HootSuite, then they probably don’t have a very thoughtful understanding of their needs…or at best didn’t do a very thorough evaluation. (Though we’re very happy to compete for those deals, of course!)

I also think that Altimeter missed the mark with the use cases they included in the report. I was very surprised that the report doesn’t suggest a lead/revenue generation use case – which is a primary goal for any online retailer or small/mid B2B marketer…or Argyle Social customer. Socialzing one’s brand for the purposes of generating likes and engagement is a very different proposition than socializing with the intent to drive sales. Brands like Coca Cola have very different needs than uber-retailers like Best Buy…which has very different needs than smaller retailers, like Argyle customer Lake Champlain Chocolates.

I think Jason Falls’ analysis of the industry was a bit more insightful. He describes eight current SMM use cases, and then six areas where he believes SMM will play a bigger role moving forward. And, in typical Falls fashion, he’s dead-on.

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