More and more brands are realizing the benefits of enabling their employees in social media, so software vendors and IT departments are responding by adding features and functionality. In recent years, a few B2B tech companies enabled their employees with basic training and permission to engage, and a more sophisticated and transformational approach to enablement is coming over the next 2-3 years. (P.S. That is the focus of my book with Susan Emerick.)
In anticipation of this trend, a new class of software is emerging, specifically aimed at enabling employees in social media, at scale. The chart below shows the four types of solutions that are being applied in this emerging space:
1. Employee Portals: This is where most brands begin when enabling their employees in social media. They publish guidelines, training, best practices and some content in an employee portal — often a new portal site dedicated to employee social media enablement. It all lives behind the firewall, with negligible integration to engagement tools, and no integration to the corporate Content Management System (CMS), but can be a good first step to testing and learning the best approach to enabling the brand’s employees in social media.
2. Social Media Management Tools: Altimeter Group published an inventory of social media management tools earlier this year (embedded at the bottom of this post). This group includes well-known vendors such as HootSuite, Spredfast, and Shoutlet.
3. Affiliate Marketing Platforms: Affiliate marketing has been around a long time, and a new breed of software vendors are deploying the next generation of affiliate management tools that leverage the best of hosted software and social media. SocialChorus is one example.
4. Social Employee Enablement Tools: This is a new vendor category, that only started emerging last year, and includes vendors such as GaggleAmp. They are different than Social Media Management tools because they distribute content and measure employee performance, independently but in concert with engagement tools (such as HootSuite). These tools are challenged by the fact that most large brands already have more social media tools than they want, and they do not want to add one more. It will be interesting to see how these vendors differentiate themselves in the enterprise space, or whether they simply go after SMBs while letting the established engagement platforms build the features required by large organizations.
While all of these tools provide important functionality, none possess broad traction in the market for social employee enablement, primarily because most brands are only beginning to become aware of the potential for empowering employees as a channel.