You’re probably on the lookout for a new social tool to add to your toolkit this year. Perhaps you’re evaluating a few tools but you’re not sure who they’re competing against, or if there’s anything cheaper on the market, and you really need to know for your procurement process. Or perhaps you’re just curious to see what the landscape of marketing tools looks like. If you can relate to any of this, read on.
You may be familiar with Scott Brinker’s Martech analysis that he puts out every year like clockwork. I’m sure you’ve seen his graphics in at least 2 or 3 presentations last year (here’s the link to it).
It’s a great view of the big landscape of marketing tools, a landscape that keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. His landscape grew by 40% from 2016 to 2017, which means that he had to add almost 5,000 new tools to this graphic that covers data tools, content tools, advertising tools, and more. These are all MarTech (Marketing Technology) tools that you may have heard of, encountered in a presentation or seminar or webinar, or perhaps you’re using a few of these, so some of the logos in Scott’s graphic will look familiar to you.
I particularly love the MarTech landscape and Scott’s in-depth analysis of it, and it made me realise one thing: social analysts (and in general social marketers) are spoilt for choice, but a lot of those choices just aren’t adequate. After being asked at a recent event to recommend a few tools for social analytics, it dawned on me that there doesn’t seem to be a handy resource where marketers can go, put in their budget or the tools they’d like to cover or what type of social/marketing tool they’re looking for (e.g. social listening, social CRM solution, social management platform), to then get a list of tools they can choose from.
Thankfully, Scott Brinker and Anand Thaker have made their data publicly available so that we can make our research off the back of it…which I did. I downloaded the Excel export of all the tools included in the MarTech 5000, and focused only on the social tools (about 260 of them), went through each one, and “categorised” them based on a number of factors, like the type of tool, price, social networks covered, whether they offer a free trial or not etc.
As part of my research, I noticed a few things. The first thing I noticed was that quite a few of these tools were either defunct or just not fit for purpose. That is a testament to today’s landscape: MarTech is moving at such a fast rate, and while there are hundreds of social tools out there:
- so many are defunct, like Instagress (included in MarTech 5000), which died in 2016, or ViralMint, which died in 2015, or BuzzDeck, which has been inactive since 2013;
- other tools have been acquired and shut down soon after, like Attensity, which sold its IP to InContact back in 2016;
- other tools have changed their pricing methods, like TweetBinder, which went from being a freemium tool to a more expensive paid tool, to reflect the improved platform and quality of data going into it;
- other tools just can’t keep up with new features appearing on social platforms (e.g. Facebook Reactions) and/or changes in the APIs (the plugs that connect social networks to tools) and are therefore left behind;
- others get shut down, directly or indirectly, from social networks, like Archie and Mass Planner, both of which got shut down by Instagram.
This inevitably creates a long tail of tools that eventually gets left behind, a long tail of tools that just aren’t fit for purpose for marketers anymore. That’s just how fast MarTech is moving.
I took it upon myself to create a resource for marketers, where they can find a list of social tools based on their budget, social networks they want to cover, paid vs free options and other parameters that matter to them.
This resource is based on the tools that were part of the MarTech 5000, it removes the tools that are part of the long tail (defunct tools, tools that don’t work anymore, or tools that just aren’t fit for purpose), and adds other tools that have popped up in the meantime. Through that process, I came up with 200 tools, which I’ve categorised by a few parameters (like social networks covered and pricing options), and created this: the MarTech List.
The MarTech landscape will still come out on a yearly basis, but tools move so fast these days, so I’m going to update this list on a monthly basis. That’s for four reasons:
- it’s to make sure that if tools “fall off” the long tail, they fall off this list too;
- if any of these tools change any of their parameters (e.g. pricing, or whether they start covering more or less social networks), I’ll update that in the list;
- if any new tools pop up, I’ll add them to the list (which means, if any vendors want to be added, they can be added);
- I’ll be making improvements to the list, adding more categories, and adding notes as new things happen in MarTech, like new acquisitions (e.g. Simply Measured being acquired by Sprout Social).
That’s to make sure that the list remains up-to-date and, most importantly, useful at any time of the year.
I used Scott Brinker’s MarTech Landscape 5000 as a basis. I took the 260 marketing tools from it. I then went through each one of them and removed tools that belonged to the “long tail”, i.e. tools that are defunct (Archie, Attensity, Awareness Hub, Tiempy, Instagress, MassPlanner, GeoFeedia, Social Quant, SocialWally, Viralmint… the list goes on).
I also deleted tools that have been abandoned: if the vendor hasn’t been active in more than a year, I’ll classify them as abandoned. An example of that is BuzzDeck: their site hasn’t been updated in years, and their social accounts haven’t been updated since 2013. A social tool that promises its clients to help them be the best active brands cannot in turn show signs of being defunct (clear signs include the website going without any updates for years), so I’ve added them to the long tail. A quick way to identify that is to check the copyright year at the end of the website: if the site has not been updated in over 18 months, I’ll consider that as abandoned, like WeLink, whose copyright year hasn’t been updated since 2014.
There’s another category that I removed from the list, and that is fan/follower automation tools. You may know them as the tools that use the APIs of social networks to mass-follow and mass-unfollow people as a way to gain more followers, social tools that let you buy fans and followers to increase your audience, or automation tools that fake cheap engagement or cheap traffic. These include tools like Tweet Favy or InstaHead (now Combin). These tools profess to “skyrocket your marketing”, but that’s not really what marketing is about in 2018. As such, I’ve removed them too from the list.
After removing all of these tools, I ended up with less than half of the tools I started with. That was enough, as I confidently knew that the tools I had were trustworthy.
I then grouped the tools together based on their functions, and in the process I identified these six main categories:
- social listening and monitoring
- social management
- social advertising
- social analytics
- social audience analytics
- social CRM
(I’ll delve into each category in the next section.)
From that, I added a few more tools that weren’t in the original MarTech 5000, including SocialWeaver and StoryHeap.
After that, I added the following parameters and columns:
- Quick Review: this explains what the tool is and what it does in 140 characters.
- Sources covered: a dropdown list of online sources each tool covers. This was initially going to be just social platforms, namely: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, VK, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Telegram, YouTube, Viber. However, as I’ve also included social listening and social monitoring, I’ve added forums and news sites as sources covered. I’ll eventually add more sources to the list.
- Pricing method: this classifies tools as free (the tool is completely free to use), freemium (while parts of the tool are free to use, you’ll have to pay to access premium features of the tool), or paid (the tool needs to be paid for).
- Price: minimum price per month, based on the cheapest paid tier that the tool offers. All prices are converted into USD. Some tools do not list pricing on their site (or anywhere online), as they prefer building custom pricing plans for their users, so only then this field will be left empty.
- Free trial available: this shows you whether a tool offers a trial that you can use before you choose to pay for it. The options are yes, no, and not applicable, for tools that are already free.
- FYI: the last column serves as an FYI, giving you recent news for the tool, like a recent acquisition, or other news you need to be aware of, like whether they’re about to add a new social network to the list of networks they already cover.
How the List Works
As of January 2018, the list has 200 tools that range between six categories. A category of tools is defined by the collective minimum viable features of its tools. For instance, no two social listening tools are the same, but they can be both called social listening tools due to the minimum viable features they have that makes them social listening tools. In turn, these are the definitions I’m using for each of the six categories:
- social listening and monitoring: a social monitoring tool lets you search for instances of a topic (keyword, hashtag, person etc.) on a platform, while a social listening tool lets you analyse those instances. Normally, a social listening tool will let you save those instances for further analysis, while a social monitoring tool doesn’t have to. I’ve put monitoring and listening in the same bucket, as they do have quite a few similarities: social monitoring involves the search of a topic, and the tool will give you the instances found as a result, and basic associated stats (e.g. number of instances, reach). Social listening does the same, but on top of social monitoring it lets you run advanced analysis on the results.
- social management: a social management tool lets you manage your social accounts by posting content and/or letting you engage with your fans and followers. Other features like scheduling or letting you follow/unfollow fans and followers are optional, but they’re still representative of most social management tools today.
- social advertising: a social advertising tool lets you advertise social content and/or lets you manage the content you’ve advertised on social media.
- social analytics: a social analytics tool lets you analyse the performance of your social account and/or its content. This may include analysis of follower growth and decline, and the analysis of content performance.
- social audience analytics: a social audience analytics tool covers either demographics, psychographics, or influencer analysis for a social audience. Demographics cover age, gender and location of an audience. Psychographics cover the attitudes and interests of an audience. Influencer analysis measures the social influence of an audience measured by arbitrary metrics.
- social CRM: a social CRM tool lets you save user information of accounts on social media, with the optional ability to merge them with accounts you already have from other sources (e.g. linking somebody’s Twitter profile to a customer record you already have on file).
How Can I Use This List?
This is entirely up to you. I’ve made this list flexible on purpose, so you can use it in multiple ways. For instance,
- you can use it to find your next MarTech tool
- you can use it to compare tools within a category
- you can use it if you’re cash-strapped and you urgently need a free or cheap(ish) tool for a specific project or for short-term purposes
- you can use it during the RFI/RFP/ITT process of procurement of a tool, so you can see who your preferred tools are competing against
- you can use it to find a list of tools that can help you if you decide to venture on a new social platform (e.g. if you choose to venture on Snapchat or LinkedIn, make sure the tools you have cover those new platforms too).
There are so many scenarios you can use this list for. You can also use this as an addendum to the yearly MarTech report (make sure you follow Scott Brinker so you don’t miss out on the report).
What’s Next for the List
Here’s what you can expect from MarTech List:
- Monthly updates (starting February) with a changelog, so you can see what’s been added, what’s been removed, and any other notable changes;
- A buyer’s guide for each of the categories in the MarTech List, so you know what to expect in your ideal tool. Now, bear in mind that the perfect tool doesn’t exist, but what does exist is a tool or a set of tools that fits perfect within your budget requirement, business requirements, and social vision (where do you see yourself 6-12 months from now and beyond?);
- Adding more categories as time goes: I’m planning to add employee advocacy tools in the first half of this year (I recommend this book I wrote with Jörgen Sundberg on everything you need to know about employee advocacy); with that, I’ll also add social visualisation tools, and other MarTech categories;
- One of my plans for MarTech List is for it to be less Western-centric: at the moment, this list doesn’t really cover Asian Pacific social platforms. I’m planning to add them this first half of the year, so you should be able to use options for LINE, WeChat, Sina Weibo and other major social platforms that are more prevalent in the APAC region.
If any tools should be added, please get in touch (Twitter, my DMs are open, or via the contact form on this site.)
Please feel free to share the MarTech List (martechlist.net) with whoever you think may find this useful. Make sure you bookmark it, as you may need it when it’s time to review your existing tool, or embark on a social procurement process for a MarTech tool. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, reach out to me.