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In the past two decades, social media has quickly risen to become a key component of nearly every company’s marketing strategy.

And for good reason — social media inherently encourages interactivity, making it the ideal medium for brands to connect with consumers. What’s more, research has shown that people spend nearly two hours per day on social media alone, giving marketers a captive audience to reach out to.

average daily time spent on social media

With the rise of social media has come a proliferation of tools that help brands and retailers leverage social media in their marketing efforts. These tools span a wide spectrum, from social analytics platforms to chatbots. At their core, they’re all designed to help marketers build communities of passionate users that encourage new consumers to get involved. But with so many platforms on the market, it can be difficult to know where to get started. What follows is a breakdown of all of the different types of social marketing platforms, and how they can be leveraged in your own organization.

The ten main types of social marketing platforms

1. Call analytics and management

There are now dozens of platforms designed to help your sales and marketing team track calls with customers and prospects alike. Most of these tools offer detailed call transcription and analytics, and some will even integrate with CRM for easier tracking of activity. Some even support lead attribution, which is a bonus for marketers looking to track the ROI of direct response efforts.

Some of the most comprehensive call tracking tools on the market today are Invoca, WhatConverts, and CalliQ. These platforms provide marketers with detailed phone call analytics and even provide developer APIs for easy integration with third-party platforms.

2. ABM (Account-based marketing)

Account-based marketing has recently gained steam as a high-ROI way for marketers to generate business from precisely targeted prospects. This marketing strategy uses direct outreach to key decision makers and influencers inside an organization as a way to accelerate the sales cycle.

ABM is a relatively new concept, so there are only 30 to 40 platforms on the market that truly support it today. Adobe’s Bizible is one of the most well-known ABM-centric tools, but other industry heavyweights like Salesforce also support this functionality. There are also more niche ABM platforms like Jabmo and Engagio that act as standalone tools in their own right.

3. Events, meetings, and webinars

Whether they take place virtually or in-person, live events are a great way to generate more lead volume. Beyond that though, online event platforms have to use cases outside just marketing. They can also be used to facilitate communication between employees, clients, and prospects alike. While one of the oldest forms of marketing, events aren’t going away anytime soon. As of last year, 62% of marketing leaders were still planning on investing more of their budget in live events in 2019.

Platforms like ON24 and WebEx are some of the most popular for running webinars, but newer startups like Zoom are also finding a wider audience among marketers. For marketers running in-person events, tools like Eventbrite and Evite do a great job of tracking attendees and some will even integrate with your CRM.

4. Social media marketing and monitoring

The social media marketing landscape has seen rapid growth in recent years. That growth has resulted in more than 300 different tools just in this sub-category of marketing platforms. The features and functionality of social media marketing tools are often just as varied as the different platforms they serve. Some are designed to deploy marketing creatives, while others are simply for analyzing and responding to content at scale.

Two of the largest platforms on the social media front are Buffer and Hootsuite. Both of these tools help businesses put their social media marketing on autopilot, and analyze the performance of campaigns in the process. In addition to comprehensive solutions like these, there are also niche tools for nearly every social media network out there. Examples of such niche tools include Tweepsmap (for Twitter marketing analytics) and AdEspresso (for Facebook Ads).

5. Advocacy, loyalty, and referrals

Research has shown that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations. That makes the area of customer advocacy and referrals a high priority for most marketers. These platforms empower marketers to engage with their customer base, build brand loyalty, and increase lifetime customer value.

Tools like CrowdTwist and Advocately provide a one-stop shop for all customer advocacy needs, wrapping analytics and marketing tools into one package. Others, like Ambassify, are focused on specific niches (like identifying and activating brand ambassadors).

6. Influencers

Influencer marketing is set to become a $10 billion industry by 2020, and for good reason. Influencers with high engagement represent a great opportunity for brands to engage with potential customers and spread their brand messaging across social media as well. Most of the platforms in this category are dedicated to helping marketers identify, track, and collaborate with influencers for marketing purposes.

Most influencer marketing platforms support interacting with influencers via a wide range of platforms. Tools like TapInfluence, Markerly, and Grapevine all help marketers identify and sign up influencers onto their own branding campaigns. Others, like Klout, are mainly targeted towards marketers looking to gauge the real influence of a potential brand endorser.

7. Community and reviews

Many of the platforms that help marketers build a community go hand in hand with brand advocacy and loyalty. User-generated content is a high-quality way to boost brand awareness that increases lead generation in the process. This gives marketers an incentive to make their products as high-quality as possible while delivering value to prospects as well.

Some tools in this category (like Bazaarvoice and ReviewBuzz) are designed specifically to help marketers analyze and act on the content of UGC at scale. Others, like Hivebrite and Forumbee, are focused primarily on community-building. Nearly all of these platforms also offer analytics capabilities for assessing consumer sentiment and brand loyalty.

8. Bots and live chat

Devices like Google Home and Alexa have brought chatbots into the mainstream in recent years, and now roughly 60% of consumers have interacted with some form of chatbot service in the past year. Live chat and chatbot platforms are designed to help marketers connect directly with prospects and customers at scale. Chatbot tools are often highly specialized — some are tailored specifically to marketers, while others are made for customer service purposes.

9. Customer experience, service, and success

There are now more than 300 customer experience-focused platforms on the market today, and they’re a diverse group. Many of these platforms help brands gather customer feedback, run surveys, participate in forums, and measure their impact on the overall customer experience.

Some of the most popular all-in-one tools for customer marketing are Hubspot and Zaius, which offer comprehensive solutions for analyzing and acting on customer data. More specialized tools include WP Engine (for customer marketing through WordPress) and Nicereply (for running and measuring NPS surveys).

10. CRM

For most businesses, having a high-quality CRM tool is a must. These platforms help businesses make sense of their lead and customer data, and take action on it at the same time. Many of these platforms also offer analytics capabilities and sometimes even their own marketing automation tools.

The largest players in this space include well-established brands like Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, and others. There are also niche solutions for specific use cases like Wealthbox (a CRM for financial advisors) or Zoomaworks (a CRM for travel businesses).

Conclusion

The world of social media continues to see rapid growth, with a 13% increase in users globally in the last year alone. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook continue to see rapid growth internationally, while other networks like TikTok have only recently become popular globally. What this means for marketers is that adaptability is key, and quickly tailoring social campaigns to different platforms and audiences is critical to thriving in today’s globalized marketplace.

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