By Ulrik Bo Larsen, Founder and CEO Falcon Social
As the leading unified social media management platform in Europe, the inclusion of broad listening functionality to Falcon Social’s already comprehensive publishing and moderation platform has set a new standard that other vendors will struggle to beat.
Falcon Social is now in an enviable position. Its unified platform can be used seamlessly by all departments within an organisation and offers a suite of tools that covers all their social media requirements.
Now the question is how will this impact the social media platform marketplace? Will the market for standalone listening tools continue to exist?
Businesses need more than listening functionality
The market has been made up of best-of-breed solutions with businesses buying specific tools for particular jobs. These include standalone listening tools that enable businesses to monitor online conversations in real-time about their brand, products, clients and potential clients, competitors and industry trends. By analyzing conversations that take place online enterprises can gain meaningful insights into their business.
The problem is businesses also need a range of publishing and moderation tools to be able to act on insights. For example, if you hear something from a customer or competitor through listening to social networks you need to respond by engaging with the community. Listening and publishing functionality must be linked to ensure enterprises can respond in a timely and effective way.
Enterprises demand unified solutions
There are dozens of products to address enterprise social media challenges, but demand for standalone tools that offer one aspect of social media management such as listening is diminishing. The market opportunity for standalone platforms has narrowed significantly because their functionality is just too limited.
Nowadays, enterprises can choose unified solutions. We are seeing a trend towards integrated solutions as end users want a suite of functionality that will meet all their social media needs. Enterprises don’t want to integrate products from different vendors, as getting them to work together takes significant investment and time. Social media opportunities must be acted upon immediately and enterprises need to be in control of what is being published for compliance purposes. The market is evolving too quickly to wait for system integration projects to deliver.
Partnerships will create unified platforms
I see a clear trend of commercial partnerships to create unified platforms. We saw a flurry of acquisitions with Salesforce acquiring Buddy Media for its publishing and advertising capabilities and Radian6 for listening and engagement. Oracle purchased social marketing and engagement platform Vitrue, social intelligence firm Collective Intellect and social marketing applications provider Involver. Hootsuite recently announced a partnership with social analytics company Brandwatch.
We are likely to see similar partnerships between standalone offerings in future. I believe there is going to be a race to consolidate. These partnerships are a clear endorsement of Falcon Social’s strategy to provide everything enterprises need to manage social media in one solution. However, bringing together disparate social solutions into a single enterprise platform will be a huge challenge.
Falcon Social is well-positioned
Falcon Social has a clear advantage – the platform is already unified, its open architecture means new functionality can be added easily and it integrates effortlessly with other enterprise applications.
Vendors would need to be very well funded to develop such a complete platform from scratch and so the opportunity for new entrants is extremely limited. And there aren’t many players that have a truly unified platform, so exit values could be high as there will be serious competition for successful solutions that have good market acceptance.
The potential size of the market for unified social media solutions is much larger than originally thought as they can be effectively used by a very wide range of businesses in sales, marketing, HR, customer service and compliance functions. This creates a broader range of exit opportunities because social media solutions will be of interest to all SaaS vendors, as well as the traditional software companies.
The market opportunity for Falcon Social just got larger!