Understanding the market for social media and web listening tools

Understanding the market for social media and web listening tools

A new Forrester report explores the application of social media listening tools and characterises the market.

The promise of the social web is the opportunity for organisations to listen to their audiences or publics and gain insights for business improvement.

A growing third party technology market has developed alongside social media platforms and internet publishers to address the opportunity to turn content and conversation into competitive intelligence, trends analysis and brand insight.

It’s a nascent market but one that has grown sufficiently large to attract the attention of enterprise analyst and research company Forrester. Its latest report The Forrester Wave: Social Listening Platforms, Q3 2018 examines the ten largest providers of social listening platforms.

According to Forrester, the potential of social listening lies in its ability to provide insights for use across diverse business units including customer service, market research, product development, and reputation management.

But organisations aren’t yet using social intelligence as a strategic tool. The technology is stuck firmly in public relations and marketing departments as a reputation and marketing insight tool.

Forrester’s research identifies a crowded market in which it names Sprinklr, NetBase, and Synthesio as Leaders; Crimson Hexagon, Digimind, Talkwalker, Sysomos, and Brandwatch as Strong Performers; Linkfluence and Zignal Labs as Contenders.

A typical product offer includes social listening, audience analysis, an API service, and a visualisation dashboard. Services vary between basic queries to complex search strings.

Many vendors claim to incorporate artificial intelligence as a means of supporting human analysis and decision making but in reality this is limited to anomaly detection and learning.

Forrester says that differentiation is constrained by a limited market of data services. Most tools are reliant on third-party aggregators such as webhose.io for web content, LexisNexis or Factiva for news, and TVEyes for broadcast television.

The exception is where tool vendors such as Brandwatch, Crimson Hexagon and Sprinklr have negotiated contracted direct relationships with social media platforms, as is the case with Twitter.

To be included in Forrester’s analysis a vendor needed to earn at least $15 million in revenue from social listening technology in 2017, and serve enterprise organisations with more than 1,000 employees or $1 billion in revenues.

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