Percolate, Spredfast, and Sprinklr Are the Top Social Relationship Platforms, Forrester Finds

The social relationship management market is growing quickly, but few providers offer the full breadth of capabilities that modern social marketers require, the Forrester Wave report on social relationship platforms (SRPs) revealed. Forrester's evaluation, which took into account each vendor's current offering, strategy, and market presence, identified the 11 best providers—Percolate, Spredfast, and Sprinklr were named the leaders; Shoutlet, Expion, Hootsuite, and Falcon Social were named strong performers; and solutions from Sprout Social, Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce "trailed," according to the report.

Though social marketing remains popular, it is becoming increasingly challenging, and marketers are now looking for solutions that are more far-reaching and powerful than popular standbys such as Hootsuite. In 2014, only 2 percent of organic Facebook posts reached consumers, and this year, that number has slipped to 0.22 percent. On other social networks including Twitter and Pinterest, the rate is below 0.05 percent. And while nearly every SRP can enable marketers to schedule social media posts and save time, few offer tools to measure content performance, and even fewer have tools for content recommendation and trend spotting.

"SRP clients say measuring performance is their biggest social relationship marketing challenge—and they tell us their vendors do little to provide solutions. Marketers also receive little support in creating effective content and choosing the right time to schedule their posts," wrote Forrester analyst Nate Elliot in the report.

When it comes to performance management, only one vendor evaluated by Forrester, Shoutlet, has an integration with a secondary measurement and attribution tool. As for content recommendation, Percolate emerged as the clear leader in the area. Unlike its competitors, Percolate offers not just content "inspiration" but also suggests actual content that marketers should share with followers. "[Percolate's] Brew tool tracks custom-defined lists of media outlets and influencers, looks for topics related to a brand's key themes, and then prioritizes [them]," Elliot says.

In addition to content recommendation features and better measurement integrations, marketers are also looking for solutions that offer smart auto-scheduling. SocialFlow, for example, can detect when brand followers are online and share content to ensure maximum exposure and engagement. According to the report, Pepsi and Volkwagon have used this feature and increased their reach and engagement by 91 and 25 percent, respectively. However, "just four of the 11 vendors [evaluated] offer meaningful scheduling recommendations, and just two of the 11 offer an auto-scheduling feature," Elliot says.

The research also determined that overall, point solutions tend to leave marketers feeling more accomplished than solutions that promise a full suite of features. The report states that while point solution users had an average satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5, users of social suites reported a rating of 4.0 out of 5. Furthermore, 92 percent of point solution users claimed the solutions met their expectations, while only 64 percent of suite users had the same experience.  

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