Social Media Dashboards, is Vanilla for You?

With the recent IPO of Facebook and a list of other social media changes in the past month, an interesting niche to take note of is in the social media dashboard space.

Enterprise and corporate groups are becoming desperate to consolidate capabilities into one uniform platform and process.

In the past six months we’ve seen a list of social media dashboard companies (sometimes referred to as marketing platforms) acquired as a cog to glue together with an existing technology and consumer base.

Recent Social Media Dashboard Acquisitions

Salesforce acquiring Buddy Media for $689 million

“The idea behind the deal is simple. By combining Buddy Media with the rest of’s products, including Salesforce Radian6, the leading social media listening platform, we will be able to deliver the first comprehensive Marketing Cloud that will allow customers to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs,”

~ Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow

Oracle Acquires Vitrue fro $300 million

“Together, Oracle and Vitrue plan to enable a unified social experience across customer interactions, resulting in meaningful customer engagements with consistent brand experiences across all channels and media; improved return on investment for social sales and marketing campaigns across paid, owned and social media; and enhanced customer service through real-time responsiveness and high touch engagement.”

~ Thomas Kurien, Executive Vice President at Oracle

Does Consolidation Equal Goodness?

I’m going to simply say it: probably not.

While groups like Oracle and Salesforce have some tremendously useful capabilities, they also bring a horde of issues related to scalability and development agility into the scenario.

If you are a current client of one of the groups that just acquired a platform, you are probably going to see a ‘vanilla’ version of it rolled out that is consistent with the larger corporate customer base.

The start-up mentality, fast product iteration, and demand driven innovation is most likely going to be replaced with terms like economy of scale, platform integration, and profit margin.

Features for You vs Features for Them

When you find a niche tool created by an agile and responsive development team that is concerned with a handful of clients you benefit from core changes to the platform that are aimed solely at your needs.

When an acquired platform is scaled to a larger acquisition, product development (and profit margin) is almost entirely directed at maximizing generic feature sets that apply to the largest community of corporate users. If you happen to be in the majority you end up with new features… but if you are in a minority category you end using a platform being designed for someone else.

The point?

In an industry that is changing every day, social technology requires you to think about innovative solutions.

If you order a vanilla platform, you are a vanilla type of company.

A variety of my colleagues who focus on brand marketing would define vanilla as the worse possible flavor to choose.  Even if you are the best vanilla, you still have to convince people you are better than the other million vanillas of the world.

If you track metrics according to competitive businesses using a vanilla platform… you probably  just put yourself in the largest industry bubble that compares competitors to competitors based on ‘industry standards.’

When thinking about social trends and applying consistency to create a social media dashboard, you need to keep focus on YOUR NUMBERS and YOUR MODEL of business.

My Recommendation

I’m not saying vanilla isn’t a good thing… it just doesn’t fit my needs all the time.

I don’t always believe in industry standards, especially when I see many industries following peer pressure and massive marketing campaigns looking through the world through rose colored glasses.

Don’t  focus on being better than average in a confused marketplace.

Focus on being a leader and finding the right niche tools for you… not a second tier adopter waiting for a big corporation to sell you another version of vanilla.

Check out these 40+ Social Dashboard Tools to get started

Additional Resources

1 thought on “Social Media Dashboards, is Vanilla for You?”

Comments are closed.