Facebook always has, and always will, change, update, innovate, grow, and tweak their social network. Never intended to be a finished product, it’s an ongoing entity that will never rest on its laurels or consider itself “good enough.” Any social marketer who thinks they have Facebook completely mastered need wait only a few months before there’s yet another addition or fundamental change to process and integrate.
From Open Graphs that pull Facebook user activity on other apps and sites into the Facebook environment, to the visually engaging Timeline, to encouraging marketing via content as opposed to ads, to facilitating marketing efforts with Facebook Premium and Reach Generation, Facebook recreates itself and adds to its offerings methodically and consistently. It’s a philosophy and culture that has made them the primary social media outlet, and it’s why I continue to often refer to Facebook as the “operating system of the Internet.”
Now Facebook has rolled out another series of user options, most notably in the areas of post scheduling and account administration. With Facebook adding these types of functionalities, what does that mean for third-party social management platforms such as Vitrue and others? Frankly, it serves to illustrate just what these platforms offer brand marketers that allow them to go even further and deeper if that’s what those brands and their social campaigns warrant.
Post scheduling allows for internal efficiencies and a more consistent experience for Page fans. Improvements to admin lets social property managers have more control over who on their team can access and make changes to social properties, and how. Well-organized admin enables marketers to move forward with more confidence in their workflow, armed with response plans, assignability and accountability. It comes as absolutely no surprise that Facebook saw these functions as a fundamental necessity for social marketers. They are the basics.
With access to these marketing building blocks on Facebook native, each brand marketer must then decide for themselves whether these basics are sufficient, or if it would be more foresighted and prudent to employ the additional functionalities and options third-party social management platforms bring.
For enterprise brands, especially those with multiple Pages and social administrative teams to manage, moving into admin capabilities that include 6 unique permission levels, a way to manage multiple teams with a full user audit trail on all changes, a way to extend permission levels across multiple properties, analyst access to over 120 additional proprietary metrics beyond Facebook Insights, multi-property analytics aggregation, designer roles with agency partners in mind, and clear admin organization probably makes a lot of sense.
As your social efforts grow and your internal management organization for it grows, the system you’re using to manage your social properties must already be in place and able to accommodate that growth with the admin capabilities required. Nobody wants to be in the position of having to play “catch-up,” and the last thing a brand marketer wants to hear about are the admin capabilities they need, but don’t have.
Both enterprise and small to mid-market clients may want to have scheduling capabilities already in place that go beyond Facebook native, including tighter scheduling increments, the ability to schedule without being a Facebook administrator of the Page, calendar visualization for frequency tracking, per post tracking of data variables, and multi-Page object broadcast publishing.
That alone is reason enough for brands to ally themselves with third-party social management platforms that can play at or above their needs levels, but beyond that comes the not-so-small issue of Twitter, Google+ and other social networks. No matter what capabilities Facebook puts into place, the vast majority of brands are going to be participating on additional social platforms. Attempting to deal with each of them on a disconnected, ad-hoc basis is not the path to efficiency. Being able to see, manage, schedule and administer multiple social properties from one convenient dashboard, with integrated deep dive analytics to boot, is a proposition that’s hard to argue against.
Of course, what I’ve done here is bury the lead. There is one key reason brand social marketers should give thorough consideration to third-party social management platforms. Any good one worth its salt is going to be more than a vendor. They’re going to be your social technology partner, standing by your side, offering you customer service, client strategic services and thought leadership/best practices every step of the way amidst the steady onslaught of changes, additions and updates to not just Facebook, but all of the social networks. No single network could ever pull together such a comprehensive combination of product functionality, administrative options, and partnership support across multiple social networks in one holistic approach like a management platform can.
Brand marketers who are serious about social marketing and who are realistic about the ever-changing social media landscape will make sure they’re positioned with the partners and products that operate ahead of the curve and can facilitate that brand’s social growth.