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A shortcut to navigating the social software landscape

Nine months ago, I set off on what turned out to be a winding road into the world of social software. My goal was to create a simple first-time buyers’ guide for Software Advice, but the task proved to be more arduous than I initially anticipated.

Unlike more established software markets, the social technology industry is in somewhat of a metamorphosis stage. New products are entering the market all the time, while others are being acquired, re-branded or spun into something else entirely.

I created an interactive tool called The Social App Map that helps buyers quickly navigate the market. I had two goals:

  • Create an interactive tool buyers could use to quickly find the social media system that includes the features they were looking for.
  • Educate first-timers on the most-common capabilities and social software categories.

To use the tool, buyers can simply click on any logo in the “home screen” and a box will pop-up with more information about that application. Or, they can use the filter to check off features and find out which apps have those features.



To create the app map, I first came up with the most-common categories and features in the market. I spoke to more than ten experts in the field, including other software analysts and founders of innovative products in the market.

From these conversations, I devised five categories and the 18 features you see listed in the filter (rollover text in the filter provides a description of each feature). Next, I emailed an eligibility form to 122 of the best social media systems. I evaluated their submissions against a few criteria, including their market differentiator, unique features, breadth of capabilities, or position in the market as a whole. From there, I selected 70 systems to include in the map.

Visible Selected as Top Social App

Visible was among the applications chosen to be featured in the project. In addition to offering features in three categories, the system proved to be a frontrunner in social intelligence capabilities for enterprises and agencies.

Visible offers highly-customizable dashboards that can focus on teams, regions, roles or functions. The system also offers unlimited, on-demand search and analytics that can drill into new topics. Essentially, the tools help marketers easily find the insights that matter (at the moment they are most valuable).

The Results

The results of this research are encapsulated in the finished tool, which you can try for yourself here. While buyers should still conduct demos and get detailed price quotes from vendors, my hope is that this tool will provide companies a shortcut to complete their initial research into the market.


Ashley VerrillAshley Verrill is an analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last seven years writing business news and strategy features, including as a guest contributor to Wired, TechCrunch and GigaOM.

Tags : social media

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