When I talk with people in the social media analysis business, it's common to speculate about a coming reduction in the number of competitors. Having just finished a long-overdue review of my vendor database, I'm here to report that it's already happening. A number of companies have already gone away; they're just not the ones you've heard of.
At the beginning of the review, I had roughly 350 companies in the database. I've always been generous in my definitions, so these aren't all direct competitors, but they all did something in the area of monitoring and measuring social media, with their own technology.
Thinning the herd
As I went through the list, I found 19 companies that appear to have gone out of business entirely and another 76 that don't appear to be active in SMA this year. A few more have been merged into other services by their parent companies.
Some of the reduction is the result of my getting more strict with the definitions, but a lot of it is companies that have changed focus or deemphasized their listening businesses. Notice, for example, the companies that have repositioned themselves into the advertising space.
Acquisitions are always interesting; will the acquired product remain separate or be integrated with the acquiring company's platform? We've seen some of both in this market.
Show signs of life
A review of 350 companies is necessarily web-based, and I generally gave companies the benefit of the doubt. Still, some hints are pretty strong. If you're still in business, you might consider checking the vitality of your own company's presence:
- Have a web site.
First, you need a company web site. If www.yourcompany.com doesn't respond, that's a strong, negative signal. If your domain name has expired, that's an even stronger signal that you're out of business.
- Check your redirects.
If yourcompany.com doesn't respond and doesn't redirect to www.yourcompany.com, I might jump to the wrong conclusion. Ask your SEO if you don't know how to fix it, but both addresses should get visitors to the right site.
- Check your copyright notice.
It's not definitive, but when the copyright notice still says 2007, somebody's not minding the store.
- Post to your blog.
Yes, we all fall behind, but after a year with no posts, we start to wonder if anyone's home.
- Update your press page.
If a company posts releases on its site and then stops, we wonder what else has stopped. If you never had a press page, at least it's not saying that nothing has happened lately.
- Link to your Twitter account.
Almost everybody in SMA now has a link to the company Twitter account on their home pages. Having no Twitter account is not a positive indicator in a social media business.
- Check your LinkedIn profile.
One of the more reliable indicators that a company is truly dead is a founder's profile that puts his involvement with the company in the past. If key people have moved on, it's even more important that the rest of company's presence shows signs of life.
I've been sitting on this industry database for a long time, but it's almost time to share it. If I can figure out how to build it, I think you're going to like the industry directory I'm working on. And if your company is active in the space, look for an email soon.
Photo by Gregg Sloan.