Reality Digital - SaaS is ThrivingThere are many ways for an organization to save money in these troubled times (yes, we will mention the bad economy yet again). They can cut spending on marketing for one.  The problem is, this is the time when money spent on marketing is probably more critical than ever. You just have to spend the money in the right place.

According to Reality Digital CEO Cynthia Francis, social media is the right place to spend those marketing dollars and she says their SaaS solution will give you much more bang for your buck.

Reality Digital is a San Fransisco-based social media company. They offer a white label social media solution that is SaaS-based. CMSWire spoke with Francis about SaaS, Social Media and the pros and cons of SaaS versus Open Source.

On Social Media

Things may be looking pretty bad right now, but organizations still need to move and promote their brand. They may find themselves with a smaller budget, but the marketing still needs to be done.

Luckily for them, Reality Digital is a frugal company. They have ingrained within their team a model of innovation and growth within the parameters of the revenue they earn. Of course the US$ 6.3 million in Venture Capital they received last year, certainly helped as well.

Small budgets work fine for Reality Digital. Their rich capabilities, montetization features and custom development services haven't been adjusted to survive this bad period. Nothing has changed -- for the worse anyway.

One of the biggest challenges with using Social Media for marketing is the ability to truly measure its effectiveness. We asked Francis if things were changing in this area -- that is, is social media getting easier to measure?

She indicated that there are two factors that have changed. The first is that the analytics technology has improved greatly (and according to Forrester's Wave on Communities, we see that clearly with Telligent's rise to the top of the list).

The second thing is that there is happening a more realistic conversation around what should be measured. And what should be measured really depends on the purpose of the community: is it to generate ad revenue? to encourage participation?

On SaaS

SaaS does well in a downturn economy, especially when big organizations are looking to outsource to save money. It's also a good alternative when organizations have no or small IT groups, or their IT teams don't have the bandwidth to work on social media solutions.

SaaS allows organizations to quickly develop Proof of Concepts without spending a lot of money, and it enables them to innovate on the Front-end quickly while mitigating risk on the back-end.

In Reality Digital's case, Francis says their assistance with defining a strategy that identifies the feature set required is their differentiator. They continuously improve their processes and products through lessons learned. Now that's not necessarily related directly to their being SaaS, but it certainly does help that they can adjust their solution and feature set quickly for their customers. 

On SaaS vs Open Source

We asked Francis about the growing battle between open source and SaaS. What really is the better solution for organizations? She told us that she would never say that open source was a bad option. There are reasons why SaaS is the best choice and reasons why open source may be the best choice. It's really about understanding your needs and requirements.

If you don't need total control and don't want total responsibility, then SaaS is the best choice.  For Reality Digital, their SaaS solution provides organizations with a great product that allows them to innovate at a lower cost level than many other solutions, including open source ones.

Francis believes that the challenge with an open source solution is that the support levels can be much different (and less). This is not necessarily a risk an organization can take on when trying to build a brand identity. Often the critical nature of a business means they need to have really well defined support levels that don't always occur with open source solutions.

Get a Dose of Realty

You can learn more about Reality Digital at their user conference at the end of the month. The focus of the conference is on promoting a good discussion between customers, vendors and agencies and how they can build a better brand identity.