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Power brings responsibility, and social media power means that companies have a responsibility to manage the accompanying risks and obligations. A new Forrester Wave report profiles the leading vendors for those tasks.

The Forrester Wave: Social Risk and Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014 report [fee charged] points to the growing number of ways that social media presents issues for organizations.

There's reputational and information security risks for every company, and companies in regulated fields, like financial services or healthcare, have regulatory and compliance matters that require not only monitoring and management but also archiving.

'A Moving Target'

"There are so many different risks," report author and Forrester analyst Nick Hayes told CMSWire. He also mentioned employee rights, privacy issues, fraud, and branding, and noted that the risks and responsibilities "are not just for marketers, but affect all technology management leaders" in HR, legal, and other departments.

The report notes that vendor solutions for social risk and compliance, or SRC, help organizations to improve their oversight, enforce policy, streamline processes, archive social data, monitor for rogue accounts, protect against brand threats, and enhance employee engagement.

But, Hayes told us, "it's a moving target" – regulations and expectations are evolving, and "vendors are on the move, all taking different approaches." As a result, best practices can be hard to pin down, SRC solutions are still fairly new, and none of the vendors offers a first-rate, soup-to-nuts solution. "There still isn't one solution that will do everything," he said.

Ten vendors were included in the assessment. Each has a focus on social media risk/compliance, offers monitoring/enforcement controls across social accounts, provides automatic review and approval processes for posts, can archive, and is a competitor in the market.

Leaders, Strong Performers

Top vendors – called leaders – are Hearsay Social, Nexgate, OpenQ and Actiance. Sprinklr and Socialware are in the second category of Strong Performers, CrowdControlHQ is a Contender, and SocialVolt, Gremln, and CSI are characterized as Risky Bets.

Forrester points to "a superior balance of risk controls and user experience" in Hearsay Social's offering. Actiance, a portmanteau word from "active compliance," is praised for its strong set of archiving and compliance functions, targeted at companies in heavily regulated industries.

Nexgate offers "innovative technologies," including unique risk monitoring tools, patent-pending social media security, and the ability to work with social networks or social publishing/marketing tools via their APIs.

OpenQ comes from the healthcare and life sciences industry, and its SafeGuard product offers a full suite of risk/compliance tools and can quarantine content from any app or device.

Among Strong Performers, Spinklr features "robust" social marketing and listening, and has the only visual workflow design tool among the vendors in this Wave. Socialware stands out for its large implementations, with more users on average than any of the other solutions, but it only supports three social networks – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


The UK-based CrowdControlHQ is the only vendor in this report outside the US that has a large number of customers in law enforcement and emergency services industry. Forrester points to strengths in its workflow and admin functions, but mentions reports of reliability issues.

Risky Bets

Down in the Risky Bets, Missouri-based Gremln offers free social management with paid-for premium features, and provides a large infrastructure, but has a relatively nascent enterprise/compliance capability. SocialVolt has a "lightweight SRC solution" with an intuitive user interface for small- and medium-sized businesses, but could be stronger in terms of reliability. And CSI has launched its first product, which Forrester said "needs a lot of work."

We asked Hayes what small companies might use to meet their SRC needs if they didn't have much in the way of budget. At the most basic level, he suggested, companies without the resources to secure and manage the better vendor tools might focus on policies and processes for their employees.

He also noted that "some of the vendors that didn't do well in The Wave" – like Gremln or Social Volt – "are geared toward smaller organizations," as are ones that weren't included in this assessment, like Erado, ProofPoint and Smarsh.

Photo: PavelL, Shutterstock