7. Does the vendor practice what they preach? In a word, no. We sent out sample Tweets to many vendors to see if any of them were tracking their own company mentions. To our surprise, about 10% responded, showing most of them aren't paying attention to their own brands. Even fewer actually followed us, or sent us a Tweet in response. (We've included a comparison of how many Twitter followers in the summary chart below for your amusement.) How do these vendors expect anyone to use their products if they don't track their own brands? Shameful!
8. How can I contact the vendor? Less than half of the vendors put their phone numbers on their Web home page, or make it hard to find their contact information. Most of them put their Twitter account information on their home page, but a few don't. One vendor had a broken link that didn't take them to their Twitter account but someplace else entirely. Almost all of them use Web contact forms that you must fill out, which is less than satisfying because you have no recourse if you don't get any follow up. One vendor takes you to a form on their Facebook page, which is interesting but not very helpful. After repeated attempts to track down Google's Wildfire representative, she told us that she was "out of the country and couldn't respond to our email." Ironic, for the company that basically started the Web-based email category.
As you can see, this is a very chaotic business and there are lots of players with subtle and not-so-subtle differences in feature sets. Move carefully into this space, but you will need one or more of these tools eventually if you are going to be effective in using social media.
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