Social media managers, community managers, and digital marketers, are all faced with the same dilemma - bridging the gap between business metrics and social media efforts.

While marketers understand the value of social media as an upper-funnel player in a consumer's journey, there has still been lack of buy-in from internal management stakeholders. So how do the employees behind the social media accounts combat the doubt? Numbers, charts and insights as proof.

Thanks to the proliferation of social media analytics and management tools, marketers have the opportunity to use data to prove the ROI on the hours they spend curating and creating content, identifying influencers, and spreading brand messages online.

As an I.T. decision-maker, it's your job to help marketing determine which solution will work best within your organization. Here's a list of the top 10 social analytics companies you should consider when thinking about implementing a measurement platform.

1. Brandwatch

10 social analytics companies you need to know

Brandwatch is a player that has come up under the radar and recently made a splash by raising $22M, led by Highland Capital Partners Europe, for further engineering and expansion into international markets. The platform is similar to Radian6 (see below) in that it focuses on social listening for online conversations about particular brands, companies or products.

With this tool, marketers receive insights in the form of big data to help inform future initiatives and efforts. Social sentiment analysis shows the tone of the data collected from connected profiles, while influence statistics determine who is important for a brand to engage with. The platform projects sophisticated topic clouds, determining key trends and themes.

The strongest feature of the platform is the human aspect – clients can choose to pay for the addition of live network analysts on hand to perform manual sentiment validation, categorization and data cleaning.

2. Buffer

10 social analytics companies you need to know

Buffer is a simpler tool that proves useful for less-experienced social media managers, providing analytics in real-time. With a recent partnership, Buffer paired up with Followerwonk to provide users the opportunity to optimize posting times by finding out what times followers are online, when followers of influential people or friends are online, and easily exporting optimal tweeting times straight into Buffer for use across the web.

There is also an option to examine the best performing messages by selecting the "Top Post" icon to compare different forms of content to see which works best for each network. Buffer's application also allows for seamless Google Analytics integration for campaign tracking and appending UTM parameters from directly within Buffer. This is a perfect feature for marketers looking to gain insights into specific acquisition and retention campaigns.

3. Google Analytics

10 social analytics companies you need to know

For a free tool, Google Analytics provides a lot of important value. The platform has a narrower scope of measurement, focusing on determining conversion value for visitors from social sites. With its most recent updates, Google created several social monitoring reports that can help determine whether social media efforts are making an impact on customer acquisition.

An Overview Report shows how much conversion value is generated from social channels, using a Social Value visualization that compares monetary goals against what resulted from social referrals. The Conversions report measures the value of each individual social channel to see conversion rates by social network.

The Social Plugin report shows which articles on a site are receiving the most engagement and which social buttons are being used to share them. Engagement and conversion metrics for each social network allow community managers to see how people are interacting with published content and whether it is leading to the desired outcome.

This tool is perfect for marketers who are hard-pressed to deliver ROI metrics to C-Suite stakeholders.

4. HootSuite

10 social analytics companies you need to know

HootSuite offers extensive profile connection options and ease of publishing and monitoring through a classic multi-column layout. The tools also sends weekly analytics reports by email depicting key metrics such as most popular posts published and number of clicks per day.

At the start of 2014, HootSuite became more robust with the acquisition of uberVU, which turns data from forums, social networks and blogs into actionable business insights. While the initial arrangement left uberVU and HootSuite separate, earlier this month, HootSuite announced the launch of Boards, using uberVU's technology to combine real-time social analysis with an engagement solution. Boards allows users to identify a particular metric, pin it to a dashboard and easily generate granular reports.

This product update is great for tracking new campaigns, building conversation maps, monitoring sentiment, and monitoring progress toward specific goals to ensure objectives are met.

5. Radian6

10 social analytics companies you need to know

Part of Salesforce.com's Marketing Cloud, Radian6 is one of the best social listening tools available. The platform is extremely scalable and easily integrated into other enterprise applications like Google Analytics and Omniture.

Radian6 provides insights into sales, customer service and PR through conversation analysis about a specific company, product or competition. Depending on the noise in a particular industry (i.e., spammers), finding meaningful conversations to monitor and act on can be very difficult.

Recently, Salesforce.com blended Radian6 with Buddy Media to create Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio as part of its ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. This solution draws strengths from Radian6's social customer monitoring and engagement management, as well as management across multiple channels with Buddy Media's social campaign management capabilities.