What to Look for in a Social Media Monitoring Tool

Posted on November 12th 2012

What to Look for in a Social Media Monitoring Tool

Social media monitoring is now an essential activity for any large organization. Even companies that aren’t using social media for marketing, PR or customer services can take advantage of the real-time insights to gain feedback and better understand their customers.

But with more than 400 social media monitoring tools on the market, how do you choose the right one (or ones) for you? Without a clear strategy in place, it may feel like comparing Apples with Oranges.

 Social Media Monitoring Dashboard

Of course, each tool has its advantages and disadvantages and the tool you choose will depend on exactly what you want to use it for, so start there. What exactly do you want to use if for? If you can’t answer that question you will end up spending money and achieving nothing.

For instance, if you want to use it for customer service you will need a tool with a strong engagement offering and you might want immediate notifications when someone says something particularly positive or negative about a specific product or feature. If there is more than one person responding to customers, you will need a tool with a workflow capability to keep a record of who has said what and to whom.

Where do you want to monitor? If you want to monitor the conversation in a specific country, you will need to ensure that your tool has geographical and language targeting.

Who do you want to monitor? If you simply want to monitor your own social media accounts, fans and followers, it’s much easier than targeting sections of the wider web, such as restaurant users or parents of two year olds.

What do you want to monitor? As well as targeting specific locations, you may also want to target specific networks.  You’ll need to consider this when choosing a tool as some will have more of a focus on Twitter, whilst others may be more adept at monitoring forums and blogs.

Ease of use. This might seem obvious, but unless you want to pay for support you will probably want an organised and easy to navigate dashboard that allows you to easily follow your key metrics without being overwhelmed by lists of data and mentions.

How will you do your reporting? Different tools report in different ways. Some offer standard reports, others allow you to customise reports, and others offer serviced reporting. Larger enterprises in particular may benefit from using a serviced monitoring company. With so much data out there, having professional advice and professionally produced reports can make a real difference.

How important is sentiment analysis?  If you’re dealing with large amounts of data and sentiment analysis is important to your business you might want to be able to make manual changes to what is considered positive or negative. Automatic sentiment analysis tools will give you an indication, but are usually only 50-60% accurate. You may even require a company with in-house analysts who can do this for you.

Support availability. What kind of support does the monitoring company you are using offer? For urgent enquiries you may want access to a named account manager, rather than having to submit an online form and waiting patiently waiting for a response. Free solutions don’t usually offer any support, so it’s worth asking: “how important is this data to me?” before going with a freebie.

Operational considerations. Before committing to a tool, it’s worth checking that you can afford it. Tools can vary enormously in price: some services are available for free, whilst others will set you back thousands every month. Finding the right balance between power, functionality and cost is essential.

Budget isn’t the only issue here. Do you have the resources available to make the most of the tool? Consider the skills and availability of staff that will have a role to play. It’s probably worth allocating a separate budget for social media monitoring training.

On December 6th we will be discussing how to select the right monitoring tool(s) in a one hour webinar with Nathan Gilliatt, one of the world’s most experienced social media monitoring experts; Leon Chaddock, CEO of social media monitoring specialists Sentiment Metrics; and Our Social Times founder, Luke Brynley-Jones. It’s free to join and there will be a Q&A session for listeners to ask questions.

lbrynleyjones

Luke Brynley-Jones

CEO, Our Social Times

Having worked with clients as varied as British Airways, YMCA and Mecca Bingo over the past 12 years, Luke Brynley-Jones is one of the UK’s most experienced social media consultants. Founder of social media marketing blog and events company,Our Social Times, Luke is a regular conference host and speaker.

See Full Profile >

Comments

Lien Brusselmans
Posted on November 13th 2012 at 10:37AM

Great overview of things you should pay attention to when looking for a Social Media Monitoring tool.

Being part of the market, I know it's not easy to see the forest through the trees. At Engagor, for example, we consider ourselves as a Social Media Management tool, since monitoring is the basis for our analytics and engagement features.We try to offer the complete package: monitoring, analytics and engagement because once you start listening and making reports, you should also consider engaging with your audience. You'll immediately notice, in your analytics, how your reputation improves. 

Sales talk, I know, but if you want to give Engagor a try: app.engagor.com/signup (14-day free trials!).

Cheers!

Shanna
Posted on November 13th 2012 at 7:06PM

Great overview of what to look for.  I really like how you mentioned that larger enterprise clients might want to have a analyst review the sentiment score for accuracy but I also think the data should be reviewed a lot of the time for relevancy, even more importantly.  I think a lot of the tools out there can run very fast queries and bring back a data set, but when you actually start looking at the mentions a lot of them aren't relevant.  So having a social media analyst weed out the junk can be really valuable to providing the client with actionable data.
I think support is a huge component of social media monitoring.  If you don't have someone to help you set up the searches, suggest exclusions, add new searches etc then is can be a daunting task.  Managed social media monitoring is what most large enterprise companies need in my opinion. 

Shanna Gordon - www.brandprotect.com

40deuce
Posted on November 13th 2012 at 9:18PM

All of these are great questions to ask when choosing a service. I usually tell people to ask these exact same questions (althougb sometimes the wording is a bit different, but same idea).

Even though I work for one of these social media monitoring software companies and I'd love for everyone to choose our software, it's more important that people get what's right for them. It's important that people and companies can get the information they really need to support their efforts. All of these questions are important to answer before even begining the search for software. Once you know the criteria you NEED to have, then you can start finding the software that will work best to help you get those important things.

Thankfully our software has a lot of capabilities and can do a lot of what is being asked above, but that's as close as a pitch as you'll get from me here.

 

Cheers,

Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos & Marketwire

Pia Sen
Posted on November 22nd 2012 at 6:14AM

Hi,

A Very Nice Article indeed

Your content is very useful and resourceful in the context of the importance of social media monitoring tools at organizational levels. However social engagement is just one part of a successful social media strategy. While engaging with the target audience, business organizations also need to listen carefully to conversations surrounding their brand/s, products and services, understand the sentiment behind the conversations and continue to do this consistently over a long run. Anyway nothing proves to be useful more than the Social Media Monitoring Tools in this regard.

We have been writing<a href=http://shoutanalytics.blogspot.in/2012/11/why-do-organizations-need-soci... Blogs </a> on current matters of similar concerns

Expecting you to share your views with us and please do keep on posting

 Thanks and regards

Pia Sen

Allie Siarto
Posted on January 24th 2013 at 9:44PM

Good list. I would also add:

  • Access to historical data (if you're looking for comparisons over time or insights)
  • Data portability (can I export to Excel, etc. for further analysis?)
  • Customer service (if you do need help, how are you supported?)