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The Key Issues in Social Media Monitoring Today

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[tweetmeme]This is a guest post from Luke Brynley-Jones, Co-founder of Influence People. He is hosting the UK’s leading social media listening conference, Monitoring Social Media 2010, in London on 22nd November, which I’ll be attending. Luke is kindly offering a 10% discount to The Cube readers. Just enter the discount code “redcube” when you book online.

In the last few weeks I’ve done several press interviews to promote the series of seven social media monitoring events that Influence People has been running in Europe and the USA this autumn.  I’ve tried to highlight many of the key issues facing the monitoring and measurement industry today. Here’s a quick summary of the key points.

When choosing a solution, companies have a choice between a high-end solution, such as Brandwatch, Synthesio, Radian6, Glide Technologies, Spotter etc. or one of the hundreds of low-cost/free solutions, ranging from Google Alerts and SocialMention, to ViralHeat and Uvervu. The former cost upwards of £300/month, the latter don’t offer the full range of features and can’t provide the same data guarantees (in a recent test Brandwatch picked up 18 times as many mentions of a certain brand than Google Alerts).

All in all there are over 300 recognised solutions on the market now – yet the middle ground of decent, affordable solutions, is pretty thin. My take is that that’s the “Google space”, i.e. everyone expects Google to extend its analytics solution to cover social analytics and any vendors in that space risk going out of business. Then again, we’ve been expecting that for two years.

Sentiment detection is one of the most interesting aspects of social media monitoring. Using a combination of machine learning and natural language processing, brands can now track positive and negative mentions to around 70% accuracy. Be aware though, that these tools require teaching – you can’t get those results from a “black box” solution. Equally, with sentiment context is king; what’s positive for your product team may be inconsequential to your marketing department.

We’ll be doing a review of the top influencer analysis tools at MSM10 London (and I’ve written about influence in more detail on my blog), but one interesting point to note is that, if you’re looking to motivate influencers to promote your brand, some experts advise avoiding the top 10, who will probably be inundated with such requests, and going for the next 20-30 instead. They also advise targeting loose connections, rather than people you know well, since the overlap with your own network – which you will presumably have exhausted already – is likely to be less.

A common problem for Marketers and PR execs when trialling monitoring tools is that no two tools seem to produce the same results. There aren’t any standards for filtering data, and vendors use different data sources, but by employing an experienced Analyst, you can start to figure out why you’re not getting the same results. Monitoring tools are only as good as the query being entered and to do this properly, you need skills. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not Lego either!

Another key issue in monitoring today is the rise of social CRM. Leading brands are now seeking to capture social media mentions and filter them to specific staff members or departments, depending on their relevance. Connecting the social web to a CRM database would evidently be hugely powerful for any company, but although all of the high-level vendors I listed above are trying, none of them are quite there yet. This is definitely one topic to watch out for in 2011.

As I said at the start of the post, Luke is kindly offering a 10% discount to The Cube readers. Just enter the discount code “redcube” when you book online. If you go along, be sure to say hi. Gemma.


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