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.


  1. Garious says:

    I think that Social CRM is easier said than done and developers out there are in a hurry to develop this ultimate tool that will capture a brand’s name mention online so businesses can address their customer’s concern effectively. Many businesses fail to leverage social media to manage their relationships with customers simply because they have failed to listen in the first place — and customers felt ignored. Thanks for the info, anyway. I guess, we all want to monitor human relationship these days ( and a laugh of irony ) — [email protected]

  2. Some interesting thoughts on monitoring and the idea of effective workflow from within an organisation via the premium tool is certainly something that will deliver efficiency and accuracy in how monitoring and the resulting actions are conducted.

    I would add that conversations around monitoring of social media should go beyond a customer service level of seeking out and nipping in the bud negative comments about brands before they spread across the web and become the latest social media fail case study. Monitoring can be effectively deployed across the business spectrum; as a tool for HR, for segmenting audience and distilling email lists more effectively and through to campaign planning also (and more besides).

    I’m looking forward to this event and hoping that the conversations are insightful and cover a vast range of topics and uses of social media monitoring.

    James Ainsworth, Alterian SM2

  3. Sam Abraham says:

    Nice post. But I think most companies don’t use Social Media Monitoring for engagement with customers. Most use it for reputation management or so purposes but active and regular engagement with new and old customer base is pretty much absent in most cases we have seen.

    Thanks, Sam Abraham
    Actionly| Social Media Monitoring -

  4. 40deuce says:

    I think you hit on a lot of key points that people in the space are thinking about Gemma.
    Social CRM is a big topic these days and each vendor (including my employeer Sysomos) are looking into ways that will actually be useful for the users of the software.

    I also think James makes a great point that a lot of companies use social media monitoring software to try to find negative comments and nip them in the bud, but there are so many more uses for the software. I think that as companies become more open towards social media and start opening it up in areas of the company beyond marketing/communications and customer support, people will start to see just how valuable the software can be.

    Hope the conference in London goes well.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  5. adminsmit says:

    Many businesses fail to leverage social media to manage their relationships with customers simply because they have failed to listen in the first place — and customers felt ignored.

    Well said, Garious. All the tools in the world cannot fix the basics of business – listen, then do for your customers.

  6. Gemma Went says:

    Thanks Sheldon, but I should point out that the guest post is by Luke Brynley Jones and not me (can’t possibly take the credit). He covered some good points didn’t he.

  7. Gemma Went says:

    Good point Sam, and I agree. It’s a shame, businesses are missing a trick by not making the most of these tools.

  8. Thanks for all the comments. You’re spot on: lots of companies aren’t listening and engaging yet – which is pretty much the reason behind MSM10. Our aim is to highlight the examples of companies that are doing it right, to identify best practices and inspire others to follow.

    That said – I’m working with 3 global brands right now to help them choose a monitoring tool and set up the right processes towards genuine engagement and the early stages of social CRM. There’s an awful lot you can do if you have clear goals and C-level buy-in. I’ll be talking about this on Monday. Hope to see some of you there [Gemma’s coming].

  9. Good its really an interesting blog post.

  10. Sudha says:

    Very good article! I would like to add one more tool called Factualz. It provides excellent and intuitive interface to track all about our brand for a low cost. In addition it is helping us to keep a tab on our competitors too. Have a look at

  11. kaushal says:

    Indeed true that companies aren’t using this. More so because 1. They are not aware of such tools 2. They doubt accuracy of such tools 3. And then most do not know what to do with the output of such reports.

    Social CRM is the next opportunity – however its not going to be as simple as Google Search and precisely the reason why it woudln’t fly in the near future. Sorry to be a pessimist here, but its the simplicity of such tools and the intuitive value it offers which makes companies use such tools. If they consume more time ($$$) than the value this spent time would result in – then the game is lost.

  12. Jayvee says:

    You’ve got to be kidding me—it’s so trasnpanretly clear now!

  13. Gemma Went says:

    is it? Please tell us more …

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