Why You Aren’t Getting What You Need Out Of Social Media Monitoring… Yet

Social Media Monitoring is all the buzz. There are some amazing tools out there with price tags that run the gamut. There are few that provide interesting results.While guest bloggers Wendy Goldman Scherer and Shelly Kramer hate to be the bearers of bad news, none is good enough on its own.

This post is written by Wendy Goldman Scherer of The Social Studies Group and Shelly Kramer of V3 Integrated Marketing.

Social Media Monitoring is all the buzz. There are some amazing tools out there with price tags that run the gamut. There are few that provide interesting results.

And while we hate to be the bearers of bad news, none is good enough on its own.

Just add thinking

Social monitoring tools (and even manual searching) provide you with results based on your query. Once you clean for spam and relevance, you have great fodder for insight, right?

Well, wait a second there bucko. Who decided on the query? What was it based on? Is it thorough? Too broad? Biased by the query creator?

Unless you’re really different than most, the answer is that the query might not cut the mustard. (We both hate mustard, by the way.)

What to consider?

Language and sources

  • Does your query language mesh with your consumers’ language? Or is it industry language?
  • Have you done broad searching and reading to test some broader concepts and language? Are there additional keywords and concepts that might be in the conversation?
  • Are there consistent irrelevant results that you can exclude by changing your queries?
  • Are there sources that your system of choice does not cover well? Can you add them?

The tools

  • Do you have the right tool for you? While we love so many of the tools out there, we contend that each is best at something. Is that something what you care about most? Text analytics for theme analysis? Categorization of like results? Filtering by learning your preferences? It’s also interesting (to geeks like us) to note that while there is duplication of results between various tools, each tool does bring in results that others don’t. Does that mean you should use more than one tool? Perhaps. It depends on what you’re trying to capture.
  • Are you getting too many results to find meaning in them? Perhaps smaller query sets, but more of them, would provide easier access to trends and knowledge.
  • Have you tried your searches with other tools? Experimented with broad concepts in free tools to help inform your ongoing strategy?

You might ask what the best tools are. We have opinions, but haven’t tried all of the several hundred choices out there. (But we’ve tried a lot!) Though we don’t believe we’ve yet read the perfect article that describes what we think are the best, here is a link to a search showing results that you’ll find useful. And this Forrester report from 3rd quarter might be a good nighttime read.

The hardest part for many to understand at the onset of a monitoring or listening program is that while technology is wonderful and has taken incredible strides that were beyond our imaginations when we started doing monitoring by hand over seven years ago, no tool can give you what you need without human intervention, tuning, and regular attention. We talk to people in the industry all the time and have never gotten disagreement on this. But yet, many expect to plug and play. Sadly, it’s not reality.

Is this providing actionable learning?

It all starts with your goals. What is it you want out of the monitoring equation? There’s oh so very much you can discover once you start digging. But what you find and what you find relevant to your ultimate goals might well be two very different things.

So, that’s where you start – with your goals. What are your monitoring goals?

  • Are you monitoring your brand to be able to provide great customer service?
  • Are you monitoring and gathering intelligence for new business prospecting purposes?
  • Are you looking to gain insight into consumers’ language and thoughts?
  • Are you monitoring for competitive analysis purposes?
  • Are you monitoring for every day brand awareness and mentions, so that you can potentially get out in front of any potential crises that might occur?
  • Are you monitoring a specific campaign to see what kind of results it’s delivering so that you can tweak and modify accordingly?
  • Are you monitoring because you care what people think, say or need?

Yes. That last one above, that’s the clincher. The key to success is about so much more than just monitoring the online space for brand mentions. And this is the part that jazzes both of us.

It’s about context

What people are saying in the context of everyday life matters so much – and is so rarely taken into consideration. The morph to social networks and the rapid adoption of social behavior tells us something important. People want to belong. They look for connections, like-mindedness, kinship and the comfortable feeling that comes with being with people they have something in common with.