It's been more than five years since I wrote this piece on MarketingProfs referring to Charlene Li's original post that introduced us to new ways to track social media metrics.
Here we are, almost halfway through 2012, and after a review of some of the leading social media "management," "monitoring," and "listening" tools, it's too bad that we don't have a single winner.
Instead, we have a mashup of tools, some which work better than others.
Now, I bet you didn't come here to read that. What I'd like to do over the next few minutes is to give you a sense of the social media landscape that greets you today. Consider this post a primer on navigating the mess that is social media management.
Novices are probably confused by the tons of social media management tools out there, but you may have heard of the ones above. If you haven't checked it out yet, I'd highly recommend Jeremiah's research on this topic.
Where Do I Begin?
Despite marketers coming a long way in the social space, it sucks that there ain't a single tool that's a panacea for all your social media tracking woes. Companies are either dismally unprepared to understand the strengths of social or businesses must wield tools that are clumsy and possess a huge learning curve.
Frankly, you're gonna find out two kinds of categories that cater to different teams' needs out there (Marketing versus PR). The two broad categories of measurement most companies crave are...
- Social media management tools (Tweetdeck, HootSuite, etc.)
- Social media listening tools (Radian6, Sysomos, Lithium, etc.)
You're going to find that all the tools you evaluate are going to perform better either as a stand-alone management tool or a listening tool. Very few try to do both---and in those cases, they fail at one or the other. Most companies and small businesses will start this journey looking for a social media management tool because the first step in evolving your company's social media brain is "awareness," in which you identify and track your existing social media presence on social platforms. For example, see LinkedIn's Social Media Presence below. (These slides are from a presentation I gave months ago but the breakdown still remains roughly similar.)
Step 1 is gonna be to monitor your activity on these key platforms, identify audience growth (number of followers) across platforms, and figure out engagement (how to improve RTs or comments via proper copy and scheduling).
Step 2 is to identify the criteria for selecting this social media tool for your company. The social media tool will have to take into account a bunch of internal requirements that you've got to map.
Once you define your version of the above criteria, the goal is to come up with a list of tools that fit the parameters you define. As you go through the list, you realize that the primary challenge is finding a tool complex enough to deal with massive data sets (for example, to plan your marketing campaigns on Twitter or run reports around PR campaigns) while at the same time easy enough to be used by everyone on the team to update your company's status updates on multiple social channels across time zones.
So, though Tweetdeck is ideal---it's free, the easiest tool to use, features basic scheduling of tweets, etc.---it unfortunately lacks even basic collaboration and report generation features. So, you eventually end up with what you're forced to pick: a social media management system, listening tool, or both.
So, how does your company do social media? And if you've had a different experience and found your ideal social media tool, leave a comment or tweet me @mariosundar.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Portrait Studio Baby)