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Social media monitoring is all the rage. You’d think that it’s a just cool, trendy thing to have as a marketer, right? Wrong. Social media monitoring (SMM) is a serious tool that shouldn’t be taken lightly, alas it might just become shelfware (you know, the stuff that sits on a shelf and gets all dusty after people bore of it.).

As Steve Farnsworth points out in his recent blog post, most social media monitoring software becomes shelfware due to the “lack of vision, and understanding of smart practices around implementation and adaptation.”

How then is a marketer to prepare themselves? It’s important to ask the right questions, know what to look for and to make the right decisions. I went in search of some of that information and recently requested a demo with the folks over Radian6 to find out (I had already checked out SM2 and a few others in the past year or so).

Here’s the thing, marketers tend to get wrapped up in dog and pony shows, bells and whistles, etc. No doubt, tools like Radian6 are very snazzy. I was mesmerized by the account manager zipping around showing me everything their platform could do. But that is not enough when spending a part of an already tight budget. Marketers need to dig deeper into WHY and what they and their organizations need when considering an investment in social media monitoring software.

Here are some questions to keep in the back of your mind when reviewing your social media monitoring options. And I am sure there are many, many more – feel free to add them in the comments if you’ve already been down this path!

The MOST important question:

Where Do You Get Your Data?

This is important! If you were thinking that SMM software scours Google for you, you’d be wrong. Most SMM companies have their own proprietary Internet crawlers or they have partnerships third-party monitoring companies like Moreover, wool.labs, Blinkx, Boardreader, etc. The result? No two SMM companies will provide you with the same data. You need to know what data is most important to you as an organization and select accordingly.

Some others:



  • How far back do you pull data? (Note: Look for an SMM company that can retrieve at least two years.)


  • How can I filter the data you retrieve? What are the options?


  • How can I segment the data?


  • How can I remove garbage like spam, flogs/splogs, irrelevant data, etc.?


  • How does your auto-sentiment work? Can I edit it? Do your algorithms learn my sentiment edits over time?


  • What kind of support services do you offer? What’s the cost? (Note: Not all sentiment is 100%. Closer to 40-70%. Most SMM companies offer professional services to help you get closer.)


  • What types of data and how much can be exported for additional reporting and analysis?


  • How many users do you support and what is the additional cost?


  • What are the options for assigning follow-up to co-workers or other departments?


  • How do you charge? Is it by brand, company, user, profile? (Note: Some charge by profile, if you are an organization with multiple brands, it’s important to ask about cost.)


  • Where do you specialize? Which social media channel is your strongest? Do you cover traditional and social media?


  • How do you help find influencers (Note: Not those with large follower/fan counts – that’s not enough. I am referring to people who truly motivate other people to action.)?


  • How deep are your analytics? Do they provide actionable insights?  


  • Do you offer education/training resources?


Obviously, it takes a lot of internal work to get ready for this type of investment and no SMM company can help you with that. Is there consensus among your CMO, CTO, CEO and legal/HR teams? If so, ask them ALL what they need from a SMM software platform...you might just be surprised what you find out and what the SMM company can (or not!) provide from that perspective.

What else would you add to the list?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Beth Harte

Beth Harte is a marketer, blogger, speaker, communicator, thinker, connector (people & dots), adjunct marketing & PR professor and Director of Marketing at Advent Global Solutions.

Beth has over 15 years of experience in integrated marketing communications, strategic planning, branding, SEO/SEM and five years of experience with social media. Beth speaks on a range of topics including: integrated marketing and communications, public relations, brand monitoring and management, social media measurement & ROI.

Beth's blog, The Harte of Marketing is featured in AdAge's Power 150, a globally recognized ranking of top media and marketing blogs and the MarketingProfs' Daily Fix blog.

You can find Beth here too: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Beth also digs smart people, brilliance, history, the arts, culture, books (historical fiction & business), politics, travel, beer, and cowgirl boots.