Social media monitoring tools crawl the social web (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news, forums, videos) to collect data and organize it in various categories (mentions, media type, authors, sentiment, engagement, keywords, hashtags) to show what people say, feel and believe about a brand, topic or person.
This sounds pretty straightforward but evaluating social media monitoring tools isn’t.
There are now hundreds of social media monitoring tools. There is a wide range in features, set-up, sophistication and customer support. There is also range in price from free to $20,000+ month.
Some of the more popular and best rated social media monitoring tools include Keyhole, Hootsuite, Digimind, Meltwater, Salesforce, Cision and Lithium. To name a few.
Which one is right for your business? Here are 7 key factors to evaluate social media monitoring tools.
- WHAT ARE YOUR TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH? Social media monitoring is a broad term. It includes listening, publishing, influence and analysis in addition to monitoring. What are look to do? Find the times when your audience is most likely to be online. Provide ideas for content. Compare mentions and audience sentiment vs competitors. Identify influencers. Or some combination of these. The answer to this question narrows your considerations set.
- HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR SEARCH? Social media monitoring can include more than just a brand name or topic. It can include product descriptions, key consumer needs and even your founder’s name. Some social media monitoring tools are set up to include all these term through Boolean Search. This s a type of search allowing users to combine keywords with operators (or modifiers) such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results. For example, a Boolean search could be “hotel” AND “New York”. This would give search results for anyone mentioning phrases containing the two keywords. Boolean Search will increase the quality of the content you capture and is an important consideration when evaluating social media monitoring tools.
- HOW MANY COMPETITORS DO YOU WANT TO MONITOR? The price or subscription fee of social monitoring tools is often based on a number of factors. How many competitors are your monitoring? How far back are you going in time? How many Boolean Searches are provided? Ask about these areas. This will help you in selecting the right service and weeding out the ones that have limitations.
- WHAT ARE THE METRICS THAT MATTERS? Mentions, Shared Posts, Share of Voice by media channel, Share of Voice vs key competitors, Authors, Fans Influence and Sentiment. These are some of the metrics that social media monitoring tools provide. To you to know them all. Or some of them. Which one are most important. This should be a key decision in choosing the right social media monitor tool for your business.
- WHO IS GOING TO ANALYZE THE DATA? Social media monitoring tools provide and organize the data. But they don’t provide they type of analysis necessary to create an action plan. People do. A resource who can work with the tool, understands it functionality and can the analytic work is required. In some cases, social media monitoring companies provide customer support. This is always a plus. This is also something to check if it is provided with the service or is an extra cost.
- WHAT ACTIONS ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE? Most important is what you are going to do with the data. Does the monitoring help create a better content strategy? PR strategy? Advertising strategy? Promotion Plan? Competitive intelligence? The breadth and depth of social monitoring required is helped greatly by knowing how the data is used. This enables you to create the most effective action plan and get the best value for the money you are likely to have to spend.
Are you thinking about social media monitoring tools for your business? Are these factors a help?