If you’re in the social media marketing field, you have undoubtedly seen hundreds of social media monitoring tools pop up over the past few years. With all of these companies’ big promises, it can be difficult to determine what these tools actually do and what value they can bring. So before you invest in a social monitoring tool, make sure you understand the potential benefits, and pitfalls, of these tools.
While the capabilities vary from tool to tool, social monitoring tools typically help you identify trends and sentiment about your brand and industry by scanning social platforms such as social networks, blogs, microblogs and forums. Typically these tools function by allowing you to enter key terms, much like you would enter a query into Google, but instead of searching the internet for websites, it searches within websites to find who is talking about you and what they’re saying. Often these tools also have an automated sentiment monitoring capability that uses the words surrounding your key term to determine whether the statements tend to be positive or negative.
As you can imagine, having insight into where and what people are saying about your brand can help you in a variety of ways. Namely, it can help you manage your online reputation, identify valuable media channels, and spot trends in your industry. However, these tools also frequently have drawbacks that you may not experience until you’re already saddled with a monthly charge. Here are some questions to ask before you make a commitment to any tool.
- How does this tool scan for content? Many social monitoring tools operate by pulling in RSS feeds from social sites, which means that sites that do not have RSS feeds cannot be added to your results. Check out some of the forums and chatrooms you’re most interested in monitoring and double check they have RSS feeds before committing to a tool that pulls data this way.
- How can I filter the sites that are being searched? On some tools, daily deals and ecommerce sites will be scanned and pulled in as results. If you are engaged in ecommerce, this can cause a problem because the tool cannot differentiate between brand mentions in sales posts and actual conversations about your brand. Therefore, you may be overwhelmed with “brand mentions” that are not useful and obscure meaningful results. Make sure that you choose a tool that allows you to filter which sites are being searched, so you can exclude sites that don’t produce valuable information.
- Can I customize the sentiment analysis? For some brands, the sentiment analysis can be inaccurate or incomplete. Particularly if words associated with your brand are unconventional, the computer may have a hard time identifying the tone of posts about your brand. Pick a tool that allows you to choose which words indicate positive and negative chatter to avoid this issue.
Despite the potential drawbacks, social monitoring can be an extremely powerful tool that can help you address reputation problems online and craft strategy moving forward. The key to using social monitoring tools effectively is to ask questions and find the tool with the best fit for your company.
Posted by Nicole Hall, Account Manager with Mobilize Worldwide. Mobilize Worldwide develops mobile apps, mobile ad campaigns, mobile websites and just about anything else related to mobile marketing for brands interested in growing their sales and revenue using this new and emerging medium.