Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sorting out #SocialMedia monitoring labyrinth

Time ago I wrote about measuring social media focusing on how to first come up to it. The issue evolves as social platforms become more complex; so approaches to monitoring are getting sophisticated as well.

Now more than ever how to choose a monitoring tool is a key issue that can determine your future analysis’ outcome.

Accessing online conversations can be easy and free using Google tools like Search, Alerts and Real Time Search. You get a general picture of what’s going on with your brand; a step further can be to use Social Mention to get results categorized by relevance and channel, with the first insights on sentiment measuring.

I think the main thing with web analytics is not the data itself, but the use you make of it. Statistics can provide you with great and unsuspected insights, if you formulate the right questions. When you begin to dig deeper, with more elaborated questions to answer, you realize what you really have: a huge pile of raw data and few ways to organize it for further analysis.

Social Media monitoring paid tools

Working in the same way than search engines, these tools crawl online conversations, cleaning, de-duplicating and organizing them so they can be analyzed deeply. I like the five criteria FreshMinds used to evaluate tools on a recent study:

  1. Coverage - How many types of media and/or countries the tool can read?
  2. Location of conversations - Where in the world the conversation is taking place? Can you differentiate if a tweet in Spanish was originated in Mexico, in USA or even in Spain itself?
  3. Volume of conversations - The amount of comments is because there’s a real buzz or due re-tweets, spam, adverts? De-duplication is still a serious concern for social media monitoring.
  4. Data latency - How long the tool takes to crawl and process conversations? How often? Will you rely on it to spot potential PR problems on time?
  5. Sentiment - Probably the most overrated metric because gives you the perception of taking brand’s heart beat in real time. How tool’s algorithms handle the proximity of keywords and sentiment indicators?

The best analytics tool is right between your ears

I don't see yet a clear, commonly accepted standard amongst all tools, each one may have a different solution to same issues. Here is when the most advanced analytics tool comes up, the one you have between your ears; despite all that sophistication many suppliers show off, a person with the right expertise is always needed to make intelligent sense of data.

Call it mix of art and science, the combination of web analytics + social media monitoring tools + human expertise reveals as the only successful formula to provide your brand or company with a valuable insight that leads to actionable plans.

What else you want from a monitoring tool?
Ease to set up?
User friendliness?
Accuracy on a particular metric?
Photo by Ricardo Carreón

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