As a social media agency, monitoring tools have become a valuable component in our toolkit. With a plethora of new tools hitting the market, staying on top of the latest technology and understanding their differentiating factors is a challenge – so here are a few of the questions we think that you need to ask.

1. What’s it for?

Social media monitoring tools can be used for a range of purposes –

  • Managing online reputation and risk (brand conversation)
  • Consumer insights (topical and trending conversations)
  • Research and development (market conversation)
  • Competitor analysis and identification
  • Influencer identification and social graphing

So, it’s important to choose a tool that is aligned to your priority or priorities.

2. How is it priced?

This is often dictated by the first question. If you’re looking for brand references, you might want to go for a model that is based on a number of keyword queries; if you’re exploring conversations, volume based models might be a more cost effective option.

3. What do I want to see?

The ability to analyse data and how this analysis is presented differs from tool to tool. For example: Visible Intelligence offers key word comparisons across social media platforms and in relation to other brands; Sysomos maps out the words associated to a brand in relation to strength and relationship.

  • What information do I need to see? (locations, sites and time scales)
  • How do I want to explore and filter the information? (sentiment, keywords, platform, influencers)
  • Am I being asked for anything specific from other parts of the business?

4. What about the free tools?

There’s a raft of free tools out there. From Google search filters to Twitscoop, a tool for capturing Twitter mentions; boardreader for reviewing online discussions in forums to socialmention, a service that, as the name suggests, helps you find mentions on social sites.

Whilst we rarely use free tools in isolation, they can help:

  • Provide a starting point for further research and analysis
  • Identify trends or conversation themes
  • Capture information by platform
  • Sense check insights

5. Who will be using it?

The resource, business context and surrounding processes are all important considerations in selecting the right tool. Deciding factors include:

  • Will the tool be primarily resourced by an agency or inhouse?
  • Will it be built into the work process, if so, which?
  • What’s the technical capacity within the team?
  • Where will the insights fit into the businesses’ processes and procedures?
  • Who will respond to online mentions?
  • What are the technical or training requirements, if any?

This is just the start of the process. Once the tool is in place revisiting these questions on a regular basis will ensure you continue to get the most from your investment.

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