Sitting through a number of presentations from social media monitoring companies recently, I was struck by how these tools all look very similar. I am sure there is a significant difference in what goes on under the hood, specifically in the algorithms and search spiders that each have, but when it comes to the output from these tools they all seem to provide much the same.

This is kinda scary and only adds to the current confusion. How do these guys manage to differentiate to their prospects? Are they milking ignorance? Well yes and no. For sure there are some very clever products out there and a huge range in cost, but none will be worth a bean if they are set up badly and the person interpreting the information the system delivers is not up to the job.

Also presenting on the same day was Nathan Gilliatt, one of the world’s leading experts on social media analysis. He set out how important it is to invest in the person, or people, interpreting the information generated by your chosen monitoring tool. Absolutely!

 

So, how do you know that you have the right consultant? I suggest there are five must haves:

  1. An understanding of your business
  2. A broad knowledge of your market
  3. Insight into the target customer
  4. Experience in a wide variety of social media platforms
  5. Experience in using the monitoring tools themselves

So it seems the clue is in the name, social media monitoring tools are just that, applications or platforms that provide raw data. Interpreting that information is a skill that demands a broad range of insights and a clear understanding of a business’ expectations as well as the demands from its social media programme.

Only with this breadth of knowledge will an ongoing social media campaign continue to gain the interaction it needs. This will lead to an audience that will continue to positively influence perceptions of the company or product; easy to say, not so easy to do. There are a huge number of dots to join here and we must remember that monitoring is just part of the picture. It is reassuring to find that the human element is as essential as it always has been.

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