Brands are using multiple sources and a cross section of mostly free tools to gather social data. Almost two-thirds of brand marketers say that monitoring trends and headlines is essential for best practice real-time community management in social media. Yet over half (51%) say getting real-time data and insights is the biggest challenge.

survey of well-known brands across industry sectors reveals that whilst most brands want real-time monitoring, data and insights, only 27% consider best practice is to use monitoring tools. When tools are used, free tools top the bill. Google Analytics is most popular (62%), followed by the analysis functions on a social profile or page (53%).

“Of course brands are using paid for tools too”, says Katy Howell, CEO at social digital consultancy, immediate future. She says: “In fact 43% use open web tools and the same number use buzz monitoring. In truth, brands are using a mix of tools – free and paid. And this makes data collation, comparison and analysis so much more complex. It is no surprise that marketers find distilling real-time insights a challenge.”

The survey is detailed in a new report, called ‘In The Social Moment’, from immediate future that benchmarks how brands are managing real-time social engagement. It uncovers the benefits, challenges, tools and operational preferences – to give a snapshot of how companies are facing the new, more agile, communications.

Brands not only use a number of technologies to monitor the social conversation. They also look at a wide range of sources. Twitter trends and hashtags are most popular (66%), followed by News sites (56%). In fact, most brands look at 5-6 different sources.

But the challenge in gathering insights is not just about the tools. When it comes to skills in those managing social media, analysis capabilities are low on the list. Brands believe the most important skill for real-time engagement is creativity (75%), whilst just 20% look for skills in web analytics and social data insights.

In summarising the report, Katy says: “Brands have moved incredibly fast to bring social skills in-house to meet the demands of real-time engagement. It is no surprise that there is still a skills and tools gap to bridge to achieve best practice”.


The report produced by social digital consultancy, immediate future can be downloaded for free at

For more information please contact:

Sarah Sharkey
020 8547 1830


With 10 years’ social media experience in helping brands create robust and actionable social media strategies, immediate future is one of the most respected independent social media consultancies in the UK. immediate future are experts in real-time social engagement, offering services including:

• Training for your team
• Social sprint services that deliver community management with ‘on the fly creativity’. Expertise built on managing the social profiles for Sony Music’s Syco (across 14 artists), Hotpoint, Thomson Reuters and more
• Proving the value of real-time social. Everything from up-front planning and a roadmap, through to measurement grids and evaluation frameworks. We bring insights to life with actionable recommendations.
immediate future are official social media trainers for the Institute of Direct Marketing and Chartered Institute of Marketing. They have authored book chapters, contributed to the IAB social media council and are founding members of the CiPR social media panel.

Client experience
Sony Europe, Staples Europe, EC Harris, Ideal Shopping Direct, BBC, Diageo Global, Sony Music, Ubisoft, Selfridges, Indesit, Post Office, Hotpoint, JD Williams, General Medical Council (GMC),HoMedics, Festo, IBM Tealeaf, HSBC, BT, Royal Collection Trust, ASOS, Mirror Group, NSPCC, EMI, AVG, Thomson Reuters, Baileys