Over the past 18 months I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of social media monitoring tools for a variety of clients and research purposes.
From day 1 I’ve been of the opinion that social media monitoring is not just for brand management or marketing – last year during social media tools week I argued this point. Unfortunately though this is where most vendors in this space remain focused. I will continue to believe that social media monitoring has enterprise wide application with the insights and social conversations being an opportunity to tap into the real thinking of customers, prospects, markets etc.
I have two general concerns though with respect to social media monitoring:
- How to make this scalable and sustainable
- How to ensure what you’re hearing represents a statistically relevant and balanced view.
Making this scalable and sustainable
As you start using social media monitoring strategically (i.e. watching more than just your brand) the volume of data you need to manage increases dramatically. For many of the monitoring products on the market, this means you simply create yet another silo of data that is disconnected from the core business goal of being able to take action.
So even though you take a sales funnel like approach (like the diagram from Ignite) to monitoring, the volume and effort will make this an insurmountable task – made even worse when you consider how easy it is now to abuse the open nature of many of these social channels (i.e. Twitter spam).
The other risk here is one of coordination. As the volume increases and more and more employees are participating it becomes a major challenge to ensure consistency in terms of message, engagement, and results.
The only logical way I can see this problem being solved is to create a firewall or gatekeepers who undertake the capture and analysis and then feed the filtered information into the organisation for deeper analysis.
The gatekeepers mightn’t (read: shouldn’t) be from marketing or PR – the important attribute or skill to have is business acumen.
This gatekeeper role can then coordinate any response or engagement that might emerge. What I see coming out of this type of approach is both scalability and sustainability.
Relevance and Balance
Whilst some in the social media space might want to stone me for such heresy I am of the opinion that the conversations you observe in the social sphere may not represent a relevant or balanced view of the situation.
Let me give you an example. For some months now I’ve been monitoring the debate around an Australian issue – the Governments plan to mandate an internet filter. The subject has received some mainstream press coverage but not as much as I would have thought. Now, when I jump into the social sphere and start tracking this issue I see a significantly higher level of conversation – and by significantly I mean a factor of hundreds. But here’s my concern. As I look into the users generating this noise my gut feel is that they are very much in one camp and very negative on the issue – so I’m not seeing balance. So if I look at just this information I could conclude that the general public are massively against this Government move. But is it representative?
My feeling here is that if you are going to be making business decisions based on what you uncover in the social sphere, I’d want to be testing this against another source of information.
I’ve no doubt social media monitoring technology will continue to evolve – hopefully we’ll even be able to deal with the geographical limitations around monitoring specific regions.