Download the Template Here
Choosing a Social Media Monitoring tool is a task increasingly more marketers are facing within large organizations or agencies. This post offers a solution to choose commercial buzz monitoring software or platforms.
Why making a sound decision is not as easy as it looks:
– Lots of free alternatives
– Wide range of offers and pricing models
– Relatively new industry
– Crowded vendors market
Free or Paid?
Identifying whether you need a paid or free solution is the first hurdle to overcome.
Small and medium businesses operating in a specific region should think about a free alternative. This would help in understanding the requirements deeper and evaluating the possible ROI of the tool.
If you are looking for free alternatives, refer to Brian Solis post on creating your brand dashboard.
A tool to evaluate alternatives
I adapted a very simple decision matrix that will help you come up with a good choice. Let’s look at it in details.
Areas of Concern (Objectives)
What do you need it for? Before spending several thousand bucks for something you’ll stop using after three months, think about your objectives. I won’t go through the goal setting process as I am sure you are aware of how to do that.
I identified some possible areas of concern within an average organisation:
– PR: the best software for outreach programs and online PR management
– Adoption: the most likely to be adopted within the organisation and foster a social media culture
– ROI: the most price effective that may deliver high ROI
– Customer Service: the most appropriate to perform customer service over social media
I broke down the areas of concern into the most popular features available around:
Twitter Sentiment: The ability of the software to automatically analyze twitter mentions about the brand and assign Positive, Negative or Neutral sentiment to them.
Multiuser Access: A large organisation may need access in different markets and one account may not be enough. Different tools have different options.
Language Integration: As per multiuser access, the ability of the software to interpret mentions in different languages may be relevant. This criterion looks at how many languages are supported and how effective is the process of sentiment analysis for those language.
Unlimited Results: Vendors have different approaches to search results. Results here correspond to the number of acquired mention for a specific search.
Unlimited Searches: As for the above, this entry looks at how many search parameters can be set in the software.
Quality of support: As your organization may be inexperienced in using such tool, a strong support is needed to foster adoption and tailor the tool to your organisation needs.
Facebook Integration: The ability to integrate the tool with Facebook fanpages is somewhat interesting given the wide adoption of the tool.
Price: The software price is relevant when looking at adoption and ROI.
Workflow: The software needs to have some level of embedded workflow to facilitate action upon important conversations by all the parties involved.
Influencers: A buzz monitoring tool needs to be able to identify top users and influencers in the social web. That facilitates outreach programs and reflects value of the conversations.
Usability: How easy is the tool to use? Will it be adopted?
Reputation: The reputation of the company is somewhat important given the novelty of the industry.
How to contact a vendor
The best way to do that would be via Twitter. If they walk the talk they should be able to get in touch with you and start a conversation flawlessly.
I got replies by eight different vendors just by saying that I was looking for a social media/buzz monitoring software. Some of them called me over the phone after few hours.
Using the Decision Matrix
Few simple items to look at:
– Criteria. These have been discussed above. You will find them on the left hand side of the matrix.
– Weight. What is the importance of each criterion to your organisation? Maybe you don’t care about Facebook Integration or Workflow is essential to get things done. Assign a weight to each criterion on a scale of 1 to 5
– Rating. How does a particular product perform against each criterion?
– Score. The weight multiplied by the rating
– Areas of Concern. On the second worksheet (at the bottom of the screen) you’ll notice the criterion re-organized by areas of concerns. You will be able to make a pondered decision according to your needs.
Use of the Template
The file is under Creative Commons Non Commercial and Attribution is required. This is by no mean comprehensive so feel free to publish your own edited version, change it and make it better.