Many of us in the research field are interested in the insights that our customers are sharing on Social Media properties every day. Listening platforms are a great way to sift through the volumes of information to gain the nuggets of useful data. The question is how to select a platform and how to use it. The Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies blog has been featuring the considerations for selecting Social Media and Community technologies. The current insights are focused on how to select a listening platform. Nygel gives us several things to consider in his post. The three previous posts about broader community software also offer great advice on the creation of a strategy before you buy software.
With millions upon millions of unique conversations taking place in the social media realm daily, the question is not if social media is useful, but rather: how do we make it useful to us? There are 100′s of billions of conversations that have already taken place, not to mention about to happen, and this highlights the need for a place to aggregate the data. This is where Sysomos and other social media monitoring tools come into place. But which one do you choose?
As most effective research projects start, the individual should first decide what they need to find out/prove and ways this data could be presented. Is there a current Social Media goal? Or is the need to understand a specific Market or Topic? This will define the things that are important to the project and will ultimately outline the main things to look for in a tool. What sources are being crawled? Are the appropriate results even available? Is the tool flexible enough to satisfy my requirements? On top of data being presented, it is also equally important to qualify who will be using the tool and the learning curve necessary to be effective using it. (Just because the tool can do it, doesn’t mean it is easy to do.) Being able to quickly/easily find the necessary information not to mention present it to the appropriate audience so that it makes sense are both crucial things to consider.
Some other things to keep in mind would be budget, scope, and integration. What is the pricing structure? Is there a flat fee? Am I penalized by the amount of data/users I have in the system? All of these things will be crucial in defining if a solution will even be affordable. That being said, many tools provide varying ranges in coverage as well. It’s important to know that the scope of your project is feasible with the tool of choice. What geographic regions need to be covered? How many languages are included in the tool? Finally, integration is an area we are getting more requests for lately and this entails features like: CRM’s, Fanpages, Twitter Accounts, etc. By integrating directly to a tool, marketers can streamline engagement processes and provide even deeper insights regarding the topic of interest.
Social media as most know is a continually growing and evolving organism. Be sure to have a solid grasp on what you hope to gain from social media and ask the ultimate question: Is this something you can use effectively?