by Joe Colacurcio
First and most importantly, brands and agencies need to define a primary objective for the social media monitoring platform. For example, are community management and owned channel analysis the primary goal, or is wider-encompassing earned conversation listening the main objective? While most platforms can do many types of monitoring, core proficiency is usually focused in one area vs. another.
Broadly, though, brands and agencies should consider tools that cover a wide range of social platforms, and should consider tools that have a history quickly adding functionality as soon as APIs become available. Further, platforms that have a history of innovation and providing new ways to look at data should be considered above others.
I think social listening tools in particular are trying to excel at one of three functional areas: providing the best coverage and collecting the most content possible across all social channels via their APIs (thin full Twitter firehose), creating really beautiful and compelling visuals that can be easily created and shared, and using advanced language processing to parse sentiment and other hard to qualitative information. It feels rare that a single tool does all of these three things really well. Some of the more innovative features that are starting to emerge include conversation segmentation as well as more advance conversation discovery.
Outside of this, and speaking to an earlier point about tools that excel at certain goals, moving forward the best social tools are going to need to help marketers understand the linkage between owned channels/community management and earned conversations - not just what is taking place in each arena by itself.
For companies considering social monitoring platforms, considerations on costs, accuracy, and the speed to the RIGHT insight are paramount. As marketers, we face the need to find the tools that will help us accurately find answers to our social media questions, most often, and most quickly. As our digital and social landscape continues to grow, monitoring tools becoming a bigger input of marketing budgets. Using them efficiently and being able to quickly produce insights, alongside an impactful visuals is really important in proving the worth of the tools.