Giles Palmer presenting for Brandwatch

Last week I attended the Monitoring Social Media conference. It was a brilliant day with representatives from most of the large monitoring companies as well as case studies presented by both Carphone Warehouse and Vodaphone. Slides from the conference can be found here. From the large number of notes I collected from listening to #MSM10 I’ll be writing several blog posts that you’ll be able to find here over the course of the week.

Because of negative press that has been either heightened by or started on social networking sites, thousands of businesses are now recognising the need to track web and social media mentions. The conference made it clear that there are several things you need to consider before choosing to buy a monitoring tool.

What do we want to monitor?

There’s lots of value that can be gained from monitoring tools. They can be a way of tracking competitors; finding influencers; recognising problems; connecting with like-minded bloggers; seeing which links are popular and following changes in brand awareness on the web. Your requirements for a monitoring tool will of course depend on your overall web and social media strategy and it’s important to get a strong idea of what you want to monitor or find out from your tool.

How can we analyse the information presented?

These kind of tools drag up huge amounts of information but if you only have a limited number of people you really want to be given the information that’s useful for you. Look for tools that offer customised reports at a rate that fits in with your schedule. Smaller businesses may only need to hear about web mentions just once a week. Think about the frequency and detail of information you want to see.

How fast will I hear about a mention?

Speed is definitely more important in a negative situation. It’s important to know how quickly you’ll know about a story featuring your brand whether it’s a blog post, forum mention or a tweet. The larger the brand presumably the greater the number of mentions and the faster the information about the company can spread. Consider how quickly your monitoring tool searches and processes information.

Will I be supported?

Customer support should be a very important part of your choice for a monitoring company. If you’re a small social media or web team, you want to make sure your concerns will be heard and problems are quickly dealt with.

What is your social media budget?

Because of the high value of information, monitoring tools can be a large investment, especially for start-ups, charities and small businesses. Of course it’s difficult to get an understanding of such tools without trialling them (something many large companies are happy to offer), but one way to get an idea of the kinds of brand mentions that can be found is to try out the free tools out there. Here are two great blog posts that illustrate the options:

Which specific tool is right for me?

Of course without having a deep understanding of your business and the reasons why you need such a tool no one can say which tool will be best for you. But social media agency Fresh Networks are releasing their next comparative review of these tools tomorrow, for now here’s June’s report.

Let me know which monitoring tool you use and why, below.

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