5 Smarter Ways to Evaluate Social Media Monitoring Tools

5 Smarter Ways to Evaluate Social Media Monitoring Tools

Social media monitoring can benefit a brand by expanding exposure, responding to customer issues and opportunities, managing reputations, tracking trends and even getting product and service ideas.

With many monitoring tools on the market, how do we evaluate what’s the most effective to realize those benefits?

FreshMinds of London produced an insightful white paper that evaluates the seven leading tools including Alterian, Biz360, Brandwatch, Nielsen, Radian6, Scout Labs and Sysomos.

Image Active_listening-300x300These tools are evaluated based on these features:

1. Coverage — the types of media or geographic markets. There was an 11 times difference between the tools that reported the least and most conversations in the evaluation.

2. Sentiment analysis — tools have not nailed sentiment analysis yet. They can be valuable but it's important to understand their limitations to understand their capabilities.

3. Location of conversations — tools classify the location of conversations in different ways to determine the location of conversations. For example, it can be hard to determine if Portuguese tweets were originated from Brazil or Portugal.

4. Volume of conversation — should re-tweets, spam, signatures or adverts be counted in your study or not? Different tools treat them in different ways and so the actual number of conversations is not always as it seems.

5. Data latency — the speed at which conversations are collected by a tool is limited by the frequency of their web crawlers and the length of time it takes the tool to process the data. So, alert functions can be less useful.

Tools also were evaluated tools against other functions:

1. Ease of set up — how easy was it to use the query builder or wizard and do the queries fail and do they save easily?

2. User friendliness — how easy is the interface to use and simple to navigate?

3. Responsiveness — how easy and how quickly do the tools respond to changes?

4. Ability to extract raw data — how easy and quick the tool is to extract data?

5. Sentiment accuracy — what is the comparison of automated to manual sentiment?

6. Finding our key topic — how prevalent was the issue and how easy was the tool to use as an analyst looking for more information?

I value this white paper because it shows the range of features which will be relevant to a brand’s goals, strategies, execution and culture. It's also beneficial as it monitors a pervasive brand like Starbucks' product introductions and marketplace issues.

When you evaluate them, you will benefit from a system of key performance indicators. I appreciate this social media measurement checklist from measurement expert Katie Paine.

User Comments ( 4 )

  • Good points, but missing the most important of all: where do they source their data? The dirty secret among many of the monitoring companies is that they buy their feed from someone else, and they buy a one-size-fits-all feed. Your monitoring is only as good as the quality of the data that informs your efforts.

  • I think another important point to add is that although automated sentiment analysis does a good job handling the grunt work, users should be able to manually change the tone of a mis-marked item so the engine can learn – which is something TweetReports.com is adding to their mix of monitoring tools.

  • Chris,
    Smart point. What is the most effective way to source data from your experience?

  • Kristof,
    Thanks, and when is TweetReports.com accessible? A savvy agency friend noted your exact point recently. Sentiment analysis can be dodgy and needs some human element to it, right?

Give a Reply