This guide has been written to describe some of the features of these tools and to support buyers in making the right decision. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Social media monitoring tools belong to a category of social CRM capabilities that help you monitor conversations about your brand and engage with customers appropriately.
The best tools can be used to prevent and mitigate customer criticism, identify leading influencers in your market, see what your competitors are doing, keep an eye on trending conversations, locate relevant communities with whom you should be engaging, collate customer suggestions to support product development, conduct market research, better promote your product and more.
Key features of social media monitoring software include:
Searching and analytics. These tools should all scour prominent networks and the Web to identify new data, cleaning it of ads, spam, navigation text, duplicates, out-of-date pages and false matches, to provide you the data you need in the way that best serves your business.
Automated responses. Many listening tools let you respond automatically to brand-related cues, saving valuable personnel time for common questions or concerns. Retweeting messages with your company hashtag or answering technical support questions might be common uses for this feature.
Internal collaboration. If your strategy requires a team, rather than an individual, you may need to route messages to the appropriate person within the organization, and/or identify when a communication with a customer has “closed.”
Identify influencers. One great feature of social media tracking software is the ability to identify the mavens, connectors and evangelists—people outside your company who have the most influence over your brand. By identifying the people who tweet the most, or have the most followers or engage people the best, you can nurture those relationships and improve the overall image and visibility of your brand.
Locate relevant communities. Similarly, by identifying communities that relate to your business but in which you’re not already participating, social network analysis software can help you expand the reach of your marketing efforts and improve overall visibility and performance.
Before starting a social media monitoring tools comparison, it's important to understand that there are three main types of buyers for this kind of solution:
Enterprise buyers. Large businesses with a full CRM suite will likely want to concentrate on something that integrates well with existing systems. If you’re in the process of buying a customer relationship management system, there are plenty that have social media measurement tools as a feature, though they may not be quite as robust as dedicated programs. Products to consider include Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Best-of-breed buyers. There are a number of programs that focus almost exclusively in this space. These will have some of the more advanced features and analytics, but may not integrate as well with enterprise suites. Example vendors include AtAttensity, Attentio and Spredfast.
Small businesses and solopreneurs. Individuals or small businesses that don’t need strong contact management or other CRM capabilities but still want to engage with their customers have a number of options available that are far less expensive and still feature-rich. They may even be able to get away with combining a couple of free programs, of which there are many. Products to consider include ViralHeat and Social Mention.
The emergence of this category of CRM is really its own trend. Any number of things could happen in this market in the near future, including:
Rapid expansion and consolidation. Since this market is in the process of exploding, expect significant market shakeup as CRM giants build or acquire social media marketing tools to expand their offering.
Free systems. Just like the programs they’re designed to monitor, there are a number of free social media monitoring tools and platforms that offer ad-funded service—for example, Brand Monitor and HootSuite. If you need more features, expect to pay for an upgrade, but for basic tools, you can’t go far wrong with these.
We're able to offer this service to buyers for free, because software vendors pay us on a "pay-per-lead" basis. Buyers get great advice. Sellers get great referrals.