Where Social Media Monitoring Services Fail
Where Social Media Monitoring Services Fail
Where Social Media Monitoring Services Fail

It doesn’t matter which social media monitoring service you use. None of them do what you want them to do. They’re good at doing part of the job, but not all of it. And sadly, they probably won’t ever be good at doing all of the job because you have to do it.

Social media monitoring, whether done with free services like Google Alerts and custom searches, SocialMention.com or even freemium versions of great tools like Trackur; or using paid services like Radian6, Sysomos, Alterian, HubSpot or Scout Labs, are all software platforms. They’re computer algorithms and search spiders that collect information and put it together in a place where you can find it. Some of them do a decent job of organizing and stacking and sorting all that data so you can hit a button and get a pretty chart or graph, too.

Our Direction

But none of them do what you want them to do. They only do half the job.

None of them tell you what to do with the information.

The social media monitoring service that wins in the long run will do that. But none of them want to do that because that’s not software. That’s service. Not customer service, which most of them are great at, but strategic services. Strategic services require talent, time and costs. Algorithms don’t.

Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision-maker who does something with the intelligence.

That’s you.

Food for thought.

Enhanced by Zemanta

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
  • Pingback: Bulldokracja.pl()

  • Pingback: atlanta mortgage brokers()

  • Pingback: garnicia cambogia()

  • Pingback: How to Increase Twitter Followers()

  • Pingback: Monitoring Your Online Reputation: 5 Lucky Links()

  • Pingback: Social Media Monitoring Made Simple - Engage()

  • Marc Brookings

    Would any of these services work for complience related items if we needed to capture all content of our financial advisors tweets, facebook, linked in, etc. post, responses, and activities?

    • Eyelona

      That's exactly what we do at Social Strategy1 for regulated entities, financial markets, law firms, etc. We can hit on any number of different ways from corporate governance and compliance to actual customer service, so long as it is publicly available. We engage and help our clients engage with the consumer at their point of need, whether that need be a purchase need, a customer service issue, brands or products, or with their employees whether that be sharing an opinion or stating or misstating confidential information.

      We identify and measure those conversations. Please feel free to call me and we can further discuss.

      Phone – 877-771-3366

  • Saffia_Hussain

    Great Post. This is what most of the brands face today. SMM doesn't truly solve the problem, you need brains behind the tool to give you actionable insights! ThoughtBuzz is one such company which provides an expert team of strategists in addition to their monitoring software.

  • janetaronica

    Yes re: they don't tell you want to do with the data. Also, lack of an engagement platform on many services. A lot of services only do the metrics, you can't actually post/schedule updates from there.

    • Eyelona

      You're right. That's exactly why we launched Social Strategy1, because the software alone is not enough. Businesses need to have a team of experts they can turn to as a first alert, who can immediately respond to potential leads, customer service issues or even a potential crisis.

      There's a lot that can be automated, but it all comes back to having the right strategic foundation and the ability to adjust based on the data. We wrote a post a while ago on this topic – http://bit.ly/hmFswX

      Feel free to call with any questions.

      Kind regards,


  • Lost in Space

    Nice post. I've been some research and finding it ver difficult to guage a quality clipping or media monitoring service for a VERY small business that is need of having it. The prices seem to be all over the place and outrageously high or are we looking in the worng places? Thanks in advance.

  • Pingback: Social Media Monitoring Made Simple()

  • nice post Jason. It is really up to the client what they want to do with the information they receive from the social media services, we can only offer suggestions.

  • Pingback: Linkdump for 14. Dezember 2010 Links synapsenschnappsen()

  • Post2web

    You should check out the new news monitoring service at http://www.semanticwire.com
    It only monitors the news but provides analysis and alerts.

    But once again, nobody will tell you what to do with all that information. The reason is there is so much could be done.

  • Troy Dean

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

  • Aamir

    I like this term “factory SEO”. SEO project is just like any other projects…
    seo sem services

  • this post is very informative and useful
    Update News

  • Great observation you have made here Jason and I completely agree with you.

    Social media monitoring services should be selected by keeping your company's task and nature in mind. There are a large number of social media monitoring tools but none of them do what you want them to do? Right. The thing is that these monitoring tools are designed in a way which never suites to a particular business. Either small or big!

    Well I guess these algorithms leave some of the task for their HUMAN friends to complete :)


  • Great observation you have made here Jason and I completely agree with you.

    Social media monitoring services should be selected by keeping your company's task and nature in mind. There are a large number of social media monitoring tools but none of them do what you want them to do? Right. The thing is that these monitoring tools are designed in a way which never suites to a particular business. Either small or big!

    Well I guess these algorithms leave some of the task for their HUMAN friends to complete :)


  • Hhe article's content rich variety which make us move for our mood after reading this article. surprise, here you will find what you want! Recently, I found some wedsites which commodity is colorful of fashion. Such as mbt outlet store that worth you to see. Believe me these websites won’t let you down.

  • It is amazing that you've brought this up. As an outsourcing company that offers social media services, we are well aware of the points you've raised above, and in line with that, we've restructured our organization to have a strategic solutions team, to emphasize that we are not a company that just provides nice data and graphs. We strive hard not to just provide a service, but a solution. It's something that everyone in the business of analytics must strive for. You've certainly hit the head on the nail, Jason. Kudos!


  • Pingback: Social Media Analytics Italia » Social Media: Man vs Machine()

  • Pingback: Pay your kids to listen, not me « Ad Mavericks()

  • Pingback: Pay your kids to listen, not me « Ad Mavericks()

  • Pingback: Monitoring Your Online Reputation: 5 Lucky Links()

  • Pingback: Why You Shouldn't Trust Automated Sentiment Scoring()

  • fadlaltarzi

    Many great points here, with a background in management + Natural Language Processing I couldn't agree more. Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision maker who does something with the intelligence, but I think the key here is in that Intell! The cool charts are a means to an end, but the true winners will be those that are able to convert those charts into meaningful & actionable insight.Bottom line: tell your clients something they didn't already know + put it in context for them. Its about the service & the people behind it, not just the technology… This is precisely the reason behind our success at SocialEyez http://www.socialeyez.ae

  • Pingback: Crimson Hexagon » Social Media Monitoring: The Human Element()

  • Pingback: SOB Business Cafe 04-26-10 | Liz Strauss at Successful Blog()

  • Katy

    ListenLogic delivers the “answers” you are looking for. Its the technology you need, with the ability to filter through white noise – I'm talking accuracy (Ford Motors vs. Betty Ford), organizes it into the pretty charts you speak of and then delivers a monthly report that explains/interprets the data. Provides the information you need (consumers on the record) in real time (not a 6 week delay) so your “decision makers” know where to focus their traditional PR, advertising, re-branding, etc.


    Big difference between customer service and insight analysis service.

  • A bespoke consultative approach is what you require to engage with an audience which you will also need to identify. Moreover Technologies works by spinning social media on it's head.
    Target-Approach-Aggregate-Analyse, all the services you have listed hop in on the 3rd stage; “Aggregate” and then provide reports so far down the timeline it's no longer useful.
    Moreover Technologies can flag real-time content and link you to real-time human driven analytics. This service will deliver results which can be utilised from your initial social media target campaign.

  • jeffclapper

    Great points, Jason. This exactly why we created Social Scout (http://www.socialscoutonline.com).

    We're a part of a full service marketing agency–Point B Communications. In the process of providing social media services to our clients we recognized how easily anyone could setup Google alerts but quickly get buried in irrelevant or innocuous results.

    Social Scout filters all those mentions using human readers. Then our readers alert clients to only the most actionable mentions and suggest how they might respond.

    Our existing clients have loved the service so far, and it's great to hear that others think we're on track!

  • Jason-

    I'm the Director of Sales for Social Scout, a social media monitoring + response agency. We have built our business around the need that you're mentioning above. Our company will do the following for your brand:

    1. Monitor your brand using software to uncover mentions.
    2. Filter for context and sentiment.
    3. Account managers literally sit down and filter through these mentions to uncover actionable items.
    4. Account managers then send clients personalized email alerts suggesting a coarse of action 5. Email alerts include a screen shot of mention, a link, and most importantly our recommendation.

    To my knowledge we are the only company offering such a service. For a free preview go to http://www.socialscoutonline.com.

  • Hi Jason,

    Succint post that hits it spot on. Data is useless unless someone works on it and derives actionable insights out of it. Be it for advertising planning, marketing strategy, product development or fine-tuning of ongoing campaigns, social media data is invaluable to astute companies out there. Thats what we help many of our clients with here at Brandtology, because we dont just shove them a DIY system, but we go the full mile with them to advise and gather the insights and recommendations for them.

    Ashley (@ashleyanting)
    Social Media Consultant

  • Hi Jason,

    Great post! Very thought provoking, and the discussion here since has been pretty amazing as well.

    My initial reaction to your post is a bit different from the other reactions I've read. Simply put, I suggest we're seeing the development of not one new group of companies but two. Monitoring is the first and has attracted the lion's share of attention. Monitoring is great, and the companies in this area are doing a great job of making a lot of data accessible to their clients.

    But there's another group of companies growing who are not doing monitoring at all but analysis or intelligence. Full disclosure: I'm a partner in one of those companies (Nexalogy Environics) but there are quite a few others doing really interesting work in this area.

    The thing is that doing social media intelligence properly is very different than monitoring. (Not better, but different). We have different goals and different challenges, and these require a different approach to data gathering, to client outputs, to how to leverage software to help (what we do would be impossible without the software we've developed), and a different relationship with clients. On the analysis side of things, we're more geared towards being services companies armed with amazing software, not software companies per se.

    This leads to my second point – doing analysis on large datasets (which are typical in the context of social media analysis) is really difficult to do well. There are many methodological pitfalls to avoid, and most people trying to do it (in monitoring companies' clients offices) generally don't have the background or experience to do it in anything but an ad-hoc way – or, more often, they're finding that to do it rigorously takes far too many scarce resources… Reading 10000 relevant blog posts about a company and its products is not something you can do by starting at #1 and working your way down.

    There is a pretty rich and high-value-add ecosystem developing around both the monitoring and analysis of social media data, and going forward there is more than enough space for both kinds of companies – and our clients' will see increasing benefits as this ecosystem continues to mature. It's a very optimistic time to be working in this space.


  • Jason,

    Another excellent post and subsequent comments/conversation only add to the experience. This point is so basic and so important yet so easy to overlook. I am frustrated by organizations who expect a service–or consultant– to deliver answers (or direction) so they won't have to because they are so busy already. Even with solid strategy in place an organization has a vested interest in identifying humans with brains who will monitor the data and interpret it as it impacts their specific business/strategy/objectives/corporate culture. Grrr…

  • Gotta have strategy for that. Must anticipate the possible types of comments and responses and establish rules of the road for responding. Who's going to respond and what kinds of responses are legit? Must respond quickly and responsibly – so a process needs to be in place. If discussion is needed, do it right away before the wildfire gets out of control. Nice to have tools available to respond quickly, but there will never be software that advises you on what to say.

    • The responses I've seen from most companies in a PR fail situation are predictable enough that they *could* have been generated by software. ;-) I recently dealt with an IT service that was down and had, believe it or not, no 800 number I could call to tell them about it! It took them hours for their automated monitoring stuff to tell them it was down – apparently it was part of the gear that failed. I won't be renewing my subscription.

  • None of them tell you what to do with it because, as a social media marketer, you should be able to decide how to use the knowledge you are being provided with. To be honest, if they gave you the info and then told you what to do with it, then why would you want to pay good money to a digital media agency?

    • bhanukaran

      Completely agreed. If a tool can say what to do, what is the need of human involvement in developing strategies. Human analysis is very important to consider the fact if it is true or false. If social media is all about real people, then it is foolishness to expect it from a tool :)

  • Pingback: Nexalogy Environics — More on monitoring compared with intelligence()

  • ronaldladouceur

    When will they ever learn?

    It seems technologists are forever trying to create software that will let them wiggle free of the reality that relationships – including social media relationships – are labor intensive and require people skills. For the moment, they've got the ear of time/budget stressed marketing managers who are hoping they might wiggle as well. But there has never been, nor is there likely ever to be, software that even comes close to our onboard 'wetware' for finding, prioritizing, strategizing and communicating. Tools that assist are always welcome. Tools that attempt to replace are always disappointments.

  • Pingback: Nexalogy Environics — The difference between monitoring and analysis()

  • laurenalt

    Amen, Brotha'! This is good food for thought. The market is becomming super-saturated with new products/software, each offering something unique from the others, but none can do it all. So, we as online marketers are forced to adapt our strategies around the tools available to us. Thanks for the post!

  • Pingback: Social Media: Man & Machine; Not Man vs. Machine « Sysomos Blog()

  • Hi Jason,
    You're absolutely right that no social media monitoring tool or service will tell you what to do with the information; that's up to the brand/company themselves, depending on their objectives and how they wish to engage in social media. There are, however, tools that provide service along with the tool, from the beginning to the very end (disclaimer: I work for one, as do many others that have commented here ;) ). As you've pointed out, the tools that combine service and monitoring are not free or cheap by any means, are those the words you would want to use to describe how you monitor social media?
    As Adam said, “insight is human powered” and goes far beyond the algorithms that we establish at the beginning of the monitoring process. It's great to see the landscape slowly changing in favor of the human element in social media monitoring – power to the people, right? ;)

    ps sorry to show up late to the party, travelling always sets me back a day or so!

    Michelle @Synthesio

  • Well said Jason, technology is just the aggregator it's the travel not the final end.
    Because of the needs of more thoughts on Social Media monitoring tools, we've created a methodology that uses the best of the technical tools allied to Social Media analysts.
    A Ken said here, “focus on finding good analysts who can efficiently and accurately provide the analysis and judgment calls to extract key insights from the sea of social data. Capturing and using only the data that has actionable potential to it.”
    @Andy, well said mate “”Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision-maker who does something with the intelligence.”
    Lucio Ribeiro

  • Good article.. but I agree need more information and details.. it looks incomplete right now.

  • Very interesting article, Jason.

  • Hi Jason,glad you shared the importance of getting into the right actions of great customer service with the assistance of these tools.I think its the company which understands what,why and how of these tracked messages as when has to be real time.
    Plus there are some specific tools as well like pb.ly and twittersentiment,appspot.com which tell you the character of these messages passed on real time on twitter streams, guess the future lies in such services which make it much easier for firms to identify clearly.

  • markwilliamschaefer

    I'm glad you brought this up — needed to be said — but of course the thinking is not really new. A lot of people perceive that marketing is about dreaming up ads. It's not. It's about distilling truth — and possible leverage — from data. Always been that way, whether it was surveys or focus groups or simple observation. Social media monitoring is just another tool to try to discern possible points of market opportunity.

  • Great Article, but for My opinion it needs more pictures and description

  • Hi Jason,
    Thanks for posting on this. I agree one issue is that tools do not tell you what to do with the information. But I think it may be more helpful to pull apart the elements of this – particularly when it comes to suggesting a solution or approach to get past this problem. At a basic level:
    – you need to identify the types of information that might be relevant or useful
    – you need to create (and constantly tweak) filters to sift out the majority of unimportant, non-insightful data
    – you need to be clear on what information might be insightful/useful to different stakeholders in the firm
    – you need to uncover the best way to report to each stakeholder depending on information type
    – they need to be clear on what to do with the information (as you point out).

    Oh, and last month we tested the top 7 social media monitoring tools against 19,000 data points to create what we think is the most rigorous comparison of tools yet. You can read it for free here: a review of social media monitoring tools.


  • Jason – a very important and relevant post. Social media monitoring tools provide data. Like any other tool that provides data, it requires skills, industry acumen, customer insight and – given the nascent nature of the SMM market – patience. Think of the evolution of web analytics platforms and the complicated business functions around CRM. Today people with unique skill sets work in those disciplines. Many companies haven't figured out the skill sets required to do the same with SMM; Companies are still figuring out business processes, ownership and how to communicate to C-level executives with the data. These SMM tools all provide data but insight is human powered.

  • Good point. There's a business in there somewhere or is this a service you provide??! If you don't, I'd appreciate it if you do know where to go to get the strategic advice on what to do with the information social media monitoring gives you. Apart from the obvious (like follow up negative comments) there must be some really usefull analysis tools around on what it all means to an organisation. I would like to share these with our clients.

  • As a practitioner, there are two ways I could approach this issue. IMHO neither is “better” than the other. I could go to the executives and ask, “What is the business problem you are trying to solve here?”, and then seek to solve it with social media monitoring tools, assuming, of course, that it was a social media “marketing” problem. Or I could go wallowing in a bunch of social media monitoring data, preferably raw or lightly steamed, do some exploratory data analysis and say, “Here's what I think needs to be done based on letting the data speak for themselves.”

    Where *I* think the tools fail is not where Jason does. Where I think the tools fail is that they present lots of dashboards and widgets, lots of customization options for work flows, lots of reports, etc., but no *models*. Sure, you can learn to “fly” a marketing campaign from one of these dashboards. But there's no model you can use to make the process simple, scalable and sustainable. You end up with masses of data, usually full of special cases, complicated rules and exceptions.

  • Thanks for highlighting this important point Jason!

    “Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision-maker who does something with the intelligence.”

    The risk of “siloing” the data is something that I discuss in Radically Transparent. Pretty charts, piles of data, and that self-satisfying feeling of “we're monitoring the web” mean nothing if you're not investing in analysis and response.


    PS. Thanks for the Trackur shout-out! :-)

  • I love the point that Ken makes below –> “…focus on finding good analysts who can efficiently and accurately provide the analysis and judgment calls to extract key insights from the sea of social data. Capturing and using only the data that has actionable potential to it.

    When talking to potential customers about our solution one of the things I always emphasize is that we're not just going to give you a data dump and leave you hanging. An analyst is going to go through the data for you and extract emergent themes, points of emphasis, and other actionable insights for you. They're going to deliver those points of emphasis and their recommendations in addition to the dashboard report.

    But like Maria said that human element isn't cheap, and it's not that scalable either. I think that's why many of the monitoring solutions don't necessarily offer a human component other than someone who can show them how to use the tool, provide tech support, etc.

    Because it's such a saturated space though, I think we'll continue to see significant new developments as all the companies listen to their clients and strive to provide the best service possible. At which point then does having the right features matter more than having the most features? Another important conversation in my mind.

    Thanks Jason for sparking this discussion.

    Ryan Stephens
    Community Manager @BuzzMgr

  • Couldn't agree more. When I use a social media monitoring platform (the one I work for, of course, Biz360), it 1. gives me a snapshot, 2. helps me organize my engagement activities for the day (allowing to loop in other folks from the company into the conversation). But my dashboard is not going to send tweets, blog comment responses or send emails by itself. I need t do that. There are only so many hours in the day, and if I see there are 1,000 articles that I'd love to comment on, it's obviously not doable. Analytics help me figure out which 20 are a must, and if I have time, I do more. It helps me learn about the state of the industry too, but I have to actually read the articles. The system also brings red flags to my attention, like drastic increases or decreases in share of voice or a spike in negative sentiment, etc. This way, I can be really efficient; otherwise I'd be pretty much lost. Engagement is up to you. Facilitation and organization is up to the tool.

    Oh, and also… garbage in, garbage out. You need to know what you are measuring and why. If you don't build a topic that gathers the right data, you will be back to square 1 of inefficiency. The tool will help you figure out if your results are bad by giving you a quick preview, so you can use better keywords. But yeah, it all starts with the query: what you input will drive what you will get out.

    Always happy to chat! You can find me at @themaria or @biz360

  • scotttownsend

    My take-away from this post is…be more like Sherlock Holmes with the data.

  • Jason, great article and you are absolutely right.

    Just like a Gartner report recently stated: “Many tools and services are emerging to help an enterprise manage its online and offline reputation, but effective strategy should precede any focus on technology as a savior.”

    It's the strategy that has to proceed any focus on technology. We've all done the analysis (I certainly have) and found that while all SMM tools are not the same, and no one SMM tool picks everything up, the most important piece for the enterprise is to understand how to look for additional data, what they can do with that data, and how to implement an effective strategy around the sentiment, then evaluate the cost benefits to outsourcing the function.

  • Pingback: 20 Business Decisions You Can Make with Social Data » Media Emerging | Scott Hepburn()

  • We use the manual tools like Google alerts, Google search, twitter search etc.

    Do any of the more automated tools categorize the findings by “sentiment”? (i.e. tag mentions as positive or negative based on the context of surrounding text).

    If not, that may be an opportunity to add some value to the product, which should be possible (not easy) from a development standpoint.

    • Hi John,

      Yes, a lot of paid tools have sentiment analysis. The market ranges from automated to human, to hybrid in between (obviously human analysis is very very expensive). We at Biz360 use automated sentiment – our engineer wrote about it here http://blog.biz360.com/2010/03/inside-automated…. We actually measure sentiment on two levels – entity (i.e. brand name or whatever you measure), and entire article.

      Ping me offline if you want to chat further.

      Maria Ogneva, Biz360
      @themaria @biz360

    • Katy

      Yes they do. I work with a “smart” technology that learns what you think is positive/negative. Industries have their own terminology. A restaurant views the word sick as a negative while a a snowboarding brand views the word as a positive (interpreting it to mean cool or awesome). Analysts or yourself can train the technology in a few hours give or take; based on the level of relevant chatter to your search.

    • Yes John, almost all of them do. However the problem with automated sentiment tagging is that you cannot precisely track the sentiment of a certain statement based solely on keywords. I can say that, “I like [insert company name here] about as much as I like getting a tooth pulled.” Having the keyword “like” in my sentence next to the name of the company would lead the software to tag my statement as Positive, whereas any person could read it and understand that my statement is Negative. Sure automating the process is good, but the people who converse online don't write with automated sentiment tagging in mind… they write to speak to people. That's why we believe that you need people for sentiment.

      If ever you're ever in the market for social media analytics services, drop us a line: http://www.infinit-o.com

      • Eyelona

        Agreed – you definitely need people to monitor the sentiment. There's a big difference between blackberry (pie) and blackberry(phones). That's why at Social Strategy1, we utilize the back-end technologies, combined with front-end human business analysts who make sense of the noise and sentiment on behalf of clients.

  • One thing that has helped some of our Scout Labs customers to build internal understanding about the difference between the platform and the insights/ strategies delivered is to draw parallels between other kinds of digital marketing practices: “We don't expect the email platform to tell us when and what to email about; we expect it to make us productive email marketers. We don't expect the content management system to write the content, we expect it to help manage syndication and update. It's just like other tools the agency uses- it makes their programs better.”

    Similarly, all the “social media monitoring platforms” (and we hate that name and characterization, but that's for another day) can really do is make its users more effective. Platforms cannot replace people, only augment them.

  • I couldn't agree more. On several occassions, I have asked friends at Radian6 about the consultative side of their business where they would show users of the many ways data and observations may influence other PR, advertising or marketing decisions. To me, that is where the real value lies in a tool that “listens”.

    Monitoring social media empowers another level of customer service/support and can serve up a valuable gain on the coordinates needed in design, copy, strategy and R&D for future business activities. The players in this space can break apart from one another by looking at demo/ethno/geo or vertical-defined consulting, training and guidance that is packaged with the software. Until then, all we get is a dynamic search tool that produces a tsunami of data.

  • Very well stated. The data is important but in the end it's the interpretation, analysis and correct use of that data that counts. The insights gained need to drive response and business decisions and that requires the right skills and mindset at the client end.

  • Pingback: Twitter Tips (Attract and Influence People on Twitter)()

  • Thanks for bringing this up, Jason. You are absolutely right that having the intelligence is only half of the job- companies need to be able to thoroughly understand and act on information harvested from social media. I just disagree with positioning it as a social media monitoring “fail”.

    IMO I don't know that you should ever really want a service (even if it's a person) to tell you how to interpret this sort of intelligence.

    SM monitoring platforms only help companies aggregate and manage content, and I think that this is an important specialization. At the end of the day, it takes someone who is intimately familiar with the brand, the space, and the goals to really be able to know what is and what is not critical information.

    I'll always give clients an idea of how to best navigate our platform and concepts on HOW to find valuable content, and sometimes I'll even share basic knowledge that I have on strategy and best practices.

    I just feel like that amount of time and (especially) the cost that it would take to have someone be able to interpret and consult you on results harvested from SM monitoring outweighs the investment of resources for you to do it internally.

    Keeping the software specialized on what it does best will keep companies from spreading too thin and thus providing expensive, subpar results.

    Jason Arican
    Client Relations|Meltwater Buzz

  • Jason,

    Great point, and one that should be understood. In fact, you could replace [Social Media Monitoring] with any sort of analytics.

    It's just data. To your point, someone needs to decide what they are going to do with that data. Artificial intelligence may someday provide some recommended next steps and actions, but a human still needs to make those critical decisions.

  • That's the most challenging part of being a vendor in this space. It's not showing how the tool works, it's inspiring our customer base on how to use the tool. The amount of insight that can be gained is incredible but there is a learning curve involved. Too often these tools are criticized by people with very little experience.

    The tools are only a small part of a social media engagement and strategy.

    Director of Comm Strategy, Alterian

    • Is your comment here a result of you're doing something with the information you monitored?

  • Great point, Jason. Even with the way some of the most complex monitoring tools out there slice and dice all of that information, if you have too much data to even know what to do with, then that's not going to do you any good. Whether it's Radian6 or BuzzMgr, you still need to have an understanding of what it means before you can figure out what to do with it (and let's be honest, a lot of companies have no clue what this stuff means).

    It's kind of like hiring a trail guide or instructor to help you scale a mountain. Sure, you could try and do it yourself, but it'll 1) take you way longer to get the hang of it and 2) you might fall off before you finish. This is especially true if you've only heard about mountain climbing (or social media), but never actually done it–see what I did there? :)

  • You can't use pure technology to solve a human need. Radian6 doesn't know where your supply chain fails. Twendz may be able to show you what people are talking about, but not what they are thinking, or what they actually need.

  • joeciarallo

    What would you like them to tell you to do?

  • Hi Jason,

    Monitoring is just one of the steps, the key lies in turning what you have learned into actionable insights using these to engage your customers.

    I suggest you look at some of the blogging our the subject of Social CRM. There is a great resource here http://j.mp/scrmjumps to get you on your way.


  • i just had this similar convo with someone this week…good stuff…thanks!

  • Just like the common GI Joe phrase that ended every show, “Knowing is half the Battle”. I also touched upon that idea, but had a different spin on it, as it came from an Intranet and employee point of view: http://mikepascucci.com/2009/11/06/knowing-is-h
    Mike P | @mikepascucci

  • AmberNaslund

    Yessitty yessity yes. Yes. This.

    There's a great deal that can always and forever be done to improve the technologies that help mine, refine, present, analyze, and chunk out the data into manageable pieces. That's part of the fun of being in the software industry, and I love that our dev guys are always cranking on that part.

    But the human brain on the other end of those reams of information is a critical piece – dare I say linchpin – of the entire success of a monitoring strategy. I believe it's so critical to have a tool that serves you the data in a way that you need, but we have to continue to recognize the importance of the individual, contextual analysis around that data that helps determine what, if anything, it means for our business and our efforts at the given time.

    The data is an indicator, but the application of it is really the magic, and that's not something that can be mechanized.

    Thanks so much for the post.

    • You work for Radian6. So, are you commenting as the result of your doing something with the information you monitored? Or, is it coincidence as you read this blog? ;)

      • AmberNaslund

        I'm not sure I get your point. I work for Radian6, Ari, but they don't own me or send me out like an automaton. I happened to find this post in my reader, actually, and commented because it was worthwhile, and a discussion I'm invested in. Not everything has to be engineered.

        And I do TONS with what I learn through watching the web, both formally and otherwise. Otherwise, there's little point, and we're just talking. In fact, I don't consider just commenting to be doing much concrete at all other than exchanging ideas. Much of the effective action behind what I'm up to you'll never see, because I'm doing it instead of talking about it.

        • Quoting Jason above, “Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision-maker who does something with the intelligence.”

          I asked whether your comment is a result of that intelligence — because you work for Radian6 and would likely monitor such references around the web. You've since said no, for you follow this blog in your feed reader.

          Asked differently, if you were not working for Radian6, would your comment be the same? I'd think not, no?

          • You're asking if her opinion or feedback is biased because of who she works for. Anyone who pays attention and knows Amber knows not. Even if it was, she doesn't hide who she works for which leaves the impression of credibility up to the user. If you don't trust her feedback, that's your business. Saying so here to seed that mistrust in others is disrespectful.

          • It was a simple question, sorry for causing the Inquisition.

          • markwilliamschaefer

            I actually thought you asked a fair question, Ari. Amber is a paid representative of Radian 6. This is a post about social media monitoring. It would be naieve to think she doesn't have a stake in the outcome of the discussion. Why so paranoid guys?? I don't think Ari was treated respectfully.

          • deelirium

            I agree. How is a casual reader supposed to know her affiliation with Radian6? It's not in her signature or username. I ask because I'm struggling with the idea of transparency in social media. I'm not sure which is better:

            1. not disclosing your affiliation up front (which can be considered dishonest if found out)
            2. blatantly disclosing your affiliation, ie. in your username or signature (which can come across as blatantly spammy… an intrusion into the community ultimately for commercial gain. There's a ton of this in these blog comments.)

            I hope this is something Social Media Explorer thinks is a worthwhile topic for a future blog post!

          • Thanks D. I would say that Amber probably should have entered a hyperlink on
            at least her first comment which would have then either shown her direct
            link to Radian6 or her blog where those types of disclaimers are, but in her
            defense, she responded immediately to Ari with a statement that she works
            for Radian6.

            My take on the issue you've asked about is simple. If I Google you or do
            some cursory searching and find no disclosure or disclaimers or connections,
            yet you are with that company, you're actively hiding and that's unethical.
            If you are openly identified in various places that you work for or are
            connected to a company, then we're good.

            Identifying yourself on every single comment, etc., is overkill. If you have
            a question about someone's affiliation or motivations, poke around a bit.
            They should be easily found.

            As for Ari's question, I thought it was leading and unfair to Amber. Ari
            knows her, knows she works for Radian6, is well aware that she engages on a
            variety of issues on a variety of blogs. Whether or not his intent was pure,
            his question seemed to insinuate that there was something wholly unethical
            about her engagement on the issue, which I thought was poor form.

            If anyone needs hand-holding to determine the difference between a person's
            point of view and that of their company, then backing someone into a corner
            in the comments section of a blog isn't the right venue for that learning.

            But I will certainly give it some more thought and see if, in fact, your
            suggestion of a blog post is worth pursuing. Thank you for the comment and
            the discourse.

          • AmberNaslund

            Ari – I'm not sure I like the veiled implications in your comment. I'm active in this space, a credible professional with lots of solid work under my belt, and working for Radian6 is a result of that, not the impetus.

            I'd argue that yes, my comment would be very much the same because it doesn't come as some kind of script working for a monitoring company, but because I'm an active and invested professional involved in social media and the conversations around it.

            Perhaps instead you'd like to comment on the substance of Jason's post, and what you think defines “doing something” with the intelligence you gather in social media?

      • Does it matter? Whether personal choice or because it's part of her (and
        Connie and all the other reps commenting here) job to monitor and
        participate in conversations around the industry/brand/topic? No one is
        hiding their affiliations, why should the motivation to comment be in

      • @Ari If they're smart, the answer is both. Social media monitoring isn't only about using an alerts tool to watch for brand mentions, but also about subscribing to the blogs that are relevant to your customers.

        Not to mention that Amber (and Connie and others, as Jason points out) are long-time contributors to blogs and to the improvement of our industries. It's their passions that add value to their employers, not the other way around.

        • Are we not saying the same thing?

          • Possibly. I've lost track.

            What matters is that these companies are doing exactly what we ask all companies to do: To be aware of conversations about them, to let customers that their voices are being heard, and to participate in those discussions when appropriate.

  • SO TRUE!

  • Amen and amen.

  • Great post, Jason! It's important for people to realize that each cool new tool isn't an end-all-be-all. It's still necessary for a human to look at the results and say “so what?” While these work well for compiling statistics, they're no replacement for the human mind!

  • Great commentary Jason. You're right on point. Social media monitoring tools are cool and novel at first, but it doesn't take long until you start asking yourself “my sentiment and volume is up, so what? What does this means for my business? How can I make better decisions with this data?”

    There is a big difference between a social media monitoring 'tool' and a 'solution'. We're a social media intelligence solutions company that provides a high performance real-time monitoring tool with ongoing human insight analysis service that helps businesses answer specific questions. Like: is our new campaign working? why are people switching to our competitor's product? what consumer segment loves us most? questions that help drive results. See the ROI of Social Media Monitoring http://bit.ly/9vxFi6

    Mark Langsfeld
    Founder & CEO

  • jeffespo


    This is a great post and is something that I have become frustrated with at times. I spoke with a bunch of vendors and laughed every time that I said the “winner” for the industry in a whole would be one that brought everything into one place. An Engagement/Monitoring platform if you will.

    One of the things that I was looking for was text analytics for an auto sentiment when looking at a space overall. However its not there industry wide, so I am left wishing. Now it will never be as perfect as a human monitoring but reducing human time is always a good thing.

    Great food for thought.

    Jeff Esposito

  • Michael Fraietta


    I think if you look at social media monitoring as a stand-alone service, then yes, community managers are certainly extremely important and should be damn-near an executive member. However, if you integrate social media monitoring into your overall CRM service/community and give several members (PR, customer support, sales, PR, ect.) access to the results to respond to accordingly. Also as Ken stated, the data needs to be available to the appropriate analysts. If the results are widely available to your internal community, then it should be easy for the data to get in the right hands.

    I suppose I'm thinking enterprise level, but as we progress social media monitoring will become similar to having windows in doors in the office, just part of the system.

    Mike Fraietta
    Jive Software

  • Jason,

    This is great food for thought for those people employing or considering SMM tools. There is no magic button we can push that will spit back all the data and glean valuable business insights. We cannot forget the human element needed. With that being said, I don't think it is a matter of software companies not wanting to offer that service, but a matter of ramping up the required talent.

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6

  • Well said. There's a growing disconnect between the *collection of* and the *analysis of* data in all areas of market research — not just the social kind. And I think the problem is being made worse by all the new tools that make it so easy to collect data. What's missing is people; people who aren't just watching the data flow in, but learning from it, adjusting what's collected, and then acting on it.

    Better tools may lead to more data… but more data doesn't necessarily equate to better insight.

  • I enjoyed your post Jason, and couldn't agree more…software just isn't smart enough to do the job properly. Additionally, in the service related markets we serve, software often can't do the job at all.

    Our answer was to create a human-based monitoring solution called Reputation Ranger. While far less elegant than those excellent software tools you mentioned, we manage to deliver meaningful data to our clients because of this human element.

    However, like Matt's and other's comments below…the client still has to be the one to participate and engage which is the only downside to us humans…shyness.

  • Great points, Jason. When I was with my previous agency, we enlisted the help of Umbria (now the “Web Intelligence” arm of JD Power). They did a fantastic job of gathering the information and then they have REAL, LIVE human beings go through it. On top of that, they organize it in a way that helps point to the big idea and helps their clients see where the big opportunities are. In other words, they aren't just gathering information. They are organizing it and presenting it in a way that helps. A lot.

    When they would present findings to us, Umbria would draw some of their own conclusions from it as well. They didn't have the qualitative research that we had, but it was interesting to see what they thought about the data as well.

    Anyway, I'm a big fan. i hear they're working on a dashboard to add to their services coming soon.

    • Thanks, Spike. Good to know Umbria is working on some new stuff. And good to
      hear they actually do some of what I report that many don't. Thanks for the
      intel … and for stopping by, dude. Good to see you here.

  • This is a great post. Even our methodology, which provides a marketing optimization roadmap, can only get clients so far. We monitor, measure and analyze current marketing efforts (including social) and then provide a comprehensive report detailing the best ways to use each channel for max. impact.

    At the end of the day, though, it's the creativity, skill and experience of the client's in-house team and/or agency that turns the information into marketing success. We can tell them “how” but, only they can create the “what” that gets deployed along those channels.

    Matt Carter

  • Jason, you make an important and valid point re: Social Media Monitoring services. I've long been advocating for companies to not focus on the tools in this space, because they are just enablers not the final answer, and instead focus on finding good analysts who can efficiently and accurately provide the analysis and judgement calls to extract key insights from the sea of social data. Capturing and using only the data that has actionable potential to it.

    The tools themselves can NEVER do this alone. This aspect of human analysis and judgement calls will not be automated(at least in the near future), due to constraints and shortfalls of key technologies in the areas of Natural Language Processing for example.

    Your reminder is important to help level set companies that are just beginning to form robust listening and monitoring programs. The tools may get all the hype, but the real hard work and value comes from the analysts and data they extract from SMM services.

    </end rant>

  • Jason,

    You make a great point; as much as the tools are terrific and valuable ways to monitor, measure and analyze all the conversations happening within the social media landscape, they also require people to play a key role to capitalize on everything being presented. Social media services make our lives a lot easier but engagement, relationship building and participation requires people to get involved, which is why community and social media managers are so important for companies really looking to be successful at social media.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.

    • Mark – Looks like we were writing our comments, making largely the same point, at the same time. Couldn't agree more with you. SMM services are important enablers but not the final answer. They need people in order to add the intended value.

  • You think an algorithm like the one Google uses doesn't require talent?

    Plus, there's one more key part that you're missing. You don't just need to know what to do… you need to actually do it.

    • Certainly didn't mean to infer that building and managing an algorithm doesn't require talent. The point was that no matter how strong the algorithm, the services don't tell you what to do with the intelligence. That's up to you. Hopefully, this will make people understand social media monitoring isn't just a service you buy and walk away from. You have to know how to use the tool, gain insights and – to your last point – put those insights into action before the services actually become useful.


Social Media Jobs

VIP Explorer’s Club