As we have discussed before, Social Media Monitoring & Intelligence (SMMI) tools form an important part of any digital marketer's toolkit. Social Media Monitoring & Intelligence tools monitor the social web. The scope of what they end up capturing varies among them, but typically includes parts of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and major blogging platforms, among others. These tools essentially help you answer questions like:
- What do people think about our Product X?
- Which Hollywood actors are trending up and down right now?
- Who are the key people influencing our marketplace?
As with all of our coverage areas, you can find numerous tools in this category. Each of them differs in terms of depth and breadth of functionality as well as which busines scenarios they target. In our recently released Digital Marketing Technology research, we evaluate these offerings based on three main scenarios or use cases.
Understanding of these scenarios can help you identify the best "fit" for your needs. The three scenarios are:
Social Media Monitoring: This is the most common and typically simplest scenario. This scenario really provides the basis for other more complex scenarios and in some sense is pre-requisite for this category of tools. Usually, you define certain keywords and then monitor social media sources for conversations mentioning those keywords. In most cases, you know what kind of information you are looking at. You also don’t require too much deeper analysis other than what's provided in basic reports.
Social Media Intelligence: The goal of Social Media Intelligence is to infer some meaning from social posts and conversations. You can perform deeper levels of analysis, sometimes using sophisticated text analytics. Tools that target this scenario typically provide better and more customizable reporting servcies. Their sophistication makes those tools more platform-like.
Social Customer Support and Engagement: Many use cases require you to engage directly with people in social networks. You also want to track influencers and fans. Key capabilities required here include integration with several 3rd party products to pull out publicly available information about people. This scenario also presupposes capabilities for reporting and tracking engagement related history, usually via some dashboard. Workflow and CRM integration also become very important when you attempt this at any scale.
The most important point I want to make is that no single vendor excels at all three scenarios. Understanding the differences among them (and your own priorities) will allow you to clarify the strengths and weaknesses of individual offerings. In our evaluations, we scrutinize Attensity, Attentio, Oracle Collective Intellect, Salesforce.com Radian6, SDL SM2, Sysomos, and Visible Technologies and compare them head to head in terms of their support for these scenarios -- as well as other functional features.