Social Media Monitoring and Intelligence (SMM) tools source content from a wide variety of sources. Most of the times, these include:
- Regular web sites
- Blogs and public blog hosts such as Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr
- Video and audio sharing sites like YouTube and DailyMotion
- Public micro-blogging services, mainly Twitter
- Public Social Networking venues such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+
In fact, most tools vendors will claim they monitor millions of sources.
But monitoring millions of sources may not be enough for you. Consider the following:
- More is not always better. Mass hosting providers like Wordpress.com host millions of blogs. So does Blogger and others. SMM vendors count each of these blogs as a source, and that bumps up their number.
- If the tool does not monitor the one key source that's really critical to you, all other millions of data streams become of little use to you. This is especially important when you want to monitor country-specific or language-specific sources. So make sure you find out if the sources you want to monitor – such as that food recipe review site or an ecommerce site - are included by the vendor or not. If they are not, find out whether they will be open to including those sources and what will it take to do that.
- Besides public sources, you might want to monitor some protected sources (such as your Intranet discussion forum) or a subscription-only Journal. In such cases, find out if the tool vendor can work with you to include those sources.
- Even for a specific source, vendors will exhibit varying degrees of support. So while an SMM tool may claim to monitor Facebbok, they may not monitor Facebook groups or brand pages equally well.
- In many cases, tool vendors have specific agreements or restrictions in terms of how often they can crawl a source. Some times, this relates tothe terms of service of destination source. Other times, it can stem from some other random limitation. This can meaningfully affect your results, especially if you are want in monitor in real time.
These issues don't just bedevil smaller vendors such as Attentio (a Belgian vendor we cover in our forth coming Digital Marketing Report). Even bigger vendors like Radian6 (which was acquired by Salesforce.com) have had such issues.
There are many such considerations that you should look at while evaluating vendors for Social Media Monitoring and Intelligence. Besides Attentio and Radian6, we will be covering Attensity, Visible Technologies, Collective Intellect, SDL SM2 (SDL acquired Alterian recently) and Sysomos in our critical evaluations.