We need more help to listen

Sunday, August 30th, 2009 | Social Media

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There have been several recent write-ups about social media monitoring tools. The majority of the reviews surround flaws and functionality.

I share some of the opinions, yes we do need clearer geographically defined data and the ability to extract more granular information.

My concerns, however, reside with the completeness of data and information. Note I say data and information, information is created from data when knowledge and context is applied to it.

Opinion, feedback and dialogue features are now plumbed into many websites and web services. UGC is everywhere and it exists in many forms:

Lifestreaming services: Friendfeed and Posterous
Social Networks: Facebook
Bespoke online communities: Ning
Dedicated review sites
Review panels on websites
Comments on mixed media
Comments in online national press
Content voting
Product feedback on retail websites (Amazon et al)

The list above could get much longer, but it demonstrates that if people want to “talk” they have the option to do so — in a variety of different ways.

I am yet to find a piece of software or social media monitoring tool that can accurately collate data and produce entirely complete information and analysis. Even the market leaders (who I will leave nameless) seem to generate data which doesn’t provide a truly complete picture.

The reality is that the majority of these tools use old practices such as screen scrapping or the skinning of data from existing API’s.

We need data that can be segmented in more granular ways, and information that aids strategy development to cater for each type of persona on the Social Technographs Ladder.

I mention the Social Technographs Ladder because I think the way people create and use their own media, social media, will evolve. Proactively catering for each type of persona on the Social Technographs Ladder will become increasingly important for any brand that is truly working to “earn media”.

What I personally want to see in social media monitoring tools is specific insight into the activities of each persona in relation to specific topics, themes and brands.

Samepoint, the free social media monitoring tool, does a good job of collecting data from various social platforms that each persona may use. It would be good to see one of the larger players in the market build on this work, create visualisations around the data and provide deeper analysis.

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