Why Are You Wasting Time and Money with Radian6, Scout Labs, SM2, or Other Social Media Monitoring Tool?

Posted on February 17, 2010

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Why Are You Wasting Time and Money with Radian6, Scout Labs, SM2, or Other Social Media Monitoring Tool?

By Steve Farnsworth (@Steveology)

For the past several years I have been intrigued with the idea of using the information that search engines capture as a research tool of consumer’s preference and strategic marketing insight. All that data, all those opinions, and all those people make phone surveys and focus groups seem like a Dark Age’s best practice. As social media began to take over my communications consulting practice I was excited about getting involved with social media listening tools for that very potential.

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Dirty Little Secret

I talk to a lot of people in social media on a daily basis. I love to hear what and how people are using social media in the real world. I’ll ask about their social media listening tool and program. That’s how I discovered a dirty little secret. After most companies buy them, the tool becomes functionally the Software as a Service (SaaS) version of Shelfware. Shelfware-as-a-service?

I’ve spoken with a number of representatives from social media monitoring tool developers, who have been nothing but great to me, and several of them have confided that this is an industry-wide problem. Publicly vendors usually deny this or say that it does not apply to their tool. I get that. For the most part it’s not their fault, per se. While the tools have some shortcomings, the bulk of responsibility rests squarely on the users’ lack of vision, and understanding of smart practices around implementation and adaptation.

Some Monitoring. Some Integration.

I’m only slightly overstating about social media monitoring tools being Shelfware. Clients are often integrating the tools into customer service, and someone in marketing is usually making the blog/tweet version of a clip book for management–Wow, how underwhelming. However, the real potential to shape real-time strategic decision making for the C-level suite, product development, communications, and branding is going largely untapped.

It’s like having a state-of-the-art heavy tank in your arsenal, but you only use it to roll over and crush soda cans for recycling.

“We Have A Nice Kid In Marketing That Does That For Us.”

It is not uncommon for me to ask a company’s CMO, “Who is managing your social media listening?” Only to hear back that it is some lowly contributor in marketing. (No one ever really admits this, but a few questions into a conversation and the truth is easy to spot.)

You have no idea how genuinely heartbreaking this is, because 9 out of a 10 times this means that the smart, young individual contributor doing the day-to-day monitoring is also their advisor for companywide social media listening integration. In other words, no one with influence and understanding is really driving it. This is a heartbeat away from saying that your nephew designed your company logo.

Like social media itself, investing in a social media monitoring tool is a waste of staff, resources, management focus, and budget if you approach it as an action item to check off and move on.

Dominating Your Industry

However, if you include a representative from every key department on the team to help implement your social media monitoring program, build a strong mix of skills and points of view, constantly evaluate efforts and results, and set clear goals, you have a fighting chance at making social media monitoring a powerful asset to your organization.

That’s just for starters. Do you want to dominate your industry before your competitors realize what hit them? If the answer is yes, then appoint a project champion that has:

  • Passion
  • Responsibility
  • Authority to execute
  • Ability to translate listening data into actionable intelligence

It’s up to you. Are you a visionary or an empty suit?

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