There are a lot of tools available for getting information from social media, both free and paid.
Many free tools operate on owned social media content, meaning that users link up their social accounts and analyze and interact within one tool, I like Buffer for this. Other free and low cost tools can also monitor specific keywords on Twitter, I personally prefer Tweetdeck for this, but Hootsuite is good too.
Free and low-cost tools are great for basic counting (think impressions and retweets) but when you need to really learn what people are saying across the entire social web and receive advanced analysis, then it is time to implement something much more powerful. This is where social media monitoring and intelligence platforms enter the mix.
These aren’t free, but are worth every penny for teams and agencies that need to truly understand the social landscape. There are nearly 100 social media monitoring platforms available to use and each has its own forte, but there are a select few that stand out from the crowd, and for good reason.
When evaluating the options here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Sentiment Analysis - Don’t Take Accuracy at Face Value
If you’re going with a platform to better understand social media, you need to make sure that the platform not only does this accurately but analyzes as much content as possible.
Never take accuracy claims at face value. Ask how the accuracy figure was determined, what the sample size was, and what criteria was used. Also make sure your provider provides the recall number. Recall is a measure of how many documents were actually scored for sentiment. Achieving high accuracy scores is really easy if a provider neglects to score the documents they don’t think they’ll get right. More on this here
2. Flexibility - Static or Dynamic?
There are very few cases where just monitoring one brand will give you all that you should know from social media. Similarly, with static dashboards there’s a lot a team can miss out on, particularly when a topic receives millions of mentions per day. In evaluating tools, your team should consider whether or not to take a, “set it and leave it,” approach, or an approach that offers more flexibility.
You should ask: How easily can I modify the queries I’ve requested to run? Can I run queries on the fly or is there setup involved? Is there a limit to how many queries I can run? How far back does the data go?
When a platform is unlimited, it encourages curiosity.
3. Context - Beyond Volume
Almost any platform can count mentions for you, but only the best tools uncovers meaning and tells you what information is statistically relevant.
Can you research audience segments with specific interests and commonalities? What are the measures the system uses to analyze content? Does the system measure themes like purchase intent and emotions like trust, or will you have to use query language to find these things on your own?
4. Ease of Use - Digging vs Discovery
These tools are supposed to make your life easier, and they should tell you the story instead of you having to find out on your own. A platform should highlight when something important has happened (or is happening) and what the primary drivers were.
As you demo and trial platforms, consider: How easy will it be for me to understand what’s actually happening with my subject? Does the system tell me what the spikes on a trendline mean or do I have to find out for myself? How will this help me better understand who is talking and why?
5. Pricing - Scalability
Unfortunately, a lot of providers will nickel and dime their customers all day for additional queries and access to older data. One such platform touts historical data back to 2006 but charges nearly $2,000 per query, per year for access! Wow! That escalated quickly! (*Infegy provides access back through 2007 with every account at no extra charge, please excuse the shameless plug.)
If you have more than one brand or query you’re looking to research, an unlimited platform that let’s you search as many times as you want and as many topics as you want definitely has the clear advantage. Furthermore, if historical data is important, you should make sure you understand the pricing structure up front, as many of the platforms that offer it, charge extra and the cost is substantial.
Interested in seeing if Infegy Atlas is the right social monitoring platform for your team? Schedule a Demo