An excellent post came on our radar last week (even though it was written back in January!) Social Media Monitoring is Not Research by Tom O’Brien & David Rabjohns at MotiveQuest - Go and check it out.
It raises an important point that can be applied to a number of online marketing initiatives; simply having the tools does not mean you are using them correctly or solving wider business objectives. For example, social media monitoring CAN be used for research but until you delve into the data to pull the actionable insights…it’s just data collection. You need to get into the mechanics of how customers are using the networks and see how tactical engagement (content and conversations) can help your business…and that requires some smarts.
The rapid adoption of social media and the share economy has created a new market full of potential for brand and many of the new software that are helping to tap into the data and manage the platforms can lull people into a false sense of security – eg. “We have Radian6 or Brandwatch so we are doing social research” or “We have Google analytics and Webmaster tools installed on our site so we have website insights covered off”. These tools will pull in data; humans (with a certain level of skill) need to do the drilling down to get the value.
To get the real value from social media (and it is significant if done correctly) you need to look into the insights from all the pieces of the puzzle such as Audits, monitoring, analytics, responses to posts and content. This will show you what is working, what the sentiment of the market is, how the competitors are perceived….that is great intelligence that, if leveraged, can make a huge difference a business. If you just look at the public numbers (mentions, followers, fans, page impressions etc) then you are in danger of seriously overestimating the effectiveness of your social media program
The tools available today are good and will only get better but remember, they are just tools. The valuable stuff that will help your business the most is in the detail, the insights and the interactions you can generate with customers and advocates using social media. The quicker you can get to that stage, then the quicker you will start to see REAL results that can impact on your bottom line.