Guest post by Jeff Auker
The market for the monitoring and analysis of social media conversations is beginning to hit its stride, so CIOs should expect a growing demand from your marketing colleagues for assistance selecting, installing, and maintaining a social media intelligence tool set.
In conversations with CMOs here’s what they say they are looking to learn from social media conversations:
The explosion of uncontrolled communication and the proliferation of channels represent a whole new ballgame. We CMOs have to pay attention to everything everyone else is saying about our brands, not just what we’re saying about it in our ads, direct mail and PR. What keeps us up at night is an increasing lack of control of both the content and distribution of influential messages about the brands we manage.
Imagine your CMO’s frustration if someone were creating rogue commercials about your products that were airing all over an array of unknown cable channels. The immediate reaction would reveal our most fundamental reasons for installing social listening tools:
What is being said about us, who is saying it, and when and where is it being said?
If you are in a niche industry that doesn’t generate much chatter or passion from consumers your social listening needs may be met by constructing a simple online news alert feed with a handful of keywords including your brands, your competitors, and some typical phrases associated with your products, services, and industry.
If, however, your company or category is a popular topic of consumer conversation, you will find too many mentions coming too fast for a marketer to manage without some dashboard summarizing and feed prioritizing. In that case you may want to evaluate third-party vendors.
Once the CMO has regained visibility into discussions about their brands, social media may morph from a risk to be managed into an analytic asset to be exploited. Requirements will escalate from listening to analysis, from collection to intelligence.
- When people talk about us, what do they talk about?
- Where do people discuss us online?
- Who holds the most influence?
- Is what’s being said about us good or bad?
- How are we trending?
- How do we compare to our competitors?
- How do marketing or PR efforts change the quantity and quality of our buzz?
To answer these questions, you will need a tool set with features like keyword extraction, tag clouds, heat maps, sentiment analyses, trending, pivot analyses (canned and ad hoc), and competitive intelligence. For scalability and TCO, look carefully at the ease of:
- dashboard use
- business user customization, and
- export of data into your BI systems for deeper analysis and mashups with other data sets.
Finally, social media intelligence is a relatively immature market, so be wary. Free tools are available and open source alternatives are adding new features all the time. Among third-party vendors, pricing and feature sets vary. A lot. Expect rapid change and potential consolidation (think about what’s happened to some of the shiny toys marketers were asking for over the last 5 or 6 years, like web analytics and content management systems).
What’s Next in Social Media Intelligence?
As the social intelligence marketplace settles in, marketers are going to catch on to the value of well-captured and analyzed social media activity as the world’s largest real-time focus group. Soon, we will not only be asking what social media can tell us about what the market is doing now, but what markets will be wanting next. If it sounds unreasonable for a CMO to ask machines and software to analyze a huge set of informal, unstructured conversations for actionable insights into unmet needs in our target markets, perhaps it is. For now.
Do you think the CIO should get ahead of the curve and start the conversation with CMO about creating value from social media intelligence?
photo credit: deltaMike
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