Social Media Monitoring and Analysis

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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:

  1. dashboard use
  2. business user customization, and
  3. 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?
Creative Commons License photo credit: deltaMike

<a class=”linkedin-profileinsider-popup” href=””> Brian Saperstein</a>
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  • “CIO should get ahead of the curve”


    Other wise CMO’s start looking for CMT’s - Chief Marketing Technologists & another silo is born.

    To borrow a term that has become popular since the first Gulf War - CIO’s should have someone embedded in marketing (and other units)

    The embedded staff to become the experts at marketing needs - and the advocate for what already may exist within IT

    • In a previous life I basically got recruited to be that CMT, straddling the line between marketing and IT, and, alas, popular with neither side. I’m curious, Elliot — in your experience, how has this embedded role worked best to bring marketing and IT together? (And of course, what *hasn’t* worked?)

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  • ahhh… you’re looking for social media research! It’s a passion of mine and I’ve been working to demonstrate the difference between monitoring and research for quite a while now. Monitoring without knowing the degree of emotions or the placement of the emotions is quite useless. You need to know relative emotions among a multitude of specific product characteristics. Basically, you need to pretend that social media data is survey data and generate the same kinds of data points. Fun stuff!

    • Glad to find some like minds out here… It is interesting to watch how technology, service offerings and CMO expectations are evolving as social media becomes less a risk to be managed and more an valuable market intelligence opportunity. Speaking of relative emotions, I have participated in many a lively debate over measuring emotions and sentiment in social media — can it be accurately measured, and if so, in aggregate what real value does it bring to a marketer. I’d love to hear your thoughts as someone deep in the industry…

  • Greeting Jeff,

    First, On the intersection of Marketing and IT - I recommend Scott Brinker’ Chief Marketing Technologist blog 🙂 I love it because I don’t always agree

    Scott is a proponent of ditching IT in favour of a Marketing IT function - I have more reservations -

    What won’t work is an IT staffer who is simply an agent provocateur to a CI-No who tries to herd marketing down a garden path. The tough part is always human.

    But proper representation and corporate governance can ensure scenarios like the following don’t happen;

    Should Marketing invest millions in video content delivery networks when training already has? Probably not. Should marketing invest and duplicate millions on high availability database engines by one vendor when that architecture already exists with another? Again - I think not.

    The above is a brief summary of my response to one of Scott’s posts on IT Dictators here:

    Best Regards


    • I like where you are going here, Elliot. Without diving into whether other functional areas also deserve embedded IT partners, your argument and my experience leave me convinced that B2C marketing departments need tight collaboration — perhaps embedded technologists — to keep that all important profitable revenue flowing.

      Even the simple inclusion of a well-connected, decently-resourced senior architect on the marketing leadership team could be a huge help. I have always found marketing to have the deepest tensions with IT folks running the day-to-day of app maintenance, security, and infrastructure — you know, the places where exceptions to rules are less welcome. Of the flip side, though, marketing and enterprise architecture have a natural affinity, at least in theory, since EA tends to take the long view, anticipating the inter-connectedness, agility, flexibility, and change that digitally focused, consumer-centric marketing requires these days.

      Put another way, EA tends to insist on standards and shared services because someone is eventually going to come along and ask for today’s point solution to become tomorrow’s shared platform. More often than not, it’s a marketer that is just that someone…

  • Jeff, I’m glad you’rr raising this topic with CIOs…

    If your CMO hasn’t already raised of social media montioring, then you — the CIO — should definitely raise the topic. As a web marketer, I come across many marketing execs behind the curve on the online side of the business. These CMOs are missing both the opportunity to harness the online conversations already occurring of which they are unaware, and on all the capabilities of web marketing to reach new customers and build their credibility and authority online. If the CIO can help the CMO from falling too far behind, then you will do them a great service by getting them in the game. And help yourself by not letting your company fall further behind and have a longer way to catch up later.

  • Paul Novak

    I would have to say that at this point in time, I’m sure both the CIO and CMO have already heard or at least read that SM intelligence is something they both should care about. The CIO needs awareness of the software/capability landscape so that he/she can answer the inevitable questions that will be raised. The CMO will want to understand the capabilities, value, legal ramifications, and “gotchas”. In a space which is evolving more quickly than one can imagine, it would be smart to get ahead of the game and being the analysis now.

  • Great article. I especially appreciate the warning at the end. While business intelligence isn’t new, the types and meaning of data emerging from the social world is new and different. This makes it more critical than ever to get beyond merely regurgitating data in dashboards. Integrating social in an enterprise architecture will help connect the data being gleaned from the social fabric to the business value being derived from it.

    • Thanks, Chris. People are out there — publicly — discussing our brands. Quite simply, those discussions *are* business intelligence. The only question is whether you are gathering it and doing something with it.

  • Georges Mpoudi Ngole

    Pretty interesting post Jeff,

    One key aspect of the intelligence of social media conversations to be carefully looked at is the customer relations. If the CMO is to be worried about the brand health online, the Customer Relations head would also be quite worried about type, reasons, duration and number of (re-) occurences of customer complains which are not going through existing CRM channels and thus are not being attended!

    The CIO has a key role to play in order for the business to really benefit from the positives of the Social Media Revolution while containing its negatives…

  • Amitabha Sinha

    Good & informative

  • The post is very informative. Thanks. I liked the questions very much - when you stop for a moment and answer them, you find out more about what your goals are. This is like thinking about your reputation in advance.

  • Myrna Greenhut

    If you don’t you listen first to industry chatter, you are wasting your articles marketing time. You need to know what your customers are looking for before you put pen to paper.

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