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20 Questions To Choose The Right Social Media Monitoring Tool


Image via Wikipedia

Evaluating social media monitoring (SMM) tools can be like throwing darts. There are dozens of vendors who differ in countless ways, the offerings are always changing, many (if not most) tools will not meet all of your needs, and often you don’t know if you have made the right decision until it’s a sunk cost. I have worked with many sharp companies and agencies who admit that they are not sure which questions to ask. There are plenty of opinons about the “best” tools, but without knowing your objectives, it is impossible for others to determine the SMM tool that will meet your needs, or even the tool will meet your budget given some tools’ cryptic pricing structures.

Hopefully the the following questions not only optimize your SMM evaluation process but also point out common areas of confusion. The goal is simply to match your objectives with the application’s offerings.

There are no right or wrong answers, except perhaps a vendor’s refusal to answer a question.  You are the only one who can determine how much historical data you need, the information you want included in reports, or i if your team requires workflow functionality. Edit the questions to suite your business use case – if you don’t care about the answer, don’t ask the question. 

 1. What type(s) and how much of the following social media channels do you index: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, traditional news, videos, photos, etc..?

2. How much historical data is provided for new queries? On the first day, how many days of data is available?

3. How long does it take for a new search to return results? Is there any lag time?

4. If you don’t already index a source, can users add them manually?

5. When someone posts something online, how long does it take for the data to appear in the application?  What is the lag time by channel?

6. How accurate are your spam filters? What percentage of spam does your algorithm catch vs. human-scores?  Is this a learning algorithm that improves with users’ input?

7. Do you automatically determine sentiment for all types of content? How long does this take to process?

8. How accurate is your sentiment algorithm vs. human scoring? Can users override the algorithm’s grading? If so, does the algorithm learn/get smarter over time?

9. Can users respond and post directly to posts, tweets and other online content without leaving the application, i.e. is there an engagement platform incorporated into the application? If not, do you integrate with any engagement platforms?

10. How robust are your workflow features? Is there a way to assign tickets to coworkers within the application?  Can users track tickets’ progress and turnaround time, annotate and share content and email content of interest to each other?

11. Do you offer alerts? How are they triggered? Are they real-time? Brand mentions?  Changes in sentiment? Volume increases, etc…?

12. What kind of reports do you offer within and outside of the application? May I see some sample reports?

13. Can all data be exported from the applications, so that users can slice and dice it in different ways?

14. Is there a limit to the number of keywords users may require or exclude from queries to hone in on only the desired mentions?  Some brands are difficult to disambiguate, i.e. Friendly’s.

15. How much training time is required to get up to speed and fully functional? Are there any set up fees?

16. Please provide a quote and explain how you charge. Number of users?  Number of results?  Number of queries? If you charge by number of results, how do I ensure that I don’t exceed my budget?

17. What kind of training do you offer? What is the cost? Do you offer additional services either free or paid for to supplement you product’s offerings? Examples include social media audits, customized reporting for campaigns or events, onsite refresher courses, etc…

18. Will a human being be available if I encounter a problem?

19. Can users trigger additional costs within the application?

20. Do you offer a free trial?  Will the trial workspace be identical to the product’s actual offerings?

Still feel like you are throwing darts? What questions would you add to the list?

-Liza Sperling

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*This post was originally published on oneforty.com. Thank you Laura Fitton and Janet Aronica for the opportunity to guest post in one of my favorite social business communities.

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