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I already knew of the growing use of social media throughout the world. Anyone breathing and communicating would. What I did not know is that a new field has been created for those interested in gathering, evaluating, analyzing, reporting and acting on social media data. That’s right – who would have thought that the comments that many are sending to family, friends and strangers are so meaningful to many organizations? Start-up organizations that are intent on affecting their customers’ business success are monitoring and capturing public data that is traveling through blogs, discussion boards, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, forums, micromedia, consumer review sites, etc.

Curious as to what products and services are offered, I researched the top 20 companies in this field to see if my interest would be maintained and my curiosity would be satisfied. What I found is a wellspring of companies throughout the world that have caught on to the need for assisting organizations to:

  1. Learn how to use social media successfully
  2. Evaluate findings to improve product development, gauge customer satisfaction and deliver effective marketing messages
  3. Provide customer support
  4. Determine influencers and capitalize on this information appropriately
  5. Create an effective social media strategy
  6. Improve decision making through better understanding of the market and the competition

The majority of the providers I researched have much of the same information on their Web sites. So, instead of naming each of the companies involved, I prefer to highlight the providers in this piece who I feel bring unique offerings to those interested in learning from the use of social media.

The Process to Make Data Meaningful

The overall process most of these providers use is shown below:

Some of these service providers present their capabilities in easy to understand explanations on their Web sites. Others present too much information so the reader becomes overwhelmed and lost in the maze of getting through all the links and verbiage. Most, if not all, publish their client lists showing the reader that many well-known companies are using these services. Many organizations offer their dedicated analysts to assist clients in developing social media strategy and interpreting results. Few companies offered pricing details and among those who did presented different options from each other so customers are left to determine which pricing strategy is best for them.

How Are Social Media Monitoring Web Sites Attracting You

What were appealing to me though were the Web sites that displayed creative approaches to present information in a colorful and “cool” manner. Radian6 is definitely a favorite. The shot below is the type of graphic Radian6 uses that I find pleasantly different than most Web sites.

Spredfast’s  approach is very inviting. It looks clean and, although there is a lot of information on the site, it is not in your face and yet it is easy to access.

I love that Converseon displays live Twitter feeds and blog references on its home page demonstrating its use of social media. Omg!

The detail below show Converseon tweets on the left as well as its Blog postings:

Most of the companies who engage in evaluating the effectiveness of social media offer a variety of reporting tools, some customizable: Attensity 360, Brandwatch, Sysomos, to name a few.

What really caught my eye were the more sophisticated tools that a few organizations have created to display results in graphic format, allowing for drilling into layers of detail, depending on customers’ needs. Collective Intellect offers psychographics analysis, which was something new to me and I loved it! The analysis determines how people live through information they provide about their lifestyles. The detailed results of the data are easy to obtain and pleasing to view.

Spiral16 uses 3-D visual-mapping capabilities, which are very attractive and informative. The depiction that results from the analysis, as shown in the graphic below, helps the analyst interpret results by looking at the trends associated with the social media data.

From here an analyst can click into areas to obtain more specific detail on a study’s findings.

A Key Reason for Your Company to Monitor and Analyze Social Media

The one really impactful reason to me to take advantage of these services is that companies can now be proactive in product development and marketing. Social media can complement, if not replace, primary research since companies can listen to the “conversations” happening throughout the Web that relate to product ideas that may be considered for development and need action. For example, women may be commenting on why specific hair coloring products are not working for them. Companies looking to develop hair dyes can use this input to create products with improved features that they now know are of interest to women.

As an aside, the rise of these companies could be meaningful to the unemployed since this shows how one area of job growth may slow and another may take its place. In this case, these providers are the new growth area that would satisfy prospective employees who wish to advise companies on how to get the most out of new means to have a conversation, conduct research, market products, etc. All of the 20 top companies I researched seem to be hiring!

Are You Interested in Getting Social Media Brand Monitoring?

I would like to continue my research to apprise readers with a more in depth analysis that would be helpful in deciding whether to use social media monitoring services and, if so, which ones may suit their needs. I would welcome any client organizations using social media monitoring services that would like to participate in a case study on the effectiveness of social media on their business success to contact me. I can be reached at  858-413-6688.

About the Author: Susan Schneider.
Ms. Schneider has worked in the Information Technology industry for 20 years in consulting and advisory roles to top business executives. She has published online technology- and finance-related articles since 2007.

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