Tag Archives: Radian6

5 Reasons for Consolidation in the Social Media Monitoring Industry

The social media monitoring (SMM) industry is booming. Pure play SMM software providers, startups, traditional web analytics firms and now the large software companies are making advances in the field.  Ken Burbary has a wiki listing many of them, worth checking out.  If you work for one of the smaller companies, get to know your competitors big and small – in the next couple of years you could be working together or could watch them eclipse the competition.   Here are five reasons to expect more upheaval in the industry – what did I miss?

1. Scale and Demand for Sophistication

We’re all watching big brands like Ford, Pepsi and Starbucks jam away in successful social media endeavors.  The bigger the brand, the bigger the need for processing power to really crunch the data to make it meaningful – and the more internal skills and resources will be required to get access to the data.  A web analytics analogy would be using Google Analytics for a large $100M+ eCommerce site.  Those in the business know it isn’t enough to get the sophisticated level of measurement required, and many of these tools lack the robust UI and toolset to meet all requirements.

2. Business Process Changes

Many SMM tools leverage workflow to route mentions to the right person or department for triage.  Having spent years back in the heyday of SAP ERP configuring workflow, this is a deep rooted business challenge that takes thorough design effort to make effective.  Decision trees are not easy to build, and as more and more companies leverage these features, complex organizations will demand best of breed products.

3. The Data Isn’t Interesting

The numbers are the numbers.  “Number of mentions” is a just pile of comments – they have to be sorted through and made relevant.  It takes people with analytical skills to tell what they mean, intepret the story, and ultimately mine the information to translate them into actionable insights.  The tools that make this job less labor intensive will be more successful at market penetration and meeting the demands of agencies, consultants and internal departments spending energy to leverage them.

4.  Sentiment Analysis is Useless (By Itself)

Maria Ogneva wrote a terrific Mashable article about how to get the most out of  Sentiment Analysis for businesses.  The fact remains that even as these automated tools improve, they require manual labor.  If a tool is 80% accurate in automatic sentiment measurement, someone has to go through to find the 20% that aren’t.  The tool that has the best, most accurate options for making that data useful and less labor intensive will be sought after – but that technology could come from a big company with heavy R&D or a startup.  Who knows, but the best tool will make lives easier for practitioners.

5. Industry Growth

IBM just recently announced an entry into the SMM market.  Big Blue.  That should put smaller competitors on notice – either they need to improve to compete with Big Blue, or work on their exit strategy. Traditional web analytics companies like Webtrends and Omniture are adapting their offerings.  Forrester and other industry data shows continual growth and adoption of social media channels by consumers – increasing the urgency for companies to listen.

What did I miss and where do you think this industry is headed?  For posterity, wondering what the folks from Radian6 and Alterian think – two great companies we tend to see and work with most often.

Photo credit: xrrr via Flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Understanding How Social Media Impacts the Purchase Path

inspection

Few marketers dispute PPC as an effective and measurable online channel.  Social media, in contrast, is currently subject to dispute.

One of the more compelling arguments for pay-per-click search marketing is the ability to attribute web sales directly to clicks from search advertising.  ROI can be measured to multiple decimal points tying the amount of spend invested in bidding on keywords to the direct revenue and conversion.  When the conversation changes to social media, there are debates about ROI, a lack of proven approaches and many marketers still viewing social media as experimental.  ["Conversion" for those not familiar with web analytics is defined as a visitor to a web property who completes a targeted action, including signing up for an email newsletter, adding a product to a shopping cart, or completing checkout.]

Skepticism Abounds

A way to address the skepticism marketers have about social media is to draw the same correlation to the purchase path as search marketing.  Notice I did not suggest “the” way to address the skepticism –  providing better metrics won’t give the complete picture of social media benefits, but it will start to quantify the role social media can play in a marketing strategy in terms that internet marketers deal with already.  For example, today Webtrends and Radian6 made a joint product announcement tying traditional web analytics to social media monitoring, through Webtrends’ Open Exchange platform.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Establishing Credit

Traditional analytics tools give credit for conversion to the tracked marketing activity before the conversion takes place – a “last click” methodology.  This could be a search query prior to a site visit, an ad clicked through on a search results page or a banner ad.  Those in the SEM and Display Advertising industries would tell you that while these metrics are precisely measured,  a major challenge is to quantify all the “other” touchpoints a consumer has prior to conversion.  (Rosetta, my agency, has a differentiated approach to marketing analytics that does capture “view-thru” – tracking that a user saw a display ad days or even weeks prior to a conversion event).

Here is what I would like to see analytics vendors or social media monitoring platforms do to start to quantify the measurement:

  • Track participation in social technologies in similar fashion to traditional ecommerce sites (defined conversion events, page views, length of visit).  A potential limitation is that brands may only be able to track measurements based on assets they control (hosted communities, hosted blogs, custom widgets, etc).
  • Tie search engine queries, organic search site visits and PPC ad clicks – and ultimately, conversion – back to whether the user had participated in a social technology, and measure typical length of visit/level of engagement both before and after conversion.
  • Provide in one dashboard the ability to identify the direct correlation between social marketing initiatives to conversion and revenue.

This level of data would help marketers more directly measure the success of social marketing initiaitves and make at least part of the intangible, tangible.  Is that a lot to ask?

Photo credit: premasagar via flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Real Purpose of SXSWi

SXSWiSouth by Southwest is an annual interactive, film and music festival in Austin, TX.  The interactive portion of the event (aka SXSWi) is the vertiable motherlode of social media.  Twitter was launched here two years ago, and last year’s infamous horrible interview of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (and the Twitter backlash) was stuff of legends. This is my first trip to Austin and in the first day I have already made  a conclusion that is clear to folks who have been to the conference before.  Not sure if this is just a first timer’s phenomenon, but here is my grand insight: SXSW is about connecting with people.

There are tons of great sessions and content scheduled throughout the many days, and of course the parties networking events in the evenings are great ways to connect.  While the sessions have great content, I’ve found the informal time in between events and in the evenings is much more valuable.  By a huge margin.   In my first 24 hours here I’ve connected with more than fifty people who I previously only knew through Twitter or some other online channel (blog, Facebook, etc).  It’s refreshing to “convert” those relationships from virtual to physical, and in many instances there have been shared experiences and potential business opportunities discussed.  Who knows where things will lead, but I am very grateful for meeting folks and getting the opportunity to build relationships further.  Just some quick examples:

There are many more – too many to capture, but these are the highlights and a primary reason for coming to Austin for me.  Of course I do need to make sure I don’t miss the good panels and content, but there is a lot to choose from.  Are you at SXSWi?  Want to meet? You can find me on Twitter most easily to arrange to connect.  I’d love to hear what you get out of conferences too.

Photo credit: adrants via Flickr (I also happened to share a plane and cab with him on thr trip down)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]