Most social media monitoring tools aren't designed for a specific brand; they're designed for every brand. This distinction imposes limits on their ability to deliver the contextual, personalized analysis brands should look for when evaluating their social performance. Measurement needs to be more than just monitoring; it has to be part of your strategy. Even a cursory glance at many of the most popular tools –such as Radian6, Sysomos, Lithium– show a focus on volume and activity as metrics for success. If your page, wall, or feed is seeing a flurry of activity, you're winning. If you have more followers than the other dude, you're winning. It's no wonder so many brands focus on volume as a valuable metric for success.
These tools hope to help brands monitor their performance, but they all struggle to account for the objectives a brand is trying to solve for. None provide a range of metrics that are capable of assessing performance in truly meaningful ways -- measuring where and how digital executions are succeeding or failing and providing insight into the appropriate next steps.
Imagine if you were VP of Customer Experience for a large hotel. It is hardly a stretch to realize that tailored metrics detailing the average time it took to reply to customer inquiries would be useful in explaining, in part, your performance across digital platforms and the value that brings to the business. To help understand how you stack up against your competitors, this (and other) metrics could then be indexed and benchmarked against data points accessible to anyone who knows where to look for them. To top it off, you’d probably want a notification pushed to your community manager's iPhone if the response rate dropped below a set performance threshold, so they can respond appropriately. Tailoring and matching the metrics to your business objectives and measurement strategy provides much more actionable insights than measuring for volume alone.
At scale, requests for insight like this become increasingly difficult for general-purpose social media monitoring tools to deliver upon. While great for research, general-purpose measurement tools are focussed on high-level reporting, rather than deep analysis. As a result, most who rely on them alone end up with a muddied analysis of their performance, chock-full of false positives.
Recognizing that social media monitoring tools aren’t delivering the right kind of value often leads to a discussion about rolling out your own tools – not something everyone is equipped to do. It can be challenging enough to design your own data mining tools, let alone retain someone who can do something useful with the data, but doing so can pay dividends. Even if you’re not ready to consider building something from the ground up, here are three questions to help you assess whether you’re set up to successfully measure your online performance.
- Is your measurement framework connected to meaningful data sets, where the output is a cogent, action-oriented analysis that helps inform the decisions you're making?
- Does the social media monitoring tool you’ve chosen allow you to plug in your own data sets (static or dynamic) for a richer, complete picture of your performance?
- Does your level of analysis extend beyond the reports generated by these monitoring tools? They are a great start, but leave out a level of insight that’s only obtainable through a customized approach accompanied by a quality data set.
What has your business been doing to measure its performance online? Could you clearly articulate the pieces of your strategy?