Do Social Media Monitoring Tools Provide True Intelligence?

September 9, 2011
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Having recently read a report from WebLiquid one of the interesting facts to consider is that around 70% of marketers replied finding the insights gleaned from social media monitoring tools “somewhat valuable”.  Slightly more than 20% of them found these insights “extremely valuable”. The report also shows that most marketers plan to invest more in SMM tools with few of them retreating from any further investment.

Having recently read a report from WebLiquid one of the interesting facts to consider is that around 70% of marketers replied finding the insights gleaned from social media monitoring tools “somewhat valuable”.  Slightly more than 20% of them found these insights “extremely valuable”. The report also shows that most marketers plan to invest more in SMM tools with few of them retreating from any further investment.

This is big news. 70% of marketers finding insights gleaned from SMM tools “somewhat” valuable is not a good thing and perhaps there are reasons for this. It would be very interesting to know what do marketers consider insights, how they prioritize those insights and how easily they can act once they have those insights . The problem can be summarized in one sentence:

– Marketers do not want (just) reports.

There is a lot of useful information provided by many social media Monitoring tools  : The number of mentions of a brand (or product or service) per channel, which users talk frequently about your brand  (and which of them are considered influential). Sentiment analysis provides Marketers with the perception of a brand but also the perception about competitive brands leading to what is known as competitive intelligence. Perhaps social media monitoring platforms have many types of metrics still to offer : For example, a potentially useful metric could be the ability to identify consumer  intentions (“I will definitely buy…”) and how these intentions differentiate – such as “I would buy ‘ABC’ if it was cheaper” or “I would buy ‘ABC’ if i hadn’t  purchased ‘XYZ’ already”.
Notice that SMM tools provide metrics: number of mentions per channel, top influential users, percentage of positive / negative / neutral sentiment and sentiment intensity, how mentions of a new product disperse through different social media channels, etc. 

But what is considered intelligence in social media? Would someone identify as intelligence the fact that during the past two months there was an increase in specific brand mentions on Twitter but not on YouTube? Or is it intelligence when we notice that there has been a decline in positive sentiment about a product?  All of this information is reporting and feedback. It is not meant that this is not useful information:  It is important to know what is happening and why.

So what is  true intelligence all about?

True intelligence is about knowing how to successfully promote and market a brand, product or service. To do that a marketer wants to know the best practices : With social media reports, marketers know what is happening (a decline in positive mentions on our new smartphone) and why this is happening (a potential hardware problem). Social media analytics can identify the right strategies to make things happen. True social media intelligence is about knowing which parameters (channels, number of mentions) are important in achieving a result. Is it important to have a product associated with intense (positive) sentiment? Or could it be more important to have a product being highly associated with Rumors?

There is still a long way to go in terms of generating insights from social media monitoring tools. There are many processes and parameters that will eventually used to derive more insights and better strategies. The answer to true social media intelligence is the use of predictive analytics (data and text mining)  applied to social data. That area is currently untouched by most social media monitoring tools.