Finding the right social media monitoring tool

By Posted in - Crisis Communications & HE Comms & Monitoring & Social Media on July 14th, 2010 0 Comments

I posted this over on HE Comms this morning and thought it worth sharing here too…

A question that I increasingly come up against now as I go out and run workshops for HEIs on social media strategy and implementation is how to monitor your online reputation. There are a number of free tools available to do this now, all with their limitations, and increasingly more and more subscription services that offer sophisticated solutions but again come with limitations. This morning I spotted a note on the CIM HE Marketing Group on LinkedIn informing members of a new service developed by ESISS that is specifically designed to monitor online reputation of HEIs. The service costs £3000 per year and they’re offering a two-week free trial.

The pricing is fairly competitive, I believe, with other paid-for services but at first glance of their description of the service I too would say it comes with its limitations. Firstly, their list of sites monitored sounds limited (Google Searches, Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, Blogosphere, News Sites, Wikipedia, TheStudentRoom, WhatUni, RateMyProfessor, IRC/IRQ, Graduate
Jobs Forum and eBay). It may be the case, however, that they just don’t list everything on their marketing materials but if this is the complete list, it is fairly restricted. I also worry that the weekly summary reports will result in customers just relying on those for their updates and not making the effort to check updates more regularly. A lot of damage can be done online in the short space of 7 days, so monitoring really needs to be done daily. Finally, they also claim that the service ‘categorises the reputational risk automatically on behalf of the organisation’. This sounds to be to an attempt at automatic sentiment analysis, but as this Fresh Networks review of paid-for social media monitoring tools revealed, automatic sentiment analysis is not particularly reliable, and a human-approach is very much required too. There could be a danger of relying on such services that you’ll miss an emerging crisis, or an excellent opportunity because an automatic system has categorised it incorrectly.

Now, of course, I’m saying all of this without actually trialling the tool so I’m very interested to hear from anyone who is trialling it. The plus points for the tool are that it monitors some networks that are very specific to HE (thestudentroom, for example) that other monitoring sites may miss, it enables translations of mentions of your brand in foreign languages, and it does allow for some benchmarking too. I’m very much looking forward to hearing of others experiences of using this tool or others on the market.

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