According to InformationWeek's 2012 Social Networking in the Enterprise Survey, 54% of respondents familiar with their organizations' social networking monitoring tools say marketing holds the primary responsibility for these tools. IT is in charge at about one-third.
Social media is one tech spending area, along with Web analytics and marketing automation software, that is increasingly being led by chief marketing officers. Most often they use cloud-based service providers, such as Radian6 and NetBase, for the foundational monitoring of social media. Those vendors handle the monitoring of data feeds from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and the screen scraping from other Web sources that don't offer APIs.
American Express decided to develop its core social database in-house to give it unfettered access to and control over the data. American Express blends its data with psychographic and demographic data from third-party providers to support fine-grained customer segmentation and targeting. Companies analyzing sentiment about just their own brand and industry may find an in-house resource doesn't have to involve huge data volumes. Plenty of companies have built social media applications without getting into exotic platforms such as Hadoop. And about half of companies in our social networking survey monitoring their companies' brands rely on search alerts from Google or Bing.
Other functions needed on top of monitoring include CRM-based routing capabilities, to send product queries to employees able to respond to comments. Some companies will want publishing and management software with workflows that require an employee to get approval before posting something; such software might also make it easier to reuse content to answer oft-asked questions. Conversion-tracking features help companies turn comments into sales leads.
Deeper analysis and understanding of comments requires natural language processing capabilities, and many specialists in this software, such as Lexalytics and Lithium, have partnerships with social media management platform providers. Measurement capabilities help companies establish baselines on customer sentiment and then track the effectiveness of advertising, public relations, and social media campaigns.
Frank says social media will increasingly be seen as just a part of the classic marketing funnel: moving people from product awareness to buying consideration to buying to advocating for the product.
With that context in mind, while a lot of sentiment analysis dashboards highlight the red, negative sentiment versus the green, positive ones, "I'm trying to crack the code on the neutral sentiment," Frank says. Those are would-be buyers without entrenched feelings to overcome who can be moved to buy. In an election year, the parallel use for social media monitoring is to tune into and influence those all-important swing voters.
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