Selecting a social media listening product is no easy task: the social analytics space is in flux with few clear standards for metrics and measurement, many vendors that offer products are only a few years old and the feature set and price variation can be huge. While navigating this maze, buyers often make one of the two mistakes: they don’t ask the right questions or they end up going in so much detail that they miss the forrest for the trees.
This post cuts through the clutter and gives you the seven most important evaluation criteria for selecting an enterprise-grade social media listening and intelligence product. Scroll below to see a text version.
Read the text version below.
Make sure you are evaluating an enterprise-grade product with clients from well-known brands. Beware of freemium products where there is usually not much history and experience of providing enterprise features and support.
#2. Data Quality and Sources
You want to listen to as many relevant sources as possible such as the big social networks as well as blogs, forums and user-generated content sites. But more important than that, you should get relevant, highest quality data. Make sure you understand how the product collects, cleans and enriches data.
#3. Setup and Organization
Listening starts with search queries also known as Keywords. The product must allow you to create simple search terms as well as advanced boolean queries. Pay attention to the kind of exclusions (Keyword-based and Global) that the product supports. Language and geo-location filters are a key need for most organizations.
#4. Metrics and Analytics
The breadth and depth of social metrics is critical for most buyers. Make sure the product offers a thorough set of easy-to-understand metrics which are valuable for your business goals. Avoid proprietary metrics which are hard to interpret or explain.
#5. Presentation / Dashboards
Social listening products need to be able to crunch through large volumes of data to present the most relevant insights for you and your boss. The results must be presented in high-quality and aesthetically pleasing executive dashboards with interactive drill-down capabilities that allow social media managers and analysts to get advanced information as and when needed. All of the metadata and aggregated chart data should be exportable for offline use.
Does the product offer customizable, configurable in-depth reports? For instance, can you include your choice of social posts to be included in the report automatically? How easy is it to white-label the reports and share them with others? What alerts and notifications are available?
Is it a simple, flat price or a complicated formula where you pay for everything from social posts volume (outside your control) to number of user seats? A reasonable range is few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month.
Here’s a suggested approach. Assign a maximum score of 20 to each of the criteria from #2 to #6 and rate products based on your assessment for each factor (perhaps a 15 for an impressive reporting features, 10 for average). That will allow you to compare products based on a score of 100.
I hope this was helpful. What is your perspective on this topic? Which criteria are important to you?