These days, it’s not easy to keep up with all of the new products entering the social media monitoring and social customer relationship management spaces. While no list of these offerings is comprehensive, I’ve watched Ken Burbary’s wiki list of listening platforms grow from about 80 products to over 200 in the past 18 months. Some estimates of the global number of players in this arena are as high as 500.
As these solutions scramble to differentiate themselves, whether through their content collection, analytics or visualizations, it’s quite possible that never before have so many companies made something so simple seem so overwhelming.
Philip Sheldrake’s excellent new book, The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age, devotes a chapter to breaking down the core competencies of firms in the realm of social Web analytics. I participated in Philip’s Influence Scorecard initiative in 2009, an attempt to forge common definitions of bedeviling terms like “influence” and “engagement” amongst measurement professionals. The book presents a complete rethink of marketing and public relations practices and success metrics, free of decades of preconceptions about the role of the professional communicator before the digital age and focusing on the principle of exerting and measuring true influence. It also offers a helpful dissection of the 12 key factors to consider when evaluating a software tool for listening or responding to social mentions.
It got me thinking about the three core elements of the social Web ecosystem for a PR/marketing perspective: the individual, the content and the brand. Each of these have proxies that we use to track and measure, of course: the social profile (say, your Twitter or Facebook page), the content URL (where a blog post, article or video lives) and the keyword or phrase associated with a brand, organization or product. Essentially, I think all social Web analytics boils down to studying the interplay between these three core elements and their proxies. Words like engagement and influence describe the relationships between them. A good approach to determining whether a particular solution fits your needs–whether that’s our solution or something else–is to evaluate how it handles this triangle of components.
What do you think? Is that an oversimplified critique?