I received an email from a friend the other day who was searching for a social media monitoring service for the company he works for – they’re a few years old, have a few thousand customers and are generating enough “buzz” to warrant more than the basic Google search, Twitter search routine.
The next step up seems to be the low level aggregation services – I tried out icerocket and socialmention with a search for “CloudAve”. Both delivered similar results although socialmention’s result page had some more useful metrics;
However these services, while admittedly a step up from those provided by the standard search sites, don’t really allow for any level of engagement and dynamism – they’re great for individuals ego searches, or perhaps the youngest of startup’s needs but what my friend really needed was a two way social monitoring and social engagement service – one that could be speicifed to regions, was reliable, performed robust analysis, was easy to use and which didn’t cost the absolute earth.
I reviewed Radian6’s offering awhile ago – Radian6 is a top shelf product used by the likes of Dell and Comcast. Interestingly enough VP of Marketing at Dell, Andy Lark, recently posted opining on the value of social media monitoring tools saying;
We [Dell] couldn’t live without it. Skipping aside all the communications necessities – like, how can you participate in the conversation if you aren’t aware of it? There are vital business requirements.
Take customer service and support. Without the monitoring, how would our customer service and support teams understand where a customer is troubled or in need? The assumption they are going to phone is flawed in a world where they are recording their lifestream in minutes if not seconds.
One critical delineator is “monitoring” vs. “measurement”. Big difference. We monitor the stream surrounding Dell and our brands. We also seek to measure the impact of our programs and activity. Those without monitoring will loose competitive advantage as much as they loose insight. Those without measurement run the risk of misguided strategy and lack of business relevance.
Clearly Dell derives real value from their monitoring so it would seem small businesses too could use the service. Back to my friend who sadly reported that he was;
astounded at the business models being used and gobsmached at the prices. Firstly the service is throttled back unless you are prepared to pay upwards of $40kUS per year in terms of search results and search terms
The pricing detail for Radian6 is below;
You can easily see how a business with, for example, 20 users could get close to the $40k my contact suggested. It seems to me that this case is a little symptomatic of where we are with a lot of software offerings – there’s lots out there for the minnows, and there’s lots out there for the big paying corporates – but the space in-between is relatively bare.
Luckily there are enough terms in this post to ensure that every social monitoring software company out there is aware of the issue – I’m looking forward to being inundated with emails and reviewing a ton of offerings in the weeks ahead…. at least I hope that’s the case.