Customers who buy into a social media monitoring solution in 2014 want a page of insights backed by a “living” appendix. The “living” appendix is your technical solution where the customer can study the evidence for your insights. This evidence, in today’s real-time world, is a simple interface in the form of a mobile app that delivers abundant examples supporting the insights on your one-page.
Once the customer of social media monitoring feels confident in this insight-evidence system, he/she will ask you for ways to grow a business based upon the insights. One of the best ways to build a business based on insights from social media is a robust CRM (Customer Relationship Management data set). A robust CRM means that you have taken every person talking about a topic online and discovered their real name, current address, current mobile/landline, current email, current social links and examples of their interest (tweets, posts, comments).
When you have this depth of information about a market, and its occupants, then you have everything you need to develop engaging content. To develop engaging content means that you have listened to the conversation, you have studied and analyzed its participants and you have stepped into the conversation with something to say that contributes to the cutting edge of the conversation at hand. When you post into a comment thread, it is always wise to read the entire thread. When you reply to a tweet, it is wise to have studied who you are responding to so that your reply develops rapport and demonstrates a “seeing” of that particular person. When you develop a blog post on an industry, it is smart to research that industry. This is how great content is created and sustained.
A powerful tool for listening to and analyzing online conversations is Brandwatch. Run by Giles Palmer, the solution has myriad ways to segment conversation data, and the company culture at Brandwatch combines technical know-how, maturity and a certain understated confidence that makes every conversation with staff an “a-ha” moment for those just getting into social media monitoring. Start with Brandwatch when you are on the listening journey.
Once you’ve spent time listening, you will have the large (but fun) project of assembling a CRM related to a topic. While Brandwatch is very useful in discovering usernames related to a conversation, you will need a few other tools to “append” further details. I recommend SocialBro as an excellent tool for downloading extensive spreadsheets from Twitter of those in conversation on a topic. You will be able to combine spreadsheets from Brandwatch and SocialBro to create a near comprehensive starting point of every username discussing a topic. (SocialBro is also an excellent resource for timing your communication with a particular person or group).
Note: If you want to add to the thought-leader aspect of your spreadsheets quickly, I suggest a solution like PeerReach, an excellent and growing resource developed by Zlatan Menkovic and crew. You can go even further with PeerReach by studying the Twitter lists created by these thought-leaders. In many industries, especially outside the USA, it is vital to also study leading forums where literally 10s of thousands gather to discuss and interact around a niche industry. In addition, there are private groups in LinkedIn and at membership only sites with actual lists of industry leaders in a niche or region. If you want to add the latest news about an individual leader or organization, I recommend Recorded Future.
Next you will need to append contact data to these usernames. The contact data is often discoverable via personal URLs such as a LinkedIn or personal website. You can use services like Whois search, Spokeo, Intelius, 192.com, Leadership Directories, and many other regional people-finders to append current contact data. I also highly recommend an Executive or Recruiter level account at LinkedIn for appending contact data. If you want to go deeper, there are a host of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) solutions that are constantly evolving to bring deeper info on individuals and organizations: “OSINT tools” feed from Twitter.
The ideal spreadsheet of a community surrounding a topic includes: First Name, Last Name, Username(s), Current Address, Country, Current mobile, Current landline, Current Email(s), Current social links, Several columns of sample posts that demonstrate interest in a topic (where an individual has posted about a topic), Influence score (such as Kred, Klout or PeerIndex). With such a spreadsheet, you can begin to contact thought leaders directly and engage in a learning process about the online discussion around a topic/service/interest.
As you grow in relationship with thought-leaders, you will find that your own posts, content and actions become more precise and effective…mainly because you will be “on the cutting edge” of the conversation in an industry. You will find that being on this edge gives you an edge and develops a maturity of outlook within you. You will find that others’ respect in you about this topic will grow as you listen, listen, listen to a core group of topic thought-leaders. Your contributions will be informed by these thought-leaders and “passionates” in a niche.
Once your network grows in a given niche, you will begin to see where opportunities exist, where something is lacking, where you can contribute to the need in that community. And, because you posses THE comprehensive CRM (or rolodex) for that niche, you will know exactly who to contact to get things done. The satisfaction in having ALL the information at your fingertips related to your chosen niche is immense! This is one of the great results or outcomes of best-practice social media monitoring: a deep understanding of, and connection to, a global niche community for the purpose of getting something meaningful accomplished.
Looking forward in the social media monitoring industry, we have the need for a solution that combines the listening, analysis and append processes into one dashboard. No-one has produced a satisfactory combo of these yet but the time is coming soon when the comprehensive solution will be finalized. The three “underdog” contenders I like most in terms of the “comprehensive solution” include SpotRight, Truelens and Reunify.
Additionally, there will certainly be a further evolution of the privacy debate in 2014. In an increasingly transparent eco-system, JWT Intelligence predicts a growing “Techno-Paranoia” and a flourishing “Privacy Marketplace” amongst consumers. In addition, JWT predicts the adoption of “Privacy by Design” at major global brands. Read more on these possibilities here. Social media monitoring companies should pro-actively prepare arguments for how listening improves the human condition, creating an opportunity for authentic relationship between brand and individual. An argument for a more open, authentic human community may be found in the principles of Council Circle. There is also, of course, a business model for social media monitoring companies to develop the “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy Marketplace” technologies and programs suggested in the JWT report.