I have been doing a quick and dirty review of social media monitoring software and thought it worth sharing my conclusions which are more relevant for the public sector:
1) use free tools and; 2) don’t pay software suppliers
I had wanted for a while to see what all the hullabuloo is about online reputation monitoring sofware – particularly as vendors keep harassing me.
So this is what I did – using the same keywords.
1) I got a external supplier to set up a dashboard in iGoogle using free tools
2) asked a colleagues to set up a similar dashboard in Netvibes
3) had a ‘big’ company set up a dashboard in their propriety software
The results were: a score draw for the free tools version; and an own goal for the paid for service.
Overall the actual intelligence delivered was the same – same blogs, same Twitter feeds – the same! So the paid for service did not have some secret sauce finding unexpected results.
Of course you need to bear in mind the pros and cons of each tool.
Free stuff – Its free. But needs a bit of maintenance and can break; difficult to track historical trends – unless you do a bit of special coding (I have seen it done).
Paid for – low maintenance – historical trends and probably smilely or sad faces which allegedly show sentiment. Somewhat expensive and you can only subscribe for a year (why not a month at a time?)
My tips are – use a bit of common sense – ask around see what others have been doing. Test suppliers against each other; compare the results against the free tools. Above all be sceptical.
Of course look at econsultancy (if you are a member its free) as they do an annual review of Social media monitoring software providers – its detailed and value for money. Also have a look at Fresh Mind’s recent – clear and very helpful review of suppliers (thanks to Tommy at Dft for the link). And of course two great blog entries from Neil Williams and Steph Gray (what else do you expect?)