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Differentiating Between Social Media Listening Services
By: Jennifer Stack
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Social Media is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry that comprises of content creation, moderation, and social media listening. They provide algorithm aggregation of digital data, which allows for the manual extrapolation of insights to be applied to the optimization of marketing and advertising activities. In rare and wonderful cases, social listening changes the course of a business’s core services as a gap in the marketplace is identified and capitalized upon.

Social media listening provides marketers and advertisers with hard evidence to support their insights and a formulated research approach to produce strategy. The importance of utilizing social media devices is obvious to any marketer, but the decision of which  to use is always at the forefront of the process as the choice is remarkable, with new options solidifying every day. Industry leaders in the social media landscape are Marketwire’s Sysomos, Salesforce’s Radian6, Attention, and Cision, each providing comprehensive algorithms and services to assist both agencies and clients in deciphering today’s crowded social media scene.  

Ranking the service providers is difficult, as they all provide the same level of information at similar price points, but differentiate in display, thus making the choice one of aesthetic preference rather than hard data access. Presently, there is not API integration for all World Wide Web entities, but hopefully total integration and thus a complete listening tool will be offered at a competitive price point in the future.

In the meantime, marketers have the luxury of choice between remarkably similar competitors all working to provide great insight and assistance in social media analysis and strategy. For those unfamiliar with social media listening, each provider offers a free trial and a wealth of service-agnostic information to evolve any marketer’s knowledge across the social media board. The responsibility of Social Media Listening usually falls in the social media srategists's lap, but can also benefit planners, strategists, analysts, and last but not least, community managers in understanding and optimizing cause and effect relationships. Luckily, all services provide more than one seat for their accounts on their social media listening dashboards, which also double as excellent collaboration tools and networks.

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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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