25 questions to ask when considering a social media monitoring service

Whether it’s a pricey package or a freebie, make sure you’re asking these questions of a potential monitoring company or platform.

Are you looking to monitor social media?

You should be. By keeping an eye on social media platforms, you’ll gather valuable information about what your customers and potential consumers are saying about you and your competitors, and what your competitors are doing in the social space.

There are a number of companies and platforms that offer social media monitoring services. When considering monitoring services, you’ll want to keep in mind the following 25 questions. These should help get you going in the right direction for finding what’s best for your needs.

When considering a social monitoring platform/service, be sure to ask the following:

1. Do you offer access to historical data and if so, how far back can we go? Will we have access to historical data prior to when we started our monitoring, or only for data we have already pulled?

2.If we delete search results, terms, or queries, can we access that data again in the future, or are they completely lost?

3. Is there a limit to the number of returns we can receive in a given time frame? For example, if there were one million comments per pieces of content relevant to our search, would we be able to see them all, or would we be limited to just a sample?

4. Are we limited in the number of queries—such as projects, search terms, clients, etc.—that we can set up within the platform?

5. Can you provide us with a list of all sources of monitored content, for example, Twitter, instead of “microblogs”?

6. Do you have “firehose” access to Twitter or is the feed limited, in other words, will we see all the results or just a sample? Do you have full access to data from other sites as well or just a sample? What sampling restrictions are there?

7. Do you pull data from any location-based services such as Foursquare? If so, which ones?

8. Do you pull data from forums? Can we add specific forums to target? Can we add other sources such as trade and industry-specific websites?

9. Do you pull data from review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor? How about reviews from retailer sites such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and others?

10. Do you pull comments on a blog and article post (or can we pull them)? For example, if there is a post or thread that matches our keywords in the main post, but the comment does not mention the keywords, can we pull in those comments? Or can we only pull in items that match the keywords?

11. Do you offer metrics and/or insights on top of matched data? For example, can we see how many comments an article received, how many views a video received, how many shares a post received, and other similar numbers?

12. How does your platform calculate sentiment? Is it manually or auto scored? How accurate is it percentage-wise?

13. Can you block specific sources? For example, can you cull results from a specific user on Twitter, but still pull in @ mentions of that user? Can you block specific domains?

14. Do you pull data from mainstream media, for instance, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, etc.? What is the divide between mainstream media and blogs? For example, would we get results from the Times and WSJ, or are they mainstream media? Would we get results from their blogs, which often are simply mainstream extensions? Is the data exportable to Excel? If so, is there a limit?

15. Can we filter data by location or limit results to specific geographic locations, such as state level, city level, DMA, and ZIP code?

16. Is all data gathered in real time with real-time updates, or is there a delay before we see the results? If there is a delay, how long is it?

17. In addition to monitoring for content, can the platform also identify potential influencers, brand advocates, and ambassadors?

18. Can you post content through the platform? If so, on what services?

19. Can you schedule future posts and updates from the platform?

20. Can you allocate jobs to specific team members?

21. Can the platform be integrated with other services? Is there an API?

22. Can you monitor in multiple languages?

23. Will we have an account representative or search specialist who will help us craft search queries?

24. Can multiple team members be logged in at the same time?

25. What is the cost breakdown? Is it one price, or is it based on tiers and results? Is there a cost for historical data?

There is a wide range of monitoring options that run the gamut from free and low scale to very expensive and in great depth. You’ll have to decide which services are best for you based on your requirements and what you’re looking to get out of them.

Jeff Peters is a social media specialist at The Halo Group, a New York-based marketing communications and branding agency. This story first appeared on the agency’s blog, The Halo Group Effect.

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