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Social media monitoring tools rarely used to full potential

Social media monitoring tools burst onto the market with the promise of serving up valuable data on potential customers, but hurdles tripped up users and stalled the market.

Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook began as noncommercial platforms, but it wasn't long before the business world realized it could farm data from consumers' personal info posted on those sites.

That realization has brought many social media monitoring tools to the marketplace during the past five years. These tools provide businesses with invaluable information about customers that have grievances or those whom they may be able to turn into loyal brand advocates.

"It's incredibly useful ... to have inside information about the person who is likely to buy my products, or the profile of a person who has been a loyal customer. ... That [data] is gold," said Scott Robinson, a business intelligence (BI) and SharePoint expert and TechTarget contributor.

Social media monitoring slow to catch on

social media analytics tools help companies understand consumers and then refine their marketing strategy. The value these products provide -- some for free, even -- leave experts to wonder: Why isn't adoption broader than it is?

[If the software could] anticipate what we need to know, ... we would have a much better product.
Scott RobinsonTechTarget contributor

There are pitfalls that many companies fall into -- the most obvious being an inability to figure out how to tie the tools to their existing systems. Then there's the question of what to do with all the data that social media monitoring tools deliver.

"It isn't well integrated, and while the uptake has been huge, the success rate hasn't been huge," Robinson said.

The future of social media monitoring

With many social media monitoring tools, users get batches of data and are expected to sift through and analyze these massive volumes to get the answers they need.

"If the social monitoring software could surface the obvious things we should be looking for, and software is capable of learning what we need to know, we would be much better off," Robinson said.

Scott Robinson, TechTarget contributorScott Robinson

"[If the software could] anticipate what we need to know, instead of making us scramble for the light bulb moment, we would have a much better product. I think two or three of these [companies] will come up with that in the near future," he added.

The problem of getting data from these tools can be solved by data scientists who know how to make sense of the information, but there aren't many of these experts available today.

In the meantime, software companies need to bridge the gap with technologies that can do the heavy lifting for typical users.

Indeed, actionable data that can be used in real time is already table stakes for BI tools, and the same is going to be true for social media analytics products.

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