As I discussed in my last post, Reputation Management is one of the bright spots in a pretty gloomy economy. The reason is obvious, getting your brand trashed in this environment could kill your brand. So, if you’re considering a Reputation Management or Social Media Monitoring solution, here are some things to consider:
- Where does the content come from? As we know, it all starts with the content. Please, please, please don’t get wowed by the pretty pictures. Real insight comes from looking for patterns and trends in large and varied content sets. Make sure your vendor can tell you how they acquire their mainstream, blog, and social media content. Ask the hard questions about where their data comes from, are there any potential copyright issues that could alter access to this information in the future, and do they have any agreements in place to go after content from the likes of Facebook or MySpace.
- Can they customize for your industry? It’s not enough to just monitor mentions of you or your competitors. Insight comes from figuring out what people are worried about, not what your marketing folks think they *might* be worried about. Whether their solution is based on a search engine or a Text Analytics engine, make sure that they can discover what’s driving the discussion in your industry. You need to go beyond measuring the penetration of your marketing message because that may not be what people are talking about.
- What’s the sentiment of my brand? Sentiment, it’s the new beige (yes, this is good for us, since we have a sentiment engine). We’ve noticed in the last 12 months that sentiment has become one of those checklist items in brand and social media monitoring. I suspect this is due to the weakening economy, and the ever increasing reach of consumer generated media. Companies have to know if they’re getting trashed out in cyberspace, and because of the volumes, the only way to do this is with an automated sentiment engine. Your vendor may not use our engine, but whatever they use, please make sure that they can measure sentiment at the item (company, brand, product) level. Measuring sentiment at the document level is fine, and may provide valuable insight, but if the content is comparing two brands, then you want to know how each is perceived and document level simply won’t give you that insight in this case.
- Can I touch it? The first generation of reputation management systems tended to have large account management teams behind them to build out and manage a customer’s reports. The customer couldn’t go in and adjust the reports themselves because the systems weren’t quite user-friendly. This is fine if you have deep pockets, but in today’s world that’s something none of us have. Many of the newer solutions that are available, or are being built, will allow the customer to build and manage their own reports. This is no small undertaking, but it does provide users a cost effective way to gain the insight that something like Google Reader can’t provide.
Of course it’s not as easy as asking these 4 simple questions, but if you can answer these to your satisfaction, then chances are the folks you’re considering can provide a solution that will help get you started.