I have been invited to no less than a dozen seminars, training courses and conferences about social media in the last month or so. In case you didn't know, social media marketing is quite hot at the moment! Having presented on blogging for business since 2002, before this stuff got its own shows, and even mooted the death of market research in 2006, it's fascinating to see how quickly people cut and paste together their own position on this stuff.
One glaring betrayal of the 'social media practices' that have only recently assembled their facade is their ignorance of the power of listening. They will tell you just how they will be your voice on the social Web, but too rarely do they volunteer to proxy your ears.
Listening to one person isn't easy; active listening is a discipline. Imagine then trying to find, tap into and track one hundred conversations, a thousand, ten thousand; and interpretting this information... turning it into knowledge that informs your marketing strategy and tactics.
Social Web Analytics
This forms a large part of what we call social Web analytics. We define this as the application of search, indexing, semantic analysis and business intelligence technologies to the task of identifying, tracking (listening) and participating in the distributed conversations about a particular brand, product or issue, with emphasis on quantifying the trend in each conversation's sentiment and influence.
We have subscribed to some of the best third party tools available, and developed some proprietary software ourselves over the years. And I'm embarking on a 2008 market review of the companies servicing this space, which will also inform an ebook I'm going to write on the subject... to be published here and on our company blog in June.
I've listed the main contenders as I see them below, but please comment below if you think I've missed any. And any comments about your experiences with any of these services is welcome too... you'll get full credit in the ebook of course!