Are there any truly end-to-end social media monitoring platforms?

This is a post by Marshall Sponder, analyst and author of ‘Social Media Analytics’. Marshall will be speaking and running a workshop at Social Media Measurement and Monitoring...

This is a post by Marshall Sponder, analyst and author of ‘Social Media Analytics’. Marshall will be speaking and running a workshop at Social Media Measurement and Monitoring 2013 (London) on the 26-27 March.

Has anyone reading this article NOT seen the very excellent Lumascape diagram of around Social Marketing in 2012 shown below?


Regardless of your familiarity with the complexity inherit in the Lumascape, chances are you are familiar with platforms comprising “Social Media Marketing Management” , “Social Intelligence” , “Analytics” and “Social Scoring” applications. Depending on how far over to the left (Marketer trying to understand and reach your target audiences) or the right (Consumer, using social platforms as an end user to socialize, keeping track of the world and perhaps, promoting yourself or your cause/business) you will find there are too many platforms whose business value is unclear for your business or personal use.

For every platform shown on the map, there are probably 10-20 other platforms that never made it on the map and it’s challenging to try to grasp what you actually need. Chances are you are using a combination of platforms that are shown above with others that are barely known to anyone, or haven’t used anything at all and want to know what to invest your time and currency in. Figuring out which platforms you actually need and how to combine them to amplify your business effectiveness is not easy.

Certainly the vendors aren’t the best place due to an objective opinion of the efficacy of their platforms. But there aren’t that many other places you can go to get an objective opinion besides Market Research companies such as Altimeter and Forrester (but they don’t cover most of what is on the map) and in any case, the reviews around platforms aren’t based on hands on approach (using platforms to actually “do practical things” on a daily basis).

And that brings up the familiar question I get about “End to End Solutions” that many marketers and firms want to know about. Lately there have been moves to consolidate marketing, measurement, analytics and scoring functions into a single offering – Salesforce has one (The Marketing Cloud – Salesforce, Radian6, BuddyMedia,, etc. ) as does Oracle (Oracle CRM, Vitrue, Collective Intellect). Adobe and IBM have also thrown their hats in the ring, along with a few other entrants.

What do these changes (and rapidly increasing ticket and per seat prices mean to you)? What do you actually need?

I know a bit about the social analytics space. I wrote a book about it called Social Media Analytics, published in 2011 by McGraw-Hill. My presentations about choosing, building and using social media platforms that are on Scribd and Slideshare have drawn thousands of downloads. More recently I have spent my time developing and teaching a program at Rutgers University called “Social Media for The Arts“.

My students all want understand how they can promote themselves or their causes, using social media, with an eye on measurement as well – so I’ll be rolling some of these insights into my presentation and workshop session at #Measure13 in London later this month.

But what about the things you’re going to need tomorrow, or next year? Well, I can help you with those questions as well. We all know that we have to be careful about what we invest our time, energies and money on as what we invest in, we can become. Choose right, your business continues to grow, choose wrong or unwisely and well … I don’t have to say it.

With all the changes going on now social media and social business is evolving very quickly – much more so than most people realize. Even my sophomore and senior students at Rutgers (a plugged-in generation of digital natives) were totally unaware, for the most part, of the changes Facebook made a few months ago with Graph Search. I believe the implications of those changes will be profound for businesses operating in the social media space – as I explained on my blog. I’ll be exploring these ideas in more depth in London.

The reason why, by the way, you need to think about the persona mindset of jumping in now vs. being Humpty Dumpty is that technical innovation favors early adopters. If you can get a foothold to the next business opportunity before your competitors – you can learn the lessons you need to learn before they do, master the mediums and establish your dominance in a space. Wait till others solve the problems and you will be caught in the crowd, and no matter what you do, it will be hard to stand out from the crowd.

Again, I’ll be pointing out ways to avoid falling off your metaphorical wall at #Measure13.  I hope you can join me for this fascinating event.

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  1. mediaczar Reply

    I instinctively mistrust anything that claims to be “The only xxx you’ll ever need” or vendors who claim to offer end-to-end solutions.

    Too often, the vendor’s understanding of the domain of problems I’m trying to solve, or the specific question I’m addressing _right now_ don’t match the reality.

    The only end-to-end solutions I’ve seen in other areas of Business Intelligence tend to be very general-purpose: a database management system, a set of visualisation tools, statistical packages.

    Tools in the social media intelligence sphere claim to offer so much more than your average BI package, and yet often offer so much less. The people who buy them are less clear on the briefs they need to fill, and are (only too often) happy to accept the pre-made reports offered by the tools.

    It’s all very depressing. But there’s a ray of hope. I’ve seen some interesting single-purpose (or highly specialised) toolkits emerging that treat the problem differently. What if — the social intelligence industry seems to be saying — we do one thing well, rather than all things poorly?

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Yes – I think the problem lies with the purse-string holders. I see CMO’s looking at various data streams and asking: “Can’t we look at these all together?” It’s often easier to buy a tool that claims to do that automatically than it is to work up a more manual (but accurate) solution internally.

    2. Marshall Sponder Reply

      Well, it gets back to really understanding what your business needs, I think.

      Also, most of the metrics data that is produced by the platforms in Social (referencing the Lumascape) are for those people who are working on the campaigns or social listening – they aren’t “executive dashboards” nor would it be possible to make them executive dashboards because the Brand KPI’s (when they are defined) aren’t what these platforms are producing.

      Think of it like your a wine vineyard – you have your grape pickers going around and picking bushels of grapes (if that is the right term) – if your “analytics” platform kicked out a number of bushels of grapes (or the number of grapes) the supervisor would find that useful that organized the workers – but from the standpoint of a business – how does the number of grapes picked have much to do with the success of the wine in a competitive low priced market?

      Does it inform price? Does it inform brand messaging? What are the Vineyards’s Brand Values? Would you report the number of grapes picked at a Board meeting, or rather, the higher Quality Control measures – which the number of good grapes vs bad grapes might inform.

      The point being, none of these platforms actually produces Brand KPI’s – they produce diagnostic numbers that are meaningless from a Brand perspective, so they in them selves might be seen as next to meaningless from CEO/CMO standpoint.

      I’ll talk more about that in London in a few weeks ~marshall

  2. Jerome Pineau Reply

    Funny. Just posted this SlideShare clip and then got a notification for this post — how timely 🙂

    1. Marshall Sponder Reply

      Hi Jerome,

      What’s the slideshare presentation? the message is truncated and I don’t see it.

      Great news about Sprinklr – I have friends there and have met the CEO a few times. Welcome to NYC.

      Cheers ~marshall