It doesn’t matter which social media monitoring service you use. None of them do what you want them to do. They’re good at doing part of the job, but not all of it. And sadly, they probably won’t ever be good at doing all of the job because you have to do it.

Social media monitoring, whether done with free services like Google Alerts and custom searches, or even freemium versions of great tools like Trackur; or using paid services like Radian6, Sysomos, Alterian, HubSpot or Scout Labs, are all software platforms. They’re computer algorithms and search spiders that collect information and put it together in a place where you can find it. Some of them do a decent job of organizing and stacking and sorting all that data so you can hit a button and get a pretty chart or graph, too.

Our Direction

But none of them do what you want them to do. They only do half the job.

None of them tell you what to do with the information.

The social media monitoring service that wins in the long run will do that. But none of them want to do that because that’s not software. That’s service. Not customer service, which most of them are great at, but strategic services. Strategic services require talent, time and costs. Algorithms don’t.

Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision-maker who does something with the intelligence.

That’s you.

Food for thought.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

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  • SocialNetworkingCompany

    None of them tell you what to do with it because, as a social media marketer, you should be able to decide how to use the knowledge you are being provided with. To be honest, if they gave you the info and then told you what to do with it, then why would you want to pay good money to a digital media agency?

    • bhanukaran

      Completely agreed. If a tool can say what to do, what is the need of human involvement in developing strategies. Human analysis is very important to consider the fact if it is true or false. If social media is all about real people, then it is foolishness to expect it from a tool :)

  • John McTigue

    Gotta have strategy for that. Must anticipate the possible types of comments and responses and establish rules of the road for responding. Who's going to respond and what kinds of responses are legit? Must respond quickly and responsibly – so a process needs to be in place. If discussion is needed, do it right away before the wildfire gets out of control. Nice to have tools available to respond quickly, but there will never be software that advises you on what to say.

    • znmeb

      The responses I've seen from most companies in a PR fail situation are predictable enough that they *could* have been generated by software. ;-) I recently dealt with an IT service that was down and had, believe it or not, no 800 number I could call to tell them about it! It took them hours for their automated monitoring stuff to tell them it was down – apparently it was part of the gear that failed. I won't be renewing my subscription.

  • Allen Mireles


    Another excellent post and subsequent comments/conversation only add to the experience. This point is so basic and so important yet so easy to overlook. I am frustrated by organizations who expect a service–or consultant– to deliver answers (or direction) so they won't have to because they are so busy already. Even with solid strategy in place an organization has a vested interest in identifying humans with brains who will monitor the data and interpret it as it impacts their specific business/strategy/objectives/corporate culture. Grrr…

  • Michael Boyle

    Hi Jason,

    Great post! Very thought provoking, and the discussion here since has been pretty amazing as well.

    My initial reaction to your post is a bit different from the other reactions I've read. Simply put, I suggest we're seeing the development of not one new group of companies but two. Monitoring is the first and has attracted the lion's share of attention. Monitoring is great, and the companies in this area are doing a great job of making a lot of data accessible to their clients.

    But there's another group of companies growing who are not doing monitoring at all but analysis or intelligence. Full disclosure: I'm a partner in one of those companies (Nexalogy Environics) but there are quite a few others doing really interesting work in this area.

    The thing is that doing social media intelligence properly is very different than monitoring. (Not better, but different). We have different goals and different challenges, and these require a different approach to data gathering, to client outputs, to how to leverage software to help (what we do would be impossible without the software we've developed), and a different relationship with clients. On the analysis side of things, we're more geared towards being services companies armed with amazing software, not software companies per se.

    This leads to my second point – doing analysis on large datasets (which are typical in the context of social media analysis) is really difficult to do well. There are many methodological pitfalls to avoid, and most people trying to do it (in monitoring companies' clients offices) generally don't have the background or experience to do it in anything but an ad-hoc way – or, more often, they're finding that to do it rigorously takes far too many scarce resources… Reading 10000 relevant blog posts about a company and its products is not something you can do by starting at #1 and working your way down.

    There is a pretty rich and high-value-add ecosystem developing around both the monitoring and analysis of social media data, and going forward there is more than enough space for both kinds of companies – and our clients' will see increasing benefits as this ecosystem continues to mature. It's a very optimistic time to be working in this space.

  • Ashley

    Hi Jason,

    Succint post that hits it spot on. Data is useless unless someone works on it and derives actionable insights out of it. Be it for advertising planning, marketing strategy, product development or fine-tuning of ongoing campaigns, social media data is invaluable to astute companies out there. Thats what we help many of our clients with here at Brandtology, because we dont just shove them a DIY system, but we go the full mile with them to advise and gather the insights and recommendations for them.

    Ashley (@ashleyanting)
    Social Media Consultant

  • Jason


    I'm the Director of Sales for Social Scout, a social media monitoring + response agency. We have built our business around the need that you're mentioning above. Our company will do the following for your brand:

    1. Monitor your brand using software to uncover mentions.
    2. Filter for context and sentiment.
    3. Account managers literally sit down and filter through these mentions to uncover actionable items.
    4. Account managers then send clients personalized email alerts suggesting a coarse of action 5. Email alerts include a screen shot of mention, a link, and most importantly our recommendation.

    To my knowledge we are the only company offering such a service. For a free preview go to

  • jeffclapper

    Great points, Jason. This exactly why we created Social Scout (

    We're a part of a full service marketing agency–Point B Communications. In the process of providing social media services to our clients we recognized how easily anyone could setup Google alerts but quickly get buried in irrelevant or innocuous results.

    Social Scout filters all those mentions using human readers. Then our readers alert clients to only the most actionable mentions and suggest how they might respond.

    Our existing clients have loved the service so far, and it's great to hear that others think we're on track!

  • Fareita

    A bespoke consultative approach is what you require to engage with an audience which you will also need to identify. Moreover Technologies works by spinning social media on it's head.
    Target-Approach-Aggregate-Analyse, all the services you have listed hop in on the 3rd stage; “Aggregate” and then provide reports so far down the timeline it's no longer useful.
    Moreover Technologies can flag real-time content and link you to real-time human driven analytics. This service will deliver results which can be utilised from your initial social media target campaign.

  • Katy

    ListenLogic delivers the “answers” you are looking for. Its the technology you need, with the ability to filter through white noise – I'm talking accuracy (Ford Motors vs. Betty Ford), organizes it into the pretty charts you speak of and then delivers a monthly report that explains/interprets the data. Provides the information you need (consumers on the record) in real time (not a 6 week delay) so your “decision makers” know where to focus their traditional PR, advertising, re-branding, etc.

    Big difference between customer service and insight analysis service.

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  • fadlaltarzi

    Many great points here, with a background in management + Natural Language Processing I couldn't agree more. Social media monitoring is only as good as the decision maker who does something with the intelligence, but I think the key here is in that Intell! The cool charts are a means to an end, but the true winners will be those that are able to convert those charts into meaningful & actionable insight.Bottom line: tell your clients something they didn't already know + put it in context for them. Its about the service & the people behind it, not just the technology… This is precisely the reason behind our success at SocialEyez

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  • Infinit Outsourcing

    It is amazing that you've brought this up. As an outsourcing company that offers social media services, we are well aware of the points you've raised above, and in line with that, we've restructured our organization to have a strategic solutions team, to emphasize that we are not a company that just provides nice data and graphs. We strive hard not to just provide a service, but a solution. It's something that everyone in the business of analytics must strive for. You've certainly hit the head on the nail, Jason. Kudos!

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  • Facebook Developer UK

    Great observation you have made here Jason and I completely agree with you.

    Social media monitoring services should be selected by keeping your company's task and nature in mind. There are a large number of social media monitoring tools but none of them do what you want them to do? Right. The thing is that these monitoring tools are designed in a way which never suites to a particular business. Either small or big!

    Well I guess these algorithms leave some of the task for their HUMAN friends to complete :)


  • Facebook Connect Integration

    Great observation you have made here Jason and I completely agree with you.

    Social media monitoring services should be selected by keeping your company's task and nature in mind. There are a large number of social media monitoring tools but none of them do what you want them to do? Right. The thing is that these monitoring tools are designed in a way which never suites to a particular business. Either small or big!

    Well I guess these algorithms leave some of the task for their HUMAN friends to complete :)


  • Shahzeb

    this post is very informative and useful
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  • Troy Dean

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

  • Post2web

    You should check out the new news monitoring service at
    It only monitors the news but provides analysis and alerts.

    But once again, nobody will tell you what to do with all that information. The reason is there is so much could be done.

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  • Dallas Social Media

    nice post Jason. It is really up to the client what they want to do with the information they receive from the social media services, we can only offer suggestions.

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  • Lost in Space

    Nice post. I've been some research and finding it ver difficult to guage a quality clipping or media monitoring service for a VERY small business that is need of having it. The prices seem to be all over the place and outrageously high or are we looking in the worng places? Thanks in advance.

  • janetaronica

    Yes re: they don't tell you want to do with the data. Also, lack of an engagement platform on many services. A lot of services only do the metrics, you can't actually post/schedule updates from there.

    • Eyelona

      You're right. That's exactly why we launched Social Strategy1, because the software alone is not enough. Businesses need to have a team of experts they can turn to as a first alert, who can immediately respond to potential leads, customer service issues or even a potential crisis.

      There's a lot that can be automated, but it all comes back to having the right strategic foundation and the ability to adjust based on the data. We wrote a post a while ago on this topic –

      Feel free to call with any questions.

      Kind regards,


  • Saffia_Hussain

    Great Post. This is what most of the brands face today. SMM doesn't truly solve the problem, you need brains behind the tool to give you actionable insights! ThoughtBuzz is one such company which provides an expert team of strategists in addition to their monitoring software.

  • Marc Brookings

    Would any of these services work for complience related items if we needed to capture all content of our financial advisors tweets, facebook, linked in, etc. post, responses, and activities?

    • Eyelona

      That's exactly what we do at Social Strategy1 for regulated entities, financial markets, law firms, etc. We can hit on any number of different ways from corporate governance and compliance to actual customer service, so long as it is publicly available. We engage and help our clients engage with the consumer at their point of need, whether that need be a purchase need, a customer service issue, brands or products, or with their employees whether that be sharing an opinion or stating or misstating confidential information.

      We identify and measure those conversations. Please feel free to call me and we can further discuss.

      Phone – 877-771-3366

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