This is the third and final post in a 3 part series which takes a deep look into the maturation of the social listening market. In Part 1, I discussed the value of balancing pushing content versus pulling data to garner insight. I also introduced the concept of the 4 pillars of social listening: Features, Content, Accuracy and Infrastructure. In Part 2, I shared how these 4 pillars applied to the development of the listening market and how you can use this information to make decisions for your organization. Today I will share with you some questions to ask a potential social media listening partner as well as arm you with information to move your organization forward.
So how do you probe your vendors around the pillars?
I have put a considerable amount of thought into this too. Each pillar needs to be broken down into simple questions you can ask your partner. It helps you more thoroughly think about who is selling to you and how to make sure they either have what you need or will have what you need.
And what about those implementing… how do you think about them?
This is important for those selling to customers or those interested in making a social listening program successful. Sadly, culture will always rule the speed of change. I said it earlier… if you are trying to adopt a social listening program, you are a change agent, so deal with it. The 4 pillars model also applies to how you recognize the sophistication of those you are dealing with on a day to day basis. You need to ask yourself where the person, function or organization lives within the 4 pillars model. Which pillar do they focus on the most? Are they seeing all 4 pillars or just one? Do they get the importance of each and how they all fit together? This next view is the one I use most when working with people, functions and companies in my quest to evangelize social listening. It demonstrates a way to test the sophistication of your audience. This goes for those pitching their services to a company or even for someone championing a social media program internally. You need to know what you are up against as you sell new ideas to any group. Awareness is the key factor in driving change. Understand how your audience thinks is a sure way to make headway in the implementation of you ideas. Companies focused on only first pillar will not have as effective a program as someone who is thinking about all the pillars.
Where do you go from here?
Well…that is up to you. I can speak for myself when I say that building this language lexicon has helped me no matter what situation I am in. I am always thinking about where people fit, which questions are most important to them, and ultimately how ready they are for the total picture. We are in a complex market with hundreds of players. Everyone promises you the world when you are buying something new. When I was the buyer (which I was for many years) I found that I needed simple ways to think about everything if I was going to not only buy the right tools but also build a process that could be successfully implemented into my company. The patterns of driving change are always the same, the question is: Are you going to be lulled by the speed of the hare who promises you what appears to be an obvious path to the finish line; Or are you going to trust the tortoise who may be slower, but has a shell to protect him, remains steady in his quest and moves with an enticing determination that ultimately wins the race in the end?
You need to get it right rather than simply do it fast…infrastructure allows you to do both at the same time.
Make sure you aren’t insinuating that you are slow but steady… that is not the message here. Understand that effective social media listening is not a quick fix, but rather something that takes a good deal of thought and consideration to create a scalable and flexible infrastructure that will enable you to get an accurate assessment of a great deal of content.
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