September 19, 2011

Golden rule of engagement: Always tell the truth


Tips on social CRM for brands from an industry expert

Guest post by
CRM Analyst, Software Advice

The greatest benefit of attending those big, bulky industry conferences is not the swag – although that free Apple TV was pretty sweet. Rather, it’s the opportunity to speak with some of the greatest thought leaders and innovators that attend. One of the more recognized leaders in the CRM industry is Marshall Lager of Third Idea Consulting. I was able to snag Marshall for a bit at last month’s CRM Evolution in New York to discuss the most buzzed-about topic at the conference: social CRM.

Interview highlights:

  • Social CRM is derived from tools that are entirely consumer-related: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. People use these mediums to communicate and share experiences. Businesses are finally catching onto that, figuring out not only how to foster relationships in the social arena, but monetize them as well.
  • The first step in getting started with social CRM is simply signing up for an account. Once that’s done, it’s time to listen and find out what your customers are saying. Once you have that, you can start building a strategy around how you will use the networks. The goal is to personalize your company, making it “someone” that individuals can relate to.
  • Small businesses in particular can benefit from social media. SMBs already have that face-to-face direct rapport with their customers. Social media is a free way to extend that relationship, and because their customer base is still small, social media allows the small business owner to touch every single customer.
  • Questions to ask when building a social CRM strategy: How are we going to do social media? What do we want to focus on? What’s our personality? What are our rules of engagement?
  • The golden rule of engagement: Always tell the truth. It sounds simple, but it’s really important. If the customers trust you, they will come back. If they don’t, you’ve lost them completely.
Lauren Carlson is a CRM analyst for Software Advice. She writes about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation and customer service. Follow her on Twitter at @crmadvice.
May 18, 2011

Social media marketing conference returns to SF readers get 20% discount on conference fee

Guest post by Carla Schlemminger

Just as the social media monitoring space starts to mature, the Social Media Marketing & Monitoring Conference returns to San Francisco this Monday.

What: With the goal of arming marketers with the insights and information they need to dramatically enhance their social media marketing, organizers Our Social Times hope to answer these questions for attendees:

  • How can we use gaming in our marketing?
  • How can we benefit from location marketing?
  • How can social media monitoring enhance our marketing?
  • What is Social CRM and how will it affect our bottom line?

Last fall the one-day event dove deeply into specific topics yet kept the program kept presentations short, allowing for a lot of useful Q&A and ample time for networking.

According to the founder and CEO of Our Social Times, Luke Brynley-Jones, this year’s must-see session is “Using Social Gaming Mechanics for Marketing” by Rajat Paharia, CEO of Bunchball, who’s at the forefront of gamification. The rest of the impressive speaker lineup includes Aaron Strout, John Zell, Giles Palmer, Chris Heuer, Gary Lee, Jodee Rich, Peyman Nilforoush, Renee Blodgett, Dan Martell, Chase McMichael, Elyse Tager, Jennifer Neeley Lindsay and Luke Brynley-Jones.

Where: Marines Memorial Club & Hotel, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco

When: Monday, May 23, 9:30 am to 6:30 pm

Register: Register now — readers get a 20% discount by using the “SMB20” code. Or follow the conference buzz on Twitter at the hashtag #SMM11. Continue reading

January 12, 2011

Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business

A screen grab from Sysomos.

A comparison of the major monitoring & engagement services: Radian6, Lithium, Attensity360 & 17 more

Target audience: Brands, corporations, mid-size to large businesses. See Socialbrite’s series on social media monitoring:
Guide to monitoring social media conversations
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools
10 paid social media monitoring services for nonprofits

By J.D. Lasica and Kim Bale

The online landscape is saturated with more than 200 tools and platforms claiming to be able to help you track and assess mentions of your business or brand in social media channels. While there remains a lot of churn in the field, a number of listening platforms have evolved to help you go beyond basic monitoring into an integrated approach that helps inform multiple parts of your business: product development, customer support, public outreach, lead generation, market research and campaign measurement.

Born as a way to respond to crises and manage brand reputation, social media monitoring, or brand monitoring — which ties into social media measurement and analysis — is finally maturing into a business process that helps the bottom line.

A comparison of pricing, features & clients you rarely see on the open Web.Today we’ll turn the tables on these companies and offer some business intelligence that you rarely see available on the open Web: a comparison of social media monitoring vendors, with descriptions of their strengths, clients and pricing. Many offer end-to-end solutions, providing not just tracking capabilities but a rich set of analytics and response tools to help you grow your business and engage with individuals who influence broad swaths of the market.

Social media monitoring vendors come in all shapes and flavors. Some cater to small business with modest budgets that want to handle monitoring analysis internally. Others service global corporations that want access to expert analysts as well as a robust suite of social tools that plug into business processes. So this roundup is admittedly mixing apples and oranges. (See our discussion of social CRM below.)

To draw some distinctions, we’ve broken this package into two groupings:

• 20+ social media monitoring & engagement vendors for business (below)
10 lower-priced monitoring services for nonprofits & organizations (on our sister site,

Monitoring should plug into your business processes

Companies that will succeed in the 21st century will be social businesses, committed to forging deep and meaningful relationships with their customers. So use the new year as a fresh impetus to create a Social Media Plan ( can help with that), begin monitoring and consider evaluating an outside vendor by signing up for a free trial.

Keep in mind: Listening to conversations and gathering data is only one phase of a multi-step process that also involves engagement, metrics and acting on what you learn. As Jeff Nolan writes, “In its most pure form, social media monitoring is both listening and responding to social channels.”

Here is our guide to the Top 20 Social Media Monitoring Vendors for Business. Have your own favorites? Please add them in the comments below! And if you have any corrections or updates to the information here, please share that as well.


Radian6/Salesforce Cloud: A proven solution for big brands

1Radian 6, purchased by Salesforce in 2011, works with brands to help them listen more intelligently to your consumers, competitors and influencers with the goal of growing your business via detailed, real-time insights. Beyond their monitoring dashboard, which tracks mentions on more than 100 million social media sites, they offer an engagement console that allows you to coordinate your internal responses to external activity by immediately updating your blog and Twitter and Facebook accounts all in one spot. Fully automated. Cost: The dashboard starts at $600/month, though registered nonprofits can apply for two free uses per year under the company’s Giving Back program. They also offer free trials to students and educators for research and project purposes. Radian6 uses a monthly subscription based pricing model, with the monthly fee varying depending on the number of topics monitored each month. Clients: Red Cross, Adobe, AAA, Cirque du Soleil, H&R Block, March of Dimes, Microsoft, Pepsi, Southwest Airlines — a wide range of clients. Owner: Independent. Also: See our interview with the CEO of Radian6.


Collective Intellect: Social media intelligence gathering

2Boulder, Colo.-based Collective Intellect, which started out by providing monitoring to financial firms, has evolved into a top-tier player in the marketplace of social media intelligence gathering. Using a combination of self-serve client dashboards and human analysis, Collective Intellect offers a robust monitoring and measurement tool suited to mid-size to large companies with its Social CRM Insights platform. It applies spam management techniques and text analysis to clean data sets, delivering customers rich intelligence.Cost: Pricing starts at $300/month and scales based on specific client needs, according to published reports. Clients: General Mills, NBC Universal, Pepsi, Walmart, Unilever, Advertising Age, CBS, Dole, MTV Networks, MillerCoors, Paramount, Verizon Wireless, Viacom, Hasbro, Siemens. Owner: Independent.


Lithium: Adjust your campaign on the fly

3Lithium monitors your search-specific mentions and sentiment in social media outlets and outputs them into easy-to-read graphs and numbers resembling the stock market. Lithium will aggregate information from a variety of platforms including blog posts and comments, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and many others, and it’ll assess emotions surrounding your brand pre-, mid- and post campaign so you can adjust your strategies accordingly. We miss ScoutLabs, which is now part of Lithium. Cost: Base plan of $249/month for five users and five searches. Free 14-day trial. Clients: Best Buy, BT, Barnes & Noble, FICO, Disney Online, Stubhub, Motorola, Coca Cola, Focus Features, Netflix. Owner: Independent. Lithium bought ScoutLabs in May 2010.

Sysomos: Manage conversations in real time

4Sysomos’s Heartbeat is a real-time monitoring and measurement tool that provides constantly updated snapshots of social media conversations delivered using a variety of user-friendly graphics. Heartbeat organizes conversations, manages workflow, facilitates collaboration and provides ways to engage with key influencers. For more, see ReadWrite review. Sysomos also offers a Media Analysis Platform. Cost: Entry-level price of $500/month. Clients: IBM, HSBC, Roche, Ketchum, Sony Ericsson, Philips, ConAgra, Edelman, Shell Oil, Nokia, Sapient, Citi, Interbrand. Owner: Marketwire. Continue reading