One of the pieces of advice I give frequently is to keep an eye on, to listen to your best customers. What are they saying? What’s on their minds? What do they care about, and how well aligned are you to it?
For example, during contentious times, you may want to pause some social media activity as part of your crisis communications response plan. How do you know when to turn things back on? When your monitoring system lets you know that the crisis period has abated, you know it’s time to resume business as usual.
So, what are some options for building customer monitoring systems? Let’s look at five solutions, in order of increasing complexity and cost.
Simplest Monitoring Solution: Twitter Lists
By far the easiest, a Twitter list helps you get a snapshot of what your customers are saying in bite-sized chunks.
It’s straightforward and simple, with a couple of catches.
First, you have to manually check it. There are no reminders or alerts. Second, your best customers may not be on Twitter, or may not be active on it. Bear in mind as well that you’re monitoring for both individual people and brands, so be sure to add both to your lists.
Basic Monitoring Solution: Talkwalker Alerts
Want something more comprehensive than Twitter? Talkwalker’s free Alerts service (an improvement over the once-useful Google Alerts) provides exactly that – news and alert monitoring.
Talkwalker Alerts are sent either by email or RSS feed, and you construct them using the same Boolean search syntax you use for Google searches. You’re limited to 10 clauses/operators in your searches, so if you’ve got a lot of customers and brands to monitor, you’ll need to set up multiple searches.
Inexpensive Monitoring Solution: Brand24
Need something with an interface and some basic analytics? Brand24 is a news and monitoring system that has a simple, easy-to-use interface and solid monitoring capabilities.
Featuring multiple media types and the ability to both isolate and download data, Brand24 provides you a reasonably thorough view of what your customers have going on. Monitoring systems like this give you the ability to dig in, set up multiple alert types, and export data for analysis.
Brand24 pricing begins at US$49/month and gives you a rolling 30-day window of data.
Robust Monitoring Solution: Talkwalker Pro
Talkwalker offers a pro version of its monitoring service that to me is best-in-class. They support robust, rich data downloads and have tons of pre-built apps and systems you can use to monitor customers.
Powerful visualization and analysis tools help you dig into not only what your customers are saying or doing, but also identifying who is amplifying and spreading their messages. For monitoring what your best customers are doing, saying, and interacting with, there’s no better solution.
Talkwalker Pro pricing begins at US$750/month and gives you up to 13 months of back data.
Most Complex Monitoring Solution: Custom Build
Depending on your needs, you may have to build your dream solution. For example, all monitoring services place restrictions on how much Twitter data you’re permitted to download each day. If you need every and any Tweet on a specific topic, you’ll have to build your own server and extract the data from Twitter’s Streaming API. Almost all services are restricted in the kinds and types of data you’re allowed to download from Facebook, so you may have to custom-code your own solutions there as well if there are very specific types of data you need access to.
The advantage of custom builds is your software does exactly what you want it to, subject to the technical and policy limits of your data sources. The disadvantage is that you have to write and maintain your own software.
Customer Monitoring Systems Roundup
So, there you have it – five different solutions based on your needs, complexity, and cost. Which one is right for you depends on how much you’re willing to invest and what your data needs are.
Talkwalker provided me with a free account for evaluation and review purposes. Talkwalker is also a business partner of my company, Trust Insights.
Brand24 provided me with a free account for evaluation and review purposes. Brand24 is an affiliate of my company, Trust Insights, and a portion of any purchase is paid to Trust Insights as a commission.
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