The rise of social media has provided a new forum for gathering opinions on what customers need and want, and increasing numbers of small businesses now are using their own social media monitoring programs to keep critical tabs on customers’ potentially influential Twitter, Facebook and blog postings about the company.
While some companies hire online reputation management firms , others choose to stay more closely involved in monitoring what's being said about their company or product by using social media monitoring tools. These tools give businesses the opportunity to listen, compare, monitor, record and track their customers’ needs and perceptions.
"A negative or positive Tweet or Facebook mention by an influential person can either hurt or help your business," according to BusinessNewsDaily's sister site, TopTenREVIEWS (TTR), which recently reviewed a host of social media monitoring tools. "By using tools that track these social media sentiments, you can respond quickly to the negative comments, perhaps stifling any negative mainstream press or highlighting the positive press."
For small businesses with a larger marketing budget, TTR recommends the social media services of Sysomos, Radian6 and Lithium. For businesses with a small budget, the website suggests uberVU, Viralheat and Brandwatch. [Read the full social media monitoring tools review]
When deciding between social media monitoring services, TTR advises business owners to consider several key areas, including how they monitor and listen to specific groups of customers, the type of features offered, ease of use and available customer support.
Since the social media realm is so immense, business owners should choose a monitoring tool that has the capability to encompass that vastness, TTR said. For small businesses targeting a specific neighborhood or geographic location, they recommend choosing a monitoring tool that pulls data from the social media networks used in that specific community, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
How the monitoring tools measure sentiment is also crucial to a program's overall success, according to TTR.
Lithium, for instance, has a powerful feature that pulls text from various networks and sites and categorizes it into quotes expressing love or hate for a product.
While expensive, TTR ranks Sysmos as the top overall service because of its powerful features, functions and tools. It allows business owners to customize a social media campaign , and provides a personal account manager to provide assistance along the way.
Among those with cheaper price tags, TTR said uberVU is a solid option due to features that include an intuitive dashboard, engagement workflow and analytical and sentiment reporting.
Some of the other services included in the TTR rankings are Collective Intellect, Alterian SM2, Beevolve and Tendrr.
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