In Part Two of this series on social media listening platforms we offered a process for selecting a social media listening platform vendor. Now it’s time to deploy the tool across your organization effectively and with minimal disruption. And put the tool to work.
Configuration – We talked about value-added services in the first post in this series. One of the services offered by many listening platform vendors is configuration. You’ll have to decide if you want to have the vendor perform system configuration or do it yourself. In some cases you have no choice – you submit keywords, topics and themes to the vendor and the system is programmed for you. In other cases some basic configuration must be done by the platform vendor but the bulk of the configuration can be a DIY project.
Keywords and Topics – In part one of this series, we discussed the need to think through the keywords required to bring all relevant content into your platform. The keywords might be company name, product/brand names, competitors, issues, segment names, executives and spokespersons and key messages. During deployment you will need to build taxonomy around many of the keywords that represent concepts rather than singular ideas or names. For example, if you have a message that centers on being an innovative company, you will have to decide what expressions in addition to the keyword ‘innovative’ may be classified as innovation – leading-edge, technology leader, R&D leadership, breakthrough products, etc. You will also have to decide words and terms to exclude from your analysis. Both of these processes are iterative – make a change, check content relevancy, adjust, repeat.
Integration – There are a few different types of integration you may want to tackle during platform configuration and deployment. Each of the possible forms of integration will take a little time to accomplish and may require some back and forth between you and the platform vendor and/or vendor to vendor. I am a big fan of web analytics and social media integration. With many listening platforms this is relatively straight forward to accomplish. You may also want to integrate third-party data sources like Factiva, LexisNexis, VMS or Critical Mention. Assuming the listening platform vendor you selected supports this type of integration, it also is relatively straight forward. To address latency issues, make sure you specify load times for the content.
Reports and Workflow – Previously, we addressed many of the basic questions around reports and reporting. In the deployment phase it’s time to make it real. Design specific templates for each report you need. Create a mock-up and share with your stakeholders to make sure everyone is on board with the look, feel and utility of the report. You will want to test the various delivery mechanisms to be employed including all email clients and mobile platforms you believe may be used. Generally speaking, assume a significant percentage of the audience may look at the report on a mobile device, making this an especially important dynamic to test. Once you have the report format established, define your workflow process – who pulls data and when, who creates visuals and by when, who compiles and edits the report and by when, and who is responsible for distribution and against what schedule.
Training – The first decision to make with training is if you want to tackle it yourself or rely on the listening platform vendor to perform the training. Some vendors have very strong training programs and others not so much. Some vendors charge for training and some do the bulk of it for free. You most likely will want to take a train-the-trainer hybrid approach to training – have a core one/two/three people trained by the platform vendor, and then charge this team with training within your company or organization. With respect to training timing, make sure to begin training only after everyone has a log-in to the system so they can actually use the system during the training. I usually refer to this as training with live ammo. If you don’t do this you’ll find the half-life of training is pretty short – folks forget most of what they have learned very rapidly. I also find a tell-show-do teaching methodology works very well (my friends at Radian6 approach training this way). Show some slides that cover the basics, show a video or canned demo that brings it to life and then have everyone do some hands-on exercises using the platform. Remember you will need to address initial training needs as well as ongoing needs as new users are brought on the platform.
Event-specific and Programmatic Planning – Related to keyword analysis and taxonomy build-out, it may be wise to create keyword groups for programs you know you will be asked to listen to and measure, and for any potential events, like a crisis, that you can anticipate or imagine. With respect to programmatic listening and measurement, generally a combination of the right keywords and date-ranging will allow you to pull in program-specific content. If programs are known at the time of configuration and deployment, get ahead of the curve and set-up the keyword groups or source filters you may need.
If a company, brand or organization has a social listening program, you are remiss if you don’t include specific keywords that may serve as an early-detection system for potential crisis. For example, depending on the type of organization and industry, it may be advisable to set up a keyword search like this: Company Name AND fire OR explosion OR shooting OR recall OR kidnapping OR crash.
In today’s real-time world, in my opinion, it is no longer optional to have social media listening capabilities. As a result of this three-part series on listening platforms, I hope you are better equipped to plan, select and deploy your platform effectively.
Thanks for reading.