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Published September 14th 2011

Are social media listening services useful?

Someone recently posted this question on Quora:

“Are social media listening services useful?

So, if I find tweets where people are discussing a need for my product, potentially they will be bombarded by every company offering that service who is also monitoring that tweet! Also, they would probably get annoyed and hit SPAM on the message/user.

Also, you can’t contact users on Facebook – so how effective are these monitoring services for actual making sales/brand building?

The proposed hurdles to the usefulness of social media monitoring tools are, if I understand correctly:

1. People don’t want to be interrupted and harassed with sales messages
2. In some instances, users aren’t contactable so listening to them is not much use

Obviously we are keen to argue that yes, of course social media listening services are useful. So, how would we respond to points like these?

1. Social media listening is there to help you find the conversations and give you the means to act on them, but how you choose to act on them will always be down to you

That said, we can certainly advise that blanket-bombarding everyone who discusses a need for your project with impersonal sales messages is not the most sensible thing to do.

Sometimes people do want brands to reach out to them and will appreciate it.When that’s clearly not appropriate, getting involved in the discussion where possible in an indirect manner may be acceptable – avoiding sales talk and keeping to their topic of conversation.

2. Social media listening isn’t just designed to help find people to engage with there and then.

Whilst the monitoring and responding aspect of tools is a significant and growing part, there is a whole load of other possibilities in market research and consumer insights.

So in terms of sales – there may be occasional limitations due to privacy restrictions, depending on the channel. However, for all the users you can’t contact – there are many more users you can get in touch with and would miss entirely if not fully monitoring social media.



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