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Published July 26th 2012

How to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Monitoring RFPs: The Dos and Don’ts

Here at Brandwatch, we’ve recently been receiving – and winning – a lot of RFPs (Request for Proposals) for our Social Media Monitoring Services. From 70+ page detailed proposals to one-page Requests For Information, we’ve seen a lot of variation in length and also how sensibly each one has been put together.

With all this experience, we thought we’d help everyone out there who is interested in monitoring services in constructing their RFPs.  Therefore, we’ve distilled the best of them into a list of:

The dos and don’ts of social media monitoring RFPs!

  • Define what objectives you have for monitoring social media before sending out the RFP
  • If you aren’t that experienced with social media, then get an external agency or consultant to help you: they’ll guide you in identifying the most important aspects of social media monitoring for you, they can decode any esoteric answers we vendors might (stupidly) give and they can help make sure you get the most out of the system once it is set up
  • Ask for a price: surprisingly often an RFI doesn’t ask for a price; but even if you wish to evaluate this at the next stage, it is worth including as it sends out the right signal out to the vendors
  • Ask about set-up services: you’d be (unpleasantly) surprised how tricky it is to get the right data into the system, not to mention the correct dashboards, the correct user profiles and permissions set-up, etc. In our experience, the clients who get the best insights out of social media have had help setting up their social media monitoring
  • Use check boxes and tables to limit how long and how different each vendor’s reply is. This helps to limit how much reading you will have to do and forces vendors to reply in a way that you can easily compile and compare
  • Do ask the vendor about their USPs, or Unique Selling Point(s). After reading 5-10 responses, you’ll need a reminder of why they are different
  • Don’t try to solve every aspect of social media in one RFP: lots of departments, multiple geographies and a range of social media agendas will inevitably delay getting any solution in place. But delay is not the worst of it: you can often so over-design the solution before using the tools that you end up with elements that you just won’t use or with a set of requirements that no Vendor can satisfy
  • Don’t expect ISO and other formal standards. Companies working in new technology probably won’t have it and if they do, then worry that they’ve been too busy getting certification when they should be innovating. (Note: you can expect them to have quality assurance systems in place, just not to have got formal ISO approval)
  • Don’t be surprised if a vendor does not seem to provide what you are after. The market is quite fragmented and companies that seem very similar from the outside can often do quite different aspects of social media monitoring and insights
  • Don’t copy questions from one RFP to another (apart from standard ones, e.g. about company status). It will confuse us vendors and send a signal that you have not really thought about what you want or need
  • Be clear about the questions you are asking and use examples if necessary: vendors live in fear of vague questions like, “What is your sustainability philosophy”
  • Don’t repeat yourself. RFPs with the same question regurgitated elsewhere will, by design, get a bad response

That’s it really: a vendor’s view of Social Media Monitoring RFPs, so there’s not much more to add, other than that we wish you good luck with your evaluation!

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