Social Listening In The Cloud

Yes, you still have work to do…

There’s a great Eddie Izzard routine from the 90s where he’s got a new printer. It’s going to change my life, he declares. It’s going to do everything for me. Even the creative stuff. But of course, it didn’t work (it wasn’t plugged in).

There’s a temptation with anything new that it’s going to revolutionise your life. A new social network? Life-changing. A new mobile phone? This is the one-stop shop for everything that is me. But three hours later, you’re still there trying unsuccessfully to plug in every number, social network and calendar entry that wouldn’t sync properly.

You still have work to do.

There’s an unfortunate temptation with the cloud to think along the same lines. I was talking to a former colleague about social listening projects and he told me that it’s fantastic – if you spend the time setting it up, and if you know what you want out of it in the first place. It doesn’t work out of the box. It doesn’t revolutionise your life at the click of your fingers.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Social listening is a good example, and covers many of the issues that cloud integration experts have encountered. Indeed, without that initial hard graft, you find engagement in such projects wanes quickly. Microsoft recently invested heavily in social listening – to the extent that you can integrate Twitter & Facebook accounts, and alert sales & marketing teams, measure sentiment & analyse topics, etc.

It’s a great sell – but someone has to set this up. Before they start setting it up, there’s a significant amount of planning to be done.

1 – How are you going to acquire these Twitter & Facebook profile names?

Do you ask people when they first get in touch with you? Do you phone them up individually? Do you employ someone to scour the web looking for their profile links and entering them into the system?

2 – Who is going to integrate this data into the system?

Can it be done automatically? Or do you have to have somebody sitting there all day? Your investment has just doubled.

3 – Why do you actually want these profile names?

I used to collect bottle tops as a child. I didn’t do anything with them, I probably never looked at them. If you don’t use these profiles, then you’re doing the same as me. What are they for? If you don’t know, don’t collect.

4 – What are you going to track?

All of these social channels carry masses of data. Are you going to track every tweet? Every brand mention? Specific topics? Interactions? How are you going to distinguish between them?

5 – Who are you going to tell?

Moreover, how are you going to tell them? Daily reports? Instant alerts? Or not at all – rely on them to log in and check the data themselves?

6 – What are they going to do about this data? Why should they care?

The big sell. You’ve invested, you’ve set it up – but then why should anyone care? What is actionable here?

That’s just six questions, there are many more. Understanding what you’re going to do with all of this data, how you’re going to implement it within a system, and who you’re going to inform is the first hurdle to overcome.

Disengagement with integrated cloud services doesn’t come because people are lazy, or because people can’t be bothered with them. It comes because those initial stages of understanding why – how – who are not carried out properly. Sometimes, not at all.

These are incredibly powerful solutions. I’m no fan of social media, but I’m a huge fan of social listening as a tool for understanding how your brand is perceived. And this is a great example of an integrated tool bridging multiple cloud services – and a great example of why we need to roll up our sleeves.

If you want engagement – and indeed, any return on your investment in any cloud service, you still have work to do.

By Gareth Cartman