This content is part of the Essential Guide: Tapping the potential of social media analytics tools
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New business trending topic: Monitoring social media, analyzing data

Companies seeking customer insights are rushing to deploy social media monitoring and analytics tools. But first, make sure you know what to expect.

You might not think twice about a tweet you posted -- on to the next one! But a corporate marketer or customer service manager might find it to be a piece of social media data worthy of keeping, especially if you mentioned his company or one of its products. And even more so if you complained about a problem or offered some feedback on new functionality, an ad or your dealings with a customer service rep.

Or maybe you're on the other side of the window: one of those business managers yourself or a member of a business analytics team, looking for clues about what customers want and what they’re experiencing. There's no shortage of chatter to be found on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks -- but can you find what's relevant to your business and then make sense of it? That's where tools for monitoring social media sites and analyzing what their users are saying come in.

In many companies, the rush is on to deploy social media monitoring and analytics software. But doing that effectively, in a way that provides tangible business benefits, isn't easy. In a recent blog post, Forrester Research analyst Zach Hofer-Shall wrote that most companies he talks with are still focused on the monitoring part: "They're listening, not acting."

Getting started on social media monitoring

A series of stories recently published on offers advice on how to set up a social media analytics program that ties business insights gleaned from social networking data to an organization's business objectives and operations. One story provides advice on developing a strategy for using social media analytics tools. Another explains the need to have a clear business purpose underpinning efforts to monitor and analyze social media data. And the third points out social media analytics hurdles that can trip up the unprepared.

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