One of the reasons I hate Facebook is its mission of putting everything all in one place. Conversely, that’s also the reason I love it.
With so many services vying for our attention, and so many online outlets to control, the age of using one piece of software to achieve one specific goal is as dead as Dillinger. As marketers we’re expected to preside over Facebook ads, paid search, SEO, Twitter, blogs, comments, conversations … the list goes on.
We made it to the moon and back a number of times in spacecraft with less computing power than a pocket calculator. Now 40 years later there is no excuse for not being able to monitor, moderate and measure online content from myriad sources. Companies need to do more than participate: they need to know exactly how each online initiative contributes to the bottom line.
It’s not enough to just sell clients some pay per click ads and a steady stream of blog, Facebook and Twitter updates. We must gather data, measure influence and sentiment, and evaluate effectiveness.
Fortunately there are some great software as a service (SAAS) apps that are leveraging APIs to create dashboards–complete command and control centers–for online media. Some have limited capabilities, others get you everything and the kitchen sink. Some require no real technical expertise, others require serious experience with analytics. It’s all a matter of what you need, what your goals are, and what resources you have at your disposal to address the issue.
What they all have in common is that they present an at-a-glance view of your online goings-on, and allow you and your team to respond accordingly. Most of them track historical data similar to a web analytics package. More than just one-way post scheduling, they are complete tools for monitoring, engagement and analysis whether on your desktop, on the web, or on mobile devices.
A brief list of examples:
Make no mistake: the biggest, most successful companies currently excelling at the interactive game are using these tools. As dashboard-style tools get better and add more services, interactive departments are looking more like NASA. But they’re also a great equalizer, offering the same insights to brands large and small, and allowing them to justify their interactive budgets by showing concrete numbers for what works.