As a business analyst, I am often tasked with reviewing various tools to determine whether they will work for my company’s purposes. I generally utilize a pretty holistic approach. My criteria for any tool that my company may use is typical as follows:
- Cutting Edge
- Partnership Potential
- Not Cost prohibitive
- Excellent Support
- Keen Interest in Development
- Best in Class
- Great Consumer Reviews
With this criteria in mind, I go through numerous steps, such as compiling a list of potential vendors, collecting every review/data source possible, creating pro/con charts, etc. to develop a full picture of the competitive landscape for the particular product. This process has served me well through numerous companies and projects, but determining the best social media listening tool was a bit more complicated.
This complication stemmed from a few different factors that are atypical for most technology vendors. The primary issue was the fact that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Tumblr, and Pinterest are all continually adjusting how they allow their data to be accessed. As a result, a tool that may have been atop the food chain earlier in 2015 may have completely been deemed outdated by late May. This was due to the different partnerships many social media companies began making to better profit from sharing their data. Ultimately this led to a much different process for me in terms of how I had to evaluate potential social listening partners. The new criteria for social media listening tools is:
- Robust API
- Strategic Long Term Partnership
- Focus on Innovation and Continued Development
- Data Availability & Limitations
This new criteria allowed me to easily whittle down the initial list of over 20 different social listening tools (see the whole list here) to 4 that had a great deal of potential. I then created a chart to evaluate those 4 tools, which allowed me to easily see there was a clear winner.
While Crimson Hexagon is my pick for the best social media listening tool out there for my company’s needs, there will undoubtedly be debate amongst other organizations. What is important here is creating a process to manage vendor research and management to ensure that as a business analyst, one is seeking out a partner that will help drive the business needs forward of her organization. It was truly an intriguing process seeing the major difference in the social media listening tool world and adjusting my own processes to ensure effectiveness in my own research.