real-time challenges

Brands know that they need to be monitoring conversations if they are to make the most of real-time social engagement. Our survey, ‘In The Moment’ benchmarks real-time social amongst leading brands. It shows 62% of marketers think the most important best practice is monitoring trends, headlines and conversation.

Yet 51% of brands think the biggest challenge in real-time engagement is getting real-time data and insights. So what exactly are the barriers…

A plethora of sources to find the zeitgeist

Most brands are looking at 5 to 6 different sources to understand the industry trends. Twitter trends and hashtags (66%) top the bill as the most important source, followed by news sites (56%).

Bringing together so many different elements to understand real-time insights can be tough. Not all data will present in the same way and keeping on top of so many sources is likely to take time and resource.

Multiple tools with differing data collection and results

So it makes sense that brands will use tools to collect and monitor the data (although 11% don’t use any tools!). Free tools are prevalent with Google analytics being most popular (62%), followed by the analysis functions on a social profile or page (53%).

However 43% use open web monitoring tools and 43% use buzz monitoring tools. Interesting to see that 9% are using intelligent monitoring tools such as Crimson Hexagon or SoDash.

The study indicates that free tools are being used alongside paid-for tools. The mix brings a lot of data to brands. But I wonder if making sense of the data points is challenging if the sources and tools used to gather them are different. It isn’t always easy to mash up data especially if analysis is not your core skill!

Not enough analytical skills and capabilities

Which brings us on to the issue around skills. Whilst 51% of brands find getting real-time data and insights a challenge, it just might be down to the skills expected of those at the coal face of social media.

According to brands, the most important skill for real-time social engagement is creativity. Only 20% look for skills in web analytics and social data insights. Customer service (42%) and social platform knowledge (40%) are important too. But business acumen (16%) and strategic (9%) capabilities less so. Yet it is the business and strategic skills that bring value to the insight and help brands make considered decisions in real-time.

The monitoring gap between expectations and reality is not a surprise. For many brands, social media is only just being brought in-house. The industry doesn’t yet have enough skilled practitioners and companies need to structure in different ways to meet the needs of real-time communication.

But now we have the benchmark and can see the gap, there is a strong case for considering what skills are really needed. And whilst brands need a robust tool set to pull the information, I am reminded of some sensible advice from Avinash Kaushik: for every $10 spend on a tool or technology, $90 should be spent on intelligent resources/analysts.

Now is the time to invest in training, skills and building corporate knowledge in analytics! Download the report at http://po.st/realtimesocial

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