A new Ad Age article talks about the importance and necessity of listening to social media conversation surrounding your brand - some are even creating new positions called 'Chief Listening Officers' to keep up with everything involved. For the most part, companies understand why this is important, but I get the sense the overwhelming majority of executives who were recently bestowed with the responsibility of getting their monitoring game in order, have no idea where to start. I want to paraphrase my discussion I had with a few folks in the Ad Age comment section by breaking down your monitoring options into a few different categories: 1) SM Search Engines Simple search sites like icerocket.com and collecta.com show you a particular point in time (right now) what people are saying across social media. The majority of these are free (or should be). For constant monitoring, TweetDeck is a fantastic tool.
2) Self-Service Dashboards like Radian6 and Viral Heat perform buzz searches and track basic performance metrics like volume and general tonality (if they are good). These tools are generally cheaper but require a lot of time and effort to get results resembling something you can use. No custom reporting here, and before you sign up, make sure you understand what their accuracy rate is for recognizing sentiment.
3) Custom Solutions Then there's the 3rd generation firms (this is where Mashwork fits in) that provide you with a combination of innovative technology and human analysis to give you a more complete picture. The trade-off is that it's not 100% self-service. For example, because we're not tied to one tool, we frequently use more than one method and data set to give clients insights that aren't retrievable from a standard dashboard.
That is, in a nutshell, the type of solutions you'll come across. Of course we're bias to which type of solution is best, but the reality is that each type of offering will have it's perks. Any types you think we're missing?