As part of my on-going work developing social media for business units, I’m often asked about what types of tools I used for tracking all that ‘social media stuff.’
Let me talk about how I go about creating a social media dashboard
The basic answer is that I don’t have one tool (I have dozens, if not hundreds.)
The real answer is that I am not tracking social media.
I am tracking key performance indicators (KPI)
I don’t care if it is a shipping problem or a viral YouTube video.
I simply want to know how I can track it, manage it, and maximize results.
With that said: when I think about creating a social media dashboard or using a platform to track results… I am looking at several unique business identifiers that define what tool I need for the job at hand.
Key questions that control my decision process
- Who is going to use it?
A big problem with advanced tools is that they have advanced controls. Knowing how to use some of the most precise tools often requires a lot of training. Additional questions revolve around whether or not I am going to be working with people on my team, an individual point of contact, or a team of workers on the platform.
- Who needs to digest the end information?
An individual or team may produce a report with all sorts of useful metrics, but does the end business user have the capability of digesting the final data points and acting on them?
- Does it need to tie into legacy systems?
If I can wave a magic wand and replace all your internal systems I’d be in heaven… but the reality is that these systems need to adhere to existing process points.
- What business metrics do I need to map against online touch points?
Human resources, marketing, sales, the executive team, and every other department all have different business metrics. All of these data points have unique requirements for security issues, update frequency, reliability, data archiving, and workforce management.
- Where and when is this data consumed?
It is a big fallacy to think everyone is tied to a desktop computer with high speed web access. Some users may be in the field, on smartphones, or working with paper.
- What is the data I want and do I need another tool to communicate it?
Many of the tools below use various methods to extract, collect, and visualize data. Tools that are exceptional at data collection are typically complex and unfriendly to the end user. This requires you to give thought about using different specialized tools to collect data, and another set of tools to communicate with.
- What does all this really mean?
As soon as you start monitoring this data and trying to analyze it, big and fluffy numbers begin to hide valuable and tiny numbers. Define short and long term trends that tie into your business goals. Focus on the most valuable KPI (key performance indicators.)
- Did I share the information with the right people?
All the reporting and analysis in the world becomes useless if the right decision makers are not involved in your dashboard process. Golden nuggets of wisdom are sitting on your screen right now and no one in your organization can benefit from them if you fail to properly share them.
I have a strategic idea… now what?
All of the strategy in the world boils down to getting it done.
Unfortunately the tools for ‘Getting It Done’ are vast and complex.
Many of the social media dashboard tools have overlapping features, while almost all of them have one or two unique features that may be applicable to the task at hand.
This problem is compounded for your social media dashboard project by the simple fact that almost all of these tools are constantly evolving to adapt to the latest social trends.
The following list of tools will hopefully lead you on your way. I have listed the pricing for the services that have public pricing pages. For services without public pricing, be aware that a variety of the tools have ‘ad hoc’ pricing models that can greatly vary from one project to the next depending on the amount of data being provided.
*One of the biggest warning points of any of these services is that ‘one tool does not meet all jobs’ (think about the questions above!)
So here are 40+ Social Media Dashboard Tools
Basic, out-of-the-box thinking services
- Google Homepage + Google Gadgets
- Google Alerts
- Google Spreadsheets
- Google Analytics (new version out this month)
- Firefox (with the Webmynd plugin, or Tabble.it)
- MS Excel (not exactly social media, but it is the most popular data tool)
Quick & Easy ‘good stuff’ (+FREE)
Paid Social Media Dashboard Tools
Individual Centric Social Media Dashboard Tools
- Google Homepage + Google Gadgets
- RescueTime (for tracking all that lost time on social media.)
Twitter Focused Social Media Dashboard Tools
Executive & Enterprise Software for Making Your Own Dashboard
Any tips or services to share for
building out a social media dashboard?
(if you want some more tactical dashboard tips, check out this article I wrote on our corporate blog – Social Media Training and Team Sharing Dashboards)