The Radian6 vs. SM2 Death Match: Functionality
When measuring and monitoring social media efforts, you basically want to know two things: Who is saying good or bad things about my product or brand? And how much influence (reach) do those people and conversations have? Should you care if one person with no Twitter followers is ranting about an issue? Or do you have a #MotrinMoms or #PepsiFail situation on your hands?
First, let’s consider reach. Suppose you’re running a Twitter contest and using hashtags, so you want to track the reach of everyone who tweets and re-tweets about the contest. In the case of Radian6, you can see the number of followers that each person tweeting about a particular topic has, and thus get a sense for the reach of a conversation. And you can export a dynamic line, bar or pie chart to illustrate this data.
In the case of SM2 from Techrigy, you only know the influence of those tweeting based on a 1-10 star rating assigned to the tweet. That star rating is only a ballpark figure. So, if you want to know precisely how many people are viewing tweets about your contest, you can only get a range. But the difference between someone with an 8 star rating and a 9 star rating is 1,500 followers. That’s a pretty wide margin of error to determine who is reading your tweets and re-tweets. If you do a little digging in their system you can find the number of followers but you can’t export it easily from their system.
While both systems are great at showing you volume of activity (number of posts, tweets, videos), neither has mastered a way to show total impressions based on blog metrics or unique visitors per month. It matters if 500 blogs write about you that are read by 10 people, or 10 blogs write about you that are read by 10,000 people. Radian6 offers this metric through their system when you pay $50 per month to have Compete.com data included in results, but it doesn’t cover everything. Techrigy has links to Compete, Alexa, Technorati and Quantcast data for free next to blog results, but exporting data about your cumulative reach in the blogs from the system is not really possible (results look like gobbledygook). When either company solves this riddle they’ll really have something.
Rating sentiment is the proverbial Holy Grail of social media monitoring. And neither Radian6 nor Techrigy have figured out how to accurately automate tonality ratings for blog posts, tweets, videos or social network activity. The reason is that humans are random, and when you say something is “badass” it’s unclear to a computer whether that’s a good thing.
Techrigy will tell you that its system is up to 75% accurate and you can manually adjust tonality ratings (positive, negative, or neutral). You can customize things like “Angry Whopper” so it’s not automatically graded negatively. Combing through thousands of tweets to decide what’s good, bad or other may be a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday, but that will take untold hours of your time.
Radian6 is rolling out its own version of automated tonality, but having tried it, I wasn’t impressed with its accuracy. They say that only about 10% of content that’s out there can actually be assigned a tonality rating. Basically, at this early stage in the social measurement game, you can’t eliminate human oversight for grading sentiment, and it’s a time consuming process for both systems (ensuring job security for anyone who does social media marketing).
Speed and Accuracy
I’ve found exporting reports in Excel from Techrigy to be a slow process, while exporting reports from Radian6 is very zippy. Also, when you configure a topic profile with key words in Radian6, it spits out relevant results in English. But even when configured to just provide results in English, Techrigy has a tendency to enter a lot of foreign language content into the system. Its results are less than accurate and don’t recognize terms with hyphens, but they are working to improve.
Sometimes Techrigy seems like an amusement park ride designed for little kids. You know, the one where kids will think that they’re riding a helicopter because it has non-working dials in the cockpit, but they’re just there to make it look real. Case in point: they claim to have MySpace, Facebook, Ning, Plurk, Orkut, Vox and other social platforms available to search, but they don’t really deliver results.
Radian6 limits its social network-specific searching to Facebook, but claims to capture MySpace, LinkedIn, and open Ning networks (it would lump that all together in blogs). If Facebook content behind a privacy firewall is what you want, both deliver poor results (you’re better off logging into Facebook yourself and searching the site for content).
Don’t bother using either system to track mainstream online media. For reasons that are not clear to me, they don’t pull a lot of online coverage from the sites you would expect. Use Vocus instead if you want to get accurate old school media clips (it’s better than Cision Point).
Radian6 now has up to 18 months of data in its system, and SM2 has up to 24 months, so you can retroactively search for content in the blogosphere if you want to benchmark year over year.
WINNER for Functionality: Tie
Continue reading about ease of use here.