Social media monitoring should be a fundamental part of your social program, but what is it, and why does it matter?
What is social media monitoring?
As the name implies, social media monitoring is the process of actively watching social channels to see what users are talking about. Social media is like a global sounding board, allowing your marketing team to gather information on virtually any product, service, or topic.
Effective social media monitoring involves filtering through the millions of messages generated each day to unlock actionable insights. This means checking the status updates of your brand followers and looking for common trends, or sifting through through all the available data to get a feel for what people are saying about a particular topic.
Why does social listening matter?
This listening process should be the starting point for every social campaign your business runs. Social media is built on the premise of building relationships, which require listening and feedback between both parties. If you begin broadcasting messages across social channels before properly understanding your audience and their preferences, you risk alienating them from the start. Your community will not grow, and your messaging will fall on deaf ears.
Social listening is also hugely useful for a range of business functions:
- Identifying new target segments — just like traditional market research.
- Assessing customer sentiment towards your brand.
- Collecting responses to marketing campaigns, social or otherwise.
- Collecting background information to inform the development of future products and services.
- Understanding individual customers based on the information they share online.
- Identifying influencers individual users who have built shared interest communities relevant to your products and services.
- Generating ideas for future marketing campaigns and accompanying content. Seeing what people are saying about your competitors and their services.
- Discovering insights that can be used in other departments within your company, such as R&D.
The idea is to collect insights and metrics that can be applied to improve the services your business offers, or to create new efficiencies that will be used to improve social media ROI in the future. And because much of the raw data generated by social channels is open to monitor and access, your business is missing out on a massive opportunity by not running a social media monitoring program.
It is also important to note that according to Forrester’s report Use Social Data To Improve Your Social Marketing Maturity, more than 70% of your competitors already use social listening tools to improve the performance of their own campaigns.
You can see how important social media monitoring is to campaign success in this Pizza Hut case study.
How to carry out social media listening?
Each of the major social platforms — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc — provides some tools that will assist with social media tracking, but they tend to be quite basic. You will also find that gaining insight into sentiment across several platforms simultaneously is all but impossible.
Obviously a centralized tool capable of unifying insights from across platforms will be essential if you are to obtain the maximum available insights. Such a tool will also help coordinate and execute responses while maintaining complete control of your social media channels.
Before, during and after each campaign, your listening tools should be employed to capture information like:
- Brand mentions.
- Retweets and re-shares of your updates.
- Use of campaign related hashtags or similar.
- Sentiment, positive or negative, that will need to be followed up.
Once a campaign is underway, monitoring will be key to your social media analytics — which is vital for proving ROI.
Social media listening is also vital to identifying new, real-time opportunities to “newsjack” a trend, and to avoiding potential PR problems. It is only through constant monitoring of social channels that you will be able to take full advantage of these highly valuable opportunities.