Social media monitoring, in fact, utilizes the same principles of news monitoring that are in force since the early days of this industry. Individual people report or tell stories about companies, brands, or other people. This is pretty the same way traditional newspapers work. On the other hand, the very nature of social media introduced new ways to measure performance and impact of a story. However, monitoring and measuring largely depend on the policies concerning the availability of data by one social media or another.
Define Your Objectives
Monitoring social media for the sake of monitoring is counterproductive. You need to set clear objectives to get viable results from monitoring social media. For example, you may decide to ignore certain social channels and focus on others that are more important for your business.
You can track all the channels for the purpose of brand reputation but monitoring all of them to track industry trends is inefficient. Tracking Instagram to follow product trends is one thing but monitoring this same channel to look for technology breakthroughs is waste of time. Moreover, you need to set clear filters that identify fake news on many of those channels in order to get the real picture. This requires very well defined objectives what and how to track.
The Barcelona principles
The core idea of the Barcelona principles is that you need to measure outcome, not output. As regards social media monitoring, you need not measure the number of articles and their reach but measure how these articles impact your organization. Another important indicator to measure is how the content you monitor influences your sales and leads.
This means that you have to tie your leads and sales data to content you track or publish on social media. This is not an easy task but is doable once you have a clear idea what channels and what type of content might influence your business activity.
Integrated Channel Measurement
One social media channel or a single media rarely is decisive when it comes to impact on one’s business. Paid advertising and owned media can revert a trend on social media channels, so you need to monitor all the relevant channels at once.
Evaluation of signals received from social media monitoring should be performed in synchrony. Simultaneous monitoring of third-party channels and your own publications is a must to get the whole picture.
Target Groups and Wider Environment
Most companies tend to set social media monitoring goals that focus on their target groups. Tracking the behavior and reactions of different target groups on social media is considered a best practice. This is true to a large extent but you should also have the broader picture to adequately assess where your business should be heading.
Conversations, comments, and publications on social media should be put in the wider context of the outside world. You need to pay attention to important issues outside your specific industry or target groups since they affect both your target groups and the business environment as a whole. How the US sanctions against Russia would affect entire industries? How refugees impact local and regional markets. What the long-term consequences of the spat between the US and North Korea. These are all important issues to monitor since they have global consequences.
Social media monitoring focused on brand mentions and social media engagements are valuable only if you use those data for growth. Passive channel tracking is useless if you do not transform it into actionable insights to expand your business.
Hence, you need not only monitor social media but also perform in-depth analysis of the collected social data to draft a viable growth strategy. This also means a proactive approach to social media monitoring. Once you notice a mention of your brand, you should respond immediately, regardless of the mood of the mention – positive or negative. Which in turn requires integration of social media monitoring tools with other enterprise systems such as CRM or corporate messaging platforms.
The Curse of Countless Social Channels
IT startups launch new social media tools and messaging apps almost daily. This is the marketer’s nightmare and makes social media monitoring increasingly challenging. Of course, you can monitor any new communication channel, as far as its data is accessible, but do you need to.
You cannot track discussions on Telegram, for example, but this channel is a closed one by a concept. You can track discussions on Facebook but do you need to track them all. As said before, a company needs clear objectives what they should monitor and why. The major new concept in social media monitoring is that you cannot and do not need to track everything. Focus on the clear set of objectives, carefully select your channels, and implement integrated monitoring practices. This is your first step toward fruitful social media monitoring.