This week, over on my blog, I decided to do a whole theme on something that is so important, yet many companies either don’t know how to do it, don’t realize they should be doing it, or don’t do it to the extent that they could be doing it. And that something is social media monitoring.
Being that it’s such an important topic, I thought I would extend the wealth of knowledge to stretch far beyond my little blog, and provide some other fabulous readers (yup, that would be you!) with the steps and tools to becoming successful social media monitors.
But why is social media monitoring so important anyway?
Social media monitoring is the act of monitoring the online discussions that take place about and around your brand. It’s about listening to what others are saying about you. It’s an important strategy, not just for your social media crisis plan, but for your social media marketing strategy as a whole.
By monitoring the discussions that take place around your brand, you allow yourself to:
- Listen for negative criticism – which you can then respond to, turning unhappy customers into happy, loyal fans
- Find new sales and engagement opportunities with potential prospects
- Detect a social media crisis in the rise
- Identify your share of voice as well as your share of sentiment
- Keep tabs on your competitors
- Discover gaps in the market that could define an opportunity
- And so much more!
So as you can see, social media monitoring is definitely a strategy that all brands should equip themselves with. It provides you with benefits and insights that could not be acquired by any other means.
Before you embark on your social media monitoring adventure (because trust me, it will be an adventure!), there are five simple steps that you should take into consideration if you want to provide your brand with a solid social media monitoring strategy.
1- Identify your listening role
What type of listener do you want to be? Do you prefer to listen, analyze and evaluate, or do you prefer to listen and look for engagement opportunities? The answer to this question should depend on your social media marketing goals and objectives.
If you’re new to the game and are taking the time to listen and analyze, then a passive role is a great place for you to get an understanding of what is being said, determine how you may use it and decide on the direction that you want to take.
If you’re already engaging with fans, then the odds are you are currently doing some form of active social media monitoring, and perhaps you just need to up your game and use it more to your advantage.
2- Determine what you should be monitoring for
The key here is to determine which conversations matter most to your brand and why. Start by determining which types of conversations you want to be made aware of and what you will do with them when they come about.
Perhaps you want to know what the public is saying about your products and services, your most recent campaign launch or a particular individual within your organization. If this is the case then you’ll want to track the different discussions about your brand.
Perhaps you care about what’s going on with your top competitors – campaigns they may be launching, complaints and compliments their fans are voicing, potential crises that may be arising… And if this is the case, then discussions related to your competitors is what you’ll be monitoring for.
Or, perhaps you care what people have to say about the industry as a whole. In which case you’ll want to track industry related keywords – which can help you identify potential customers’ pain points and needs in order to better target your campaigns.
Give yourself a strategic advantage by taking the time to determine what you want to monitor and why. Make a list of all the targeted keywords and phrases that you want to track, and update that list regularly as new terms and phrases come to life.
3- Use the many social media monitoring tools to your advantage
Social media monitoring is important, but that doesn’t mean that it should take up tons of your time. In fact, if you do it right, the physical act of monitoring should take up next to none of your time. And that’s because you don’t actually have to be the one to do it! There’s some really great monitoring tools out there that do it all for you. All you have to do is figure out which ones line up with your goals and objectives, set them up and you’re ready to go!
No matter your needs or the level of monitoring your brand requires, there’s a social media monitoring tool out there for you.
Some free tools that I definitely recommend looking into include:
As for the bigger brands with lots of social chatter, you may also want to check out the more advanced paid tools:
4- Set yourself up with mobile alerts
Your social media monitoring tools monitor and track the keywords and phrases that you deem important to listen for, but it’s your mobile alerts that alert you when something in fact is being said – in real-time. Every single tool and service that I mentioned above has an app that you can easily download to your mobile devices (smartphone, iPad, iPod – use them all!) and set them up to alert you whenever one of your keywords gets mentioned online.
There’s no reason why you should ever miss out on any discussion that you deem important to listen out for. Take full advantage of the beauty of today’s technology and set yourself up so that you never have to worry about a potential opportunity or crisis passing you by.
5- Equip yourself with the right social media monitoring team
Perhaps your brand is small and setting up your listening posts and mobile alerts will be all the tools you need to properly monitor and respond to the few discussions that take place on a regular basis. But what if your brand is big and the social chatter is even bigger? Then what?
If monitoring and engaging with the discussions that take place around your brand is more of a full time job, then you’ll probably want to set yourself up with a social media monitoring team. This can be an internal team of one to a few people, or you may find it more efficient to outsource your social media monitoring to an agency of listening professionals.
Choosing between an in-house monitoring team and outsourcing to one depends on your company’s goals and needs. The important thing is to determine 1- if you need a full, dedicated team; and 2- who that team should be.
For more great insight about this topic and to help you determine which route is best for your brand, visit a post I wrote titled How to Know If You Need A Social Media Monitoring Team.
Where to go from here
So as you can see, social media monitoring is a crucial element to include within both your social media crisis plan and your social media marketing strategy. By following these five steps and really putting some thought into what you want to gain from your listening efforts, you’ll discover countless opportunities that tie directly in with your goals and objectives.
So take the time to start at step 1 and work your way through, and before long you will have these fabulous tools and advantages working for you!
Do you currently monitor the discussions around your brand? What tools and techniques do you find most rewarding? Share your insights with others like you by leaving your comments in the comments section below.
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