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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

With over 1.5 billion conversations stored, can you afford not to listen?

Aug 7, 2009

Social Media Monitoring: Why You Must & Its Value

You don’t really need to be active in social media.

Twitter? No. Blog? No. Facebook Page? No. Social bookmarking? Nyah. Second Life? Forget about it.

Social media — like any other tool for marketing — should be researched and evaluated based on how best to reach and communicate with your audience.

But (you can tell it’s a big BUT), you do need to be monitoring and listening in to social media.

Do you have comment cards available for customers and prospects?

Do you have a suggestion box in your location(s)?

Do your sales people listen to customers?

Do you have a customer service department or person?

Do you have your company name in Google News Alerts or have a paid clipping service for news releases and such?

Have you ever conducted a focus group or other similar market research?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you need to monitor social media.

I’ve been involved in SM monitoring almost since I first became active in social media in 2005. There are a lot of monitoring tools available, both free and paid. (For reference, see a previous post on my own blog about online tools, and my Delicious bookmarks tagged social-media-monitoring.)

How and why you should monitor social media? Let’s look at four key ways to use social media monitoring:

Monitor your company and product names, as well as any other trademarked, marketing and related terms about you. This is a no-brainer. People are talking about you whether you are listening or not — so you might as well listen. You also can track competitors.

  • During your monitoring see what negative, neutral and positive things are being said. Before jumping in to respond to negative streams, gauge if the content is emotion- or fact-based — it’s tough to sooth a debate filled with emotion, so be cautious. Also determine if the author receives a lot of traffic or seems to have a lot of influence. If either are low, consider your timing if you should respond at all. (This point requires another post to really discuss.)

Gauge how effective your marketing messages are. I’m talking more than just negative or positive reactions. Those do not necessarily come from your branding efforts. Review the results for your company and related names used above and see what’s being said and what main points are associated with your terms. (See AuthorTags image from a SM2 term I’m tracking.)  Then, adjust as you see appropriate. You also can track your efforts over time and compare to sales data to determine what impact social marketing has on sales.

See what terms & topics others associate with your term. This example is for a metroparks system.

See what terms & topics others associate with your term. This example is for a metroparks system.

Market research: Don’t look for your company-related names; look for trends and issues associated with your industry and your marketplace. You may have conducted surveys and other research in the past — with social media you can do the same in real-time (or at least pretty recent time).

If you are planning an outreach, use social media monitoring to smooth the process: For the subject or topic you plan to use for SM outreach, search for it first. See who’s already blogging, tweeting and discussing it. Then, see if those people are ones you want to engage: Gauge their level of influence, their comments on your topic, etc. — all the while learning more about them. That will help you better connect with them if you do contact them.

For the image, I use Techrigy’s SM2 service. However, other services also have graphing and analytical tools. Even with free services, you can take the data and develop your own charts.

One more point: No matter if you use a free service or a paid service, there’s still an investment. Both require an investment in time to fully analyze the data. The trade off is in the amount of money you pay for a comprehensive service that will compile the data and start to analyze it, compared to the amount of time you need to gather and compile the results and then analyze using the free tools.

-Mike Driehorst

Mike Driehorst

president of Diamond Communications, is a proven public relations professional with 15 years experience in strategic planning, public relations and other modes of marketing communications. Based in Toledo, Ohio, he has been active in social media marketing since early 2005 and blogs at www.MikesPoints.com. If you’re on Twitter, look him up @MikeDriehorst.
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  1. Very good stuff Mike on media monitoring….am currently working on creating something in this space itself…there are lot of things said about social media to be effectively used by marketing team…wanted to check with you if it can also be used by the product development team….

  1. Absolutely outstanding post Mike. You’ve hit the nail on the head - understanding what’s happening across social media has for more value than simply for the act of engaging in it. You clearly think of it in the same way as I - a dataset. It’s an amazing dataset with the type of volume, depth, authenticity and timeliness that no other dataset can match (CRM, focus groups, surveys, etc). It’s biggest value is to inform strategic marketing. Yes, it can be used for crisis management, directly engaging influencers, etc. but it’s capable of doing so much more. With careful analysis, the social media dataset can provide highly accurate answers to the questions who should I sell to? What do I say? Where do I say it? etc.

    I’d respectfully submit that to harness the full value of the SM dataset, it requires more than a “monitoring” tool, but this may just be a vocabulary issue. To do the things we’re talking about here requires more than simply counting mentions, searching for keywords, and producing a quick sentiment calc, which are functions consistent across many of the free and low-cost monitoring tools. The ability to segment the data along various demographic and psychographic lines, discover themes consistent across various subsets without needing keywords, be able to quickly toggle between the strategic level and actual comments from actual commenters, and deliver other insightful analysis are what take monitoring to the next level. It’s still early in the development of the analytics vendors, but there are a number of good tools up and running.

    Great thoughts and observations Mike. Thanks for this post.

  1. Thanks for this great post.

    One might not like social media, but one can’t ignore its popularity and impact on a brand. A lot of people hate Twitter or Facebook, for various reasons (waste of time, privacy concerns, etc.) Not having a profile is one thing… but not monitoring what’s said on these sites is another. Social media must be monitored, one way or another, to prevent haters from destroying your brand, but also to find out how people feel about it. What do they like? What do they dislike? What could you do to improve it?

  1. [...] EVERYONE Must & Its Value (X-post) By Mike Driehorst (NOTE: The below is a cross post of a post I wrote for the Techrigy Blog from Aug. 7. It’s not exactly the same as I use a different image here [...]

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