What is Media Monitoring? A Guide for MarCom professionals

Media Intelligence dashboards on monitors
Media Intelligence dashboards on monitors

Do you know how much data is created in a day? I’ll spare you the search and tell you right away: It is a lot.

It’s estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day by 2025. This is, approximately, 463 billion Gigabytes in 24 hours only. The number is so ridiculously high that it’s impossible to conceive how much information it represents without risking a headache.

In other words, the amount of information published each day can make it complicated for MarCom professionals to separate relevant information from … noise. 

Long story short, a lot is happening outside of your business’ walls, and there is no way to catch up with everything that’s happening — at least, not without the help of advanced technology.

This is where media monitoring comes into play. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll go over all you need to know about media intelligence, including 8 ways brands can leverage media monitoring.

What is media monitoring?

Put simply, media monitoring is a technology that helps businesses to track conversations both online and offline.

Back in the day (read: before the internet), media monitoring was a tedious task which consisted of monitoring print media, TV, and radio broadcasts to check if a brand was mentioned, or not. Not only was this time-consuming, but calculating the ROI was near impossible.

Today, communications professionals can’t afford to spend their time and energy on projects that they can’t fully understand, nor measure.

On a positive note, we now live in a day and age where nothing happens in the real world without leaving a mark online. Fortunately, media monitoring technology has greatly improved over the years and advanced solutions like Meltwater now help millions of marketing and communication professionals to monitor their brand and keep an eye on any chatter that’s relevant to them.

Advanced media monitoring software should help you to track the following: 

  • Volume of mentions: the number of times your brand mentioned over a specific period across online news, blogs, social media, forums, and review sites.
  • Share of voice per platform: Where is your brand mentioned the most, and where should you invest more time and energy
  • The potential reach of the mentions: This indicator shows the total potential of impressions you received over a specific period from your media coverage.
  • Sentiment analysis: A measure of how your brand is perceived in discussions online
  • Trends analysis: The most common topics associated with your brand
  • Top publications: The publications that are talking about your brand the most
  • Top location: Where your brand mentions are originating from 

Is media monitoring compatible with all brands?

The short answer: Yes. If media monitoring once was a costly delicacy reserved to large corporations with important marketing and PR budgets, it isn’t anymore. 

Today, media monitoring is something that all types and sizes of brands and businesses can leverage and benefit from.

On the one hand, large companies such as Coca-Cola or Google can leverage media monitoring to eliminate the noise and focus on niche conversations to understand their products and services performance. On the other hand, organizations with very little to no media exposure can utilize media monitoring to build themselves a competitive edge.

Listen to your market’s needs and wants

Even if you are an expert in your field, you cannot keep track of everything that’s happening all the time. What’s more, our human brains simply cannot aggregate large volumes of information to identify trends.

Media monitoring can help marketing and PR professionals to identify and grasp the emerging market trends before they go mainstream.

Doing so, they can even adapt their products and services to better meet their audience’s needs.

Benchmark your performance

It’s not only about you. How can you evaluate how well you are performing if you haven’t anything to compare it with?

Regardless of the size of your business and its performance, keeping an eye on the competition in real-time will provide you with key information: 

  • How much attention are they getting? 
  • How is the brand depicted online? 
  • Where are they mentioned? By whom? 
  • And, most importantly, how can you outperform them?

Make (more) informed decisions

The knowledge you can receive from an advanced media monitoring strategy already helps millions of businesses to make more informed decisions, thus giving them a serious advantage over the competition.

Save time

Do you have time to browse through the media, niche forums, and social media groups to keep track of your online brand’s performance? Most MarCom professionals certainly don’t.

Besides, the amount of information circulating outside of their own bubble makes it difficult to differentiate the most relevant information sources from the rest. In other words, media monitoring will save you a LOT of time. And that's time that you can invest in completing more important tasks, such as building your next marketing campaign.

8 ways for brands to leverage media monitoring

Media monitoring is a new type of business intelligence that provides MarCom professionals with key insights on how to understand their brand, competitors, market, and customers.

Now, the one thing that all businesses have in common is the need to know what is happening in their market. In other words, they need knowledge to thrive.

We looked at what our customers use Meltwater for and identified 8 ways that you too can leverage media monitoring. Starting with the most common one: monitoring your brand.

1. Monitor to understand and manage your online reputation

From monitoring the impact of your day to day activities to measuring the effects of your latest PR campaign, reputation management is one of the most common use cases of media monitoring.

It allows MarCom professionals to look beyond quantitative metrics. Media monitoring also provides them with qualitative business intelligence insights, such as sentiment and trend analysis.

More importantly, the technology we now have access to can reduce hours of tedious manual work into minutes. In a couple of clicks, you can browse through relevant articles mentioning your brand, mention numbers, evaluate your reach and influence, or understand where you’re being talked about, geographically. This type of data is giving PR professionals new ways to measure and understand their efforts.

MI dashboard

This is something that the folks at The Economist use Meltwater for.

By looking at the themes that are being discussed in relation to the Economist and our family of brands, we can start to have better planning and make more informed decisions. – Lauren Hackett, Senior Vice President Global Communications, The Economist

2. Run competitive analyses

The next most common usage of media monitoring lies in running competitive analysis. Because their working environment is evolving at a fast pace and keeps reinventing itself, marketing and PR professionals sometimes need to navigate and experiment on intuition.

You don’t want to navigate on intuition.

One way to solve this is to keep an eye on what the direct competition is doing. 

  • What are they great at?
  • Where are they failing at?

While each business is unique, and copying/pasting another business’ strategy is likely to fail, there’s a lot you can learn from watching what works for your direct competition. 

For example, a media monitoring powered competitive analysis can reveal what the competition is up to. It will also alert you whenever a media outlet is running stories about investments, partnerships, or product launches from your competition, without you having to go and look for the information yourself.

This is something that Javier Ruiz, Digital Marketing Strategist for H&M Mexico uses Meltwater for.

Our campaigns are based on market trends. We use Meltwater to evaluate what other leading brands are doing before deciding how to align ourselves to global trends and remain at the forefront. –Javier Ruiz, Digital Marketing Strategist, H&M Mexico

If the fashion industry is highly competitive, so are most of the other markets. In fact, Crayon.co’s 2020 state of competitive intelligence survey revealed that 90% of businesses believe that their industry has become more competitive in the last three years (this is up 3 points compared to the previous year).

3. Never miss relevant industry chatter and safeguard your brand from external threats

While keeping an eye on your competition is important to gauge how your brand is performing in a larger context, keeping the pulse of your entire market is essential if you want to identify opportunities and safeguard your brand from external threats.

Tracking entire markets helps businesses to better understand their brand positioning, as well as keep them in the loop regarding product development, media campaigns, acquisitions, finance, legal regulations, or any potential crises coming their way. 

For instance, many NGOs rely on media monitoring to keep track of what is happening in the various countries they are operating in, to anticipate and act upon critical situations before it goes out of hands.

It [Meltwater] makes monitoring news more efficient, keeping track of changing and dynamic news about crises around the world has become easier and it has allowed us to successfully and closely follow important issues. – Adit i Sonrexa, Media Manager at MSF.

Safeguard your brand reputation

Brands never had so many ways to communicate their messages and yet they have never been so exposed. 

The reality is that it takes years to build up a reputation, and minutes to destroy it.

By keeping an eye on what is said about your business, stakeholders, and business partners, you give yourself precious time to jump on a story soon as it’s out, and before it goes mainstream.

This kind of strategy is key in the era of fake news and alternative facts.

Meltwater is fundamental to our success. It plays a key role in helping us respond to inaccurate or incomplete information before it acquires traction with the public. – Guido Matijas, Corporate Communications Analyst, Santander Río

Now, to paraphrase Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. What this means is that not all communication crises can be avoided.

Having said that, media monitoring can help to mitigate the effects of a crisis if you’re able to jump on the issue as soon as it emerges.

Check our 10-step plan to effectively manage PR and social media crises.

4. Measure the overall impact of your work

Before the internet, measuring marketers and PR pros’ performance was a nightmare (read: it was pretty much impossible).

Today, advanced marketing and PR solutions exist to measure the direct impact of their actions — media monitoring is one of them.

It helps thousands of MarCom professionals to: 

  • Be better at what they do. Having the possibility to see and measure the effects of a campaign can provide valuable insights in the performance of the work — what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs improvement.
  • Prove the value of their work. For too many years, MarCom professionals have been fighting to convince their colleagues of the value of their actions. Using an advanced media monitoring service, they don’t need to fight anymore, they can simply share the results of their work with their board. 

It was just huge this year. We pulled a report that showed we surpassed the earned media goals we set prior to the event. It was rewarding to share this success with our board. – Jessica Lowe-Betts, VP of Marketing and Branding, Tulsa Convention & Visitors Bureau

5. Improve your overall service

You can learn a lot when you take the time to listen to what is being said around you.

Advanced media monitoring tools can crawl review sites, giving you the ability to identify trends related to the quality of your service.

As an example, if you identify growing protestations about the time it takes for your social media teams to answer, you may want to look into hiring an extra pair of hands to increase your bandwidth.

6. Work with the right influencers and journalists

Did you ever try to send a press release to a random journalist list? Well, if you have, you’ve probably noticed that it doesn’t work.

Media monitoring is here yet again to save the day as it can help you to identify key journalists that are genuinely interested in your field.

The best part is that advanced tools such as Meltwater can provide you with a comprehensive media database so that you can send your pitches and stories to people who are willing to listen to you.

Meltwater allows us to advance our international PR work as their press module makes it easy to search for international journalist contacts. On top of that, they offer effective media monitoring that helps us identify mentions across the world. – Mads Jensen, CCO - Head of Marketing, Communication & PR, Søstrene Grene

This process also applies when identifying niche influencers who are regularly writing about topics that are relevant to your brand and industry.

After all, a recent study suggests that 92% of consumers trust influencers more than ads or traditional celebrity endorsements.

The fashion industry is trend-based and often relies on bloggers and micro-celebrities to drive purchase intention. The Influencer contact management database helps us connect and interact with the potential influencers and media professionals to disseminate refined and directed content facilitating our PR efforts in generating awareness and leads. – Warren Talbot, Marketing Manager, VANS

7. Fuel your content curation strategy

Simply put, content curation consists of researching relevant content created by third parties, and sharing with your audience.

Why do you need content curation?

If you keep talking about yourself, your audience will eventually get bored. 

When curating relevant content, you show your audience that you actually care about solving their problems.

How often should you curate content?

This is something that our customers ask a lot. Sadly, there’s no consensus when it comes to that.

It comes down to your ability to find and share relevant content with your audience. Using a media monitoring platform, you could set up searches to identify relevant news articles and blog posts to share with your audience.

Another direct benefit of content curation is that it will force you to stay on top of the latest market trends, allowing you to become a great source of inspiration for your own content.

Identify business opportunities and generate leads

Regardless of your market and industry, your target audience is most likely asking A LOT of questions on blogs, social media platforms and discussion forums. Questions that you could be answering ... if you’d know where to look.

Once again, media monitoring is here to save the day. 

Take part in relevant chatter

To find those conversations, we recommend that you associate keywords that are relevant for your brand (your brand name, your products or services, for example) with keywords like "need", "recommendations".

Be an alternative to the competition

On many occasions, your target audience will mention some of your competitors when looking for alternatives. 

Here’s an example of this with a Twitter user looking for a web hosting alternative:

twitter image convo

A web hosting provider could create a search associating their competitors’ names with keywords such as "alternative" or "cheaper".

Something that the folks from Skystra Cloud and Snappy Host seem to be doing brilliantly.

screenshot of a conversation taking place on twitter

8. Break data silos

Thanks to the latest technological advancements, media monitoring also contributes to breaking down existing data silos between teams.

Data silos are dangerous in a way that looking at different data sets may affect your business’ North Star metrics.

As an example, a marketer could be measured by the number of leads generated, a salesperson by the number of deals they manage to close, and a PR pro by the number of press clippings they receive.

While this makes sense on a micro level, it doesn’t on a macro level. How can you understand the correlation between a PR hit and a closed deal? 

Through the use of an API.

Thanks to APIs, we can now combine different data sets such as sales volumes, lead generation, or brand awareness.

Meltwater's dedicated API allows customers to add media data crawled from our platform into third-party applications like Tableau or Microsoft PowerBI, enabling them to identify correlations between media data and other data sets, like sales volume, in real-time.

Image of a command centre

Take the time to listen

You now know everything you need to know about media monitoring, what it is as well as the most common ways to leverage it.

If you’d like to see more about what Meltwater can do for your business, let us know by filling out the form below and we’ll arrange a time to speak together.