A Guide to using Social Media Monitoring Tools
Does my business really need Social Media Monitoring Tools?
Marketing guru and consumer behaviourist, Steuart Henderson Britt, was once quoted as saying, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing but nobody else does”.
Fast forward to 2017 and businesses are presented with a whole new dilemma – not that of being seen by the metaphorical girl, but rather, listening to what she has to say. Like most things however, the social media monitoring tools leveraged in the pursuit of comprehensive online listening aren’t created equal. What’s more, the volume of content being shared online continues to increase rapidly.
Moore’s law, a theory conceived of in the 1960s that has successfully predicted the exponential growth of computer hardware, has been referenced by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in forecasting the monumental future of social sharing. If accurate, Zuckerberg’s prediction would mean that total social media shares will continue to double year on year for the foreseeable future. So, ask yourself, is your business prepared? If you’re interested in battening down the hatches but aren’t sure where to start, then here’s a guide to using social media monitoring tools in 2017.
Identify Keywords and Phrases to Monitor
The keywords and phrases identified in your social media monitoring strategy ought to be informed by audience research, and should also extend beyond mere company, brand and competitor names. Consider including memes, popular hashtags, top influencers, journalists, and events relevant to your industry in order to extend your reach. Certain premium media monitoring tools provide their users with a prepopulated influencer database that can be searched by keyword and location, ensuring your press reaches the most relevant contacts possible.
Online, brand misspellings are commonplace, so be sure to also take into account any known spelling mistakes or close derivatives of your brand name. Depending on how unique your search terms are, you may also need to make use of advanced Boolean searches (provided your software allows for that). With advanced Boolean search criteria, users are able to filter out irrelevant mentions of their chosen keywords, a feature that can come particularly handy in a country like South Africa, which is home to 11 official languages. Refining your search results using Boolean operators requires time and careful consideration, but for the sake of relevance, is well worth the effort.
Aggregate your Targeted Social Networks
Consolidating your active social media networks into one combined stream should be the next focal point for any business looking to effectively monitor its online reputation, customer preferences, and competitor influence.
By centralizing your dashboard, feeds from a variety of social media platforms can be neatly channelled into one unified and easily digestible data source, or “smart inbox”. Streamlining your workflow in this way ensures you’ll never miss a mention or direct message again, it also allows users to quickly identify up and coming trends as well as real-time marketing opportunities. Being able to collaborate as a team is critical to effectively managing your smart inbox, so look out for tools that allow you to identify completed conversations, assign tasks, and track colleague activity.
Make Sense of the Data
The analysis component of social media listening takes on two different forms. On a micro level, users need to pinpoint real-time mentions and relevant engagement opportunities, then determine if and how to contribute to the conversation. While direct complaints require a near immediate response, think carefully before jumping into a conversation that wasn’t intentionally targeted at your brand. A good rule of thumb asks, “Would I enter this conversation if it was a real-life situation?” Respecting user privacy and social etiquette is not to be overlooked, and should feature as a cornerstone of any effective social media monitoring strategy.
On a macro level however, analysis refers to the process of identifying trends and interpreting statistical data for the purposes of more strategic online decision making. Here, you’re largely at the mercy of the software you’re using, so be sure that your chosen social media monitoring tool can provide you with the data you’re looking for.
More advanced social media monitoring tools will provide their users with a range of qualitative and quantitative data points, including (but not limited to) highlighting related trends, gauging brand sentiment, discovering audience demographics, uncovering niche marketing opportunities, measuring engagement, and tracking employee response times. Online media intelligence has come a long way since the days of simply counting Facebook likes, so invest in a tool that can reveal actionable insights concerning your business objectives.
Engage on Social Media
Social media engagement can either be reactive or proactive – meaning, brands can either passively collect insights and respond when directly addressed, or, actively enter conversations that revolve around their brand or field of practice. As mentioned earlier, swooping into a conversation when unsolicited can backfire if not performed gracefully, so think before you post. South African favourite, Nando’s, serves as a fine example on how to actively reach out and interact with customers online.
One standout example of using social media monitoring tools to translate passive listening into actionable engagement has been the Oreos’ web-series, “Snack Hacks”. After listening to their audience over an extended period of time, Oreos discovered that its customers were looking for creative ways to eat their cookies while keeping their fingers clean. The feedback served to inform the development of a very successful series of web videos that presented top chefs preparing novel recipes for chomping everyone’s favourite cookie – less the mess.
More sophisticated social media monitoring tools can help facilitate both passive monitoring and responding, as well as proactive customer interaction. Similarly, with a premium tool you’ll be able to draw on features like tracking team response times, assigning conversations or tasks to other colleagues, filtering newsfeeds by location or keyword, posting content across all platforms simultaneously, scheduling posts based on time and date, or even when your followers are most active.
Benchmark Against Your Competitors
As with all things online, your brand’s performance can be carefully monitored, not only by you, but by your competitors as well.
Social media monitoring tools provide businesses with a variety of metrics that can be used to define your brand’s share of voice, online sentiment, content volume, and overall performance in comparison to your industry rivals. Based on the gleaned data, you’ll be able to assess whether you need to refine your online brand strategy, or rethink it altogether.
Needless to say, in 2017, ignorance is not bliss.
Try out a free Meltwater demo to see how your business can make more informed decisions online.