Social media monitoring is the process of identifying what is being said about a particular brand or business on social and online channels. This strategy can help track brand awareness, brand perception, and other social metrics by gathering publicly available, real-time data. Information gathered might include brand mentions, either with or without direct tagging, relevant hashtags, general industry trends, and more.
There are social monitoring tools that work on algorithms, similar to the functioning of search engines. These tools crawl and index sites to collect information about your brand to help grow your awareness of what people think and say about your business. Once armed with that data, you can look for trends and insights that can inform how you utilize feedback and how you interact with consumers to build your brand authenticity and credibility.
To be more exact, once you’ve gone from data collection to analysis of and response to that data, you’ve moved beyond social monitoring and started the process of social listening. What is the difference between the two? The most basic answer to that question is that social monitoring deals with looking back at the past and social listening is about looking forward to the future.
Social monitoring focuses on capturing what people are posting about your brand. Social listening is a more active and strategic process as you analyze the data you’ve collected for actionable insights that will help strengthen your social marketing efforts. Matt Tesmond, writing for Sprout Social puts it this way:
Social media monitoring = Caring for your customers by monitoring social media for messages directly related to your brand and responding to those messages appropriately.
Social media listening = Understanding your audience and improving campaign strategy by accessing the full spectrum of conversation around your industry, brand, and any topics relevant to your brand.
Social Media Monitoring Tools
If you are wondering how on earth you can manually check each social network for keywords, hashtags, brand mentions, etc., not to fear. You won’t need to spend countless hours compiling information. There are a number of social media monitoring tools that can help you identify and analyze all that data. We’ll cover some of those tools in the next section. The important thing to remember when you are considering which tool or tools to use is that each business is different from the next and you need to select resources that work for your specific organization.
Like many Google resources and tools, Google Alerts is a free option to help you with social monitoring. Through your Google account, Google Alerts allows you to monitor mentions of your company, brand-relevant topics, and your competitors across the entire web. You can set customized alert criteria and receive an email notification when Google has results relevant to your criteria.
Hootsuite offers several tools to assist in social media monitoring efforts. The Hootsuite dashboard includes search streams that allow you to monitor what people are saying about your brand, your products or services, and your industry in general. Information can be identified through hashtags, keywords, locations, and specific users. The data that is collected can be shared with others in your organization so information that requires a response may be addressed by the appropriate party.
Hootsuite Insights increases your monitoring capabilities to include over 100 million data sources beyond social networks such as forums, blogs, and news websites. Hootsuite Insights offers data analysis that can help you segment information and identify any trends that require your attention. Hootsuite Insights also lets you set up alerts to notify your team of any major changes in the metrics you are tracking.
Hootsuite RSS Syndicator monitors websites and blogs for any mentions of your company and stories that are relevant to your business. It also monitors for mentions of your competitors. This tracking, again, allows your brand to respond as needed to any online traffic that requires follow up.
(RSS: Really Simple Syndication. This is a standardized system for the distribution of online content from the publisher to Internet users.)
Brandwatch is another tool that helps businesses make the most of their social media efforts by monitoring brand mentions across the Internet. It is a joint solution with Hootsuite that offers comprehensive management capabilities. The Brandwatch mention results are pulled into the search streams on your Hootsuite dashboard. From there, you can engage with the data using the Hootsuite platform.
Mentionlytics offers tools for social media monitoring and management of your online reputation. Mentionlytics provides a complete report of any and all mentions of your brand on the Internet and social networks. It also provides positive and negative sentiment information for the mentions to help you determine when a response or other brand action is needed.
Reddit does not always come to mind as readily as other social sites. With over 130,000 active communities and 330 million average monthly active users, Reddit is a platform worthy of social media monitoring. The Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro lets you monitor relevant keywords and phrases on its site to understand what is being said about your business as well as insights to the site chatter about your competitors.
Online reviews are a necessary evil in today’s digital world. We need positive reviews to build social proof but often feel helpless or frustrated when dealing with negative reviews, especially when we don’t catch them before the conversation chain takes off. Reputology helps you stay on top of online reviews by monitoring sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook to track activity and be able to respond quickly to consumer comments.
ReviewInc provides a comprehensive view of your brand’s online reputation while also providing analysis of your online brand reviews. ReviewInc is highly customizable. You and your team are able to share positive online reviews to your social media profiles and quickly respond to negative reviews in a timely manner.
NetBase provides real-time information about your customers’ online conversations by using Natural Language Processing to identify conversations relevant to your brand. NetBase helps you understand public perception of your brand and identify any emerging issues before they damage your online reputation.
Synthesio offers a Social Media Intelligence Suite of tools for social listening and audience insights. The Synthesio Suite helps you monitor and track information across multiple mention streams at the same time. This more customized approach allows you to measure the impact of online conversations against your business goals and respond accordingly.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to social media monitoring. The customization within any of the available tools means that you and your team have to determine which topics to monitor in order to gain the most from the information. It should be mentioned that your list of topics, user names, and keywords will evolve and should be revisited from time to time.
Possible things to monitor include your brand name, product names, branded hashtags, slogans, and handles. You may want to monitor the names of key people within your organization as well as any spokespeople who represent your brand. You also might want to monitor the brand name, product names, branded hashtags, slogans, and handles of your competitors. This will provide you with a better idea of where your brand fits into your industry niche.
You should think outside of your brand and monitor industry-relevant keywords and any unbranded industry relevant hashtags. The data gained from monitoring these things will provide you with a better understanding of your overall industry. You will also want to monitor any abbreviations or common misspellings for everything we’ve mentioned.
Monitoring these different factors will help you understand the fluctuations that occur. If your standing goes up in comparison to your competitors, knowing which competitor’s standing went down and why will help you avoid the misstep that caused the change. Monitoring, analyzing, and responding is all about coming up with the most effective strategies to keep your brand on top.
While you and your team may feel you have an exhaustive list of terms to monitor, you can always learn from your social audience. Pay attention to any new hashtags or abbreviations that appear. Keep tabs on any new concepts, key terms, and competitors that pop up. Insights from others can provide valuable information and help you see your brand in an entirely different light.
The need to understand the intent of social signals will force you to go deeper with any keyword combinations you use. Include in your social monitoring streams qualifying keywords such as recommend, improve, suggest, help, and so on. Using combinations of keywords and phrases will help you more accurately zero in on intent.
If your business is active in multiple countries, you may want to monitor for keywords in multiple languages. You monitor the more global conversations about your business by entering your translations into a single stream. This is an example of one size does not fit all. If your brand operates in only one country, your resources and time will be better spent elsewhere instead of on translating keywords and phrases.
A proactive approach to customer relations is imperative to the success of your business. Social media monitoring is just one strategy that can help you build and sustain healthy customer relations and do all you can to maintain the online reputation of your brand. And when you pair social monitoring with social listening strategies, you can take the information provided by real-time discussions and turn it into opportunities to engage with consumers, build brand awareness, and improve your brand reputation.
For more on social listening, read our article: They Are Talking – Are You Listening?
The team at Strategy Driven Marketing understands that brands need to not only know what is being said about them but also to respond and take a hands-on approach to manage their online reputation. We’d like to help your brand enhance your marketing efforts with the power of strategies geared to help you monitor, listen, and make the most of online conversations about you. Contact us today to get started!