Social Media Monitoring: understanding, doing, effectiveness

The purpose of Social Media Monitoring (SMM) is to record, study and understand the dynamics and behaviors of the potential reference audience, monitoring how it interacts with the topics that refer to the brand directly ( products, services) or indirectly (market sector context of use).

Dedicating yourself to social media marketing without defining an accurate, precise, structured social media monitoring activity is like sailing the open sea not only without a compass but even blindfolded.

“Markets are conversations” was the first of the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto, a document that already in 1999 anticipated how the web would revolutionize corporate marketing and communication. The importance, indeed the essentiality, of analyzing these conversations – which increasingly take place on social networks – is therefore easily understood and this is what social media monitoring deals with.

What is Social Media Monitoring

SMM is a very powerful tool for understanding the needs and desires of one’s target and verifying the extent to which one is capable of responding to them. SMM has a strategic function since, if used appropriately and in a broader perspective of social listening,  Thus it allows the brand to have a precise picture of the consumer community and structure itself in such a way as to be able to offer exactly what is required by the market.

It should be specified that social monitoring represents only the first step of a social listening strategy, which is a more complex and articulated activity. In fact, during social media listening, the analyzes are aimed at identifying models of the diffusion of content and influencers. Not only that, the activity is aimed at tracing the evolution of sentiment and investigating in a specific and in-depth manner the topics that are obtaining the best performances to calibrate one’s strategy.

Among the experienced social listening professionals is the Social Media Manager. Take the test and find out if this role is in line with your natural aptitudes

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Social Media Monitoring and Web Reputation

Let’s start with the definition of web reputation:

Web reputation is the set of opinions, expectations, and perceptions of our stakeholders present on the Web, deriving from personal experiences, hearsay, and observation of specific actions produced over time about the quality and characteristics of the service/product offered and by our behavior adopted.

social media monitoring tools

In the early days, the entire social media monitoring activity was aimed solely at building, defending, and promoting one’s digital reputation. A discipline created to prevent and track down any crises, acting accordingly to stem their effects. It then developed over time, fully exploiting the potential of the instrument. Social Media Monitoring no longer plays (only) defense but has evolved into a tactic of attack, of conquering new opportunities and new audiences, not just of controlling the existing ones.

Careful, knowledgeable, and assiduous observation of social media can suggest new ways forward and hot topics on which to position and exploit in terms of marketing. It also allows you to track new trends to exploit for real-time initiatives. The final result that it can produce is to allow the company to look at its products and services from the customer’s point of view, consequently improving them according to the needs revealed by the market itself.

Social Media Monitoring Tool

This monitoring activity cannot be done manually. It would be a huge job and it would still be impossible to identify all the conversations of interest. Something, much more than something, would be lost. How does a social media monitoring tool work?

The mechanism is based on a complex algorithm capable of sifting through the web, intercepting conversations concerning the products of a particular company or those of its competitors, or the company’s top management or the reference industry. Naturally, there is strategic planning work at the base. It will be of absolute importance to establish which keywords must be followed, in short, what are the indicators that will activate the alarm of the social monitoring program?

Mention is perhaps the best-known of the social network monitoring tools. It works quite simply: once the keywords have been entered, the channels to be monitored and the time intervals have been chosen, regular reports are obtained in line with the set parameters. Another tool is Talk Walker, more accurate and reliable but also more complex and expensive than the previous one. These are the most popular social monitoring tools. In our country, as well as throughout the world, the offer in this sense is growing rapidly, precisely in line with the increased attention that companies are paying to this activity.

Search engines of social networks

However, there are not only paid social media monitoring tools, there are excellent (albeit basic) tools inherent in social platforms. First of all, it is possible to get initial information from the insights of your page, relating it to those of your competitors. What we would get will be generic and incomplete, but it can serve as a basic indicator.

search engines of social networks

Search engines within social networks can be useful. On Twitter, by entering the keyword of our interest, we will be able to choose whether to monitor it for more recent or more popular posts and if that keyword must be present in usernames or bios, as well as in tweets. Furthermore, the advanced search system of Twitter is very well structured and allows you to further narrow and detail the field.

Facebook also has an internal search engine, but less accurate. It is possible to search within the posts, further segmenting the search for that specific keyword by video, person, or photo. We can choose the words to monitor and at the same time – through the left column of desktop navigation – choose whether to search on our posts, on those of our friends, our friends, and their friends, on all of FB, or specific accounts or pages or groups. However, it should be clarified that, especially on Facebook, without paid professional monitoring systems it is very easy to miss more than one social mention.

The Methodology of Social Media Monitoring

Identifying the key topics and consequently the most relevant discussions for your business is stimulating and complex. In a nutshell, the steps to follow to start a social media monitoring activity are:

  • Choosing what to monitor: our product, our market, our brand, or a competitor
  • Select the words that will activate monitoring in conversations between users: words, hashtags, and slang that define our audience
  • Choose which tool to use to carry out the analysis
  • Identify the channels to monitor for the monitoring activity and any influencers of interest to our niche
  • Defining the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to be taken into consideration when evaluating the results obtained, to give value to the data obtained from the monitoring activity and be able to make decisions based on these.

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guide on social media marketing

Social Media Monitoring: success stories

There are many success stories of brands that have benefited from social media monitoring activity. We present two that summarizes two of the main effects that wise monitoring is capable of producing. The first, that of the Arby’s restaurant chain, demonstrates how it is possible to direct one’s business to the point of creating new products by observing social networks. The second, that of the Barclays Bank, demonstrates how, from a customer care perspective, social media monitoring allows you to act in a timely, productive, and successful manner concerning your consumer community.

Case History: Arby’s Meat Mountain

Arby’s is an American restaurant chain, the second most widespread in the USA with over 3300 outlets. Famous above all for roast beef, she launched a campaign called “we have meats” through which she wanted to remember that she also had many other types of meat, showing them separately. Monitoring the results of this campaign, he realized that his audience was misrepresenting the message. Customers mistakenly assumed that Arby’s was introducing a new sandwich containing these different meats. And through social networks, they were eager to try it.

At that point, the strategy changed completely. Arby’s did not explain the real meaning of that campaign but, based on the feedback received, it completely changed its course. Thus was born the Meat Mountain, a sandwich that Arby’s sells (with great success) for 10 dollars each!

social media monitoring example: arbys meat mountain

Case History: Barclays PingIt

Barclays is one of the most famous banks in the world. Upon the launch of his mobile banking application called PingIt, he began to closely monitor the sentiment of the social network about it.

pingit sentiment

Barclays audience sentiment report on app launch

Although it was largely positive, from the analysis of the negative comments the bank was able to understand what the problem its customers were experiencing: the app was not usable for children under 18 years of age. This was a problem for the kids, but especially for the parents who couldn’t transfer the money to them.

pingit tweet

 One of the critical tweets intercepted during the monitoring phase

Having ascertained this criticality, Barclays immediately intervened by solving the problem within the same week of launch, thus obtaining a double positive effect. The first is of resolving a limitation of one’s product. The second, having made a sensible and perceived improvement, demonstrated that they listened very carefully and promptly to the opinions of their customers.

tech barclays pingit

PingIt, the Barclays app now fully functional

The field of action of Social Media Monitoring

Social media have revolutionized corporate communication models, the way companies interact with their customers, crisis management, and customer care. Optimizing the profit of your online presence means, among other things:

  • Identify the most useful tools for our business;
  • Identify the influencers of the network concerning our market;
  • Review the performance of social channels that relate to our business;
  • Analyze the results of the strategies produced according to the KPIs already identified in the planning phase.

Social media monitoring allows you to record and study various aspects of primary importance for the activity of an online company.

  • SENTIMENT: in what terms do people talk about my brand? Is there a prevalence of positive or negative comments and what exactly is each of them?
  • VOLUME: how many conversations have my brand had as their subject? Is the volume lower or higher than that produced by my main competitors? What about my target market?
  • AUDIENCE: who talks about my company or my products? Which categories of people are most interested and on which audiences should I try to improve?
  • INTERESTS: When it comes to my business, my products, my services, or even just my market sector, what are the considerations that my audience most often makes? What appreciations does it express, what needs does it reveal and what criticisms does it make?
  • SOURCES: Where is my brand mentioned? What are the most useful channels?
  • MEANS: Which formats produce greater interest, engagement, and satisfaction within my audience?
  • LOCATION: In which areas are the most popular? Are there places where there are negative or positive peaks concerning my company, my services, or my products?

Influence of Social Media Monitoring on the Digital Marketing Strategy

It is therefore quite evident how a productive content strategy – essential fuel for social media marketing – also passes from careful and structured monitoring of the conversations of one’s audience and the skillful analysis of the results produced by this activity. The activity of social media monitoring – and in a broader sense of social listening – is therefore essential to guide the work of figures such as social media managers and social media strategists. It will also be so for the digital marketing manager himself who will inevitably take it into account when planning the overall brand strategy.

influence of social media monitoring

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