Social Media Monitoring

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An aspect of managing a brand or organization that becomes increasingly important as the brand increases in size is public relations, or brand management. Large organizations may have teams of people focused exclusively on the management their brand and they might also have a team focused specifically on their public relations. Smaller “mom and pops” may have no team at all in place to deal with any form of professional communication. Social Media Monitoring is the discipline of “listening” to the Internet for “brand” mentions, then performing triage and engaging conversations related to a brand.

In days gone by, brands would conduct controlled focus groups in an effort to ascertain the public sentiment related to their specific brand, product, service, organization or otherwise. They might also employ the use of paper comment cards in order to obtain feedback. These are just two examples of strategies that were implemented in the past to “listen” to the marketplace so that future product, or service, offerings could be created to better meet the demand of the marketplace. Needless to say, brands and businesses that paid no regard for public sentiment were probably eliminated through attrition.

Enter the era of Social Media. Today brands are defined with or without the input of the organization. Focus groups and comment cards are still in use but consider that today feedback pertaining to your business is taking place on a daily basis. Conversations and comments about the largest brand names and the smallest “mom and pop” shops are occurring in real time on Social Media platforms like Foursquare, Yelp!, Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, forums, review sites or otherwise. Comments are not just left in text form either; they can be made through video, audio, photo or otherwise. For example, a irate customer at a local restaurant can easily take a short disparaging video of their experience and post it to Facebook profile page in real time.

Over the last few years many Social Media Monitoring platforms have emerged to assist brand managers and public relations specialists. Platforms like Radian6, BrandsEye, Collective Intellect, Nielsen and Google Alerts, help managers “listen” for brand mentions throughout Internet. Some fee-based platforms are more robust than others and come with tools developed specifically to assist with triage. Other services, like Google Alerts, may not be as robust, but they are free and easy to set up. Every organization, regardless of size, should be monitoring the Internet for public sentiment related to their brand, product, service or otherwise.

Business names, branded names, trademarked product identities and organizational names are just a few examples of the types of “brand mentions” that should be proactively monitored for throughout the Internet. Consider the amount of time and capital it takes to found a business or create a specific product. Trademarking a specific brand term can take a year or more, on average. Monitoring Social Media is not just about becoming engaged with conversations related to your brand, it is about protecting your brand–especially if you own a Trademarked term.

Social Media Monitoring platforms monitor the Internet for user reviews, comments, Trademark mentions, rumors, conversations, deceptive information or otherwise, related to your brand or organization. The next step is to triage. Not all “mentions” require a response, but some should be responded to in order to protect your brand image. And, some “mentions” should be responded to in a very timely manner. Left unanswered, the comments of a single blogger, ex employee, unscrupulous competitor, disgruntled client or otherwise, can quickly undo the efforts of your organization.

In years gone by, communication professionals like Brand Managers and Public Relations Specialists, proactively planned for crises while reacting to immediate concerns. The Social Media Manager (Director) is a relatively new title in the business world, but it requires the Social Media skill abilities of a power user coupled with the acumen of a seasoned communication professional. Knowing how to use social media platforms is not enough. Consider that comments or responses made in the name of your organization may occur in real time on the Internet but they are permanent as well. Professional communicators craft responses while carefully selecting copy, tone, target audience, appeal, and possibly even rhetorical devices. For professional communicators, writing is an art form.

Before you consider the option of not engaging Social Media, consider that social conversations and comments are already occurring about your brand. The fact of the matter is: most people will trust an independent opinion about your brand more than they trust your brand. Our society has become jaded with regards to cold advertising. We live in an era of social business. Businesses that proactively engage their social community in a positive manner are going to survive longer than others. This was true 100 years ago and it is still true today. But today, Social Media actually makes the “listening” process easier. The difficult task is responding.

Vagary realizes the financial constraints of most organizations. Currently the Enterprise level organization is the average client for high-end Social Media Monitoring services. But Social Media Monitoring at some level is a discipline that should become routine for every organization.

Vagary is ready to assist you in adopting professional communication tactics that utilize Social Media Monitoring tools. We can help you adopt specific platforms as well as offer advice on how to respond. We can help you craft proactive crisis management plans for specific types of scenarios. We can even help you manage damage control after a potentially devastating event. Ultimately, Brand Management and Public Relations are best handled in a proactive manner. Our goal is to become a strategic partner for growth. Our opinion is that your growth will be difficult without the use of Social Media. Vagary is Social Media Solutions.