Lee Odden

Social Media Monitoring – Top 10 Reasons for Monitoring Brands

[Editor’s note: We’re excited to share this next guest post from David Alston of Radian6. A fast emerging leader in the field of social media measurement Radian6 is a service TopRank uses to  provides social media monitoring to clients. Radian6 serves hundreds of leading PR firms, ad agencies and brand marketers.]

David is VP Marketing at Radian6 in New Brunswick, Canada with previous experience at several tech startups in the interactive advertising and the video over IP space. Most recently, he was partner and VP of Marketing at PR firm, Revolution Strategy. His blog is TweetPR.

Social media has simplified the art of the soapbox shout. Information is shared with the masses now using easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools and is recorded and cached for infinity. A shout out loud in social media has no geographic boundaries and is not time-limited. These two points make the non-stop monitoring of social media an important to-do for any brand owner. And monitoring social media does not just mean blogs. It should include video and image sharing sites and microblogging sites like Twitter, along with opinion and discussion forums.

As a provider of the tools for monitoring hundreds and even thousands of well known brands online, we’ve found a multitude of reasons for paying attention to what’s being said in social media. Here are the top ten:

The complaint – Watch for posts complaining about your products or services, company, and staff. Catching something early means getting a chance to show how responsive you are. A complaint is an opportunity to demonstrate problem-solving abilities. A posted complaint may also draw out other comments from people with the same concern, which provides an opportunity to reach out to them as well. And who knows, impressing customer with great customer service may generate some positive posts about how you resolved the problems.

The compliment – Compliments can come in many forms. It could be a congratulations message about a recent award. It could be a customer raving about the experience they just had with a product or with customer service. Social media compliments are the online equivalent of those old school references or testimonials of days past. Create a delicio.us account or use another social bookmarking utility and save all of these compliments in a list for future use. Potential clients looking for reassurance on a purchase decision would love to see what others think of your company and products.

The expressed need – The best way to watch for expressed needs is to look for keywords often used to describe those needs. People shout out what they are doing and ask the general public for advice occasionally when they are about to make a purchase. Both of these situations provide an opportunity to reach out with an offer of assistance or a free demo for example. While this may seem intrusive at first glance consider that great retail clerk who offers to help when you are trying to locate a pair of shoes in your size. A social media poster often appreciates that someone is listening and does not mind an offer of assistance expecially if it’s done in a helpful way.

The competitor – If you are watching your industry and the keywords used to describe it you will probably be the first to know when a new competitor appears on the scene. From a competitive intelligence perspective you may also wish to be alerted any time a competitor’s name is used. Knowing this may highlight opportunities to reach out to potential customers who have indicated they are trialing a competitor or dissatisfied with a competitor’s product or service. You may also discover which industry players are advocates for competitive brands giving you the opportunity to reach out and see if they are interested in knowing more about what you have to offer. Competitors will also often talk about subjects they are strategically interested in and being able to stay on top of those discussions allows you to anticipate potential future moves.

The crowd – Topics will often pop up online that draw huge crowds from a page visits or commenting perspective. There is a lot to be learned in discussion threads especially when they have the potential to affect your brand. Following the swarms can give you a better understanding of current sentiment and thinking towards a certain topic and who the players are that have opinions on it. It also may point out a topic that you will need to monitor going forward. Tracking a topic’s viral nature and how long it lives can give you an idea of its relative importance. You may also decide to participate in the crowd discussion thread early in the process, giving your company exposure to those currently involved in the discussion and to those yet to join.

The influencer – Influencers within a space can carry a lot of weight. They gain there power either from the number of times they post on a topic, the number of people who link to their posts on a topic, the number of people gathering to comment and how engaged visitors to their posts become. The hive that forms around an influencer helps spread an opinion on a brand faster and that opinion express potentially carries more weight. Often an influencer’s post appears prominently in a topic’s Google search results thus affecting the views of even more potential customers. Knowing who these influencers are and their opinions of your brands helps you determine who to reach out to for help as advocates or to understand why they currently hold a negative view.

The crisis – Discussions happening in social media can serve as an early warning system before an issue goes mainstream. By using advanced tools you can observe new words popping more frequently about your brands. If you were an airline, as an example, the sudden appearance of the word “cancellations” along with the words “bad” and “customer service” would immediate trigger a need to drill into the posts driving them. Tracking these “crisis” words over time on a go forward basis would also then help gauge the effectiveness of any outreach campaigns to address the underlying issues.

The ROI – There has been a lot of buzz lately on how to successful measure online marketing and outreach campaigns. Much of the focus has centered around the topic of engagement. While a universal engagement metric has yet to be agreed upon there are still a number of effective ways to measure engagement and ROI in general. Track the mentions of a brand in user-generated content before, during and after a campaign. Isolate positive words associated with a particular brand and gauge the number of times they were used over a period of time. Alternatively, you could sort all posts mentioning a particular brand or topic by number of comments or views to uncover the top 50 discussions where potentially engagement was the highest.

The audit – A brand is the sum of all conversations and is no longer completely controlled by the corporation. By analyzing social media a corporation or agency can score a brand’s overall user sentiment, determine which words are commonly associated with it, understand which competitors rank closest in buzz or online mentions, uncover which sites are advocates, and rank which social media channels contain more discussion versus others. By isolating which sites are discussing your brand or a competitor’s brand, an audit can also help pinpoint possible ad placement opportunities for reaching the most valuable and engaged audiences.

The thread – With so many social media channels to shout out on, conversations often become splintered. A discussion can start within one channel and quick leap into another making it rather difficult to follow. Following discussions using keywords associated with it can help bridge the thread across all types of social media. This thread would then appear as a connected conversation for easy analysis.

Customers, prospects and peers are discussing your brand, your industry and your competitors right now in social media: with or without you. Unfortunately, choosing not to listen doesn’t make those conversations go away. Actively listening means protecting brand reputation, discovering opportunities, staying competititive and avoiding runaway crisis’.

For a demo, visit Radian6

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Seems like an interesting product, however I really don’t have issues keeping track of my clients in social media independently.

    It’s important for you to be active on those networks and have your finger on the pulse of what is going on…that is MORE vital than tracking everything.

    Also, hate to be grammar police but:
    “They gain there power either from the number of times”

    Their?

  2. @Adam, but being “active” on networks is only one piece of the puzzle…and for me and my clients I always want to do my due diligence first…and that means using a tool like Radian6 or Collective Intellect or Cymfony to gather intelligence and perform prescriptive analysis….the data will help a strategist determine the best execution…now, haven’t demoed Radian6 yet, but here’s what I want in a super tool: http://alisaleonard.blogspot.com/2008/05/super-tool.html

  3. When you’re active on the network, you can research mentions, etc. using the tools provided free. If an external tool made that analysis more useful, than it definitely would be worth checking out.

    I’d need to demo it to see the power =)

  4. also one other thing to add:

    its great you guys are “corporatizing” social media with tons of research and metrics, but ultimately to be successful all the analysis in the world won’t help if you can’t create ideas that are creative and resonate enough to spread…

  5. @Adam, true there is a lot that can be done with public tools and desk research…and most of the raw data can be had through public tools…but its these proprietary tools’ algorithms for making the raw data useful that make them valuable…sure, I could probably manually take all of the blog mentions about a particular brand in one day and try and parse out the splogs, then try to rank each mention by an “Authority” value…but that would take all day and a tool like Radian6 just does that automatically…as just one example of a data point..

  6. Well written piece, thanks Lee (and David of course), and this sounds like a useful tool to measure the ROI that organisations who take social media seriously need to have.

    If you can’t measure ROI (return on investment) then you are sensible to not invest – because no matter how much noise is going on, you need to pick up strong signals and follow them, and contribute to the discussions.

    Strikes me that it would be nice to take a look under the hood with a demo or some screenshots – don’t tell me, show me!

  7. @Adam, yes, you need creative to be able to execute successfully…but no one will budget for that creative unless they can see an ROI, or at least ROO…and also, one last point i’ll make..and that is that viewing “social media” as a separate channel, or channel within the internet, is a critical error that agencies are making right now. “Social media” is really simply the state of the internet. More than that, on a more abstract level it is indicative of a total life cycle of the digital consumer…”social media” bridges the online/offline/mobile touchpoints of this digital consumer..so its not just understanding whats going on in social media…its understanding the new metrics of the Digital Life.

  8. Thanks David, visit the Radian6 web site and you can arrange a demo.

  9. great point alisa, agreed on the part that viewing social media as a separate channel is a mistake.

    i am curious to see the service in action, i put in a request for demo to radiant — i think i have to see it in action to see if its right for me

    cheers on bringing this to my attention Lee


    adam

  10. Great discussion Adam and Alisa!

    The free tools are great, but in order to qualify all that raw data and better visualize trends, a good tool is needed. Jeremiah Owyang has a great list of such tools on http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/

    We were so impressed by Radian6 when reviewing their tool and willingness to make enhancements based on customer suggestions, that our discussions led us to becoming mutual clients.

    You can request a demo of Radian6 here.

  11. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the great discussion and thanks Lee for the opportunity to guest post today. I’ve been able to connect with Alisa and Adam this week and would also love to connect with you too David. I just followed you on Twitter so feel free to DM me back with your preferred email and we’ll get you set up to take a spin through a demo.

    Cheers.

    David

  12. Brian Humphrey says:

    Lee,

    David’s guest post is but one of the many features that keep us coming back to your blog.

    In an era where too many organizations descibe on-line dialogue about them as ‘why us?’, the Los Angeles Fire Department is pleased to be among the increasing number of brands saying ‘why not us?’.

    While our efforts are difficult to quantify as a typical return-on-investment, the qualifying effect on safety, health, productivity – and overall public trust is far beyond metrics.

    Our thanks to David and you for helping and keeping us thinking outside the norm!

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

    LAFD Blog: http://lafd.org/blog

  13. In addition to these tips, do you have any tools that you find helpful? We have found that all this monitoring is in itself a full time job.

  14. Something ive never considered, I think I will from now.

  15. Does anyone know the life span of links posted on social media sites?

  16. As others have mentioned, monitoring social media can be done to some extent with free tools and several bodies behind mice and keyboards, but to what extent can you REALLY monitor everything?

    Oddpodd made a keen observation in that social media monitoring can become an entire job in itself. However, to help businesses combat that overwhelming time commitment, Radian6 is providing something that can do all the heavy lifting for you.

    You can run spreadsheets full of data all day long, but until you can make sense of it all and present it to management with hard facts and numbers, you might have a hard time proving ROI.

  17. Thanks for writing this article. I think your points on ROI are a really interesting area of discussion and im sure we are all looking forward to case studies where more definitive and measured results can be explored.

    I also want to share with you an article on our blog called Enterprise Social Media Intelligence which is our call to action for the enterprise. Your post reminded me of our blog post, strangely it appears we have a similar writing style 🙂

    Thanks for your time and i look forward to your feedback.

    Regards

    Nick Holmes a Court
    CEO, BuzzNumbers

  18. Fine to monitor but Radian6 cannot derive sentiment – the emotional driver of brands.

Trackbacks

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