Are you listening to what people are saying about your brand or product on social networks? Social media is where customers sing the praises of products or services they love or complain about the ones they don’t. In order to both understand and shape your brand perception, you have to be a part of those conversations where they’re happening.
That’s where social media monitoring comes in. Simply put, social media monitoring is listening to what your customers and potential customers have to say. Then, you can use their words to better inform your product and marketing strategy. Here are just a few ways you can use the conversations happening on social media to support your business goals:
- Customer support: Addressing customer issues isn’t as simple as having a contact form on your website anymore. If someone complains about your brand on Twitter, their followers see it, too, and whether or not you respond—as well as how you respond—is going to impact how those followers view you.
- Collecting user feedback: It’s important to know what’s working and what isn’t, and those who are using your products or services can provide that information. You can use it to improve your offerings, fix bugs, or collect positive testimonials which you can use in your marketing efforts.
- Engaging with industry influencers: If a heavy hitter in your space is talking about products similar to yours, you want to make sure you’re on their radar. Monitoring the conversations they’re having about your industry will help you to tailor marketing messages to them, whether it’s sending an email introduction, offering samples, or serving targeted ads.
- Finding brand advocates: Chances are, there are people out there who love your product and are loyal to it. Once you find them, you can build a relationship with them. Whether it’s simply thanking them for a Twitter mention or offering them a reward for their loyalty, connecting with them will make them likely to sign your praises often.
Getting the Right Tools in Place
You can manually search social networks, forums and online reviews for mentions of your brand or competitors, but it will be time-consuming. Social media monitoring tools help make tracking conversations much easier, and there are a ton of options available
depending on where and how you want to listen. Here are three of the most popular ones to help you get started:
- Hootsuite: The free version of Hootsuite allows you to monitor three social network streams, premium plans give you the opportunity to listen to conversations happening beyond social media, on blogs, forums and news sites.
- TweetDeck: Free and owned by Twitter, TweetDeck allows you to create side-by-side streams of Twitter mentions, lists and discussions.
- Sprout Social: With a 30-day trial and plans starting at $59/month, Sprout Social allows you to monitor Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for mentions of profiles, keywords and hashtags of your choice.
- Attentive.ly: Attentive.ly allows you to see what people in your CRM are saying on social media. You can also identify influencers in your CRM who can help you increase the reach and engagement of your campaigns.
8 Tips for Making the Most of Your Social Media Monitoring
Once you’ve set up your social media monitoring tools, you’ll start collecting data about the conversations happening around your brand. That information is valuable, definitely, but there are so many more ways to collect information that will help you to refine your marketing strategy and grow your business. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
1. Think beyond your handle
On Twitter, think beyond your handle. Also monitor variations on your company and product names, as well as common misspellings. If you find that the results are unrelated to your brand results, utilize filters to narrow your searches.
2. Monitor keywords important to your industry.
Make a list of words that generate discussion within your industry. This is important for staying on top of trends in your market, or identifying niches that your products fit into.
3. Keep an eye on your competitors.
Create a list to see what people are saying about your competitors, the types of content your competitors are publishing, and how they’re interacting with their customers. This will allow you to mimic what they’re doing well, and improve upon what they aren’t.
4. Identify power users on social networks.
Identify users who interact with your brand or product on social media on a regular basis. Building relationships with them will help them to become your brand advocates down the road.
5. Include your customer support team.
Get customer support on board with your social listening. If applicable, set up a separate account for them on Twitter.
6. Have a crisis plan in place.
If your website or service goes down, how will you deal with the social media fallout? Figure out how you’ll interact with users who are talking about it on social networks—and how you’ll get the word out yourself—before you’re confronted with the issue.
7. Listen to more than just Twitter.
Twitter is the most common platform for social listening, but be sure to monitor other channels as well. Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and review sites can all be useful for collecting data.
8. Monitor your campaigns.
If you’re hosting a giveaway or promotion, make sure you monitor related keywords and hashtags so you can capture all of the conversations about the events.
Social media monitoring can be a lot of work, especially in the setting up stage. And if you’re a new business, there might not be much to monitor. Remember that even if you respond to just a handful of tweets initially, you’re building relationships and brand awareness—not just with your followers, but with your followers’ followers as well.