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What Your Business Needs To Know About Social Media Monitoring

Brand and reputation management is essential for businesses, both large and small.

Naturally, you want to see what is being said about your business online to understand what might be going well and what you need to improve. For instance, are customers satisfied with your customer service? What do they think about the product you just launched? And what do they feel about your brand as a whole? These are reasonable questions for businesses to ask. The challenge is actually finding where people are having conversations about your business online and what they are saying.

While brand and reputation management in the online world is a wide-reaching topic with many complexities, we want to concentrate on one aspect: social media. Everyone, both young and old, has a social media account (if not several) and spends considerable time in the social media world. The popularity of social media overall is reflected in the amount of time, effort, and money businesses spend to build their social media profiles and run ads on various networks. Unsurprisingly, many companies may see social media as a great place to focus their attention regarding brand and reputation management.

Social media monitoring is the term that most people use when describing how they keep track of what is said about their business on social media. However, there appears to be some confusion over what social media monitoring is and what you need to do it effectively. Monitoring means keeping track of what people are saying about your business on social media, but when you get down to it, that is more complex. Below, we want first to discuss what many need to correct in their understanding of social media monitoring and then more clearly illustrate what it is and why it can be challenging to do effectively. We then highlight three valuable questions when shopping for the proper social media monitoring tool.  

What Social Media Monitoring Is Not

Social media monitoring is different from social media community management. You may think this is an obvious statement, but the reality is that people may group these in functional terms. Businesses are naturally interested in customers sending them a direct message, mentioning them in a post using (@), or replying to a business’s original post. The overall management of these messages or conversations, which includes responding to them, is not social media monitoring but instead falls under the task of community management.

You may think that you are “monitoring” your social media channels this way, but the truth is that you are managing your community. Tracking these actions is straightforward since you will be notified if you receive a direct message, when someone mentions your company, or if they comment on your post. You are managing your community since you know when someone is messaging you or commenting on your post.

This is not to say that community management is easy. Effective community management can be challenging since you may receive several messages on different social media networks while also needing to reply to various user comments on your profiles’ posts. You should know that there are good community management tools that help you efficiently manage through teamwork features as well as AI integration. While these features can help you manage your community effectively, they do not address social media monitoring when it comes to instances where people don’t necessarily interact directly with your profiles or content.

What Social Media Monitoring is and Why It Is Important

With social media monitoring, you want to know where a conversation about your business occurs (i.e., a network or specific group on a network) and what is being said about it. This can be challenging since the point of conversations related to your business is not to let you know what they are thinking (good or bad) but rather to speak to others about your product, service, or company. Unlike community management, which is focused on instances when people want to interact with your business’s profiles, social media monitoring involves finding cases when users are not concerned with interacting with your social media profiles.

Social media monitoring is more than just knowing where conversations happen; it also involves what they say about your business. What topics are people discussing? Are discussions about your brand positive or negative? This is why you may hear of sentiment analysis being mentioned alongside social media monitoring. Ultimately, you want to assess what is being said, not only where it is being said.

Customers may already tell you what they think about your products or services. Isn’t that good enough? With social media monitoring, you can uncover unfettered opinions about your company, products, and services that provide real insight into people's thoughts. When people directly interact with your business on social media, they typically have a reason to do so and a specific goal. This can be useful, but you may also want to know what people say that don’t have a reason to interact with your social media profiles. In this sense, social media monitoring and community management can give you a more comprehensive overview of how people feel about your business.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking for a Social Media Monitoring Tool

Now that we have detailed social media monitoring, we should address what you need to look for in a tool. Remember, social media monitoring is not community management and should go beyond simply helping you organize messages and comments from your social media profiles across different networks.

If you are researching the different social media monitoring tools on the market, here are three questions you need to ask yourself to ensure you select the right tool.

What Social Media Networks Can the Tool Monitor?

Your business may have profiles on most, if not all, the major social media networks. Unfortunately, it is at this time extremely difficult for one tool to cover all social media networks with a high level of accuracy. The key then is to find a tool that effectively monitors the social media networks that are most important for your business, since social media monitoring tools will be more effective at monitoring some networks than others.

Remember, monitoring has a specific meaning that focuses on conversations not directed toward your social media profiles. Along these lines, you must determine if the tool is able to monitor the network(s) where conversations about your business are taking place.

What Tracking Metrics does your Monitoring Tool Provide? 

In addition to monitoring specific social media networks, you should ask what information a social media monitoring tool can provide to you about those conversations. How many times is your business or brand being mentioned? In what countries or regions are the people talking about your business located? What is the reach of the posts that do not mention (@) your brand? When searching for a social media monitoring tool, you should be aware of the metrics it helps you track and why those metrics are valuable for you.

What Type of Analysis does it Enable?

In addition to knowing the specific networks available as well as various metrics you can track, you also need to think about what type of analyses are possible with your social media monitoring tool. For many, this is where sentiment analysis comes into play. Sentiment analysis is used to determine the nature of conversation, namely if they are positive, negative, or neutral.

Sentiment analysis is important since it may not be practical to read through all conversations about your business. Instead, sentiment analysis quantizes what is being said to give you an easily understandable summary. The effectiveness of sentiment analysis may vary from tool to tool, so it is essential that you find out exactly what analyses are possible.

Social media monitoring is clearly important, and businesses should take the search for the right tool seriously. So, when looking for the right social media monitoring tool, take time to answer the questions above to make sure you are truly getting a monitoring tool and not something else.

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