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Social Media Monitoring

Social Media Monitoring 101


Social media matters. Whether you’re a household name or a brand-new blogger, social media is key. It’s how you establish influence. It’s how you maintain your good name. It’s how you spread the word about your products or services.

Are you making the most of it?

From big brands to small firms, top bloggers to new ones, we all need to keep tabs on what’s being said about us online. “Even if you or your clients have ‘decided’ not to actively participate in social media, it’s really not a choice,” writes Jason Schubring at Six Revisions. “Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does social media. Either you can fill the vacuum with your perspective, or your customers and competitors will fill it for you. The choice is clear.”

The Fact Is, People Are Talking

Since people will be talking about you on social media, whether or not you join them, especially as your brand expands—it’s vital to know about it, even if it’s not all good. Then you can use those mentions to your advantage. You can turn the talk into a way to boost your brand.

Do you know who’s talking about you? Are you tracking your social media influence?

Here’s how.

Find out What Are People Saying about You

First things first: once you know you want to monitor your social media presence, you have to figure out what that means. What are you looking for exactly? To put it simply, you’re looking for your brand. You want to find everything that’s being said about you on every social network. You want to keep up with the social media community in all its forms.

Things You Might Find:

  • Tweets mentioning your brand
  • Content shared from your site on Facebook or Twitter
  • Pins to your content on Pinterest
  • Mentions on other blogs or websites
  • Reviews posted on industry sites (i.e., Amazon, Travelocity, yelp)
  • Links to your site in blogrolls or articles
  • Other content regarding your industry or specialty

What all this content possibility means is that it’s not enough to have social media profiles. You also have to watch the networks. Take the big-name payment processor BluePay as an example. On the bottom right of the BluePay website, you can see this is a financial company that’s active on both Twitter and LinkedIn; yet those profiles are only part of the equation. To know what’s being said about BluePay, you’d have to do some research. In other words, you need to know how to monitor social networks.

How to Monitor Social Media

In today’s Internet-centric world, there are plenty of tools available for monitoring your social media presence. Here are some highlights:

1. Google Alerts.

Through Google Alerts, you can set up automatic keyword searches for the name of your brand (or its competitors) and receive regular updates via email or RSS feed. So for a company like BluePay, for example, this would mean notification every time a press release goes out or a news article mentions you. You can set your queries to filter for only news, blogs or video mentions; or you can include any and all references.

2. Network-Specific Searches.

Within each network, it’s also possible to search for your brand and see what’s being said.

  • Twitter Advanced Search: Like Google Alerts, Twitter Advanced Search allows you
    to set up specific criteria for searches of content on Twitter.
  • LinkedIn Search: There are many ways to search on LinkedIn, whether for people
    or job listings or through updates or companies. One especially helpful place to check is the Advanced Answers Search, where you can hunt down any mentions of terms relating to your industry. If you’re a graphic designer building your brand online and looking for new clients, you might search for questions/answers regarding design
  • Flickr, Delicious, Digg: All of these networks allow you to set up RSS feeds for searches on your brand name and industry terms.

3. Facebook Insights

Maybe your company sees the value of social media enough that you’re already on Facebook and other networks. TSI is a good example of this—they have an active Facebook fan page where they’re regularly linking to industry news and company updates. In this case, you can log right into your Facebook dashboard and use the Insights section to gain knowledge about fans, page views and new wall posts. Staying up-to-date on what your audience is saying on your own page is especially important, as fans will expect you to be listening.

4. Klout

Designed to measure influence, Klout can be a powerful tool for bloggers and business owners. It shows you a tangible measurement of your online influence and offers several tools that can be helpful. Use it to find information about competitors or professionals in your industry who are on various lists; see what topics users are assigning you +Ks in.

As you gain information and insight into what’s being said about your brand and your industry online, the next step is knowing what to do with it. Do all mentions matter? How can you respond to them?

Know Which Mentions Matter Most

The Internet is democratic in that anyone can have a voice. Yet not everyone’s voice has the same influence or reach. A user’s scope of influence is directly related to the power of their communication. So part of knowing how to respond is knowing whom you’re talking to.

Evaluate the User’s Influence

  • How many followers, fans or subscribers does the user have?
  • How many Retweets?
  • How many external links point to their blog?
  • How many comments do their blog posts attract?
  • Do people respond to them often?

After you’ve analyzed a user’s network and influence, then you can determine how to respond to them.

How to Respond

Remember that in social media as in every other part of life, people are people. Behind every profile, there is still a person posting or Tweeting, someone with whom you can converse and connect. So how do you do it? How do you turn online mentions into good press?

It’s all about Engagement.

Joe Hall writes at Search Engine Land that “Proper engagement needs to contain either one of two things: a ‘click’ factor or a ‘response’ factor. A click factor is an incentive for the user to click through a link … A response factor is an incentive for the user to respond and engage in dialog.”

How can you encourage clicks and responses? The most basic answer is to ask for them, through clear calls-to-action that prompt responses. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask a Question: One of the surest ways to start a conversation is by asking a question. When you see someone Tweeting about recently buying your product, why not respond by asking how they’re enjoying it? Or if someone says they had a bad customer service experience, reach out to them for more info.
  • Give a Solution: When a user is expressing a problem or concern, there’s nothing like giving them a solution. When you reach in a LinkedIn discussion board about a manager looking for a better precision measurement tool, tell him about yours. When you learn someone can’t find your product at their store, see if you can get it there.
  • Offer an Incentive: Other effective engagement techniques include contests, giveaways and other promotional strategies that give the user an immediate benefit or reward. This could be “Test this product for a chance to win a year’s supply” or “Fill out this customer survey and get 20% off your next order.” Or it might be, “We’d love to send you some free samples to try.” The idea is to provide an incentive attractive to the user.

By understanding the basics of social media monitoring, you have a good start in building and strengthening your online brand. Does your company or is your personal brand already doing this? What results have you seen? Or if you’re new to monitoring, how have you seen other brands do it well—through engagement on social networks?

Give us your thoughts!

Five Ways to Troubleshoot a Social Media Marketing “Dud”


Despite our best intentions, marketing – and, in particular – marketing using social media – can be like hitting a bullseye on a moving target. Platforms are constantly rising and falling in popularity, conversations are constantly changing and engagement patterns are constantly shifting.

Even with a solid strategy in place before diving in, it’s not unusual for a company to find themselves a few months in with a social platform on their hands that’s kind of a dud from a performance standpoint, asking themselves, “So now what?”

Here are five tactics to try when that happens.

1. Clarify the audience.

When a company decides to establish a social media presence, the question of “where?” should never be left to guesswork. If the target audience you want to reach (whether that’s current or potential clients or customers, thought-leaders, media contacts, etc.) is already hanging out in a particular place – be that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc – that’s where you should start.

When a platform is not performing up to par, either the company has not fully thought out whom they want to reach or they have thought about this target audience in too limited of a capacity.

So, if you suspect that an audience match is part of your dud problem, ask yourself these questions…

  • Have you tried to build your community on this social platform with intention? How? (With research tools and monitoring dashboards or just with guesswork?)
  • Are you actively seeking out your target audience right now on this platform or are you simply trolling for conversations and hoping those people will just find you?
  • Are you overlooking an existing audience while you’re searching for a different one? (Sometimes a company may find that a particular platform is brilliant for connecting with say, media contacts, but are so focused on being there to sell to customers that they overlook the new audience they’ve stumbled onto.)

2. Audit your engagement.

A lot of companies are blind to how badly they perform in social media…and that’s totally normal and understandable.

Most marketers are skilled in the art of talking AT someone. Engaging WITH someone in the voice of a brand and marketing content to them without being overtly salesy, as well as being a courteous, active and ever-present listener, are skills that take practice to master. In many cases, when a social channel is “not working” it’s due to not having taken this learning curve into account.

So, if you suspect that engagement is part of your dud problem, ask yourself these questions…

  • How much are you talking about yourself on this platform versus talking TO your community? You want to shoot for a mix that’s at least 70% talking to people and 30% marketing.
  • What is your content marketing strategy and how are you using this social platform to employ that strategy? If you’re just posting content for the sake of posting content, you shouldn’t be surprised if your community is reacting with a big, fat “meh.
  • Is your community manager (or whomever is responsible for being the voice of this social channel) aware of your company’s goal in being on this platform? If you find that you’ve got a lot of chitchat going on with no ROI, it may simply be due to the fact that you’ve been unclear with your front line communicators about the end goals of their activities.

3. Evaluate your passion.

Successful social media marketing is contingent upon you being comfortable in the platform you’ve selected, passionate about communicating there and committed to doing so often.

If, for instance, you start a blog – and it’s for all the right reasons: your competitors all have one, your customers read them, they would be a great forum for showcasing your product – but there is no one on your team who enjoys blogging and you end up only do it sporadically, make no mistake…your blog will likely suck.

So, if you suspect that passion is part of your dud problem, ask yourself these questions…

  • Is the voice of this platform and this style of communication a good match for your brand? Is there anyone on your team (or within your company) who would be natural fit for communicating in this voice?
  • Can you commit to ongoing and consistent engagement within this social channel?
  • Have you set up some engagement policies, content standards or editorial calendars to help support you for the long haul or looked into getting some training on this platform to help you feel more comfortable?

4. Invite Involvement.

Many companies get caught up in having everything just right before they start using social media. But that’s not quite how the space works. Acting like you already know all the answers and trying to monopolize the conversation to share them can often backfire and makes a company look like a self-absorbed blowhard, instead of a savvy thought-leader.

Instead, invite your guests to come into the kitchen to cook up a meal with you rather than focusing on serving them a grand feast on a meticulously decorated table.

So, if you suspect that not inviting involvement is part of your problem, ask yourself these questions…

  • Do you ever ask your social community what they’d like to talk about or ask them for feedback? (And, more importantly, do you then talk about those things with them in return?)
  • You do take advantage of your social community to crowdsource new ideas and initiatives?
  • Do you transparently respond to criticism you receive through your social channels and then publicly follow up to let your community know how you’ve responded to their concerns?

5. Let go, with grace.

Social media is never “done.” If you’re not continually tweaking, iterating, innovating and improving your strategies and tactics in this space, you’re likely treating your audience as a “market” and not as the unique group of people that they are.

In other words, if you’re doing it right, you SHOULD have some duds in there.

So, if you have a platform that is not working — and you’ve tried all of the troubleshooting suggestions listed above, but suspect that the social platform you’ve chosen is just plain a bad fit — try these suggestions…

  • Don’t abandon the platform. There is always value in owning your name on a social channel. Just set up monitoring systems so you can be aware if someone reaches out to you there, so you don’t have to be actively engaged on that platform on a daily basis.
  • Consider syndicating some content to this channel from one that is more robust and active to keep it alive for search purposes.
  • Be totally transparent about the fact that this platform is not your company’s “hot spot.” For instance, include a description on the platform that says, “This is the [page/feed/channel] for [your company’s name]. We use it to share [type of content]. The best place to engage with us is, though is [name of other social channel, website, email, etc.].

When it comes to social media, mistakes come with the territory. So, plan for some social media duds and embrace them when they happen (whether they are fixable or not). In the end, they may not look like a marketing bullseye internally, but, from the outside, they are living proof that your company at least had the guts to step up and take a shot.

Jennifer Kane is principal of Kane Consulting, a Minneapolis-based communications firm specializing in social media. She has more than 15 years of experience working as a strategic planner in marketing and communications and speaks nationally on social media marketing. You can find her on Twitter at JenKaneCo or at jen@kaneconsulting.biz.

Listening To Yourself


I called 2009 the year of listening. Many reputation monitoring products made their hay in 2009 including Radian6, TechRigy, Flitrbox, and others.  They all have listening in common.  Being able to hear what is being said about you and your brand online is an important part of your listening campaign.  Not only should you be listening to your customers, your potential customers, and even your competition, you need to listen to yourself.

Before you begin to think I am being a little schizophrenic in that statement, I am referring to larger organizations that a party of one.  If you are a single or soloprenuer, you obviously have a good handle on what you say about your own brand.  If you are a large organization are you listening to what is being said about your own community or employees?

Many employees are in the world of social media now and they are all part of the larger social networks. Facebook and Twitter, and blogs are being used by many of the people out there and this is all accessible by their friends, family and online acquaintances.  Those groups are are potential customers of your company and therefore you need to also monitor that reputation and be a part of those conversations.  I am not talking about stalking your employees. I am speaking about listening to how they talk about you and your brand online.  They need to be corrected when they make mistakes and they also need to be noticed when they are evangelizing your brand so you can thank them accordingly.  What better way to make them more of an evangelist than to thank them for helping you build a good reputation online?  I have often said that every employee must be a brand evangelist of the company they work for.  We are all social media managers of the company we work for.

I was inspired to write this post after reading a post by Melissa Galt. Melissa talks about 3 rules of social media and how knowing these can help you win the social media game.  Her point that caught my attention was:

#2 Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.

You have a responsibility to maintain awareness of what is being said particularly by those who work for you and correct any misstatements that they make.

This is a great point that she made and different from what others are preaching about listening. I hear the social media pundits all talk about monitoring your brand from the outside but Melissa makes a great point about listening to yourself.

Photo Via AdamSelwood

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