Social media is the key to successful digital marketing. Networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have the power to reach billions of consumers with your company’s message and give the general public an outlet for talking about your company. The results can be anywhere from viral growth of your brand to image-crippling scandals . Social media monitoring offers you the opportunity to make the most of social media — or, at the very least, give your company the chance to respond to customers.

Ever wished you could be a fly on the wall in the homes of consumers? That’s kind of what social media monitoring is. You can tune into conversations happening online to see what people are saying about you, your products, your competition — anything, really. It’s a great way to see what people think of your brand and how much of an impact your marketing efforts have.

But I’m already doing social media.

Of course you are, because you know how powerful it is. You’re posting and engaging and doing a great job. But if you want to maximize your social media resources, there’s no better way to steer your engagement ship than to start a social media monitoring system.

Social media monitoring is often confused with similar-sounding (and a few similar-meaning) terms. Simply put, social media monitoring is keeping an eye on the conversations already happening related to key terms that you search for, such as your brand name, tagline, and product names.

To clarify, here are some other terms you may have heard:

  • Social Media Listening
    Seeking to understand the tone, emotions, and implications of social media conversations; occurs alongside social media monitoring
  • Social Media Analytics
    Numbers and data, like how many mentions, retweets, or impressions you’ve received
  • Social Media Intelligence
    Analysis of the numbers; the takeaways you extrapolate from the data
  • Social Media Management
    The day-to-day actions you take to post to your social media accounts

In most cases, social media monitoring will help you get the most out of each of these other practices.

You need to monitor social media and define your company’s priorities so you know which keywords to focus on — and how much of your resources to invest in the process. Here’s why:

  • Learn more about who your customers are and what they’re looking for.
  • Find and leverage brand advocates and influencers.
  • Contribute to conversations in order to build your credibility and presence.
  • Address criticism and praise.
  • Respond to product and support inquiries posted to social media.

So how exactly do you become a fly on the digital wall of the web? The first step is to create a list of keywords to monitor. Depending on your goals, you may want to monitor conversations about your brand, products, services, industry, competitors, and competitors’ products. You could also monitor keywords associated with recent marketing campaigns or phrases used by people who might be in need of your product. For example, Febreeze may monitor terms such as “pet odor” and “the smell test.”

Once you have your list, you’re ready to start monitoring. Most social media networks have a search feature like #tags and @tags, making it easy to bring up just the results you want. Unfortunately, using these tools manually has some potential problems.

When planning your social media marketing strategy, you have the option to choose just a few channels to focus on so you can maximize your resources. You don’t have to post on every single platform to get the word out.

Unfortunately, limiting yourself to just a few channels isn’t really an option when it comes to monitoring what others are saying about you. The internet is a living, breathing thing. You can’t control whether people talk about your brand on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Snapchat, Yelp, personal blogs, or anywhere else. It’s important to monitor mentions across all channels. There are dozens of popular social media networks out there, and new ones are being created as we speak. Do you have the resources for that? Most companies don’t have the employees or time.

Consumers have conversations on their own time. That could be 5:00 a.m., during your all-hands meeting, or long after your lights are off for the night. Some conversations progress quickly, as if they were occurring between people who are all standing in the same room. Others develop slowly over several days, weeks, or years. To keep up with it all, you’ll need to hit the refresh button. Compulsively. And if one of your goals is to respond quickly to criticism or support inquiries, you better be on your game. (You weren’t planning on getting anything else done today, were you?)

As important as monitoring social media is, you don’t want to dump your entire marketing budget into it. The solution? Social media monitoring tools. These allow you to keep track of a list of keywords across multiple platforms, all in one place, with live updates. In fact, 83% of B2B businesses and 85% of B2C businesses agree that social media listening and monitoring tools, such as those available in Social Studio, are important for creating a cohesive customer journey.

Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true with social media monitoring. Once you’re tapped into the conversations that are relevant, you have power. Remember all those terms people confuse with social media monitoring? One of the reasons people confuse them is that they almost always happen alongside social media monitoring — or rather, because of the power social media monitoring gives you.

Here’s what you can do with all that information.

When you monitor the conversation, you have the opportunity to join it. The best social media monitoring tools allow you to easily identify which posts require action, and then route conversations through the appropriate response system.

When you monitor the conversation, you have the opportunity to join it. The best social media monitoring tools allow you to easily identify which posts require action, and then route conversations through the appropriate response system.

  • Triage and delegate.
    Is your brand getting criticism? Shoot a note over to your PR team. Getting compliments? Alert marketing that you may have a brand advocate on your hands. As Jon Ronson says in his TED Talk about online shaming, social media can ruin you in the time it takes to nap through a flight to Cape Town. Get ahead of the bad and encourage the good by quickly alerting the right members of your company.
  • Capture Leads.
    Many people who talk about a brand on social media don’t actually follow that brand’s page, leaving you no way to contact those potential leads. If you’re aware of the conversation about a product or service you provide, however, you may be able to convert those conversationalists.
  • Solve issues.
    Many users prefer to get customer assistance on social media. And the majority of customers change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they’re doing. With the right social media monitoring tools, you can create an automatic ticket that your customer service team can see and respond to immediately, and match it with that customer’s inquiries by phone, email, and more.
  • Plan for a Crisis.
    What happens when negative sentiments about your company go viral? When you keep an eye on the conversation, you can get out ahead of these crises, but only if you’re ready to respond quickly. A majority of social media crises can be avoided with proper planning and investment.

Forty-six percent of senior-level marketers feel an increased need for data and analytics expertise, and for good reason. It’s one thing to read what consumers are saying about you, but it’s another to be able to track patterns. Whether you just want to keep an eye on general thoughts about your brand or understand feelings regarding specific products or campaigns, what you learn while monitoring can help you better utilize analytical tools.

Analyze the sentiments behind what people are saying about you, track them over time, and present them in ways that give you a more complete picture. Then, gauge the effectiveness of your current marketing strategies, discover what new products or services your customers want, decide whether there’s room for improvement in the support you offer, and more.

While you’re at it, the insights you glean from analysis can help your marketing team by pointing them in the right direction. Compare how much people are talking about you (and what they’re saying) during specific campaigns to see what stirs up the most excitement (and what’s falling flat) so you can create more of the types of content people are talking about and waste less time on content that doesn’t interest your customers.

Unfortunately, only 17% of companies have integrated customer data across their entire organization, making it difficult to take full advantage of any social media monitoring. Luckily, there’s an app for that.

With an understanding of the basics of social media monitoring, it’s time to start using the right tool for the job. You may be familiar with using marketing automation as a tool for social media management. Perhaps you’re already using it to publish posts and engage with your followers. But the best automation software includes social media monitoring.

Watch for and instantly analyze conversations from millions of sources across the globe, including all the major social networks. It can track keywords that matter to your business, tell you where the most influential conversations are happening, and monitor consumer sentiment. And you can use those insights to take immediate action across multiple teams, all with just a few clicks.

Here, have your day back.

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