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Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse: What is Social Media Monitoring?

Keep you finger on the pulse of social mediaSo, you’ve launched a blog, set up Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and other social media accounts, and you’re posting away just like you were told to do. Kudos to you for adding all this to your marketing plan! But now what? Take your social media activities to the next level with social media monitoring — otherwise known as social media listening — by tracking and analyzing all that data at your fingertips. You can do so not only for your customers and potential customers, but also in order to see what competitors are doing and talking about every day. What’s more, there is a plethora of helpful social media monitoring tools in cyberspace to help you do just that, making the whole process more turnkey. Following is an overview of how to monitor social media.

How to Use Social Media to Monitor Customers
Think of social media monitoring as information gathering about customers on a bigger scale than in-person contact allows. If a customer comes into your place of business, you might listen in on what they are saying to their significant other in order to give them the product or experience that they are looking for. You might chat with them about their interests and needs, where they live in town and what kind of business they run — all helpful information to gauge who they are, which demographic they fit into and how they are going to shop your business.

You can gain this kind of insight via social media in a much larger way, including monitoring online customer support forums, gathering valuable comments from platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and welcoming customers to provide feedback on new product features or services and to vote on their favorites. Social media monitoring tools can even mine text for specific keywords on social networking sites, in order for you to see what the hot topics are and what people are really concerned about in your industry. Social monitoring provides a valuable tool for improving customer service, and making better business decisions about upcoming marketing strategies.

How to Use Social Media to Monitor Competitors
Companies are constantly posting information on their social networking sites that offers insight into their upcoming marketing initiatives, new programs and priorities. You can also read their follower and fan posts to see what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what their customers like or don’t like about their products and services. Knowing your competitors provides you with a competitive advantage in that you can use that information to run your own business and social media programs even better. It can also shed light on potential gaps in your industry — customers’ needs that your competitors currently aren’t already fulfilling — where you might be able to jump in and fill the opening.

What are Social Media Monitoring Tools?
These tools are built to help you monitor customers and competitors on social media. In order to determine the functionality that you need and what you are willing to pay for, Social Media Examiner suggests you answer these questions:

  • What are your business KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you need to track or measure for your business?
  • Are you simply looking to measure your fans, followers and subscribers and their engagement (comments, retweets, clicks, etc.) on your social media and blog platforms? Are you looking to measure their positive vs. negative comments? Do you want to track the social media referral traffic to your business and measure sales conversions?
  • What level of monitoring would you like? Decide on what kind of data you’re looking for and how long you would need to save it. Tracking and storing data is also tied to your budget, as heavier monitoring and data saving may require tools that cost real money, versus being able to use some of the free tools for lighter monitoring. Larger companies with various subsidiaries may need a corporate-level monitoring system, whereas smaller companies most likely need a more basic service.
  • How many people will be monitoring and managing your accounts?
  • Do you only want to monitor social media mentions or would you also like to manage your social media profiles using one platform?
  • Where (which profiles) are you most active?
  • How long do you need to archive the data?
  • Does the data need to be exportable and, if so, in what formats?
  • Do you need sentiment analysis?
  • Do you need share-of-voice metrics requiring vast amounts of competitive data from across the web?
  • What type of customer support are you looking for?
  • Do you need your monitoring tool to integrate with other tools, such as Salesforce or Google Analytics?
  • What can you afford to spend on your social monitoring?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you can now start checking out social media monitoring tools. There are tons of different tools out there, as displayed by Social Media Today in this top-50 list. Narrow down the options to your own top-five list, based on your company’s needs and budget, and then do a deep-dive into those top-five tools to select the one that best suits your business.

Are you currently using social media monitoring tools? Would you be willing to share what has worked and what hasn’t? Do you have a question about social media monitoring or social media monitoring tools? Post it on our 123Print Facebook page, Twitter @123Print, or write a note below.

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    August 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

    What do you think? What social media monitoring tools are you using? Have you found one tool that will do it all? I’d love to hear all about it! Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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