Any decent, self-respecting, digital marketing strategy is going to include a hefty segment completely dedicated to monitoring social channels. That’s why there’s such a variety of streamlined and comprehensive social media monitoring tools out there.
The information you get from these tools includes some of the most important indicators to observe and analyze customer sentiment. Any time someone mentions a brand, product, or service; you get to see what they’re saying and how they say it.
All that said, however, simply listening to social media is just the first step. The insights you garner from social media monitoring must be used in meaningful ways to inform your business decisions.
And it can’t simply be reactive; only responding when someone says something explicitly good or bad about your brand. You have to structure your future plans around trends of customer sentiment over time.
Thankfully, social media monitoring is a powerful tool that has a wide variety of uses, and many businesses barely scratch the surface of its potential!
Quick Tips To Improve To Social Media Monitoring
Let’s do a quick review of social media monitoring practices. The first thing to note is that social media monitoring is a synonym for social media listening, so let’s not get too worked up over the differences, because there aren’t any. We’ll use both terms interchangeably.
Most social media monitoring today is conducted through tools, the price and performance of which can vary greatly. The most basic of all social media listening is found in Google Alerts, a free and very basic tool that notifies you when your search terms are highlighted in social media. More advanced ones can mine raw data and use AI to provide instant insights.
Just like with SEO, social media monitoring involves a form of keyword research. You should be thinking about the kind of keywords in which users would mention your brand. Look at trends to determine what the best keywords are to use. And of course, as you may have read from us in the past, look at long-tail keywords that might be relevant and more targeted.
In addition, if you’re a brand with a unique name, you should also look up misspellings of your name, as monitoring tools might not catch certain people talking about you if they regularly misspell it.
If your social media page has a chatbot for customer service or other questions, you should be monitoring what users are asking about as well. If there’s a sudden spike in demand for information about a particular product or service, that should inform your steps moving forward.
Using Social Media Monitoring Strategically To Improve Growth
Many companies just see social media monitoring as a way of catching anything that harms their reputation, then responding accordingly. Some also just use it to determine the success of their existing campaigns.
While both are valid examples of using social media monitoring, they’re more so the tactical uses of this powerful tool, and they fail to really take advantage of it as a strategic resource. When interwoven with your overall marketing and business strategy, social media monitoring can become a force to be reckoned with for providing social intelligence, competitive intelligence, and a huge source of lead generation.
Let’s look at some ways to make strategic use of social media monitoring.
Turn Your Social Media Listening Towards Your Competition
One of the first (and oft-overlooked) ways to developing a strategy out of social media monitoring is to turn the gaze away from the usual introspective direction and point it at your competitors. Use the same tools that you’d use for monitoring yourself, and look at the keywords that you would associate with your competition.
By looking at mentions, both positive and negative, and the general trends of these mentions, you’ll be able to get an idea of what your audience wants. You’ll also be able to learn from their mistakes, rather than having to commit them yourself to learn a lesson.
Another way to leverage your competition’s social media buzz is to turn their own customers into your leads. Look at the negative feedback that their customers are giving, and offer yourself as a better alternative.
Capture these disgruntled customers at their most vulnerable point by advertising your own unique selling proposition, as well as any advantages you might have over the competitor, with whom they’re already dissatisfied. This is the perfect time to steal their customer and get them for yourself!
Performing ‘social media listening’ on your competition is an especially important step to follow if you’re much smaller than your competitors, as you may have significantly fewer mentions in social media than they do. By leveraging their large-scale social media reach, you’ll be able to garner insights that you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to acquire.
Go Beyond Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
These big three are probably the first things that come to mind when you think of social media, but there’s a variety of other social media sites out there that have their own advantages to offer.
For example, Reddit is the #3 most-visited site in the US and #6 in the world. It’s an incredibly engaging platform, with regular users spending over 15 minutes per day on it on average – more than any other site on the top lists.
Reddit features discussion forums separated into groups called subreddits, and the quality and relevance of each thread is community-controlled by a combination of human moderators and a self-curating upvote and downvote system. This niche-centric community discussion setup makes it an excellent way of discovering detailed buzz around your product.
Quora is also a great choice to monitor, because of the engaging Q&A format that it adopts, as well as the recognition of experts and Top Writers who are seen as people knowledgeable in particular niches. The mentions and sentiments you can derive from Quora are more problem-centric, which represents a unique source of information for your strategy.
Both of these sites provide unique social indicators that have a very different “feel” from those you’d normally find on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and are just as valuable in the kind of intelligence and insights you can capture from them.
One interesting, far more active way to leverage these unique sites is to directly participate in and raise discussion points. Both Reddit and Quora often have brand ambassadors or even actual staff from companies participating in the forums. These people are recognized by the community and seen as authoritative figures, but they’re not necessarily idolized. Creating engagement and discussion through posts in your relevant subreddits or topics is a great way to develop buzz around your product without coming across like your in ‘marketing mode’.
Reddit, in particular, has a cultural mechanism called an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Host an AMA in your niche’s subreddits and watch as the passionate community engages in your discussion. It’s great for visibility and checking sentiment toward your product.
Such contributions to the community have a far longer shelf-life than the kind of fast-paced posts and comments that regular social media is known for.
Turn Negative Press Into Positive Results
You’ve probably seen it happen lots of times – a brand gets some negative buzz due to a viral post or a negative review, and is somewhat damaged in the short-term in the public eye.
However, if you catch this in real time with your social media monitoring, you have a shot at restoring your brand’s image.
Respond to the negative post in a respectful, positive way that includes an acknowledgement of your own shortcomings (if any), as well as a commitment to improving your processes or products. Outline the steps you’ll take in detail.
This kind of positive approach to criticism is always good for audiences to see, it tends to look authentic because you’re actually responding to the negative feedback, despite the fact you’re essentially announcing the bad press.
Another effective tactic is to respond to mean and irrational criticism with a sense of humour and wit. This helps associate your public image with a vibe of relatable likability, while simultaneously painting your critic as unstable and unduly aggressive.
Observe Trends And Your Audience’s Interests
You shouldn’t just be looking at social media mentions in isolation – analyze the trends associated with your mentions, as well as the mentions of your competition. This will help you gain insight into the state of your industry, as well as any potential shift in your audience’s wants and needs.
Start by tracking hashtags in and around your brand and industry that overlap with your target demographic. Get a sense of what makes your audience tick and how you can become more relevant to them.
Leverage events in your area that your audience seems to be interested in. Look at fads or crazes in which people are participating, and find ways to ride their popularity.
Ultimately, a long-term view of social media monitoring will provide insights that are just as good as what you’d get from solid traditional market research, customer analytics, etc.
Discover Influencers And Leverage Their Reach
You’re going to find a lot of conflicting sentiments about influencer marketing. Headlines such as “Influencers Don’t Really Influence Anything Or Anyone” can co-exist with “Understanding Influencer Marketing And Why It Is So Effective.”
Both have a point to make. Influencer marketing isn’t the solution for every industry.
However, the numbers for industries where it does work are eleven times the ROI.
It’s therefore imperative that you use your social media listening tools to uncover potential influencers in your market, if applicable at all.
Discovering them isn’t too difficult. They’re always trying to actively increase their reach, so you may find them among the people your audience follows. You might also find them in influencer networks, or using influencer databases and marketplaces.
From there, it’s not difficult to imagine what you can accomplish together. From simply mentioning products and services, to conducting reviews and free pre-market tests – the sky’s the limit.
Automate Your Social Media Monitoring
If you want to level up your social media monitoring game and turn it into something that can benefit your strategic planning, then you can’t just stick to arduous manual listening or basic tools. You need to have solutions that track your social media channels in real-time, allowing you to see relevant posts and engagement as it arrives and providing you with a vastly greater array of opportunities to leverage social media sentiment.
And you need to go beyond just Facebook & Twitter.
One great example of such a tool is Zag’s own First Responders app, a powerful tool that continuously monitors a vast network of communities and forums for the keywords you’re tracking. These include Reddit, niche forums, Q&A sites, and thousands of other communities.
Social media monitoring has so much potential. After all, it’s the equivalent to listening to the ‘voice of the people’ so to say. You gain an unfiltered voyeuristic insight into what the layperson thinks about your products and services.
These organic mentions and their trends can contribute greatly to your strategy if you leverage them.
If you own a successful business, curiosity has probably led you to do a few google searches of your own company to try and bring up an unbiased opinion, so in a sense, you’ve probably already taken the first step into social media monitoring, so why stop there?