From an agency perspective, many utilize social media monitoring at the request of a client who either doesn’t know much about it, or depends on their agency to educate them. With no client direction, it can be a bit difficult to decipher the first steps of what to monitor, who the players are, and the information that will prove valuable to your client.
Volume, Influence and Sentiment are metrics that will come in handy once these five benefits are realized.
1. Crisis Management
Crisis communications strategies are ingrained into most PR professionals’ skulls from the beginning of their education and internships. However, many don’t ever have to execute a crisis communications plan. In the traditional space, it was few and far between, but social media gives customers instant access to a real-time complaint channel.
Creating a presence on social media networks won’t stop this type of conversation from happening, but will enable brands to make the conversation a two-way street. So, what type of metrics can you measure in a crisis? You can look at conversation at the start, middle and end for benchmark comparison, and evaluate response on a cause-and-effect spectrum.
In June 2009, the Holocaust Museum shooter was incorrectly identified as a current American Mensa member. Amongst all of the horror, the Mensa fact was reported quite extensively.
We knew about it before the first reporter called because we monitor the mention of the client’s name on social channels. We were able to discuss a quick response, activate our crisis communications plan and be prepared. We not only considered image, but the sensitive matter and how our members would react. If we didn’t know about it beforehand, our response would have been much slower and not as precise.
2. Influencer Identification
Influencer identification is a processes that is unique to each brand. If the client’s presence is heavy in forums or blogs, it helps to look at post mentions, commenter count and post volume.
Work with your client to determine whom they think is the most influential. A few questions to ask them:
• What platforms are you currently using?
• Are there others in the works?
• What type of demographic does your typical customer belong to?
• Where do you see conversation happening?
• Where would you like conversation to be happening?
These questions will start to form a picture of who the heavy influencers are and how to target them.
Influencers can also change dependent on the situation and type of audience they attract.
Create an A, B and C list. This reflects a high, mid or low priority. A low priority might move to a high priority if a blog post written attracts a lot of commentary.
The key to tapping influencers is being flexible and knowing they can change constantly.
3. Building Relationships with Media and Customers Alike
We are in the field of communications. Journalists are utilizing social media to stay on top of the news, get leads and build relationships not only with PR professionals, but also with the community.
It also enables brands to see if the discussion, content and approach is resonating with their target audience.
This is an area where customer service will come into play as well. What type of conversation is your customer base having? Does the sentiment skew heavily toward positive, negative or neutral? What areas are they focusing on? This will enable brands to act quickly and efficiently for their current and future customer base.
Ask a reporter out for coffee. Chances are, if you build a relationship, they will call you if they have a story that fits. You’re able to pitch them off-topic ideas to see if it can run. Other reporters can see the interactions you’ve built and will find you more approachable.
4. Creative Feedback and Ad Targeting
If you work in an agency that also handles the advertising for a specific client, the creative feedback and ad targeting principle is something to incorporate in your monthly metrics report.
Advertising campaigns reflect brand positioning, which should also be reflected by social media efforts. Incorporating the mindset and campaigns into your social media presence isn’t being promotional. It’s not about using the campaigns directly, but the idea the campaign presents.
For Facebook, you might see an ad for shoes once you update your status dealing with that particular subject. Monitoring if someone actually clicks ad that will be beneficial.
Other questions to answer: Is the message hitting the right demographic? Is it resonating with the audience, or is it having the opposite effect? Did the platforms we chose work?
Benchmarking your efforts can help with this. Set attainable objectives and the type of demographic desired. Set up a pyramid effort to check in increments of three months, starting at six months out.
That will give you enough time to measure the “before,” “during” and “after” of a campaign.
5. Competitive Monitoring
Your clients want to know if they are measuring up to the competition — literally. Monitoring industry conversation is the first step in identifying who the competition is in the social space.
With this, it can be two-fold: Who the client perceives as their competitor might not be the same across different social networks. It’s up to the agency to identify and further define what is successful and what’s failing.
The latter is important when one needs to prove why a certain idea isn’t the best route.
Knowing competitor efforts can affect not only what a brand does in the future, but current efforts. You can see where the consumer is, and what efforts they react positively and negatively to. Brands like to see competitor efforts for consumer validation, trends and market research.
From these five areas, you can then start focusing on specific metrics to report on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Monitoring specific topics will always come down to what the brand wants to achieve and if it meshes with objectives.