Social Media Monitoring – How Companies Are Listening

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marbles thumb Social Media Monitoring – How Companies Are Listening Thanks to Social Media Monitoring tools companies are now able to listen at an increasing rate, using a range of different tools to monitor what’s being said, who’s saying it, where it’s being said and who has the greatest influence.

Recessionary pressures are seeing companies increasingly shifting their traditional marketing budgets over to Social Media marketing opportunities. In doing so they’re recognizing the need  for listening.

Keeping tabs on the consumer conversation however has resulted in an almost breakneck evolution of social media monitoring solutions to deliver consumer insights to companies. And there are no signs of the technology slowing down. If enterprises want it, someone will develop it.

What Are they saying about us?

Different social media monitoring tools focus on different things. Some focus on brand reputation management, some are more specific to PR or market research companies.Other solutions focus on user generated content residing within blogs and RSS-based platforms, message boards, photo and video sharing platforms and traditional media. Some tools use more passive monitoring while others allow users to jump right into the conversation.

What’s available? Just type “Social Media Monitoring tools” into Google. I found a long list, and since I’m not recommending any in particular will leave you, the reader to check them out. I may list some of them in a later post.  Of course, if you use any particular tool and you’d like to share how it’s helped you achieve your social media monitoring goals (or those of your clients), you are welcome to share in a comment – as long as it isn’t a blatant sales pitch.

The migration of brand marketing messages from traditional media to social media is forcing companies to become better at learning how they are being perceived in the online world. Once they listen, they need to be able to join in and then act.

Ways to join the conversation

“Join in the conversation!” is the rallying cry of nearly all social media practitioners and it’s directed at companies.  It isn’t always that simple. It’s impossible to be in every single conversation that’s happening at any one time, even if you know where they are happening and so there needs to be some strategy behind monitoring efforts. What are you monitoring and why? How does it help achieve business goals? How will it be translated to the bottom line?

Microsoft Windows Live monitors as much discussion as possible. But that includes over 1,500 discussion threads. For this to be manageable, according to Marty Collins, MWL’s Marketing Manager they “identify which topics to monitor by assessing where they can add value, which are the most influential and which have the most reach.”

Harnessing Brand Advocacy and Word of Mouth

Symantec, one of the largest software companies in the world has adopted an on-demand platform enabling satisfied customers to automate the dissemination of  product reviews directly into websites. Focusing on brand advocacy Symantec used a “likelihood to recommend survey to identify loyal customers who might be interested in being brand advocates, inviting those who qualified to join a special program called Norton Brand Advocates. According to AG, the group has 7,000 consumer advocates, with an additional 28,000 lining up to get in. Symantec not only uses customer reviews, they are able to repurpose them in their marketing campaigns, email marketing and search marketing.

These are just two examples.

What’s It worth?

So you might get star ratings, star reviews, even glowing testimonials. Social Media monitoring can show you who is saying what about you. You then have to do something with the “intel” Should it be negative, you can fix it, positive your task becomes keeping it so. High numbers of reviews and testimonials are impressive, though and can play a huge part in influencing and acquiring new customers.

But what’s the value of a review? Of a hundred reviews?

That’s still an area companies struggle with. According to Aberdeen Group, only 17% of Best-In-Class companies have managed to put a monetary value on the number of customer reviews and testimonials. And BICs are the enterprises more  likely to have the processes in place for linking customer insights to results.For Laggards (those far behind the Industry average) the figure is a dismal 8%.

Clearly there is still work to be done to establish a clear link between customer advocacy, new customer acquisition, retention,  revenue and profits. Companies do need to listen to their consumers, the tricky part is how “listening and joining in” translates to meeting bottom line goals and profits and ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment). Social Media monitoring isn’t cheap.

Those key answers may be a while coming but it’s equally clear that doing nothing isn’t an option. Let’s do what we can and figure it out and see seems to be an alternative approach.

Reference: The ROI on Social Media Marketing: Why it Pays to Drive Word of Mouth Aberdeen Group, Feb 2009.

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Written by Nicky Jameson

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I’m Nicky Jameson an urban photographer from London, England, who lives in Toronto. Welcome! My art reflects my love of architecture, historic landmarks, hidden urban gems and capturing the seemingly mundane from a different perspective. Enjoy – and please visit my online art galleries at Fine Art Website to purchase prints. Or engage with me on Google Plus Twitter or Facebook.

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7 Comments

  1. Jennifly Green April 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Nicky,

    I would like to recommend http://www.123people.com, a free people social search tool that help companies and individuals see what their social presence online looks like.

  2. Richard Kittle March 24, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    Great capsule on social media! Having dedicated my career to helping companies listen well, it’s nice to see technology appear to help do so. In the day, we practitioners not only had to create our own objectives, choose our input sources, validate and find the patterns within them, we also had to design our own mechanisms for doing so. At least the mechanisms are starting to gel. But a word of caution to those who tend to “rush in”. Mechanisms do not equal strategy, and devices do not equal success. Social media are tools, to be employed to some chosen end. Practitioners still have the responsibility to decide: who is our target customer, which customers matter more (!), how to separate out the most actionable input, how can we act efficiently to have maximum positive impact, etc. I called this my “Integrated Strategy Process”, and the tools and mechanisms we used supported its aims. Looks like Social Media will increasingly find a place in my “Integrated Strategy Process”. Thanks again!

  3. iCan't Internet March 24, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    Interesting article… Social media is clearly taking a very big part in the play of modern marketing, and life in a whole. Better watch it, and jump the bandwagon in time, and in a good way…

    iCan’t Internet’s last blog post..Starting with Adsense

  4. David Alston March 24, 2009 at 6:08 am #

    Excellent, I look forward to hearing about them. And yes, if it takes the economy in the dumps to shake it up a bit I guess perhaps there is a silver lining at least for social media. Cheers.

    David Alston’s last blog post..See you in Austin!

  5. Nicky March 23, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    @David – thanks for sharing this. I personally believe testimonials are worth their weight in gold. In fact, they are gold. They are not easily earned. They certainly play a part in my own decision making. And true word of mouth is so powerful that in some respects I am surprised that some companies are only just realizing this and it’s taken Social Media (and economic straits?) to get them thinking about it. But we have to start somewhere… companies actually making an effort to listen to their customers is a huge step forward. There are some more case studies in the research. I’ll share those too.

  6. David Alston March 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Nicely written Nicky. I hadn’t heard of those two examples specifically before so it was nice to hear them. From a company perspective positive word of mouth and “testimonials” as you touched on have been of tremendous value to us. In fact we keep a collection of them in our Twitter favorites and offer the link whenever someone is looking to find out more about us. It allows those looking to know more about us to connect with those who’ve had experience with us without us being in the middle.

    Anyway great article. Cheers.

    David Alston
    @Radian6

    David Alston’s last blog post..See you in Austin!

  7. Logicbowl March 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    Nice explanation on Social Media Monitoring…Thank you.

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