What Is Social Monitoring & Its Importance in Online Branding Strategies

For modern brands, social media is an integral space for business growth.

No surprise there, as there are now four billion social media users worldwide. That’s more than half of the Earth’s population!

Imagine having this large audience and finding out what they have to say about your brand, your industry and your competition. It’s called social monitoring – a common business practice that can help you gain valuable insights and use them to enrich your branding strategy.

But what is social monitoring exactly? What does it consist of?

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know – from the social media monitoring definition up to its many purposes. We’ll also explain how it works and how it differs from another similar branding methodology: social listening.

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What Is Social Media Monitoring?

Social media monitoring is the process of tracking any social media content related to your brand, products and services, industry and competitors.

It also involves triggering an immediate response to posts, comments, or messages where your brand is mentioned on social media.

By keeping an eye on social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as other alternative social media, you can pick up the conversations that people are having about any topic you’re interested in – especially if it’s about your brand.

Now that we’ve established what social monitoring covers, it’s time to draw the fine line between that and social listening.

Social Listening vs Social Monitoring

While these concepts are fundamentally related to each other and sometimes used interchangeably, social media monitoring and listening are two entirely different things.

Let’s start with semantics. We know that monitoring prompts you to watch and observe passively from a distance. Meanwhile, listening urges you to actively hear, interpret and understand the topic at hand.

Now, apply these meanings in the context of social media and we’ll see an even clearer distinction.

From there, we can say that social monitoring involves simply watching and observing conversations on social media to keep track of your brand or campaign’s progress over time.

As such, social media monitoring involves collecting online data that’s readily available to you. The process enables you to revisit events that have already happened using metrics like:

  • Brand mentions
  • Product reviews
  • Relevant hashtags
  • Competitor mentions

Social listening, on the other hand, involves hearing and interpreting online conversations to effectively understand customers in the long run. It goes beyond the results to identify the mood behind the data, commonly known as “social media market sentiment”.

It is more than simply analyzing customer feedback about your brand. Social listening involves actively looking for industry trends and valuable insights about your competitors to set your brand’s edge. Then, you can integrate this social media analysis into your branding strategies.

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The 6 Main Benefits of Social Monitoring

You’re probably wondering – what is social monitoring for?

Social media is an ever-evolving landscape. And to keep up with the changing times, it is essential for companies to monitor the social activities of customers that are directly related to their brand.

Keeping track of social media users’ sentiments can help you stay informed about your audience and the social media trends in the industry that you need to keep up with.

Aside from this general principle, here are some other good reasons why you should start a social monitoring strategy:

  • It boosts customer engagement - As we’ve mentioned, social monitoring triggers immediate responses. Often, customers reach out to brands on social media platforms. In reaction, a customer support representative chimes in to answer a query or solve a problem. With this, you can achieve better customer satisfaction!
  • It helps you gauge your brand’s visibility - By being a fly on the wall, you can see how often people talk about your brand – be it through Facebook posts, Tweets, or whatnot.
  • It enables you to craft better advertising and campaign strategies - Social media monitoring can help you measure the effectiveness of your ads and promos by way of tracking what your target audiences think about them. In turn, you can use that feedback to build future campaigns that are more tailored and appropriate for your target market.
  • It helps you find potential brand collaborators - We live in an age where social media influencers have the power to sway purchasing decisions. Monitoring consumer-based content will help you improve your influencer management and spot prospective creators and thought leaders to help elevate your brand.
  • It gives useful insights into your industry and competitors - Aside from finding out what people say about your brand, you can also spot trends that can help you develop your branding strategy. On top of that, closely looking in on what your competitors are up to will not only help you keep up with the race, but will also enable you to set your competitive edge.
  • It helps you with crisis management - If you know how your brand is perceived on social media, you can avoid problems before they even happen. As long as you are aware of the social sentiment towards your company, you can spot early warnings - good and bad - that will help you deal with the crisis at ease.

How Social Monitoring Works

By this time, it’s safe to say we’re on the same page about what is social monitoring.

But, how does it work?

To effectively launch social or digital marketing efforts, brands use a host of social media management tools that offer sufficient monitoring features. They are designed to do the leg work in finding every brand mention and related words you might need on social media.

Here are the five steps to take in order to monitor social content:

Step #1: Choose the relevant keywords for your search

First, you will need to select the best keywords and related phrases that you will input on your tool. You can start with the name of your brand, your products or services and your competitors. If you’re doing an industry search, you can choose general terms related to your field.

Make sure you’re paying attention to spelling and punctuation.

Step #2: Look for data in the right places

Social media platforms are designed differently. You may find that conversations about your brand on Facebook are entirely different from those on Twitter. Or, there may be way more people talking about you on LinkedIn than they do on Reddit.

So before initiating your searches, identify first where your audiences are, then direct your focus there.

Step #3: Start the search using the social monitoring tool

Once you’ve entered your keywords, your chosen program will then continuously look for data in public social media platforms and then index them. When the sources are indexed, it will automatically search for specific brand mentions. All of the information retrieved will then be consolidated in one place.

Step #4: Analyze your data

When your search is finished and the results are in, you can use the program’s features to check out authors, metadata and charting. Most solutions allow you to perform an in-depth sentiment and topic analysis by comparing posts, queries and other content. You can also derive insights from data visualizations. Some platforms also let you directly respond to the conversations or customer queries straight from the interface.

Step #5: Collect historical data

Most social monitoring tools allow you to save results as historical data. You can use this information to further your data analysis by comparing them with the newer results later on.

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Manual Social Media Monitoring

If you have the time and prefer the old-fashioned way, social monitoring can be done manually.

At the base level, you can directly use the social media platform to keep track of any brand-related content. For example, you can look at Twitter notifications to instantly monitor your mentions. You can also reply to incoming queries one by one on Facebook Pages Manager.

While that’s a viable option for many companies, especially small businesses and startups, others prefer using a more modern and effortless option. A dedicated social monitoring tool with competent AI capabilities can help streamline the workflow, measure social sentiment and alert you for cases that require action.

4 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools

While manual social monitoring is definitely doable, there are tons of online tools that offer a quick fix.

Here are some great examples of software that does the complex work of monitoring any brand-related content on social media.

1. Keyhole

Keyhole is a powerful social media management tool with social monitoring and listening capabilities. Its features span event monitoring, influencer management, market research, social media insights including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

On top of these core features, it’s also armed with account trackers that will help you keep an eye on conversations about your hashtags, keywords and posts – by your brand and your competitors.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the most popular social monitoring tools that’s free of charge. You can use the program to set up social media trackers that monitor keywords, mentions, conversations, hashtags and other metrics.

At the same time, you can respond to these conversations straight from your Hootsuite dashboard. No need to log in and out of your social accounts to address queries and messages.

It also provides modules for reaching out and getting in touch with influencers who could be potential advocates for your brand.

3. Tweetdeck

If you have multiple Twitter accounts and you want a central space for monitoring actions, Tweetdeck is for you. It’s a free tool that lets you consolidate all tweets containing brand mentions into one page.

Tweetdeck lets you customize the interface by adding metrics into columns that help you track your online presence. You can also access all conversations about your brand on a single dashboard.

4. Talkwalker

Talkwalker is a master of real-time social monitoring with great social listening skills. It can draw data from millions of sources – including social media, blogs, websites, forums and so on. It’s a premium solution, but the Free Social Search option can still do wonders if you’re on a budget.

On top of monitoring conversations about your brand, you’ll be able to analyze customer engagements and identify the social sentiment behind them.

Social Monitoring Takeaways

To wrap things up, we go back to our big question: what is social monitoring? It’s a useful business practice that helps you stay in the loop with how netizens perceive your brand.

By following relevant social media conversations, you can elevate your branding strategy and improve how your business interacts with prospective and existing customers over time.

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