Whether you are actively developing a social media presence for your brand or just dipping your toe in the deep and ever-changing ocean of social media chatter, you probably realize that monitoring and measurement are quite important. Although there is no shortage of social media monitoring tools: (See full list: http://wiki.kenburbary.com/) Each one is a bit different in its approach, methodology, metrics, depth of analysis, channels measured, reports and UI. The existence of this many tools and the fragmentation of the tools market is evidence of the fact that the space is not quite mature, and doesn’t yet have a set of agreed-upon metrics and best practices.
In your search for the right tool(s), you should be looking to both monitor and measure your brand on social media. The two terms are used somewhat interchangeably, and although there is some overlap and similarity in business goals, monitoring and measurement are distinct processes. Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail.
Social Media Monitoring
Monitoring (or perhaps the more evocative definition is “listening”) is the process of continuous and immediate discovery of conversations with the purpose of learning, engaging, helping and collaborating. You can do this with anyone, whether it’s your customers, prospects, industry thought leaders, former customers, partners or others. There are also different cues to listen for and different ways to engage. Typically, monitoring has a stronger real-time implication than measurement, as one of the purposes is to track keywords as they appear, with the goal of quick reaction.
How it works: Typically, monitoring is performed on a keywords basis. Relevant keywords include your brand name, product name, etc. Based on your keywords, your monitoring system of choice goes out to the social networks you specify, grabs the relevant articles and messages, and hopefully arranges them for easier digestion and action.
Why it’s important: My favorite analogy for social media is that it’s like the “largest cocktail party in the world.” It’s a room filled with people driven by one desire to communicate, share, digest and relate, while carrying on many independent conversations. Some of these conversations can be about you, your competitors or your industry. Some of these conversations could be people looking for a product like yours. They will talk about all these topics regardless of whether you are listening or not. However, you wouldn’t know any of this if you weren’t listening.