This blog was updated in May 2020.
I can picture a modern day Sherlock Holmes sitting comfortably in his study, smoking his pipe, and solving mysteries with nothing more than a computer and a wifi connection. With access to all the information available on social media, chances are solving mysteries would be a little too easy for the great Sherlock Holmes.
Social media now makes it easier than ever for people to voice their opinion and share information about, well, anything. Whether it’s their thoughts on a new TV show, what their favorite restaurant is, or a poor experience they had, people are now sharing their thoughts and experiences with each other at an astonishing rate. As a business, this can be a good or a bad thing. What determines it is if your company is listening and how you are responding. One thing is clear: The most successful companies on social media are doing more listening (monitoring) than they are posting.
What Is Social Media Monitoring?
Social media monitoring, also called social media listening, is when companies actively use social media to gather information about industry trends, customer needs, competitor actions, and much more. This typically requires companies to keep a constant eye on several different social networks. When done well, companies can learn valuable information that will help shape their business strategy, delight their customers, and ultimately aid in their success.
The Benefits of Monitoring Social Media
1. It Positions You/Your Business as an Expert
Thought leadership is one of the hottest buzzwords in the marketing industry. Defined simply, thought leaders are the go-to people for information pertaining to a certain subject matter. For example, if you need information about search engine optimization, Rand Fishkin is the guy to reach out to. He has positioned himself as an expert over the years by participating in conversations and helping people solve their problems, amongst other things. We’re sure you can imagine, being the go-to person for any subject can be lucrative.
Your goal should be to position your business as the go-to resource for information about your industry or niche. You can accomplish this by creating content and engaging in conversations. Monitoring social media plays a major role in this process. After all, how can you solve people’s problems if you don’t know what they’re struggling to understand?
Monitor social media to get ideas for potential content topics, as well as to engage in conversations where you can show off your expertise and build trust.
2. Stay Up to Date With Trends and Pain Points
If you haven’t noticed, the world is moving pretty fast nowadays. Not too long ago, a company by the name of Blockbuster was ruling the movie rental industry. Content with their position at the top, Blockbuster was blind to the emerging trends and pain points within their industry. We all know how that ended. (They went out of business.)
Let’s all hope this never happens to your business. Just to make sure, you should use social media as a legitimate way to monitor where the world is headed. With over 1.5 billion people on social media, it does represent a legitimate sample of the world as a whole. Though this type of monitoring won’t require much action, over time you will begin to see trends forming and new pain points emerging.
3. Social Media Monitoring Makes Selling Easier
The key to sales is finding a pain point that potential customers have and then showing them how your product or service can solve or alleviate it. Most sales professionals agree that it’s much easier to close a sale when there is a clear pain point that they can focus on. Through social listening, companies can gain a better understanding of what pain points customers have and tailor their messaging accordingly.
For example, if we see someone upset that a competitor’s tool doesn’t support Pinterest, we can reach out to them to make them aware that our tool does. Knowing their pain point is not being able to manage their Pinterest from the same tool as their other social networks, we are able to target that specifically and immediately solve their problem. This increases our conversion rate exponentially.
The information you gather through social listening is a gold mine for your sales team. Make sure you regularly share with them what you are learning, as well as potential leads and their pain points.
4. It Saves You Money
Did you know the number one reason new businesses fail is a lack of capital? That means anything that can save you money can save your business. Monitoring social media will save you money in the following ways:
- Helps you to avoid spending money on something people do not want.
- Lowers costs of researching the market.
- Decreases your cost to acquire a customer through better targeted marketing and sales.
- Helps your business avoid negative posts going viral.
5. Discover Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We all know the feeling of having so much work and not enough time. It seems like no matter how early you get to the office or how late you leave, there is always more work to be done. One way your business can lower the workload is by creating a dedicated page for frequently asked questions. This page will give customers a place to go to find answers to their questions and will greatly decrease the amount of time spent responding to customers’ questions.
A great way to ensure your FAQ page includes the necessary answers is by monitoring what is being asked on social media. Keep track of questions you were asked and questions that your competitors were asked. At least once a month, update your FAQ with these new questions and answers.
On top of saving you time, a great FAQ page also improves customer retention and builds trust.
6. Social Media Listening Increases Customer Retention
Why do most customers leave? Typically it’s for one the following reasons:
- Not happy with your product/service.
- Competitor has a better offering.
- Customer service is poor.
- There is no longer a market need for your product/service.
Companies that monitor social media and engage in relevant conversations are able to foresee and act proactively when one of the scenarios above begins to happen. Take advantage of the access you have to consumers’ opinions and leverage them to your advantage. Act proactively to improve your business to align with what the market wants or needs.
If you don’t, chances are your competitors will.
7. See What Type of Content is Being Shared
How do we produce viral content? Almost every business on social media has asked this question before. It’s hard to not be jealous of the blog post that gets shared 100,000 times or the video that gets millions of views.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a magic formula for writing viral content, but what we do have is a way to greatly improve your chances. By monitoring what type of content is being shared, you can improve your chances of going viral.
For example, Facebook has made a serious push toward becoming the go-to place for video, competing directly with YouTube. About a year ago, through the use of monitoring, we realized that videos were by far the most shared type of content. Noticing this, we began to share more videos on our Facebook page.
The result? Significantly more reach, engagement and conversions.
How to Narrow Your Search Results
Now that we know what social media monitoring is and what the benefits are, it’s time to discuss how to do it effectively. The best way to monitor social media is to use the search capabilities built into the social networks you use. Unfortunately, sifting through comments and tweets from over 25% of the world is impossible. Luckily there are several ways to narrow down your search results to make them manageable.
1. Include Sentiment
Sentiment, or a view of or attitude toward a situation or event, is the best way to narrow down your results. By including these emotions in your search you will be able to exclude the majority of the posts you are not interested in. Three emotions we track are:
- Positive: By searching for positive sentiment, we can find people happy about a specific thing. This is a great way to see what people enjoy about your business or a competitor’s.
- Negative: Imagine having access to all the people that are currently mad at one of your competitors. Talk about a goldmine! By monitoring for negative posts about your industry or competitors, you can find extremely valuable information.
- Question: We monitor questions very heavily, because questions encourage engagement. Monitoring questions and answering them is a perfect way to position your business as an expert.
Tip: To add sentiment to your search, go into Advanced Search and choose which sentiment you would like to include.
2. Include Your Geographical Location
Is your business local? If so, you need to focus on monitoring the area your customers live in. For example, a pizza restaurant could monitor people talking about pizza delivery or being hungry in general. The restaurant could consider reaching out to these people to make their business known, as well as offer them some sort of deal. Even if your business is small and/or local, social media offers a wealth of opportunities.
3. Exclude Popular But Irrelevant Words
The final way to improve the quality of your search results is to exclude popular but irrelevant words from your search. For example, a pizza restaurant that does not offer delivery would want to consider excluding the word “delivery” from their search results. By doing this, they don’t have to sift through all the posts discussing delivery.
Through experimentation, you’ll find what search terms result in the highest quality of information. Test different search terms, as well as different social networks, to figure out what works most effectively.
Tip: Create Twitter Lists to make it easier to monitor competitors, industry news, influencers, etc.
What Should You Monitor?
We are finally ready to start monitoring social media. The only question left to answer is, what should we monitor?
1. Your Businesses Name (With and Without @name)
If you can only monitor one thing, it should be people talking about your business. These are current or potential customers and their opinion directly relates to your businesses success. When people tag you business in a post, you will receive a notification. This makes listening and responding easy.
The problem is, many businesses stop there. What happens if someone doesn’t tag your business when they share their thoughts? To make sure you don’t miss these posts, also monitor your business’s name without the @ included.
2. Your Competitors
Twenty years ago, businesses would have never imagined the type of access to competitor information that’s now available, thanks in large part to social media. Imagine having the ability to see conversations between your competitors and their customers. When used properly, social media can do just that.
To make it easier to find relevant conversations, be sure to include sentiments such as: positive, negative, and asking a question.
It’s easy to be so focused on finding new customers that you forget about your current customers. Make sure you monitor what your current customers are saying about your company, both positive and negative.
If a current customer shares something positive about your business, you want to see it. Through social media monitoring, you will be able to share it with your followers and thank the customer for posting it. Taking care of your customers will help to turn them into brand advocates. Remember, happy customers are the best marketers.
Hashtags were first invented in 2007 by Twitter user Chris Messina. He asked his followers what they thought about using them to group together related posts and encourage community conversations. Though the idea was first met with resistance, especially from Twitter, hashtags are now the standard for nearly every social network.
Monitoring hashtags is extremely powerful, because they already group together related information, making it easy for your business to consume it. Monitor hashtags that are related to your business specifically, as well as your industry as a whole.
Tip: Also monitor hashtags related to your competitors. This gives you access to conversations related to their product/service.
Influencer marketing is growing at an alarming rate thanks to social media. Social media influencers are people who have the ability to impact someone else’s decision. For example, a nod of approval from a trusted movie critic might be all it takes for you to decide to watch a movie. Smart businesses are now partnering up with these influencers to take advantage of their leverage and the trust they have built.
Long before you ever reach out to an influencer, you should begin monitoring them. This will allow you to better understand them and their audience. Keep an eye on the types of questions they are being asked, the topics they create content about, and what they have done/are doing to build trust with their audience.
e-clincher can help you stay on top of your social media monitoring. Sign up for a free trial today.