Amid all the social media chatter today—with 500 million daily messages sent on Twitter alone—people are undoubtedly engaging in conversations related to your brand. Are you listening, and if so, how are you responding?
To better leverage the social conversations that matter most, it’s essential to incorporate social media monitoring into your overall social strategy. Here’s how to advance your efforts on that front and, in doing so, give your brand a competitive advantage.
Get Nuanced With Your Networks
Social media monitoring—also known as social media listening—describes a sophisticated process that marketers use to find relevant conversations about their brand or within their product category. As such, it is becoming an increasingly popular avenue in social media marketing today.
To maximize your outreach with current and prospective customers, it’s important to know what each platform provides in the way of active listening. Below are the main tools for your team to consider.
Twitter Advanced Search
Twitter offers a robust Advanced Search feature that makes it easy to find specific Tweets that might matter to your brand. You can refine your search through different terms, message senders, locations, dates and more.
Incorporating a social media management platform into this effort will make matters even easier so that you don’t have to manually enter your searches every time. For example, Sprout Social saves your searches around brand keywords to alert your team of messages that need a response.
(We’ve also put together a guide at the end of this post that has some great tips about properly setting up Twitter search operators to catch intent-driven queries.)
Facebook Search is another outlet for monitoring, but with most profiles being set to private, it can be somewhat limited in scope. The following video elucidates exactly how Facebook Search works.
To monitor brand mentions across most of the Internet, set up Google Alerts. These messages will be delivered directly to your email inbox. Although the service doesn’t cover many of the main social networks, it makes it easy to keep abreast of what is being said about your brand in the news and elsewhere on websites and blogs.
Sprout provides a set of social media monitoring tools that make it easy for brands to monitor social media. You can set up brand keywords that the platform will track for you and send to your inbox when mentioned.
Sprout also offers a Trends Report that will highlight insights such as:
- Terms you’re often mentioned with
- Hashtags you’re often mentioned with
- People frequently talking with you
- Other accounts often mentioned with you
With the right strategy and tools in place, think about what you want to monitor. Here are the five main areas your brand should consider to ensure broad coverage of the entire social media landscape.
1. Brand Terms
This is a must for all organizations. Many people will directly mention your brand or product offerings, but they may forget the @ or #. To find conversations that may have fallen off the radar, use Twitter search operators, which will produce a much wider range of results. McDonald’s wisely employs this strategy.
Notice that even though Lisa didn’t directly mention the brand, which would have sent the company a notification, McDonald’s was still able to find her message and engage in a personal way.
Pro Tip: In addition to monitoring exact-match brand terms, increase your scope by keeping an eye on product names as well as common misspellings.
2. Brand-Adjacent Terms
Monitor brand-adjacent terms to find customers who have shown purchase intent but may not have mentioned your brand or product. A brand-adjacent term can be boiled down to any keyword that someone would use to look up your product or service.
- Sprout might monitor for “social media management tools.”
- A hotel company might monitor for “best places to stay in.”
- A university recruiter might monitor for “best colleges.”
One caveat: Starting a conversation with people who haven’t actually mentioned your brand can come off as a little awkward. Strike the right balance. Your messaging shouldn’t come off as pushy but should provide helpful insights.
Pro Tip: Look to internal data from Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to find the non-brand keywords that people are using to find your brand, and pick the keywords with a history of converting.
3. Customer Needs
More and more customers are turning to social media as the first place to get answers. In fact, the number of social messages that require a brand response has increased 77% in the last year—but a staggering five out of six of these go unanswered. Make sure you are not only actively listening to your followers but also engaging in meaningful, two-way communication, providing useful answers to their questions at every stage.
Over the past year, the number of social messages sent to brands has increased by 77%.
Pro Tip: Use Sprout’s Smart Inbox to never miss a message from your followers.
4. Customer Sentiment
Gather feedback from people with a vested interest in your brand. Monitoring for sentiment provides a brand view from 5,000 feet with actionable insights into:
This will give you a better sense of the general direction your brand is headed in over time (according to public perception at least).
Pro Tip: Some of the best product ideas come from customers. Listen to your networks for features and services that customers might find helpful, and see if you can add those to your product roadmap.
Every company should be mindful of the competition. Monitoring social is essential to that effort. Start by tracking competitor handles, brand terms and key product phrases to gather intelligence on:
- New products
- Customer complaints
- Unique marketing tactics
Pro Tip: Be careful in reaching out to someone who is mentioning your competitor. You want to make a very soft pitch—and perhaps not directly—so as to not seem overly aggressive or desperate.
Maximize Your Data-Driven Insights
It’s important to take what your customers are saying into consideration when developing a long-term marketing strategy. Are people mentioning your brand or a new product feature positively or negatively? Which competitors are being mentioned alongside your brand? How can you better position your brand? With Sprout as your guide, you’ll be able to listen to the voice of the market and then turn talk into action.
Michael Patterson: Michael enjoys writing about all things social media, and his insights can be found on Adweek's SocialTimes, Social Media Today and Social Media Examiner. When he isn't pouring over blog posts he can usually be found exploring Chicago's unique neighborhoods and breweries.