Why I love social media monitoring

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2013/06/10 11,604 views

in a analytics taking action,a dos and don'ts,b why benchmark analytics

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How to monitor your social media presence in only 15 minutes a day.
What are you trying to monitor? Why do you need this data? How will you use data to make decisions?
We are evaluation-obsessed, and in turn we also suffer a monitoring obsession.
Keywords: benchmark, best practice, blogrank, data analytics, key performance indicator, KPI, ROI, social media metrics and social media monitoring.

Among other things, my new book Social Media Audit: Measure for Impact (click below) focuses on social media monitoring.

CLICK - more information about: Gattiker, Urs E. (2013). Social Media Audit: Measuring for Impact – ISBN 978-1-4614-3602-7A recent series of blog posts we published addressed issues like (see also Social Media DOs and DON’Ts):

  1. Social media definition: 3 essentials
  2. Social media marketing definition: 2 essentials
  3. Why PR fails with social media marketing
  4. Corporate blog definition: 4 essentials
  5. 4 ways to foster dialogue with corporate blogs
  6. 4 strategies to leverage usability tests
  7. 4 tips for crisis management through social media
  8. 5 critical steps for reputation management
  9. 8 guidelines for fostering social media engagement
  10. 5 corporate blogging trends for 2011

In addition I also explained such things as:

  1. Take 5 minutes to track your competition
  2. Step 3: Begin benchmarking and improvements
  3. Why I love social media monitoring (you are here)
  4. Social media audit: Are YOU the problem?
  5. Are blog rankings just distracting?

Today I once again want to focus on defining a term that people still get confused about, despite its frequent use in social media.

What is Social Media Monitoring?

The Business Dictionary defines monitoring as follows:

Supervising activities in progress to ensure they are on-course and on-schedule in meeting the objectives and performance targets. Business Dictionary: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/monitoring.html

The above might result in a micro-managing supervisor that tries to control and monitor too much. A more general approach is offered by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (NCC), a statutory advisor to the UK Government. Its definition draws from Hellawell (1991) and Brown (1990):

Monitoring is an intermittent (regular or irregular) series of observations in time, carried out to show the extent of compliance with a formulated standard or degree of deviation from an expected norm. NCC: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-2268

Hellawell, J. M. (1991). Development of a rationale for monitoring. In Goldsmith, F. B. (Ed.), Monitoring for conservation and ecology (pp. 1-14). New York: Chapman and Hall.

Brown A. (2000).Habitat monitoring for conservation management and reporting. 3: Technical guide. Bangor: CCW.

By the way, surveillance refers to a survey aimed simply at establishing the abundance of species, features or occurrences of an event (e.g., how many tweets does the blog post get within three hours of posting). In contrast:

Social media monitoring is an intermittent (regular or irregular) series of observations in time, carried out to show the extent of reaching performance targets set in accordance with a formulated benchmark.

Gattiker, Urs E. (in press). Social media audit. Achieving deep impact without sacrificing the bottom line. Cambridge, UK: Chandos Publishing.
See also: How to monitor biodiversity changes properly – UK gov’t white paper

Monitoring benchmarks

A benchmark can be a variety of things, such as wanting to accomplish engagement with one’s blog readers. An operationalization of this benchmark would be determining an objective, like stating that you wish to get about four comments for each blog entry.

Such an objective – getting four comments per blog post – might still be too general. For instance, compliance might require that in order to count as a comment, you set a norm. An example might be:

A comment that reflects engagement should be around 50 words or so in order to add additional insight to the original blog post or other content posted on the corporate blog or website.

Once we have set this benchmark we can then monitor to see if we reach this target over time. In other words, just monitoring how many people click on a tweeted URL may be interesting, but that number fails to monitor the activity in conjunction with a benchmark. Without having such a benchmark almost anything can be considered success or failure.

What gets measured generally gets done but unless the measures make sense it is not a smart use of resources. Ensure your benchmnarks can be used to make decisions in the future. This way they help to further improve social media performance and positively affect your bottom line.

Conclusion – bottom line

Above I presented some of the issues to address in order to effectively monitor your social media presence.

  1. What decisions will be made based on your monitoring data? If your clients spend time on monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other activities, great. But what will be done with these data? Unless you planned to use monitoring data to make decisions (e.g., change daily special at bakery to increase resonance such as re-tweets or likes), why collect it? Do you know? Unless your answer is yes, monitoring is not for you.
  2. So you have a thousand shares or likes on Facebook – do you care? The likes will not pay your rent at the end of the month. Unless social sharing works its way through to positively influence your sales, it is of little use. Yes, it might help build your brand and image, but unless this helps sell product it will not put food on the table.
  3. Establish a baseline and timeline. A baseline is a measurement used as a point of comparison, which can be used to assess progress against the budget or other set of objectives when doing social media monitoring, including key performance indicators (KPIs).
  4. Show me the numbers. Before you share another infographic on Pinterest or Facebook, check the source so you know how the data were collected. Navel gazing metrics are no more than a time-sink (i.e. the average Twitter business account has 14,000 followers, only 0.5 percent of Facebook fans engage with a page every week). Can you trust these numbers to be valid for your business or industry? What matters is whether these metrics can be used to make decisions that will make your cash register ring next month.

We need to remember that:
social media monitoring focuses on detecting and explaining changes in features, processes or assessing effects of certain decisions made (or benchmarks set).

So set your goals, measure progress and see if your past decisions improved engagement. If not, decide what to do to improve performance. No more, no less.

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Get more ComMetrics content on KPIs, benchmarking, metrics, key drivers, BlogRank (just click the URL to get some very interesting results).

Source: @ComMetrics | Why I love social media monitoring

Urs E. Gattiker, Ph.D. - CyTRAP Labs - ComMetrics.

The author: This post was written by social media marketing and strategy expert Urs E. Gattiker, who also writes about issues that connect social media, strategy, ROI and compliance (click Google Scholar or Microsoft Scholar), and thrives on the challenge of measuring how it all affects your bottom line.

His latest book, Social Media Audit: Measure for Impact, was recently published by Springer Science Publishers; he is currently working on his next book, scheduled to appear before the end of the year.

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