Ecommerce | Social media
Four Ways to Improve Performance Via Social Media Monitoring
January 09, 2016
Also known as social listening, social media monitoring refers to more than just monitoring social networks. It also entails monitoring the output of any public online source: newspaper websites, blog forums, even Wikipedia pages. But what should you be monitoring for?
The answer is "whatever you like." Much like a Google search, social media monitoring allows users to search through all online postings for certain keywords or collections of keywords. These can be brand names, organisations, or certain phrases or sentences.
What makes it different to Google is the next stage, where these search results can be analysed and mined for insights.
image: Courtesy of Talkwalker
Instead of just showing you what is trending on Twitter or what is the most shared post on a news site, social media monitoring lets you turn these general observations into hard data that you can then analyse and use for a number of purposes. With thousands, if not millions, of data points at your disposal, social media monitoring lets you measure your performance with numbers that reflect performance across the entire online world, not just specific social networks or online channels.
There of course myriad ways you can manipulate these data. Here are four of the most basic:
1) Share of voice
image: Global share of voice for major low-cost fashion brands – Courtesy of Talkwalker
Share of voice refers to the share of the conversation your topic has compared with others. For example, if you sell widgets, you could determine how many online posts about widgets mention your brand.
This metric gives you an idea of your brand's visibility online. It is a way of measuring changes in brand awareness and particularly of comparing your brand's visibility and permeation against your competition's. You can add extra layers so that you can see how your share of voice differs according to, for example, media type (Twitter, Facebook, news sites), country, or language. With this data you can get an idea of both the impact of specific campaigns and of your PR and marketing efforts as a whole. For smaller businesses it is a quick and easy way of seeing the impact your company or brand has made on the online world without having to resort to expensive market research.
2) Social channel analytics
image: Charts showing audience activity and engagement rate on social media channels – Courtesy of Talkwalker
This refers to the analysis of the performance of your owned social channels. For your Twitter feed, for example, you would be able to see a variety of metrics such as the rate of increase of your followers, the amount of audience activity that is taking place on your feed, the engagement rates of your tweets, and the times of day when you audience is most active. You can also compare these metrics against those of your competitors, giving you context for your social performance and new ideas for using social media more effectively.
Anybody can open a Twitter account or a Facebook account, so it is a very low-cost way to market your product. But to use these channels effectively it is important to see what kind of messages and topics engage the public; otherwise the impact your brand makes will be minimal. By seeing how your performance changes over time and in comparison to that of your competitors you can also get a strong gauge of how well your social marketing strategy is working. And by knowing the times when your audience is most active you can improve the scheduling of your messages so that they coincide with times that they are most likely to be seen, a particularly important feature for Twitter marketing.
image: A sentiment chart comparing the positive, negative, and neutral sentiment for each brand – Courtesy of Talkwalker
Sentiment analysis looks at the text in a tweet, a Facebook or Instagram post, or a news article and tries to attach a positive or negative rating to the content. Although it is not 100% accurate, as the way people express negativity and positivity is complex, on a large scale you can get a quick idea of how positively or negatively people are viewing your brand. By setting up alerts to warn you of spikes in negative comments, companies can also make sure they are warned of a potential crisis.
Understanding the volume of conversations occurring is useful on its own, but getting an idea of whether the information is positive or negative can be critical in times of crisis. When combined with automated alerts, for instance, sentiment data can be used to create an early warning system for potential reputational threats, ensuring that PR teams can be warned of potential crises in real time. And especially for smaller businesses, a quick sentiment analysis can provide a snapshot of how the brand is being discussed online that would be virtually impossible to do without spending substantial sums.
4) Theme Clouds
image: Theme clouds showing top hashtags and themes linked to a particular topic – Courtesy of Talkwalker
These are a visual way of discovering what themes are linked to your brand or company. The cloud shows you the themes that have been mentioned most frequently in relation to your brand and can even be adapted to just show the keywords that are of interest. To get more precise figures, these results can also be tabulated.
Let's say you recently opened a restaurant. You could analyse all the online conversation that mentioned your restaurant and then use these insights to adapt your pricing or your menu. If you have an idea of how you want your brand to be positioned in the market you can also use theme clouds to check that public perception matches the positioning you intended.
There are of course many other ways of using social media analytics to gather demographic data, discover the key influencers for your industry, and find the most-popular posts on a particular topic. But the basic premise of using social data intelligence remains the same: By ordering and analysing social data in various ways, companies of all sizes can measure all kinds of social metrics and then compare these metrics to find insights. It is this process that makes it possible for companies of all sizes to use social data to make data-driven decisions.