As important as social media is for your business, once you have built all of your social media profiles and are engaging other people online regularly, it is equally important to monitor the effectiveness of social media for your business.
In this age of sophisticated technology, even if you don’t have a desire to be involved with social media for your business, you really don’t have a choice. You have to keep up with your customers and your competition. If you don’t get involved, you will be giving up your edge and other business people will shine in the eyes of potential and current customers and you will be left behind.
It is extraordinarily important to have an effective and assertive social media marketing campaign in which your branding is solid and your business offerings are highlighted and appear compelling and attractive. Monitoring the results of your social media marketing campaign is equally important. You need to keep your finger on the pulse and have as much control as possible over the flow of your business success so that it will be extremely easy to identify what is working and what is not working.
In addition to monitoring the results of your social media efforts, it is also important to have a good understanding of who is saying what about you and your business and exactly where those people are saying what they are saying. It is important because you will want to respond to them as soon as you read what they have written.
When it comes to the social media monitoring tools, there are some terms that it will be helpful to become acquainted with, including:
Influence: If you have customers who have strong opinions about your brand, it is essential to understand how those customers influence others. You will want to know
How many followers they have
How many retweets they get
How many comments they get as a result of their blog posts
How many outside links point back to their blog
Many of the monitoring tools that don’t cost money measure those things and all of the monitoring tools that cost money include it.
Sentiment: Are the comments that you are receiving positive or negative? Most of the monitoring tools used today have the capacity to distinguish positive from negative (assign sentiment) automatically. This is very useful if you have a brand that gets a high volume of mentions; however, it is not as useful if your brand doesn’t get that sort of attention. In that case, manual verification is recommended before you make any final decisions based on the influence data.
Workflow: The definition of workflow in this context is assigning, responding, and tracking social media. If your workflow is effective, it will help you to avoid double responses and potential opportunities that you may have missed.
Volume: Volume is the amount of buzz that is surrounding your brand and your offerings. Many of the monitoring tools are able to record volume based on specific keywords over time. This is a great way for you to measure how effective your marketing efforts and your social media marketing campaign are when combined with sentiment. You can understand a great deal by watching the spikes in the graphs that are generated by your monitoring tool.
The following are some of the most effective social media monitoring tools that are being used today.
Google Alerts: This is an extremely popular and effective social media monitoring tool. Google Alerts allows you to create keyword searches for the name of your business or the names of your competitors. You will then receive the results of your searches in your inbox or through your RSS feeds. If you combine Google Alerts with iGoogle (Google’s portal), you can build a concise page that will contain the most current results for the keywords that you have chosen. You should definitely consider using Google Alerts. It doesn’t cost any money and it is very easy to set up.
Twitter Advanced Search: When you use the advanced feature of Twitter’s search tool, you can generate very powerful searches. Once your search has been set up, you can save the search terms as an RSS feed so that the information that you are receiving is always current.
HootSuite: You can manage multiple social media accounts across LinkedIn, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and MySpace. Even though HootSuite is actually an account management tool, it has a very large user base and has powerful functionality. When you have updates, you can add them to more than one social media profile at a time, click through, automate updates and monitor your buzz.
Twazzup: This tool focuses on Twitter. It puts everything on one page. Among its features are influencers, top links and sentiment.
TweetDeck: This is available for Mac, iPad, iPhone, Linux and Windows. TweetDeck is a good tool to manage your social media profiles across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, and Google Buzz.
Social mention: This is a combination of metrics that are simple to read (including reach, sentiment, strength (volume and day), and passion). Social mention will track Twitter, blogs and blog comments, news, images, audio and video. You can save your searches as an RSS feed so that you can continue to have current information.
Icerocket: Icerocket allows you to watch over Twitter, blogs, news, the web, images, and many other things. Some of the features are a listing of mentions and a topic cloud. Icerocket also gives you the ability to bookmark your search results and allows you to return to them later.
Addict-o-matic: This is a consolidated page that matches searches in Twitter, Digg, Flickr, blogs, and more. Addict-o-matic has a one-page dashboard, is free of charge, and does an amazing job of placing all of your “buzz” in the same place.
Boardtracker: This works by grabbing buzz from forums and message boards. A list of some of Boardtracker’s features includes an influencer list and a topic cloud. A slightly negative feature is that there are advertisements mixed in with your search results. However, you can purchase a premium version that will not have the advertisements as part of the search results. This is a really handy tool if your customers are more active on forums and message boards than any other type of social media.
Seesmic: This is similar to HootSuite. The two tools have the capability to manage many accounts at once in common across many of the social media channels.
Social media monitoring tools and the metrics that they bring to you are extremely important to the success of your social media marketing campaign as well as the ultimate success of your business. If you don’t pay attention to how your business is doing, you are really only doing half of the job. It is the difference between walking around in the dark and having an illuminated path that allows you to have an understanding and an awareness of how your business is doing and how you can continually make improvements that will bring you more and more exposure and a rock-solid reputation.
Many companies are using social media monitoring to strengthen their businesses. Those business people are savvy enough to realize the importance of social media, how it positively influences their businesses and how critical the monitoring piece of the strategy is to their ultimate success.
By Michael Williams