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6 Tips for Tracking Social Media Results

Submitted by on December 6, 2011 – 7:57 am2 Comments

The day will come, if it hasn’t already, when you’ll want to monitor your business’ social media results. To engage on social media platforms effectively we need to know who’s talking about us, what they’re saying, and whether the sentiment is positive or negative.

Not only does monitoring the information help ensure that our social media community managers can respond in a timely manner, it also makes it possible for us to cover all of our bases; determining whether we need to field a commenter to customer service or refer the person to the sales department if they require more product/service information.

The decision to investigate social media monitoring tools needn’t be daunting. A streamlined approach that involves giving yourself ample time for the initial research, decision-making and analysis, and post-implementation assessment can get you well on your way.

In this post, we offer 6 tips to help get you started:

1. Explore the Options

With countless tools to choose from, one of the most important and time-consuming steps in the selection process of social monitoring tools will be the exploration phase; designating individuals to do the research, determining your budget and establishing a realistic timeframe for making the decision.

As you review the links below you’ll also begin to see commonalities where some of the same tools are mentioned time and again e.g. Social Mention, Hootsuite, Radian6, Google Alerts, Trackur to name a few. In some of the lists you’ll come across less known and written about tools but ones that might be exactly what you’re looking for. Take some time to review the links below for options for your business.

Social Media Monitoring Tools (Infographic)

10 apps to monitor social media

30 Useful Social Media Monitoring Tools

Free Social Media Monitoring Tools

20 Tools for Tracking Social Media Marketing

Best Social Media Monitoring Tools to Enhance Business

2. Ask Questions

As your business begins to look at social monitoring services you’ll want to come up with a list of relevant questions to help get your key constituents on the same page from the onset.

Janet Aronica
suggests six questions:

  • What are my social media goals?
  • What am I looking to measure?
  • Does this tool have access to the Twitter Firehose?
  • What is my budget?
  • What kind of training does this company offer?
  • Who is going to answer my email when stuff breaks?

Barry Hurd provides eight questions:

  • Who is going to use it?
  • Who needs to digest the end information?
  • Does it need to tie into legacy systems?
  • What business metrics do I need to map against online touch points?
  • Where and when is this data consumed?
  • What is the data I want and do I need another tool to communicate it?
  • What does all this really mean?
  • Did I share the information with the right people?

Craig suggests these three questions:

  • How will we define success? (e.g. is it community growth, an increase in sales, site stickiness)
  • How will we know if we are successful?
  • What should our key performance indicators be, along the way?

Take the time to develop your questions and make sure everyone on your team asks theirs upfront.

3. Analyze What’s Right for Your Business

Getting the social media monitoring results that matter to you is what is most essential. Sure, there are an array of paid resources out there but if your 2012 budget won’t permit the costs and you need to be looking at less expensive options or ones that are entirely free, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the knowledge and information that can be gained from tracking your results.

Tony Ahn offers a great solution for how to build a free social media monitoring dashboard to track news and blogs; Wikipedia; tweets, comments and discussions; eBay, Craigslist, your competition; and Facebook and LinkedIn all by using “an RSS reader and some Internet savvy.”

Andy Beal, CEO of the social media tool Trackur, wrote a guest post on Lee Odden’s blog, TopRank, where he offered the following advice: “Try the free tools first. Google Alerts, Social Mention, Twitter Search, if it’s free, use it…First for 80% of you, the free tools will be quite sufficient for your needs…second reason, you won’t know what worth paying for, until you’ve tested the free tools.”

4. Continue to Learn More About Social Media Monitoring

Adding the topic of social media monitoring to your reading list will help keep you in-the-know. Whether you end up going with a specific vendor or not shouldn’t preclude you from taking advantage of their expertise. Many of the vendors offer highly valuable content in the form of blog posts, case studies and whitepapers, podcasts and webinars, and shared links of great material on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

For example, some excellent content can be found on the blogs of Radian6, Sysomos, Hootsuite, BrandWatch and Trackur, to name a few. Sign up for their RSS feeds to make sure you see their posts on a regular basis.

You can also check out the content on Facebook and Twitter pages:
@Radian6, Radian6 Facebook; @Sysomos, Sysomos Facebook; @Hootsuite

Hootsuite Facebook; @Brandwatch. @socialmention

5. Use the Information You Collect

Fast forward a few weeks or months after you selected and implemented a variety of social monitoring tools. Maybe you took Andy Beal’s advice and got started with free ones, or maybe you’ve added a paid tool to your dashboard. And now the data is beginning to come in.

Andy Beal advocates for making sure you have a process in place for ensuring that you take action on the important information gleaned from social media. And then comes the moment of true reflection.

As Andy writes, “Are you actually improving your products? Are you actually training your employees to provide better customer service? Are you actually ensuring that your deep sea oil wells don’t leak in the future? Commit now that you will not just pay lip-service to your customers. Get commitment from your executive team that they will actively listen to what’s being said about your company. Or as Dell puts it: ‘We want the customer walking the hallways…this is not a communication exercise, this is not a feel-good thing, this is part of the DNA of Dell!’”

Are you ready to make social media monitoring part of your company’s DNA?

6. Assess and Reassess the Tools

Themos Kalafatis states, “Marketers do not want (just) reports…True intelligence is about knowing how to successfully promote and market a brand, product or service. To do that a marketer wants to know the best practices. The answer to true social media intelligence is the use of predictive analytics (data and text mining) applied to social data.”

For today, knowing that particular posts faired better than others, or that a specific topic fell flat on its face, or that your customers were all talking about what they liked and disliked about your new product features may be giving you enough data to work with. Or, is it?

After you’ve selected a few tools to track your social media results you’ll want to assess and reassess your findings and make sure that the information you’re obtaining is really what’s most salient to you.

Final Thoughts:
I started this post by saying that the decision to get started with social media monitoring tools needn’t be daunting. And, that’s still the case. But here’s the clincher: it’s not for the faint of heart.

While there’s a lot of good information that can be gleaned from tracking your social media results you must be also be prepared to put it to good use by listening to your community managers, listening to your customers, and retiring a tool if it’s not giving you the data that helps you the most. Monitoring your social media results is a process and one that necessitates ongoing commitment.

The good news? It will be well worth your efforts!

Where are you in the social media monitoring process?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

image by Ky Olsen

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