A Complete Guide To Social Listening & Brand Monitoring

Somewhere on the web, it’s about you, your brand, your products, or your services spoken. But do you know where? Are you listening?

Brand or social media monitoring helps you to become aware of such conversations – so that you can identify the people involved and you can join the dialogue if necessary. There is often an opportunity here to make a valuable (non-promotional) contribution to the discussion and thereby positively start a conversation.

With the right tools, you can save yourself a lot of work and not just observe the reputation of your brand, but also actively influence it.

But the question is: how well do you know this topic? Do you know the differences between brand monitoring, social listening, and social media analytics? Do you know the tools and how to use them? As much as there is to be found on the internet on these topics, hardly any article is complete. I want to change that with this one.

This comprehensive article has all the relevant aspects ready for you. I want to show you what the differences are, why monitoring is worthwhile for you, what the process looks like and which tools you might find useful.

What is Social Media Monitoring?

The identification, observation, and analysis of user-generated content on the Internet. With the abundance of data, the focus of the analysis of brands and products is initially placed on the various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, blog, forums)”.

Even if this definition is not yet comprehensive, it creates a basis for delimiting related terms. Before I go into more detail, I want to answer another central question:

Why is social media monitoring so important?

Every year the number of internet users increases and with it the number of social media users. According to the 2019 Digital Report by We Are Social and Hootsuite, almost 46% of Internet users are active on social media. Very few use just one single platform. The most popular platforms among Germans are YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This represents We face the challenge of maintaining a cross-platform overview of our own activities and those of the relevant users. This is exactly where social media monitoring comes in.

A process model for social media monitoring

  • Analysis Design:

The central task in the first step is to find out where, when, and, above all, how the company or the competition is being discussed. The topics to be observed are defined and relevant keywords are determined.

  • Data Collection:

This is about identifying all relevant sources such as social networks, blogs, forums, or websites. The degree of differentiation in the search terms has a significant influence on the quality of the data collected.

  • Data processing:

In this step, the found posts are cleaned of irrelevant sources and posts, spam, code artifacts, or duplicates. At the same time, the posts are assigned to specific topics.

  • Analysis:

The hoped-for knowledge gain is generated from the collected data using a wide variety of analyzes (share of voice, evaluation of sentiment, topic analysis, identification of opinion leaders and multipliers, relevance, and trend analyses).

  • Reporting:

In the “last” step, the analysis results are divided into strategic, analytical, and operational perspectives prepared and recommendations for action derived.

General brand monitoring or brand monitoring is passed through social media monitoring and includes classic websites, online magazines, or press portals.

Let’s recap:

While social media monitoring focuses exclusively on the identification, observation, and analysis of user-created content on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Co. focused, Brand Monitoring has the big picture in mind. In addition to quantitative analyses, Brand Monitoring also takes into account qualitative analyses, i.e. how is my brand perceived, what values ​​are associated with it and how can I influence this?

Plain text

Monitoring focuses on individual mentions, such as shares, likes, posts, and retweets, made via different social media platforms.

Listening determines the underlying meaning and larger context of this data.

  • Analytics evaluates its own social media activities, such as shares, and likes, and analyzes the entire engagement on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Co.

9 reasons why monitoring is worthwhile for every company

Monitoring enables you to listen to your target group (e.g. your customers) where they are undisturbedly exchanging information about you or your company. You gain new insights from this and can react accordingly.

Overall, there are many different possible uses for monitoring Following closer to.

  • Inventory (zero measurements)

The basis of every social media strategy should be an actual analysis to find out which platforms the target group is on and which topics they are talking about there discussed. Such so-called social media audits (not to be confused with a content audit!) can easily be handed over to external agencies because they have access to the right tools and they have the necessary expertise and experience.

  • Complaint & Crisis Management

Detecting critical posts in blogs or forums (e.g. through alerts via Google or alert.io) is perhaps the most common reason for using monitoring. E-commerce companies in particular are very interested in catching criticism as quickly as possible in order to be able to react accordingly. By intervening early in discussions, worse things can often be prevented (I’m just saying: Shitstorm). In the worst case, you will at least gain a little time to prepare for the upcoming crisis. In this context, you may also be interested in the topic of crisis management and dealing with Internet trolls.

  • Customer Service

Social media are increasingly becoming the first point of contact for questions about products and services. It is not uncommon for people to contact the public directly in the hope of finding other customers with the same questions and possibly the right answers. This habit is a good chance to shine in terms of service – not only on your own website but also beyond. Anyone who also helps with general topics where their own products are not the focus scores even more points. Over time, a community develops and customer service becomes independent, so to speak since customers help each other.

Opinion research and identification of Influencers

Through social media monitoring, the general mood of consumers can be recorded and supporters or opponents of your own company can be identified. In an interview, Konrad Hippius adds that “monitoring tools provide externally accessible, business-critical information that can, among other things, prove the success or failure of campaigns. This also includes a precise evaluation of multipliers. For example, monitoring tools give companies access to demographic information Data on the target audience of influencers, their average engagement rate per post, and their actual reach. If you want to use social influencers as multipliers, you should do thorough research for the right influencers.”

The audience of such multipliers can serve to influence the general perception of a brand or opinion about a product. Recently, bloggers have also been the focus of attention, because companies, I think rightly, are increasingly relying on blogger relations (you can find more opinions on this topic in Mike Schnoor’s blog parade from 2013). According to Konrad, monitoring tools are also helpful here thanks to innovative keyword searches. The same naturally also applies to other multipliers in the form of the media. “By evaluating ongoing or past campaigns, companies can also draw conclusions for the selection of future multipliers – what worked and what could have gone better? Due to this data-based approach, monitoring tools can support companies in identifying and addressing potential multipliers.”

Get to know your audience through monitoring

Overall, you will get to know your target group better through monitoring. If you use it, for example, during the conception of your products (including content), you will be able to identify the pain points faster and incorporate user feedback into production. In this way, you can create and place your marketing activities and communication, but above all your products, in an even more targeted manner. A wide variety of areas in the company can benefit from this newly acquired information.

Controlling / success measurement

If you want to evaluate the success of social media measures, you have to collect information. There is still no agreement on relevant key figures (more on that in a moment), but if certain target values ​​have been defined in advance, monitoring can be used to make a statement as to whether the expectations have been met or not.

Observation of competition

In the same way that you collect information about your business, you can also monitor and benchmark the competition. In addition, you can identify market entrants relatively quickly and can, for example, get in touch with dissatisfied customers from the competition. Another way to use monitoring in this context is to “copy” the social media concepts of the competition. However, it is crucial that you do not adopt these methods 1:1, but make use of the experiences and lessons learned from the campaigns. An adaptation to your needs and of the course target group is always necessary!

Recognize trends and find ideas

Have you ever researched what topics customers talk about in connection with your company? The questions that arise may serve as the basis for an article in the corporate blog or a how-to video…

Employer Branding

Honestly, who is looking for the right job exclusively offline these days? Hardly anyone, I would think. Therefore, it has become all the more important for companies to know about their own appearance in search results. Do you know which pages Google and Co. spit out apart from your homepage when you search for your name or company? However, the same is true the other way around. Companies can also use the (social) web to look for potential employees. Searchers often publish searches themselves in the blog or on other platforms.

So the bottom line is that the entire company benefits from monitoring and listening, not just marketing & PR, service or product development.

Case Studies: How companies benefit from monitoring

One of my favorite examples of social listening is Netflix. Have you checked out her Twitter bio?

Netflix knows its target audience… Millennials who are used to having friends who only exist online; crave attention; research before buying; value the opinions of colleagues more than those of movie stars; live for humor, self-mockery, and sarcasm… skillfully exploit this by posting humorous tweets, retweeting opinions from “small users” too and working with influencers.

You say to yourself:

“When we aren’t posting, we’re listening, looking for the new trends igniting the entertainment world” (Shorty Awards)

But using data from the social web only for your own activities on the social web means leaving potential behind. “The use of social media data has changed significantly in recent years. At the beginning, it was the social media teams and community managers who dealt with topics such as brand monitoring and reputation management, but now it is increasingly the “big data” departments of the companies”.

The UK retailer Coop is successfully demonstrating: The team accesses the data from anywhere at any time (in this case via Brandwatch) to gauge public sentiment on sustainability issues and to integrate the insights gained directly into daily work. In addition, Coop has already been able to prevent serious crises through intelligent alerts and immediate action.

L’Oreal is doing a similar thing. Social listening is an essential part of the production there cut development cycle by helping the company identify industry trends and uncover what consumers are demanding. In an interview with Brandwatch, Adrienne Rostaing, Market Insights & Data Manager also said:

“Social allows us to refocus our actions on the present moment, tracking and adapting in real-time to continuously improve the link with our consumers.”

Social listening helps L’Oreal keep tabs on reviews, ratings, and conversations. The company believes that being everywhere is important for beauty industry representatives as the purchasing process for consumers is becoming faster and faster. That’s why they also work closely with bloggers and social media influencers.

For further impulses, I recommend you to take a look at the websites of the major providers. Almost every one of them presents case studies there.

Start monitoring in 6 steps

Social media have long been part of the marketing mix, but many companies are still struggling with the area of ​​monitoring. This is hardly understandable when we consider that listening – especially in social networks – should actually come first…

Data is often collected, but the resources and structures for further processing are then lacking.

Is it due to a missing strategy? Or is the approach just not clear? It’s definitely not rocket science…

Think first about what you want to achieve through social media monitoring. Do you want to optimize the service or is it about generating new content for social media communication? Define SMART goals and make sure that they contain a measurable indicator.

If you are dealing with the topic of monitoring for the first time, you should definitely observe your own brand and your competitors. The basis for your monitoring is accordingly Brand and Product Keywords, but you can also include people from the public or observe certain topics or even customers.

When it comes to selecting the appropriate channels and platforms, then the various service providers for social media monitoring will support you. Nevertheless, you should decide in advance whether, for example, your own social media profiles or websites should be the subject of the monitoring, since the selection of the monitoring tools also depends on this.

The more precisely you have worked out points 1-3, the easier it will be for you to select a suitable service provider or tools, because not every provider will be able to fulfill all points. Within the framework of an offer or a test phase, concrete ideas can also be given with regard to the scope and quality of the results, as well as the expected costs to win. Accordingly, internal resources can be realistically planned and made available.

In advance, the various responsibilities are clarified. Experience has shown that once management is on board, other departments can be involved. Furthermore, a first workflow should already be available Use of the tools and processing of the insights are designed.

Finally, you should be able to regular reports concerns. At best, these contain both quantitative data that summarize the developments and qualitative data from which you can derive concrete recommendations for action.

A notice: This list is for guidance only and is not a rigid framework. Professional social media monitoring requires thorough preparatory work – regardless of whether you design your own strategy or consider it as part of your content marketing or communication strategy. If you penetrate this field conscientiously from the beginning, you will give away fewer resources and achieve more lasting success.

The 6 most important KPIs for social media monitoring

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator and represents business performance indicators that you can use to measure progress or the degree of fulfillment measure your goals. These six, simply explained key performance indicators that are particularly important for social media monitoring:

  • The share of voice defines how often your own brand is mentioned compared to the competition. In other words, how large the proportion of the overall communication on a topic or product is. The share of voice can also be applied to different platforms. This enables a direct comparison of the performance.
  • The Share of Buzz, also known as Buzz Volume, describes the number of relevant posts for a search term in a certain period of time.
  • The image value has long been used in PR and reflects the approximate willingness of users to recommend you. The more positive the value, the greater the willingness of the user or customer to recommend a product.
  • The range indicates how high the number of potential readers is. This can be determined better with individual social media posts than with forums and blogs because monitoring tools do not have direct access to such non-public platforms. The number of active users describes all users who have a minimum amount of interaction and thus generate reach.
  • Engagement stands for all shares, likes, and comments on a post. If this value is high, this indicates relevant content.

What else should I watch?

Similar to other areas of the company, the KPIs from the monitoring only reflect the hard facts. The context in which, for example, the mentions take place is not taken into account. However, in order to get a comprehensive analysis, you should relate the results to other activities.

The following contextual dimensions might be revealing:

Period and time of brand or product mention:

When were the mentions made (seasonal/time)? Are campaigns running at the same time or is there a major social event or industry-related event taking place?

  • Who talks about your brand and your products? Is it your own employees, such as members of the public (board of directors, speakers, etc.) or press officers? Is it an influencer or a customer?
  • Where from are the users coming (both socio-geographically and in terms of channels)?
  • What topics do you use to position your brand? What topics does your brand feature in the conversations? How big is the discrepancy?

That In addition, monitoring should not only take text content into account but also visual content. Because “today, social media is becoming more and more visual and the importance of image contributions and user-generated content is constantly increasing”. “In addition to text analysis, image analysis is now essential for a comprehensive social media evaluation. In addition, image analysis opens up a completely new dimension of conversation in social networks. Photos in social media not only give an insight into the personal living environment of users but often also reflect it reflect their attitudes and experiences towards brands and products, they provide insight into the consumer situation. This allows brand associations and knowledge about consumer behavior to be derived. In addition to consumer insights, there are numerous other areas of application for logo recognition. Sponsoring activities can be evaluated more precisely, for example. It can also be used for brand protection or influencer management.”

Adobe Stock Visual Trends

In this context, I also recommend you to take a look at the Visual Trends 2021 from Adobe Stock. They say they researched art galleries, fashion runways, business, pop culture and social media.

Sun. You know what brand monitoring, social listening etc. is and you also know why it is worthwhile for you.

You know the most important key performance indicators and you now have a rough system to start with.

What is missing are probably only the right tools…

Comparison of social media monitoring tools

Before we try to choose a suitable one from the huge list of available brand & social media monitoring tools, Konrad recommends taking a look at a few of the most important criteria:

Service level (Can I manage on my own or do I need a service provider?)

Automation (Does artificial intelligence help me or do I have to do everything by hand?)

Price (How intensively will I use the tool and what value will I generate from it?)

Coverage (How big is the source base on which the analysis is based?)

Below I have a list of some interesting ones monitoring tools without claiming to be complete, as I have not yet extensively tested every tool. If you have experience with special tools, please add them in the comments! In the end, the choice is one thing above all: a matter of taste! Because real advantages or disadvantages are really hard to find.

Talkwalker – Social Analytics, Listening, and Influencer Management in one and with the help of artificial intelligence in real-time. In addition, I have had extremely good experiences with the support here.

Meltwater – This tool also filters the generated data using artificial intelligence to show a comprehensive picture of your company, the industry, and your competitors

Quietly – According to their own statements, quietly allows you to play up to 350 measure various metrics, and optimize your social media activities based on data. I haven’t used the tool very intensively yet, but I hear it’s getting better and better.

Audience – The segmentation of your audience is probably Audiense’s passion. With their help, you can cluster your target group “all” based on demographic data, interests, or activities and specify your marketing measures based on this.

Mention – Use Mention for real-time media monitoring and social listening, competitor analysis, influencer research, or custom insights and reports. I find the linking of alerts with information about the author (“Influencer Scoring”) and the possibility of reacting directly to them (Twitter, Facebook & Instagram) particularly useful.

Webbosaurus ~ With this “smart and intuitive” monitoring tool you can monitor both the Analyze the mood of your users on the web as well as identify influencers and monitor the development over time.

Google Alerts (free) – Once you have entered your specific keywords (eg your brand name or your own), you will be kept up to date on all web content relevant to you.

Other popular names like Swat. I will leave out io, Dirico, Hootsuite, SEMrush, Facelift, or content bird at this point because they are more to be understood as content and social media management platforms and rudimentary monitoring and/or analytics included as one of several features.

Conclusion: Monitoring is a must, only the scope is individual

Listening is the first step to being able to say the right thing. This applies to the social web as well as to the “real” world.

Monitoring should therefore not be an issue at all.

The larger a company is, the more there is likely to be to monitor, but the more useful and necessary monitoring becomes in the first place.

In practice, a company can use many professional tools to automate a large part of the data collection and processing. Nevertheless, part of the analysis and, above all, the interpretation should only be semi-automated or even completely manual in order not to make a wrong decision based on incorrect knowledge. Because as Albert Einstein said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.”

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