Tracking Social Media: Introduction to Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring: What it is, why it’s needed, and what’s important to consider when choosing a monitoring tool.
Social Media Marketing has become a widespread means of broadcasting products, services, companies, and brands. Getting started in the space can be challenging and time consuming for marketers. Once a program is up and running, determining a return on time and money invested is the obvious next step for any social media marketing effort.
It’s critical to find out just what kind of results your online efforts are having. Has traffic grown with the volume of Twitter feeds? Has the new corporate Facebook fan page expanded the conversion rate and generated leads overnight or taken two months? Social media monitoring answers these questions.
In this post and the next few, we’ll look into how best to monitor social media marketing and what tools, both free and paid, you might want to put at your disposal. As you no doubt know from using social media tools like Facebook and Flickr, social media isn’t always about numbers and equations—there is a softer side that is less numbers driven and more about the perceptions and emotions of customers or those you affect.
Why Even Monitor Social Media?
When it comes to monitoring social media there are a range of tools that let you see the effect of social media. Most of them do a similar job of indexing and finding your brand in various online discussions, but the ones that excel do a good job of finding and extracting value out of those analytics data, putting things into perspective, and even helping you to visualize and share the data in clear ways.
The first question to address is why even monitor social media at all? The chief reason to monitor social media campaigns is to quantify a return on your investment of both time and resources. Another important reason is to see the reach of your efforts—have your rather simple efforts on Facebook led to widespread traffic boosts perhaps, or has your time-consuming blogging yielded few RSS subscribers? It’s nice to know what works.
Starting off at the most basic level means setting up a series of manual monitoring tools. Manual monitoring tools are some of the most basic tools that allow us to see the impact of the social media marketing we are engaged in. The free tools of Google Alerts, Delicious, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube are all manual and all provide useful feedback.
There are chiefly five options you have when you look into monitoring social media, ranging from the tools native to the specific media to wide-ranging, all inclusive paid tools.
Social Media Monitoring: Five Options to Achieve Comprehensive Monitoring
Option One: Native Tools
Use the native tools offered by the social media sites you are using. Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, all have basic reporting capabilities and will send you frequent reports about your account.
Option Two: Manual Monitoring
Check the progress on your social media profiles and accounts; extract the data manually and move it to an Excel spreadsheet to analyze.
Option Three: Modified Analytics
Modify the general analytics tools you are already using to monitor your web site to also track and monitor social media. Use tools like Google Alerts and monitoring of entry pages and traffic sources to understand the impact of your social media efforts.
Option Four: Dedicated Tools
Use free and paid dedicated tools for specific channels. Use Twitter tools to analyze Twitter, blog tools to analyze blogs, Facebook tools for mapping out Facebook, etc.
Option Five: Comprehensive Paid Monitoring
Use paid tools for comprehensive social media tracking and monitoring.
This post begins a four-part post on social media monitoring. In next posts we will discuss some of the best ranked free and paid monitoring tools and discuss the merits of free versus paid monitoring.