For some years now, we have seen businesses adopting social media and integrating them in their business processes. While some have reluctantly outsourced, some are experimenting with it and making it a part of company culture.
Fundamentally, social media consists of 4 different stages: Listen, Analyze, Act and Optimize. Social media is all about conversations, interactions and value addition, thereby building a strong business and reputation.
At the core of social media strategy lies the Social Media Monitoring process. Without a strong social media monitoring strategy, it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the relevant conversations and engage with them. But how do you create a strong social media monitoring plan? How do you understand what is right and what is not?
Using our professional experience with many brands and agencies we have identified 10 crucial stages of social media monitoring. They are as follows:
- Define business goals
- Define KPIs for your business problem
- Carry out preliminary social media buzz research
- Identify where you would want to monitor
- Prepare a keyword strategy
- Develop an action plan
- Setup a team and define roles
- Implement the strategy
- Review the output of your strategy and iterate accordingly
- Scale and Evolve
Let’s take a closer look at it.
Define business goals
It is impossible to ignore the basics of business, or skip it. You have to ask what you want to achieve using social media. As of now, success stories of social media range from customer acquisition to brand building. There are many areas where social media can be of great help:
- Creating your marketing plan
- Gaining industry and competitive intelligence
- Building reputation and brand
- Measuring the success of your marketing plan
- Supporting online customer queries and complaints
- Identifying and reaching out to influencers in your industry
- Identifying leads and reaching out to them
- Finding new hires for your company
- Feedback from your customers, users and so on.
It is important that the business goals for your organization are laid out properly. It should be understood well before what you want to achieve using social media.
Define KPIs for your business problem
Once the business goals are clear and well communicated, it is time to know how you want to measure it. For instance, if building reputation is your goal than how are you going to measure your success? Or if supporting online queries is your aim than how are you going to measure it?
Hence KPIs are really important to quantify your actions and results. Most businesses are stuck over ROI and how to measure it. But through many case studies and success stories, it is very clear that ROI is not always an important KPI for your business. KPIs need to be measured based on your business goals.
For example, the best way to measure your reputation would be to count how many new influencers have mentioned your business. By monitoring your mentions and keeping track of new people mentioning your brand, you can see the success of your activities and know that things are going well.
For leads, you can come up with KPIs like how many people online have I reached out and how many showed interest on weekly basis. It is important to know what KPIs are relevant and what are not. Intermediate KPIs like these are very important.
Furthermore, never let industry standard KPIs fool you because all KPIs have their limitations. Nobody understands your business like you do, hence, if it is required to sway away from a standard KPI and make your own than it needs to be done.
Carry out preliminary social media buzz research
After laying out the foundation for your social media monitoring strategy, it is now time to do some hands on work.
By implementing Google search, Facebook search or Twitter search, you can see what kind of buzz exists around your industry. How actively are people talking about it? How are your competitors being talked about? All these preliminary exercises will be able to benchmark your expectations around social media.
Identify where you would want to monitor
Preliminary research helps you get a feel of what you are going to put yourself up to. This could also be a stage of revelation which would require you to change your business perspective. Understanding your customer base and their activity is important, it helps you focus your monitoring activities.
Facebook and Twitter is not the whole of social media. Preliminary research is hence necessary to make sure that you discover more about your customer base. There are thousands of groups and active communities outside of Twitter and Facebook which could be of high impact for your business.
Prepare the keyword strategy
Preparing keywords strategy for your social media is very similar to that of keyword strategy for your SEO campaigns. Just like understanding what people are searching about, you need to understand what people are talking about. These two factors can be either different or same depending upon your industry.
The preliminary research can help you identify relevant keywords for your business. It is important to make an intensive list of your keywords and keep iterating it.
Develop action plans
Action plans are crucial for successful execution of the social media monitoring campaign. This would include many to-do items like:
- Setup relevant social media reporting structure
- Create standard communication template
- Create relevant content to share
- Create better landing pages to redirect people
Everything boils down to what you want to say and how in social media. Both are important aspect of business and reputation building in social media. Action plans for Social Media Monitoring activities need to encompass following questions:
- What are you going to do with the data collected?
- How are you going to manage the stored social media data?
- How do you plan to response to influencers in social media?
Monitoring social media is going to bring huge amount of data, hence data management in itself can be a daunting task. But with a proper action plan, it is possible to take care of it.
Setup a team and define roles
Setting up a social media team is as important as setting up your sales teams or product team. Dedicated social media teams and make-shift social media teams have a huge difference in their performance and results.
Social Media Teams mainly consist of the following basic structure:
- Social Media Strategist
- Content Writers
- Social Media Response Team
Besides any other complicated organization charts, these are the basic need for your social media monitoring project. You need to have a strategist to make plans, identify trends, do back ground research and look after the whole project. Content writers are crucial so that fresh and relevant content are published regularly for your whole social media team. Response team are responsible for communicating and distributing these content in social media and interacting on social media. The roles and responsibilities can overlap.
Implement the strategy
With team and strategies in place, the next phase is the implementation phase. For effective implementation of your social media monitoring strategy, you need to invest in better social media monitoring tool that can help you execute your plan properly.
In addition to this, the team needs to be well-trained to generate as much value as possible from the tool. Most often, we have observed that using social media monitoring tool is a skill set, like with any other tool, which needs to be developed.
There are different types of social media applications and it is really easy to be confused between them. Basically, there are following types of tools in the market:
- Social Media Management
- Social Media Monitoring
- Social Media Analytics (sentiment and demographic analysis)
- Channel Analytics ( In other words Facebook and Twitter Analytics)
- Social Media Activation ( social media apps like quiz, survey, contest app etc)
- Social Media Ad Management
- Community Management
All the above tools are designed for different purpose and are not same in terms of features and value to your business. For your monitoring purpose, you need to look in the tool which provides social media listening capability, some analytics, management and reporting.
Review the output of your strategy and iterate accordingly
Once planning is done and execution is initiated, it’s time to keep track of your strategy and measure its performance. This is where the KPIs will play a major role. The social media strategist need to keep track of all the relevant KPIs and make changes to the plan accordingly.
Social media changes rapidly over time, hence it’s important to be on your toes. One important mantra in social media is PLAN, EXECUTE and ITERATE. In social media one needs to think like a publishing house: creating and publishing new content and creatives.
A solid reporting framework makes a lot of difference when you are keeping track of your performance. It helps you reduce your effort and increases efficiency. It is important to remember that without proper tracking of your social media activities, all the hard work will be futile.
Scale and Evolve
In the end, when your business is getting somewhere with your strategy, it is time to scale and evolve. Once you are confident about what works and what doesn’t, you can scale the process for more aggressive social media initiatives. This would mean hiring more people, investing more on content generation, innovating your product or service offerings, investing in more sophisticated social media applications etc.