Even before you have your social media monitoring in place, any brand can benefit from working out a plan for what you will do with all this information you are going to gather. Dashboards and reports can be useful, but the ability to take actions or make decisions using this information is much more useful for any brand. What you do with your social media monitoring is as important, if not more important, than getting the monitoring in place in the first place.

Different brands will want to engage with the conversations they discover online in different ways. The following are three great ways for any brand to engage with these conversations. The first two are ways in which you can capitalise upon the outputs of your social media monitoring internally and the last one on how you can use it to engage externally. They all require you to connect with different teams and functions in your brand and may need internal process change to make a real difference.

1. Inform the language of your marketing and communications

Observing and analysing the way people talk about your brand, competitor brands and the market you are in more generally can be a real and valuable source of insight for marketing and communications teams. It lets you learn how people talk about you, the language they use and how they compare you to other competitors and substitutes in the market. By properly searching not just for brand terms but also the terms that people use in relation to them you can start to explore the language that people use. This has a number of benefits. You can use the language and keywords to refine and ammend your search strategy. You can use relevant language and expressions in your marketing and PR activities. And you can start to use the same language when you are engaging in social media.

This relies on you ensuring that different teams across your brand are connected to what your social media monitoring reveals. And probably more importantly that you set up the reporting and analysis to ensure you are looking not just at what is said, but more importantly at how you can change your own communications and language on the basis of this.

2. Predict market changes

One of the real benefits of social media monitoring is that it allows you to track over time the things that are discussed in relation to your brand and your market. By tracking what is discussed over time allows you to identify when more conversations about certain issues being to emerge. Imagine, for example, that you are a large chain of pizza restaurants. One of the the things you might monitor is references to pizza being bought in a supermarket or eaten from take-away restaurants. Your social media monitoring should be set to alert you when and unusually large number of conversations of one of these kinds are present in social media. What is causing people to talk more than is usual about a topic and what can you do about it.

This kind of trend spotting can be of huge value to any business but relies on you having the mechanisms to capitalise upon this knowledge. Usually this would be a good indicator for your insight or research teams, or a marketing function to explore the trends that appear to be emerging and to make sure you are putting plans in place for any changes it may be spotting early.

3. React and respond to mentions of your brand online

Finally, any brand should consider its process for reacting and responding to what people say abotu you online. Whilst the previous two activities are very internal, this is external and involves engaging directly with people in social media.

There are many ways in which people refer to and mention a given brand online. And in most instances there is typically no need to respond. You can just leave the mention and monitor it if you think relevant. We have written before about how to react if somebody writes about your brand online, and the process described here is a great starting point. The next step is to integrate this with your own internal processes and to change these to ensure conversations online are engaged with and responded to when relevant.

This touches heavily on the importance of sentiment analysis – often negative comments need to be responded to in one way and by one set of people, and positive comments in a different way by a different set of people. We’ve written before about the problem with automated sentiment analysis and the best advice is to make sure that you keep a level of human involvement and analysis to make sure you’re responding to the right things in the right ways.

Read the other posts from our social media monitoring review 2010 or download our final report 

Image by Chewy Chua via Flickr

Original Post: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2010/06/three-ways-to-act-on-your-social-media-monitoring

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