Beyond PR

Oct 12, 2011

Social media monitoring delivers quick returns

My favorite screen in PRN Media Monitoring shows top conversation topics within the social media monitoring results for the keywords I've selected. So cool. And dead useful.

A new report from IBM detailing the extent to which CMOs were unprepared for the advent of social media caught my attention yesterday.  Fairly stunningly, the report revealed that while most CMOs consider social media to be a key engagement channel, only a quarter of the large group surveyed were actively tracking blogs.  About half paid attention to different types of reviews.

Not surprisingly, the CMOs indicated that expressing ROI on social media is difficult. Furthermore, most of the CMOs surveyed indicated that developing their skills and understanding of social media was low priority.

Ignoring social media and its influence on customer buying decisions really seems like a risky approach to both planning a company’s communication strategy, and one’s own professional development.

I mused on this for a while and then opened up my PRN Media Monitoring suite, which I use to keep tabs on what’s going on in social channels.  I’ve used it for a while, relying on settings and parameters I set up months ago.  Frankly, it’s been a while since I set up a new monitoring profile.

In an attempt (albeit a biased one, I know) to look at social monitoring with fresh eyes, I set up a new monitoring profile and set about to see what I could accomplish.  In 20 minutes.

I bumbled around a bit, futzing with the keywords for my new search, before settling on the keywords “social media” with “press release” or “news release.”     And once my results loaded, I started having some fun.  Instead of following my “habitrail” and just looking at a handful of key metrics, I instead made discovery my opportunity.

  • I found a guy who’s blogging for a small business site on the subject of PR.  He’s new, but prolific.  We need to talk to him.
  • I admired the ripples the announcement of the PRN/Ektron partnership made last week, and spotted some coverage I hadn’t seen.  Cool.
  • I found a raft of people on Twitter to follow and add to some of my lists.  They hadn’t @messaged me, but they are talking about topics I care about.
  • And found a discussion on LinkedIn that I had managed to overlook despite my regular activity on that network.

All that, in just twenty minutes.

Any social media guru will tell you the first step you must take when considering developing a social presence for your brand is listening.   Understanding what your audience cares about is absolutely fundamental to social success.

Simply put, if you don’t listen, your programs won’t work, you will have a heck of a time defining any return for the time and resources wasted and you’ll probably think, “Eh, this social media stuff doesn’t work.  To heck with it.”  So why do folks skip the listening step?  I have a couple theories:

  • It’s hard.  Setting up the monitoring parameters can be an exercise in experimentation.  You may wind up with way too many fish in your net.   However if you spend some time tweaking your searches  (I personally prefer to have a host of smaller, more focused searches), you will find the input is not only germane, but manageable.
  • It creates more work.  True.  You will uncover opportunities that require response right now.   You will start to truly understand what people mean when they say the audience is now in charge.  And a lot of social media interactions are very high touch.   Blast e-mail doesn’t work here.

Ultimately, I think listening does make a company’s communications more efficient, and effective – simply because you know what your audience is interested in and where they’re gathering, and you can plan accordingly.

There’s no question the dynamics of attention have shifted.  Influence and information look far different today than they did five years ago.   The good news is that social media monitoring can reveal the new dynamics in your marketplace, enabling your brand to garner new insight and visibility.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

Fill in your details below: