Beyond PR

Oct 28, 2015

The Value of Twitter Data in Gathering Industry Intelligence

Twitter Monitoring

Twitter data is expansive and incredibly valuable. It is used by medical researchers to track the spread of diseases, by the U.S. Geological Survey to track earthquakes, by the financial industry to monitor market moving trends, and by journalists to access eyewitness reports during breaking stories.

In short, Twitter data has become essential to gathering intelligence and understanding trends.

Keep Cool in a Crisis

For brand managers, Twitter is an essential tool for monitoring mentions – especially in a crisis situation.

During a crisis, there is no faster way to check the pulse of the situation than through comments people share on Twitter – in real time. Good or bad, the data informs and is often actionable. Although your brand may not want to respond to every tweet, knowing what’s being said can help guide your decisions on handling the situation.

Unearth Industry Intelligence

The value of Twitter data goes beyond basic brand monitoring and crisis management. Smart brands are setting up searches and alerts for key topics that directly and indirectly impact their business.

Want to get started? Here are ten searches you should start monitoring immediately.

1. Industry topics: Monitor terms that you consistently use in your strategic communications. These are the keywords you want to rank well for. Keeping tabs on discussions around those terms will help you in content planning.

2. Industry trends: Similar to the above, but you’ll have to be a bit cleverer here since you don’t necessarily know what might trend. Search for very broad industry terms, including things that may be negative and keep an eye on what else comes up in the search.

3. Competitor intel: Follow your competitors’ names and watch for any trending news involving them.

Keys to Monitoring Social Media

4. Customer insights: If you serve a B2B audience, you’ll want to do the same for the company names of major customers in your industry. If you’re B2C, you’ll have to get creative. Of course you’re not going to follow all of your customers, but you should take the opportunity on a regular basis to click on the profiles of people that mention you to gain understanding of what their interests are and what matters to them.

5. Customer intel by region: Depending on the type of business you have, it might be very useful to look at your customer data by region. The results you get may be very different country to country, or even state to state.

6. Customer advocacy: Are your customers saying nice things about you on Twitter? Make sure to set up some search parameters that will help you identify these moments and acknowledge them. People appreciate a brand recognizing them and showing public gratitude.

7. Product mentions: If your business only has one product and it has a unique name, this one is easy. If you have multiple products, you will have to treat each as its own brand with all the monitoring that goes along with it.

8. Competitor product mentions: Don’t forget to monitor for competitor products. Those insights can both inform your own product development and your sales tactics.

9. Employee engagement: Chances are your employees are on Twitter. I don’t recommend monitoring their personal business, but if they are talking about your brand, you do want to know about that and you do want to favorite or retweet favorable comments about your business. If employees on a company volunteer outing post photos on Twitter of the team working together, you definitely want to acknowledge that.

10. Employee advocacy: Do you have an employee advocacy program to help promote your content? Make sure you’re set up to monitor those efforts.

Minimize Manual Monitoring

Now that you know what you want to search for and track, you need to think about how you’re going to do that in a consistent manner. While searching Twitter is fairly easy, you can’t spend your days plugging keywords into search and copying and pasting results into a Word document to report your findings.

The efficient way to achieve your goal is to use a social media monitoring platform to send you alerts when your search criteria have been met. It also allows you to save and download clips and graphs.

Choose a platform that is multifunctional. A good end-to-end solution can monitor traditional media as well as Twitter. Bonus points if it offers sentiment ranking. In a situation where you have a lot of data to analyze, sentiment can be a huge time saver in sorting what needs deeper analysis.

The trick to successful monitoring across channels is finding the right mix of people, tools and best practices. If you’d like to learn more about how social media listening can help you identify opportunities to build your business, download our guide Identifying Opportunities & Issues: Keys to Monitoring Traditional & Social Media.

Victoria Harres is vice president, strategic communications and content at PR Newswire. She was the original twitterer on @PRNewswire and continues as part of that team. If she’s not at her desk, you’ll find her in the garden.

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