These days it is easy to get overwhelmed. Gone are the days where you could easily track your message’s whereabouts in placements generated by you. A message, brand and company are no longer sole property of the print world, the Internet changed all of that. The Internet gave voice to that missing piece of the puzzle: the voice of the public. With the voice of the public engaging more heavily in conversation comes the monitoring of that conversation, among blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, etc., with social media monitoring. Social media monitoring consists of combining results from a variety of measurement tools and using them to measure campaign effectiveness and goal achievement, something that cannot be done with tools alone. One of the newer tools that may soon gain more traction is Twitter. Most people measure its effectiveness simply through retweets, but now Twitter is giving its users the ability to geographically target tweets and the analytics to measure the additional effects of a tweet http://bit.ly/hDGZqR. With geo-relevant tweets, McDonald’s Canada can now target tweets to its segment of the McDonald’s public about menu options that appeal to them, such as peach pie and chocolate-coffee milkshakes. Then with Twitter’s new Follower Dashboard they can measure more than just retweets. Follows, unfollows, click-through and other actions that result are now included so that a more complete picture of the response is generated. For example, RadioShack generated its #ineedanewphone hashtag last December. Using the Follower Dashboard they saw 65 million impressions, an above average engagement rate of 8.8% and wireless platform sales increase in double digits all within days of launching the promoted trend. All with the addition of these tracking features.
While increases in monitoring options are crucial to seeing the whole big picture, they in no way limit your involvement. If anything they make it more important. Data means nothing without interpretation and judgement, and only a human being can analyze and interpret data and decide how to use it for the benefit of the brand and the company. Some people think that all you have to do is rely on the tools you use. That is the biggest mistake, when you take yourself out of the equation, because it is not that simple. Different tools are better at different things, it takes you to pull the best feedback from each and analyze it for your purposes. A social media monitoring tool cannot do that task and nothing can take the place of human analysis and interpretation. Both tools and human monitoring and analysis should always be used in tandem. Take for example the sentiment analysis that tools like UberVU have as part of their service http://bit.ly/9z981Y. A message is not simply neutral, negative or positive. Interpretations are subjective and tools do not have an effective reasoning component built into them. With social media monitoring, the most important thing is to plan what you are measuring, construct and distribute your message, evaluate and analyze the data and use it to inform your future decisions. Not giving enough thought to any one of these steps can be a critical misstep. Social media monitoring is an effective and essential tool, but only if it is used correctly. Tools were invented to help you manage the work, not do the work for you. You are an important part of social media monitoring, not just your tools. Never take yourself out of the equation. As long as you use social media monitoring tools to inform, and not control, you will be on the right track to getting your desired results.