An effective Social Media Monitoring plan enables organizations to better plan, execute and measure their marketing activities. Why Should Marketers Monitor Social Media?
Social media is growing in influence as a powerful tool for companies to engage with their target audiences and to support their sales and marketing plans. It is not enough to have only a corporate blog anymore- companies today need to feel the pulse of the marketplace filled with their customers and competitors to maximize their revenues and enhance their brand. That said, social media is not just about using social media tools. It's about how you monitor social media buzz and respond by adapting your marketing and sales strategy. According to the independent research firm Forrester Research, Inc., spending on social media marketing in the U.S. will grow annually at a 34% compound rate through 2014, by which time it will grow to a $3.1 billion industry, surpassing email marketing in terms of spending.(Forrester Research, Inc.- "U.S. interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 to 2014," July 2009.) Ignorance is no longer bliss. The content on brands, products and services in this emerging channel cannot be ignored because of the sheer momentum it has gained over the last few years. Negative sentiment can snowball out of control very quickly - there have been several instances of social media fiascos covered in mainstream media. The speed of communication via social media makes this channel very important for marketers, as they can gauge brand awareness, engage with prospects and customers, listen to feedback and track their competition closely. However, these are early days - according to a 2011 survey, 70% of marketers have very little to no understanding of how their brands are faring in social media.
How does Monitoring Social Media Benefit Marketing Strategy?
According to the Q3 2010 Gleanster Voice of the Customer Survey, the most compelling reasons to implement a social media monitoring plan were:
- To Generate customer insights - 83%
- Increase customer satisfaction - 87%
- To Improve marketing effectiveness - 92%
1. Measuring Brand Awareness and Testing Products / Designs / Campaigns
Previously marketers would use focus groups and expensive market research to gauge the reactions of their target audiences to new products, designs or campaigns. Social media today enables marketers to directly engage with interested (and potential) customers and assess their feelings and opinions about their products and/ or services. By monitoring the reaction on social media within niche groups, marketers can measure the immediate responses received.
Using social media, marketers can directly interact with customers and eliminate "middle-men" such as conventional media and the distribution chain. Marketing teams now have the ability to quickly deal with new opportunities or hazards, instead of waiting for weeks for conventional media channels to broadcast the latest advertisement. Marketers can now easily monitor online interactions among their target demographics to track the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, and solicit feedback from social media users to help shape future marketing campaigns.
2. Indentifying Influencers and Their Reach, Building Relationships
With the right strategy, interacting with an audience, creating and promoting content that gets linked and goes viral can help companies reach key influencers in the social media world. These "power users" can help make or break a marketing campaign, and focus attention to your new product or service. Influencers can also spread their opinions and reviews across the blogosphere and make your product or service known to many other influencers, who in turn influence hundreds or thousands of their online followers.
According to the Q3 2010 Gleanster Voice of the Customer Survey, the most compelling reasons to monitor social media were:
- Improving customer support effectiveness - 74%
- Improving market research effectiveness - 71%
- Protecting brand reputation - 68%
We have seen that just about 1% of a website's audience often generates 20% of all traffic, sharing brand content or site links with their audience. These influencers drive an even higher share of conversion, directly influencing 30% or more of online activity by recommending the brand's site, products or promotions to friends and followers.
According to Forrester Research, "Marketers are used to segmenting audiences by behaviors and demographics, but despite discussion of influence, most brands are doing little to segment influencers beyond social PR efforts aimed at the largest and most influential bloggers. For social media to reach a mass audience, marketers must segment and engage their Mass Influencers- the minority of people in social media responsible for the majority of influence posts and impressions- with unique programs that combine the best of marketing and PR. For most brands, Mass Influencers number in the hundreds of thousands or millions - Finding, attracting, and promoting Mass Influencers and arming them with the content and experiences that turn them into advocates is the key to making social media a mass medium in 2011." A social media monitoring plan, combined with the right tools, not only helps marketers identify key influencers, but also track activities, measure influence / reach and engage with them on a regular basis.
3. Getting to Know Your Audience Better: Monitoring Brand Sentiment, Brand Defense, Analyzing Demographics
Monitoring social media gives marketers a firm finger on the pulse of their brands - what do customers and prospects think about that latest campaign? Or about that new redesign? Does your new logo gel well with the expectations of your fan base?
Today, tools for monitoring social media let you filter content based on your marketing priorities, decide which posts need priority engagement and how you can reach out to the influencers more effectively. This allows your team to fight fires before they spread, while providing satisfied users of your product or service with the rapid response and support that they want. Your brand may be at risk, and monitoring social media in real-time helps mitigate that risk.
Real-time monitoring of social media also gives marketers a powerful tool to discover worldwide demographics - the ability to understand gender, age groups and geographic reach for social media conversations can help steer the strategy for the creation of content, design and production of future marketing campaigns.
With information gleaned from interactions and feedback from your online audience, it is possible to detect and act on their ‘intent' to buy your product or service. Some may have already made the purchase decision, while others are undecided and need to be persuaded or convinced of your brand's merit.
How Can You Get Started?
- As a marketer, what do you want to track and measure the most? Is it your brand sentiment? Or perhaps your key influencers? Or do you want to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaign? A combination of all of the above? Whatever your objectives, ensure you have a plan to act on the data you collect, so you can measure success.
- Create a list of topics you want to track: from your product/service name to your corporate brand, each topic will give you insight on what your prospects and customers are talking about.
Tools such as Brand Monitor™ can help your organization listen to the conversations surrounding your brand, discover influencers, reach, sentiment and analytics, and engage with prospects and customers on blogs, social media and news in real time. Brand Monitor™ also ensures that you can grab every opportunity to listen, respond and act on intent, allowing you to forward results to your sales team and get in touch with potential customers.