Listening to your community of customers is the first, essential step in the social media engagement process. There’s a plethora of monitoring solutions on the market and many brands don’t appreciate their power and potential.

At Monitoring Social Media, held yesterday in New York, an impressive lineup of presenters provided insights and actionable ideas on social media, focusing on how monitoring tools work and how they can best be applied.

Are We Engaged Yet? How to Develop Your Engagement Metric

Measurement and accountability guru Katie Delahaye Paine of KDPaine & Partners explored the quantitative and qualitative aspects of social media metrics in the context of social media’s impact on the way we conduct business. She notes that while social media has changed the “old school” notions of timeliness, reach and success, we remain in a people business. People engage, not Twitter handles or Facebook pages.

New school metrics encompass:

  1. Influence – The power or ability to affect someone’s actions
  2. Engagement – Some action beyond zero
  3. Advocacy – engagement driven by an agenda
  4. Sentiment – contextual expression of opinion – regardless of tone
  5. ROI: Return on Investment – no more no less

Among valuable takeaways in Paine’s presentation:

  1. Seeing how often your message is picked up and relayed is not the same as determining (perhaps by survey) if people are hearing the message.
  2. For too long, PR people have been allergic to math.
  3. It’s not about monitoring, it’s about listening to your customers.
  4. We’re moving from counting to correlations.

Four Personalities of Brands Online

Brand “personalities” can be catagorized, according to Synthesio’s Loic Moisand, by four parameters to help set monitoring goals:

  1. Volume of Buzz
  2. Intensity of Sentiment
  3. Social Media Presence
  4. Engagement

The facets and challenges of each brand helps define the appropriate monitoring solution:

  1. The Boring Brand – average buzz, low sentiment, presence and engagement
  2. The Functional Brand – high buzz and sentiment, average presence, low engagement
  3. The Exciting Brand – average sentiment, high buzz, presence and engagement
  4. The Vital Brand – very high buzz and engagement, high presence, average sentiment

How to Become a Listening Company

Cory Hartlen of Radian6 presented the key metrics used by listening companies and followed up with a checklist of decisions required to establish and conduct listening strategies.

Evaluation

  1. Who will review the results of your listening?
  2. Will that same person or people be responsible for drawing conclusions, delivering insights, and making actionable recommendations?
  3. What information will you report? When should the first report happen after starting your listening efforts?
  4. To whom?
  5. How often?
  6. How will you deliver those recommendations to appropriate teams and people?

Planning

  1. What specific problems, issues, or insights are you hoping to address through your listening program?
  2. By when? Or, how far apart are your touchpoints for benchmarking?
  3. Where are we starting from in these areas, and what do we already know?
  4. What constitutes success? Failure?
  5. What metrics will help us illustrate progress or lack of toward that success definition?
  6. How do these insights and measurements relate to other areas of the business, like sales, marketing, customer service, product development?

Resources

  1. Who is doing the monitoring on the front lines?
  2. What kind of training and education will they need? Information access? What tools will we use?
  3. Is this a dedicated role or roles, or integrated into existing positions?
  4. If it’s integrated, who will be responsible for monitoring what?
  5. How many hours will you dedicate to listening per week? Per month?
  6. What investment of time and resources or other indicators will tell you that you need to adjust?

Mapping information

  1. Who needs to know what you’re finding through your monitoring? In what level of detail?
  2. How will you document your procedures and workflow?
  3. How will you deliver the insights to appropriate team members, and in what format? How often?
  4. What are you expecting people to DO with the information you give them?
  5. How will you know if they’re doing it? What’s your follow up plan?
  6. What feedback and refinement mechanisms will you provide?

Evaluation

  1. Who will review the results of your listening?
  2. Will that same person or people be responsible for drawing conclusions, delivering insights, and making actionable recommendations?
  3. What information will you report? When should the first report happen after starting your listening efforts?
  4. To whom?
  5. How often?
  6. How will you deliver those recommendations to appropriate teams and people?

Bloggers Don’t Do Organizational Charts

Brandwatch’s Giles Palmer offered an overview of the steps needed to implement monitoring to achieve ROI from social media engagement:

  1. Set objectives
  2. Find the conversations
  3. Establish benchmarks
  4. Align the monitoring process with the company org chart
  5. Give it time

His take on the categories of benchmarks are:

  1. Webstats
  2. Conversion rates
  3. Volume of conversation
  4. Sentiment
  5. Competitors
  6. Types of conversation

Beyond Listening: Reinventing Social Keyword Monitoring

Chase McMichael of InfiniGraph asked if a status update reaches a social network but one sees it, does it matter? Portraying most social media monitoring as reactive, while success requires being proactive. He suggested that brands have to be heard above the cacophony, feeding their feed more frequently than they think.

The conversation is more than the keywords for which monitoring programs listen and McMichael suggests brands look for people who are “socially promiscuous” with content relevant to their brands. Social intelligence may be described as deriving relevance from consumer actions around content interaction and other consumers with common connections though the social graph.

His takeaways were:

  1. Crowd sourced content interaction provides greater relevance
  2. The right content drives the greatest interaction – own your content space
  3. Social activation can be achieved at scale if consumers are engaged

Effective Engagement Through Analytics

Twitter differs from Facebook in key ways, according to Jodee Rich of PeopleBrowsr. First, Twitter is open to allow search and, second, the friendship communications are asynchronous. Rich detailed the social vectors at the core of effective social media monitoring and management:

Persona – individual profiling and metadata analysis

  1. Biographical data
  2. Location
  3. Gender
  4. Interests
  5. Twitter lists
  6. Advocates and critics

Breaking Trends – how to leverage live trends

  1. Matching themes
  2. Influencers buzz
  3. Audience word clouds
  4. Industry trends
  5. Competitors mentions
  6. Shared links

Sentiment – how to transform positive and negative sentiment into value

  1. Engage with users
  2. Manage unhappy customers
  3. Build VIP Advocates
  4. Identify critics
  5. Customer support

Influence and Engagement – influencer targeting to get in touch with opinion leaders

  1. Followers and following
  2. Relationships
  3. Points of engagement
  4. Klout scores
  5. Advocates and critics

Trust – how to find most relevant Tweets

  1. Influence
  2. Geo-locations
  3. Degrees of separation
  4. Engagement
  5. Gender
  6. Metadata

Relevance – how to find most relevant Tweets and Users

  1. Matching keywords in Tweets
  2. Matching Location
  3. Matching keywords in BIO
  4. Relationships
  5. Shared Links

Connectedness – degrees of separation to spot hub users

  1. Number of connections
  2. Number of interactions
  3. Mutual friends
  4. Relationships
  5. Shared links

Sentiment in Social Media: The Genie in the Bottle

Alta Plana’s Seth Grimes offered three “assertions” underpinning the process of sentiment analysis turning attitudes into data:

  1. Human communications, online and off, are inherently subjective
  2. Online facts and opinions have business value
  3. Opinions often masquerades as fact

He cautioned that document-level, keyword-based, human-only and machine-only analysis methods fall far short when used individually. He suggested that successful sentiment analysis needs the science of machines and judgement of humans.

Tracking a Product Launch in Social Media

Tezza Yujuico of Athena East suggested when monitoring a product launch in social media that brands remember these three things:

  1. Define your goals
  2. Take the time to get a process and build a framework for your program
  3. Be proactive and be flexible

For additional perspectives on Monitoring Social Media, check out 1 Good Reason, CisionBlog and Freedmarketer.