When it comes to social media monitoring, are you getting the whole picture?

Guest post by Lisa Davis, director of marketing at SMWF Gold Sponsors, Marketwire Sysomos. Nobody said social media monitoring was easy, she writes. There are billions of conversations taking place across blogs, social networks and news sites – all in real time. 

Little wonder that the thought of diving deep into those discussions in an attempt to analyze what’s being said, spot trends and identify the most influential voices and opinions is often overwhelming. 

For those who have already taken the plunge, it can be all too easy to find yourself neck-deep in unfamiliar waters.  You’ve extracted a wealth of information and statistics from a host of monitoring and trending tools, yet trying to piece it together in search of “the big picture” is difficult at best. 

The most effective, efficient and intelligent social media monitoring and analytics efforts are those that let you see what’s happening to your company and your brand with a 360-degree view of the landscape.  You don’t need answers to just one question, but many questions. After all, you’re looking for the big picture, the whole story, and not just bits and pieces.

Here’s a scenario:  You’ve just launched a new line of athletic apparel in North America and Western Europe.  Naturally, you want to know if your communications and promotional efforts are building buzz around the products and, more importantly, how those efforts are affecting sales. 

  • Who is tweeting about the products and the launch, how many of them have become Facebook fans?  What about key bloggers, are they talking about you?
  • Do you know how many conversations are taking place in North America versus Europe, and where there are more conversations, or days when conversations spike? 
  • What about the age group and demographic of the folks in those conversation – do Italian women like the line more than American women? 
  • How do people feel about your product – what’s the sentiment?  Positive?  Negative? 
  • Are you prepared to immediately jump into the conversation and provide customer service in real time?   
  • How are you being compared to the competition?  What’s your share of voice? 

Make no mistake, there are a lot of tools available to monitor and measure social media.  Many of them are fantastic, intuitive tools, and many of them are free.  But they become somewhat of a mismatched set when you pool them together in search of a complete and integrated solution for social media monitoring, engagement and analytics.  If you trust your efforts to a disparate set of tools, some to track conversations, others to identify trends and still others to engage, then you’re probably working inefficiently, and much too hard.  What’s more, you’re not getting the whole story.

Aristotle said it best some 2,000 years ago:  The whole is more than the sum of its parts.  Who’d have known he was talking about the benefits of holistic, complete-picture thinking when it comes to monitoring and measuring your social media efforts?  To truly gain the intelligence and insight you need to make smarter business and strategic decisions, you need a 360-degree view and a holistic approach to measurement.  You need more than just great data; you need context and perspective in order to act, react and plan ahead.

PS:  Why not find out what Plato has to teach us about finding social media influencers?

Jeff Cann, Manager of Accounts, Marketwire Sysomos will be taking part in the “Listening, Analysing & Managing Social Media Traffic” discussion on 29 March, day one of Social Media World Forum Europe 2011. For more information see the event agenda.