When you meet with customers, do you carefully scrutinize everything they say–eye contact, leaning forward, actively acknowledging and signaling your agreement and understanding, etc.? What would you give to be able to listen in when they talk about you and your business with peers in their industry? With other business leaders and influencers? With your competitors?
Media monitoring is the way to achieve that priceless commodity. Good media monitoring can help you not just track conversations but identify leads, buyers, and influencers, and build relationships and a community around your company, brand, and products.
While once the domain of large corporations with huge PR budgets, tools and services are available today to businesses of all sizes making media monitoring achievable and, in fact, well within the reach of any organization.
Why media monitoring is so important
While many business conversations still do take place over a handshake, or a conference table, or at least during a conference call, social media networks have become strong communication channels for brands. The customer’s ease of using these platforms as a means of airing concerns and complaints has also quickly become a big part of our social and business environment. Knowing about these communications is a first and critical step in analyzing the marketplace and determining a response.
If you stared across the table without a word when an important question or concern was leveled at you by your customer, you could rightly expect repercussions in your business relationship. Ironically, many social media complaints go unanswered simply because no one is “listening” and sorting through the billions of comments and discussion threads to find the ones that pertain to you. It’s just as important to acknowledge positive comments from fans of your business. There is no way to overestimate the importance of a quick reply on social media, and no way to value the market data that is obtainable.
In the U.S., 71 percent of adult Internet users are active on Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. Additionally, an average of 320 million Twitter users are active each month, and LinkedIn has more than 400 million members in more than 200 countries. Media monitoring allows businesses to provide valuable, engaging content for customers, and online reviews help spread the word to new customers, helping a company build its brand.
Media monitoring helps you engage in the marketplace
While there is a wide array of types of online interactions you can have with customers and other market influencers, here are a few important ways to engage:
- Maintaining social media channels and feeding them with valuable content your target audience wants to read
- Engaging with fans and followers, sharing their content, congratulating them for their achievements and being there when they need your help.
- Encouraging reviews of your company. As you build an online community through your engaged responses and candid, relevant commentary, positive reviews will help spread the word about your company to other networks and new customers.
The key is to be positive, consistent, and respond quickly to any engagement, whether positive or negative.
Social media as a tool for positive engagement
Apart from addressing the concerns of your consumers, having media monitoring tools allows for small businesses to see good things that consumers have to say about their brand or service. It provides insights and learning opportunities that could lead to improvements and future developments. Some key aspects of looking out for the positives are;
- Taking advantage of the dialogue that is happening among users to look at opportunities for development and growth.
- Actively responding to and collecting positive feedback that fosters a sense of community which is essential for any growing business.
- Building a sense of brand affection. Your engagement style allows users to gain a sense of what your brand represents, so it’s important that you set the right ‘personality’ for your engagement strategy.
Your small business can flourish if you pay attention to the right things. If you listen to what your consumers have to say by implementing changes and adding features, it will potentially put you on the map as a user-centric brand.
How media monitoring can help
There are three major areas of benefit that can be realized through media monitoring:
- Speedy Search–Finding what you need has never been easier. Good media monitoring allows you to spend more time responding to media coverage and less time looking for it.
- Instant Sharing–Your team and clients will be the first to hear important news — and you'll be a PR rock star.
- Easy Analysis–Never worry about the technology “behind the curtain.” Good media monitoring tools will do the hard part and provide intuitive tools that will make your reports look amazing.
Choosing a Social Media Monitoring Tool
Social listening tools run the gamut from free to paid, but they follow the same adage as most things in this world: you get what you pay for.
Social media monitoring uses software that scans the Internet for mentions of a business's brand or for topics of interest – particularly acorss social media platforms. It draws attention to applicable posts and organizes this data so that you can analyze and act upon it. It's important to monitor as wide a range of social media sites as possible, looking beyond the most popular sites by including forums, blogs, and online review sites your consumers frequent. If your audience is international, be sure to cover languages other than English.
One feature to look for is an engagement tool that searches for comments and complaints posted online and enables a business to respond to those posts quickly. As a best practice, assign an employee the task of monitoring for such posts and responding from within the monitoring application. More complex software should provide analytics and reporting capabilities, which will help you understand which social media posts are positive, negative or neutral on a particular subject. With that information, you can tailor your response to best engage with your audience. Results appear as easy-to-digest reports, and some analytics tools provide the ability to integrate the reports into customer relationship management applications.
Most PR agencies will offer media monitoring as part of your service contract. They will typically have their own subscription to a paid service and create a custom report for you weekly or monthly. A good PR firm will also watch for and address critical information in real-time. All this said, outsourcing this work comes at a cost.
At UpMyInfluence, we wanted to find a way to offer real-time monitoring at a price that early and growth-stage would get easy ROI from. Staying ahead of mentions on a review site is pretty critical for our members, for example. As with most other services we provide, we wanted to pass through the alerts to our members without wrapping it in a bunch of billable hours. With a bit of training, it's pretty easy to know how to respond to your mentions online.
We reviewed more than 20 possible monitoring tools for our members at UpMyInfluence and we ended up going with a custom business plan through Brand24 for each of them.
Some other tools you might consider reviewing:
- Cision Media Monitoring
- Brand Mentions
- Google Alerts – Free
- Moz Fresh Web Explorer
Access to online help is another thing to consider when choosing a platform, especially given the dynamic, constantly changing nature of social media. Many platforms provide online documentation on using the product along with email and phone support.
Maintaining a good reputation is important for any business, no matter its size, and social media is a useful tool for enhancing reputations and for helping a business expand its presence. But it is also vital for small businesses to proactively control and manage its use, which can be much better done using social media monitoring tools designed for exactly this purpose.
If you'd like us to set up your PR media monitoring for better customer service, influencer outreach, and engagement with your audiences, have a look at our membership options.