Social media monitoring: there are no shortcuts

Clients sometimes ask me, “what’s the best way to monitor social media activity”? What I’ve learned is that when they say “best,” they sometimes mean “fastest”–and that leads them to believe automated social media monitoring tools are all they need. If you’re truly intent on finding out what people are saying about your brand, however, there are no shortcuts. Automated tools aren’t enough.

Darrell Jursa’s recent AdAge post, “Why Robots Shouldn’t Replace People For Social-Media Monitoring,” does a great job of addressing this point:

Consider these results from a well-respected and widely used automated online-sentiment measuring service, which we asked to tell us what people were saying about Starbucks.

Here’s one it thought was “negative” about the ubiquitous coffee chain: “im tired of this cheap coffee crap. need starbucks!”

And one it thought was positive: “Pumpkin chai. Mmm. Very good. Not from Starbucks. From Argo Tea.”

This isn’t to say that sentiment analysis and other monitoring tools are useless. They can provide excellent insight into trends and show you whether the needle is moving on specific benchmarks. The numbers, however, are only the beginning of the story. To fully understand what those numbers mean, you have to dig a little deeper and spend time on the manual monitoring that truly reveals what’s being said, and how you should respond (if at all).

And while, as Jursa suggests, this is “more labor-intensive than an automated approach,” the results are worth the effort. Like a lot of things in life, what you get out of it is contingent upon what you put into it. If you’re truly looking for the “best” way to monitor how your brand is perceived in the social sphere, then, make sure you’re looking beyond the “fastest” way.

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