How to monitor social media

Do you know how to monitor social media? What information exists to help you and where can you discover what the options are? You’re in the right place.

The increasing importance of social media in helping set and shape the news agenda as well as influence public behaviour mean more and more public relations (PR) professionals are taking an interest in understanding how it can impact on organisational reputation.

Making sense of this socially mediated world, however, poses a number of challenges to those seeking to stay abreast of and proactively manage organisational issues.

SMMWith that in mind, the Social Media Panel of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has developed a social media monitoring guide.

Congratulations to the team, I think it’s a cracking piece of work and a brilliant introduction if this is a new topic for you. I think it achieves a good balance between letting you know what is around and equipping you to make your own choices based on your understanding of your own organisation and what you want to achieve.

Simon Collister, @simoncollister, MCIPR, senior lecturer at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, coordinated the collaborative project. This is one of many workstreams being undertaken by the panel, which I am a member of.

Members of the panel involved in creating the guide alongside Simon were:

It guides you through what is available and aims to provide a concise and useful starting place for PR practitioners wanting to understand the range and potential benefits of different social media monitoring tools and service.  While it aims to be as comprehensive as possible, it is impractical to capture every element of such a rapidly changing commercial and technological field.

So in recognition of that fact, it focuses on:

  • What is social media monitoring and why should PR professionals start monitoring?
  • What are the different pricing models of social media monitoring tools?
  • A list of profile of key social media monitoring tools (including free providers)
  • How organisations can get the most out of social media monitoring by establishing workflows to help implement and manage insights.

Focusing on the tools
It looks at social media monitoring tools, as opposed to dedicated analytics packages, content management tools and engagement platforms. It is thought that these related areas of social media analysis and management may become the subject of future guides from the CIPR Social Media Panel, so stay tuned for more information at a later date.

One of the most useful parts of the guide, in my view, is this section, which seeks to clarify the difference between monitoring and analysing:

“It is important to distinguish between monitoring social media on the one hand, and analysing what has been said about you on the other hand. The aim of doing them in unison is to gain actionable insights that help inform your communication strategy.”

A simple definition of social media monitoring is: the detection of when and where you brand has been mention on the web.  

By contrast, a simple definition of social media analytics is: the ability to understand what’s being said about your brand, including the frequency of mentions, the reach of mentions, the influence of those sources and the sentiment felt towards the brand.

simon collisterWhy is this important?
I asked Simon Collister (pictured) to share his thoughts on the guide with readers of my blog. He said: “Social media monitoring is a key issue for PR practitioners at the moment. We have evidence from CIPR member feedback that while many practitioners know social media monitoring (SMM) is increasingly important to organisations, they don’t necessarily know exactly what monitoring entails, which tools and technologies are good for certain tasks and how to integrate it into wider strategies and practices. This was the primary driver for the document.

“We wanted it to explain what SMM is, what tools are available (both free and paid-for), how they work – and how they differ from other social media management platforms – as well as provide an overview of some of the leading tools in the market. We’ve also added in some wider organisational context, such how to build a business case for monitoring, how to set objectives and develop organisational workflows to get the most out of monitoring. The aim is that all this information will enable PR practitioners to get to grips with SMM and realise its potential.”

You can see the social media monitoring guide on this page. Do let the team know what you think of it by commenting below, Tweeting them or @CIPR_UK and including the hashtag #ciprsm.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

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