Social Media Monitoring – More than storks in mist?

„What’s the point of that?!“ „What do WE get out of it?!“ „What am I supposed to tell the controlling?!“

With these and similar questions you will see yourself confronted when you are presenting your communication concept for the application of social media. There will be objectives on which’s attainment-level you and the success of your campaign will be measured upon.

Yet, how are you to present valid result? How are you monitoring the general mood about your company or your product on Facebook or Twitter? With which tools can you measure the achievement of objectives?

Monitoring is much more than simply supervising the various communication channels, by searching for specific contents by means of your private Facebook- or Twitter profile. The search within Facebook is difficult, if you want to include in your consideration commentaries and opinions of Facebook users with whom you are not friends and who express their opinion concerning your company/product outside your maybe existing Facebook-fan-page.  The same is true for Twitter-users with whom you are not friends and who do nevertheless give public evaluations about you.  There are numerous free and with costs tools that can help you monitoring and evaluating your page, if configured correspondingly.

General possibilities of monitoring-tools

What possibilities do you have in general for monitoring social media?

1. Active monitoring
Concerning Twitter, it is possible to search for so called „hashtags“. Twitter-users use these to catalogue their short-messages. It is appropriate to search like this for your own company-/product name and to read and evaluate the „Tweets“.

Some Twitter desktop-applications, such as TweetDeck, allow you to establish your own „Timelines“ (=histories) for specific hashtags and by these to find aggregately to the desired information.  Concerning Facebook you will reach the limits regarding this method, because you do not get information about status messages of users, whom you are not friends with. Of course you can search via search engines like Google any time and thereby specifically initiate news, pictures, videos, etc. concerning a certain keyword. However, this is realized way more comfortably via, for example, Google Alerts.

2. Passive monitoring
Furthermore, it is possible to establish  „Alerts“ (=Alarme). These will - once established – either an RSS Feed or will send you an email regarding the configured topic/issue or keyword. Google Alerts is the most known and used service.

Here, all you have to do is to set

  • the keywords to be reported
  • the nature of the text (news, pictures, …)
  • the frequency of recalling (concerning news once a day,…)
  • the extent of the recall
  • the selection via either mail or RSS Feed

A Google account is required.

What do these tools measure?

One thing all monitoring tools have in common: they detect predefined keywords within the internet and compile these aggregately in a list. They issue the source and normally the frequency of the keyword. In addition, tools estimate the search results. On the one hand, they can similar to any search engine comb the net by means of search-robots. On the other hand, it is common, especially regarding news-sites, which these send a note to the search-robots concerning certain search terms regarding a new text, picture, etc. and thus the RSS Feeds or email messages will be updated.

What limits do they have?

Of course the number of search results is unimaginably huge and only manageable by means of a filter function. However, a search-robot will often not be able to find all possible search results. For this, the searches within forum-entries, for example, are way too complex (logins before the actually accessing the information) or they change so quickly that without reason it comes to a not 100% illustration of the internet. Furthermore, it must be reckoned, especially regarding internet forums, that the connotation of the detected term will not be evaluable. Thus, irony within atmospheric pictures cannot or only hardly be illustrated. Also the German speaking market is by far not as big as the English speaking offers. Nevertheless, German is advancing and is currently presented as a solution mainly by German companies.

Further information:

http://www.google.com/alerts-> setting alerts
http://www.tweetdeck.com/desktop/-> Twitter Desktop Application
http://omgili.com/-> forum search
http://www.howsociable.com/-> Social Media Index Assignment
http://twittersmash.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/social-media-monitoring-survey.jpg-> graphical presentation of all current topics within social media monitoring including further tool-examples