Social Media Monitoring and Measurement – A Customized Recipe.

A few weeks ago, Jennifer and I had the opportunity to participate in a master class with one of the PR industry’s most widely respected thought leaders, Brian Solis.

Among the plethora of smart ideas he presented, one topic was near and dear to my heart…social media monitoring.

Since I joined Kane Consulting, I’ve researched and experimented with the slew of tools that have been created to automatically monitor and measure conversations taking place across social media, and quite frankly, was coming up short.

I began creating my own systems – using one tool here, another there, going straight to the source here – hunting, pecking, uncovering, and analyzing gobs of data until it started to paint an accurate picture. And, generally after days of research for a particular client or project I’d be asking myself – is this worth it? Am I supposed to be putting this much time into all of this? Am I missing a better solution?

Well, my methods were validated as I sat in my seat listening to Brian Solis deliver his presentation.

Social media measurement is not standardized. It is customized.

Here’s where we come back to strategy. The how and what you monitor and measure must be in line with your strategic goals. And, one client’s goal or definition of success is not the same as another client’s.

We can run numbers and data on just about anything, but if it’s not in line with what you’re trying to achieve, so what and who cares?

The answer to “so what” and “who cares” is where the customization comes into play. It’s where the work begins. Where meaningful benchmarks are set; goals are established, and the distance between is measured and evaluated for progress and improvement.

Think about the end product, combine the right ingredients, taste, tweak, repeat.

This is the piece that no tool, no matter how sophisticated, can do for us.

Want it done right? Go to the source and do it yourself.

The online world is full of various social media search engines. As with any technology, some work better than others. They are quick, convenient, and can give us gobs of data.

Guess what, folks… these engines are no Google (and even Google is still working to perfect their own social search solution). The exact science behind social search is still being defined. Take a closer look, and you’ll see that each engine has its own algorithms, and will return results differently. If you want to use social search tools or software to click and create a report, be prepared to go through the results with a careful eye before passing it along (unless of course, you don’t anticipate anyone else reading it or using it to take any action, in which case, you better re-think your strategy).

Another tip I gathered from the PR master class with Brian Solis is that the most accurate data is found directly at the source. (This is no secret, right? If you want to know what time your friend’s party starts, do you ask the friend, or a search engine?)

Sure, it takes a little more time. And yes, you’ll need to dump the data into your own spreadsheet, weed out things that don’t apply and then run reports by hand. But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth the extra effort to have the most accurate data from which to measure progress and make strategic decisions.

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10 Responses to Social Media Monitoring and Measurement – A Customized Recipe.

  1. Totally agree with this, especially for smaller companies. The big guys can view some trends from the available resources, but the things that really matter to other businesses should be determined first, imho.

  2. Robin Smothers says:

    Great post! Whether it be community relations, traditional public relations or PR2.0, I have found this to be true in many areas of planning and monitoring: there is no one size fits all. Each client and project has its own context, nuances and issues that need to be adressed.

  3. Dead on accurate. One rule of thumb I have had with clients when build applications I tell them to start writing down a list of questions they want answered by the data. This helps them understand the questions to
    1. Goals met
    2. Objectives and Metrics being achieved
    3. Was this project successful? or what is a successful project.

    1st cut!

    Then they need to list out the questions for making decisions based on the app being in production and things actually happening to it data input, updates, deletions. Having the questions trickle in is so much easier than scheduling a reporting meeting 1 month before the application or process goes live.

    2nd cut!

    Once in production they should continue this process for ongoing reporting updates and decision making capabilities!

    3rd cut

    Rinse and Repeat

    Great post and here I thought I would read and you would have found the silver bullet! You put a real perspective on learning, adapting, curiosity to the ecosystem of tools that work together to achieve the desired outcome or discover the outcome was way off!

    Thanks Kary!

  4. Kary Delaria says:

    Thanks for your comments, Jeannie, Robin and Keith. Sounds like we’re all on the same page!

    Yes, no one-size fits all. And, I’m not sure there ever will be a silver bullet, Keith. To Robin’s point, I have a decade of experience monitoring traditional print media and there’s not a one-size solution there, either.

    One big difference with social media is the immediacy and the transparency. Within seconds of publication or post of a mention, we can see it and respond to it (or, miss it completely). This can be good for a client, or dangerous.

    Again, it’s all about the strategy.

  5. Totally agree – Excellent points about the “So what” and “who cares” about social media monitoring. In order to provide actionable insights, you must dig deep to get to the so what. It’s not fun and is hard work, but that’s really where the value is. Otherwise, the tools, regardless of which one you use are just pretty graphs.

  6. Have you heard of the roast analogy? Kind of fits with your recipe title. Here is how it goes…a daughter is watching her mother prepare a roast and notices her mom cuts the end off the roast before placing it in the pan. The daughter asks why and the mother responds she learned to do this from her mother, but not sure of the reason. So, the mother calls the grandmother and asks why. The answer? Because the roast never fit into the pan the grandmother used.

    Just because one person uses tools to monitor one way does not mean it is the right way for every organization. The tools and monitoring strategy have to come from a sound social media strategy, goals and measurable objectives. Answer, what is your motivation, to determine what and how to monitor/analyze.

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6
    @VargasL

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    Interesting posts from Minnesota communications bloggers for the week ending 12/06/09. ……

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  9. Maria Ogneva says:

    I agree. It’s all about ROI, which can not be calculated without knowing 1. what your objectives are, 2. what your methods are, and 3. what your investment is. Being able to peg revenues to activities, and integrate these activities into your existing workflow, that’s how you get the R in ROI. Definitely not a one-size-fits-all. And even within the same organization, goals may (and should!) change. At some point, a company is using SM to educate the market, at another point, defend against a competitor, and at another point figure out where the market is going.

    Great and insightful post!

    Maria Ogneva
    Social Media Direcrtor, Biz360
    @themaria @biz360

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