What is Brand Monitoring? How to Use Social Media Monitoring Tools to Get Actionable Insights.


When it comes to delivering well-timed, relevant messages as a brand, it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, your industry, and consumers’ minds. And you need to know what’s happening right now.

We all talk about content marketing best practices. But it really starts with understanding the data around the types of topics and information your customers and prospects are looking for and suing to make purchasing decisions and utilize products and services.

Data-driven marketing starts with data, and that’s what this podcast is about. It’s about monitoring the data around what your audience is reading and discussion online, in the news media and on social networks.

Content may be king. But context is queen. And she controls the king’s schedule. So content is not the only thing that matters. Context tells you where, and why people consume content.

Brand monitoring, news media monitoring, social media monitoring, broadcast media monitoring, and online reputation management have evolved into a sophisticated specialty skill capable of correlating news media coverage to website goal conversions. But the insights are only as good as the inputs. Garbage in, garbage out.

Conversations move at a rapid pace online. Brands often have minutes to respond to trending items, news, and customer sentiment, lest they risk tarnishing their brand as tone deaf or out of touch.

I spoke with the industry’s top news and social media monitoring experts about how they track conversations, sentiment, and anticipate demand by analysing the data.

In this podcast, they discuss the major challenges organizations face around news and social media monitoring to inform organizations on how their brands are perceived in the marketplace. 

This panel was recorded in association with the release of the 2020 Media Monitoring Buyer’s Guide, a FREE vendor-neutral report on the most popular media monitoring solutions available and includes: 

  • Discussion of the benefits and challenges
  • Intro guides to the top 10 platforms 
  • The guide include a features comparison charts
  • User ratings on the top platforms

This panel discussion features news, social media and brand monitoring experts featured in the report including:

Our discussion was varied and nuanced, as you’ll hear if you listen to the full podcast episode. If you work in media monitoring, you don’t want to miss this episode!

For this post, I’m going to summarize 6 takeaways that came out of our panel discussion that you can employ when configuring a social media monitoring tool to track online conversations about brand.

It is by no means conclusive and can’t possibly cover in detail what’s in the report. But for the sake of a top-level overview, here they are.

1. Look for a partner, not just a vendor

When choosing a social media monitoring tool and service provider, you should be seeking out a partnership. Pick a vendor with a business model that offers you and your company the support you need to be effective.

That often means doing both social media monitoring and traditional media monitoring together. “Fishing where the fish are,” as they say, in order to get the valuable data and insights from the places where your customers are actually hanging out.

2. Qualify your data

Insights based on bad data are bad. The conclusions you draw are only as good as the keywords you monitor against.

You’ll never be able to draw actionable insights from data that is biased or is simply incorrect. 

Similarly, make sure your social media monitoring tools are getting you the numbers that matter. Insights that are based on data that’s not important to your stakeholders is, at best, not relevant or helpful. 

At worst, it’s a total waste of resources. So package the data in a way that your client can appreciate it.

3. Beware of vanity metrics

Just as we need to make sure the data we are looking at is clean, we also need to make sure we aren’t getting distracted by vanity metrics that may not have anything to do with our business objectives.

Unless you’re ad supported, traffic does not equal revenue. “One million impressions does not mean one million people were impressed.”

4. Use media monitoring to take fast action

Social media monitoring has the amazing ability to accelerate crisis response times from hours to minutes. And that’s good, because if your company can’t respond quickly to changing customer sentiment or world events, your brand is at risk. 

But, while media monitoring provides an early warning signal for crisis communications, knowing how to respond still requires human consideration and experience.

5. Use brand monitoring tools to collect data. But use people to provide context.

AI and social media monitoring tools aren’t going to replace PR and marketing teams any time soon. Which one of the reasons why there's no easy way to automate and remove fake news from the internet.

That’s because no CEO is going to blindly trust a computer to make business decisions during a crisis.

As marketers, we can use artificial intelligence to evaluate how long it took — and what measures were required — to solve a problem in the past. 

But we need to bring a human argument full of charts, graphs and data in order to influence change in a company.

Media monitoring tools can provide great data, but AI struggles to understand and appreciate topics and ideas.

6. Understand there are no crystal balls

Regardless of how robust the social media monitoring tool, machines don’t understand language and still can’t learn it fast enough to insulate you from risk.

Additionally, after the pandemic subsides, will it — and your business — go back to the pre-set norm or do you have a new data set?

What was good yesterday could be bad today because the world is changing. What was neutral yesterday could have a powerful, emotional connection today.

For example, #metoo meant nothing a few years ago. Now there’s a sentiment and movement associated with it.

AI can’t do that analysis. It’s good at relevancy. But the person telling the story and interpreting the data needs to decide what it means for the business.

At the end of the day, we can collect data on just about anything. 

Data driven marketers need to make sure the data we are collecting has context and aligns with the business objectives. 

It’s the difference between evaluating how well a given press release did, and measuring as a whole how well PR contributes to the strategic priorities of the business, whether that be bringing in more business, improving reputation, attracting talent, or another defined goal.

Brand monitoring, coupled with smart analysis, and strategies for how you intend to measure each business goal is how you can get the most out of your social media monitoring tools.

Download the 2020 Media Monitoring Buyer’s Guide, for a complete overview of state of news, social and brand media monitoring platforms available today.

And don’t forget to subscribe to Earned Media Hour, for even more organic marketing tips.

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