Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monitoring The Online Conversation – A Simple Approach


Communication more than two-way

Businesses are communicating with consumers on social media platforms to a greater degree than ever before. Marketers say that traditional one way communication has moved to a two-way conversation. In reality, consumers are talking to each other more than back to a manufacturer. They are freely discussing how much they like or dislike a company’s product, and these discussions can run far afield of what a manufacturer might think is relevant. New insights can be uncovered in the course of these conversations Smart companies will, therefore, want to monitor what is being said about their brand(s).

Most businesses are familiar with the most simple approaches to monitoring – e.g., typing the brand or company name into Google to see what results the search brings. While this is an easy approach, it is highly inexact and a better approach is to use one of the free online tools that consolidates all comments and news and can put some statistics around the findings.

Monitoring – the Easy approach

There are several free, easy-to-use monitoring tools. One I particularly like is called Social Mention (www.socialmention.com), a free service that allows you to type in any subject name or web URL, and it will quickly reveal the latest communication from anywhere on the web. Most hits come from Twitter, Facebook and Google mentions, but all blog posts and comments are included as well. Another great part of Social Mention is that it has a diagnostic tool which allows you to see the relative strength of the brand’s online presence, ratio of positive to negative comments as well as the relative strength of the online presence of the brand.

Let’s use, for example, Carhartt – a manufacturer and retailer of rugged work clothing. Pull up Social Mentions for Carhartt to see the latest communications from people all over the internet. Read a page or two into this report and you might be surprised to see that not only do consumers like Carhartt for their rugged quality work clothing, but there is also an emerging secondary market for younger consumers who like Carhartt for its fashion statement.

There are some very high end monitoring tools in the market as well for more sophisticated tracking. For a comparison on the high end paid models, go to Socialmedia Biz. This article lists monitoring tools that are subscription-based and can have high monthly fees. Their diagnostic tools are designed for experts, agencies and social media executives.

The point is to continuously measure and listen to what people are saying about the brand. The conversation is out there, and consumers are trying to tell the social world about what they like and dislike about what you might be doing, giving positive or negative comments, and maybe even suggesting new trends and uses for your brand.

So what are your favorite approaches to monitoring the online conversation.  What have you found helpful and easy to use?

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