What is Social Media Monitoring? Best Practices and Powerful Tools 
They are talking about your company. Yep, right now, someone is posting about your product, brand, or service on social media platforms. Would you like to know what they are saying? Is it a positive or negative mention? You can get to know it easily. All you need is an excellent social media monitoring tool.
Social media monitoring is a game-changer. Especially since consumers moved from offline to online shopping, putting e-commerce at the forefront of retail.
More and more brands and online businesses focus on honing their online presence across the internet. And this is where social media monitoring comes in. Sound interesting? Let’s dive in!
Here’s the guide to media monitoring:
- What is social media monitoring?
- How does social media monitoring work?
- What can you do with your monitoring data?
- Best practices of social media monitoring
- What are the best social media monitoring tools?
What is social media monitoring (and analytics)?
Social media monitoring is keyword monitoring on social media platforms to search for mentions of predefined keywords. We also call it social listening, as it lets you keep an eye on each social mention containing your brand name.
What keywords are worth tracking? In business, they could be connected to:
- Marketing campaigns
- Anything business-related
Sources of social media mentions depend on which tool you will choose. Brand24 monitors Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Reddit.
That’s not everything. The tool also tracks podcasts, newsletters, platforms and websites, such as news sites, review sites, discussion forums, blogs, and other publicly available sources.
Brand24 is a social media monitoring tool that tracks mentions across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and more!
Furthermore, social media monitoring tools have plenty of analytical features that get you heaps of data and insights about monitored keywords.
Some of them include:
- Metrics of volume
- Metrics of engagement
- Metrics of sentiment
- Metrics of influence
- Metrics of reach and online presence
- + more!
Thanks to analytics you can draw the right conclusions and implement them into your social media strategy.
There are various applications of social media monitoring in business. The great thing about it is that it helps in many areas of business:
- Brand reputation management
- PR crisis management
- Marketing analysis
- Social media analysis
- Market research
- Competitor analysis
Many Brand24 customers use it to find relevant conversations, build strong relations with followers, produce better content, and in general, promote their brand online.
How does social media monitoring work?
The word monitoring can have some negative connotations, but don’t worry – social media tracking is completely legal and compliant with RODO. Some tools, like ours, were reviewed and certified by Facebook so that they, we, meet privacy and security standards.
When it comes to technical aspects, in simple words, social media monitoring tools use something like a Google robot to crawl social media platforms in almost real-time in search of predefined keywords.
To me, there are three main aspects to social listening:
- Setting-up. First of all, it starts with setting up a project. You need to provide the keywords you want to track across social media. There’s often an advanced set-up with required and excluded keywords that can be used to make your query even more specific.
- Collecting. Secondly, the tool collects mentions into a dashboard. There’s usually plenty of filters you can use to clean up, group, mark, delete collected mentions. Apart from the dashboard, you can receive mentions directly to your inbox in various shapes and quantities: daily, weekly, or real-time reports.
- Analyzing. Thirdly, there’s the analytics. It depends on a tool, as different tools analyze different data. Some tools analyze metrics of volume, engagement, reach, sentiment, and influence of social media mentions.
What can you do with your monitoring data?
A lot. It’s a matter of perspective and the way you use the data. Of course, tracking brand mentions is one of the most common reasons social media marketers use social listening tools. But you can do much more with it.
Here are a few things you can do by monitoring different terms:
- Monitoring your brand or company name – Find out where your audience is talking about you and distribute more content and ads there. Learn more about the type of audience that you have. See what your audience is saying about you and manage your reputation.
- Monitoring your product – Measure what the public thinks about your product. See how it’s being used. This will help you find the right angle to promote your product or reposition it on the market if necessary.
- You thought your inflatable pillow would be a hit for campers? Your customers may think it makes a better car travel pillow.
- You thought your brand personality was seen as funny? Your audience may think you’re more ‘sassy’.
- These insights can help you see if you should reposition your product or rebrand your company in your marketing strategies.
- Tracking hashtags – A social media marketing campaign is incomplete without a #hashtag. Monitor your #hashtag to see how often it’s being used and what the conversations are about.
- Investigate similar products – See what people are saying about products similar to yours. Are they better? Are they worse? These are key insights that your R&D team needs to see.
- Find key influencers – There are people who set trends and people who follow them. If you’re not a trendsetter (yet), at least stay up to date by following important industry influencers.
- Analyze competitors – See where they fall short, and this may be something that you can cover with your own company.
- Key execs at your company – It’s likely that your CEO or Public Relations specialist talks about your company… a lot. Monitor what they’re saying and see how people are reacting.
- Manage a social media crisis – You can detect crises early thanks to sentiment analysis, storm alerts, and daily mentions monitoring.
Set up Brand24 and start social listening. Discover what customers say about your products, services, and brand!
Best practices of social media monitoring
Wondering how to squeeze the most out of social media monitoring? It’s quite easy. Here’re my top tips to help you set up a perfect project and value from it.
01 Decide why you’re monitoring
Social media listening is used in many spaces, including customer service, getting customer feedback, and tracking the progress of your hashtag campaigns.
Can you use it for all of the above? Of course – you can use social monitoring data for much more than that! This is just a reminder that it’s a good idea to have a plan (maybe several plans, one for each different use), or you may find yourself getting overwhelmed and confused by all the data.
Trust me, it happens.
So set up a social media monitoring strategy first!
02 Choose a tool that fits both your budget and your needs
There are a lot of social listening tools on the market.
Free tools (like Google Alerts, TweetReach, etc) are options, while inexpensive tools (like Brand24) cost up even $79 / month. Midrange tools can cost around $800 / month while more expensive full-service tools usually come with personal consultants, but typically cost about $1000 / month.
We all like free tools because, well, they’re free. But unfortunately, they also won’t retrieve most results. I monitored the book Oryx and Crake with both a free social media monitoring software as well as paid tool Brand24 (free-to-try).
During a 24-hr period, the free tool retrieved 4 results for Oryx and Crake while Brand24 retrieved 14 results. That’s a 350% difference. A free tool may be enough for some users, but it just won’t cut it for most businesses.
My big advice for you is to sign up for free trials and ask questions if you have any.
Different tools and different levels of service offer different capabilities, so it’s best to shop around. Sign up for free trials (and actually use the tool). Then schedule consultations and ask questions.
The point is to make sure you choose a tool that suits both your budget and your needs.
03 Choose relevant keywords
When it comes to choosing keywords, the usual suspects include your brand or company name, product, and #hashtag. It depends on why you’re monitoring.
To provide customer service, you should monitor all of the above. Your company or brand will not always be tagged in a question or complaint, and you don’t want unhappy customers to feel ignored. Even a quick response to acknowledge their frustration can help, like this:
Monitor the keywords above and your social listening tool will alert you of any conversations and complaints where you’re not tagged.
If you’re monitoring for other reasons, this may require different keywords to retrieve relevant data.
Choose your keywords carefully. Here are some social media keywords you should track.
04 Check for spelling and punctuation
You may be a good speller but that’s not necessarily true for your audience.
Plus, some terms are just plain confusing. Between Tofurkey and Tofurky, are you sure you know which spelling refers to the brand and which one refers to the general meat substitute?
To track all brand mentions, check for spelling and punctuation. Furthermore, include incorrectly spelled keywords as well as the correctly spelled keywords and popular nicknames.
05 Use required keywords
This is especially helpful when you want to find out what people are saying about your company or product with respect to other companies and products.
For example, to retrieve results about conversations that compare Nike versus Reebok, I would create a project that monitored conversations about Nike. Then, I would enter Reebok as a Required keyword. This would retrieve results that discuss both Nike and Reebok.
Use a social media monitoring tool to discover product and brand mentions.
06 Think twice about long-tail keywords
Language is rich in variety. There are many different ways to say the same thing. New words can be used in place of others to communicate the same message.
I’ve just expressed the same thought in 3 different sentences. And I’m only one person. Imagine all the different ways various members of your audience could be talking about you or asking for recommendations:
- Looking for recommendations for good hiking boots
- Need recommendations on good hiking boots
- Where can I find good hiking boots?
- Where can I buy good hiking boots?
- Can you recommend some good hiking boots?
When you use long-tail keywords, it narrows down your results significantly and you could end up excluding results that are also relevant.
Ex. Monitoring ‘Need recommendations on good hiking boots’ will exclude results for ‘Where can I buy good hiking boots’. Unless you monitor both phrases.
07 Clean up your social listening results
This part is important because it will help your social monitoring tool collect more accurate results.
Develop some good ‘cleaning’ habits and practice them consistently to make sure you get the highest quality mentions.
How to do that? The next few steps contain good practices for cleaning up your results.
Take a day or two to observe your results
It’s not enough to select your keywords, enter them in your social media tracking project, and not log in again until a week later. Social listening is an active process, at least in part.
Start any social monitoring project well in advance. Not only does this provide you with historical data, but it also lets you spend the first couple of days observing your results and looking for ways to fine-tune and optimize your project.
See what kind of results your current keywords and settings retrieve. Take a day or two to observe.
Look for irrelevant results
Irrelevant results can take a few forms, especially if the keywords that you’re monitoring aren’t unique.
For example, I set up a project to monitor the brand Dove.
Being the practical robot person that I am, I made a point to log into my project at least once a day for the first couple of days. And it’s a good thing I did!
The first time I logged in after setting up the project, my social media monitoring tool had already retrieved a lot of results on Dove.
Most of them were about the brand Dove. But some of them looked like this:
How can you clean up your results for irrelevant mentions like these?
Use Excluded keywords
I quickly entered Cameron as an Excluded keyword. This ensures that your project doesn’t retrieve results containing Dove if the keyword Cameron also appears in the same result. (Results about Dove Cameron do make this project more fun to look at, but unfortunately, these aren’t relevant results.)
Delete irrelevant results manually
Sometimes it’s just faster and easier to delete irrelevant results manually.
Block domains and mute authors that are giving you irrelevant results
If you notice that a number of your irrelevant results are coming from specific domains or websites, block them!
For instance, in my Dove project, I received results where ‘dove’ was used as a verb and I noticed that they were coming from a domain on sports (“He dove to catch the ball, traveling at lightening speed”).
I blocked the domain and the tool stopped retrieving irrelevant results from that site.
Use Required keywords to clean up your results
Add Required keywords related to your product or #hashtag to clean up your results.
For example, to get more specific results from Dove, Required keywords like moisturizer or any Dove #hashtag campaigns could be added to retrieve more specific results.
08 Explore all the features of the social listening tool
You played around with the tool during your free trial and asked any questions that you had. Now that you’ve chosen the best tool for your business, really take the time to get to know it. Don’t let any feature go to waste.
You could be missing out on meaningful analyses, useful filters, quickly generated PDF reports & important metrics like these:
I strongly encourage you to explore all the features that your social monitoring tool offers. Furthermore, it’s worth checking the latest updates and features. For example, since 2021, Brand24 has presented a new metric called Presence Score:
This metric helps you understand awareness around your brand, competitors, or topics of your interest. It’s a great way to evaluate whether your social media marketing efforts pay off.
09 Prioritize your results
Prioritize your results according to the order of importance, so you know what you need to take care of first.
Brand24 includes features such as Sentiment Analysis, Interactions, and Influencer Score filters which are designed to help you prioritize your results.
10 Create a benchmark to compare your results
Benchmark or compare your latest results against your results from previous campaigns or different time periods. This will give you a better idea of how much you’ve progressed over time.
11 Mark your results, so they’re easy to find
You’re going to be collecting social media monitoring data for a while. Make sure you have a system to mark the important ones.
Create Groups for certain types of results or at least mark them in some way that will make them easy to find when you need them later.
12 Customize your project and set up e-mail notifications
Whether you’re interested in real-time monitoring or monitoring in advance to have historical data on hand, take advantage of any opportunity you have to customize your notifications.
If you can decide when and how often you receive e-mail notifications, set it up. Your inbox will thank you later.
13 Customize your storm alerts
Storm alerts let you know when there’s been a sudden increase in your number of results or a sudden increase in conversations containing your keywords.
Customize your storm alerts to send you notifications when it matters.
If you’re a small company that only gets a few mentions a day, you can create storm alerts to notify you when you’ve suddenly received 12 mentions in a day. (See what’s suddenly got people talking and whether it’s positive or negative.)
If you’re a mid-size or larger business, you can set the limit to 50 mentions a day, 250 mentions a day, or 1,000 mentions a day. Make the number significantly higher than your average number of mentions so you can be alerted to real buzz.
14 Get the complimentary mobile app
Again, not all social media listening tools also offer a mobile version. If yours does, download it so you can retrieve your results on the go – it’s the perfect complement to the desktop version.
15 Collect historical data
Most social media monitoring tools offer limited historical data. If you need historical data, it’s crucial that you start monitoring as soon as possible so you have your own set of historical data to compare with newer results later on.
This requires some patience and diligent social media tracing, but then you’ll have historical data that you can use for comparison with new data to identify causes of spikes, dips, patterns or irregularities in your results.
16 Develop and maintain good monitoring habits
The most important part of social media monitoring is consistency. Consistently check-in. Consistently clean up your results. Consistently respond and react.
Monitoring different social media platforms save you an extensive amount of time (you don’t need to scour the web to retrieve results yourself), but it should be an active process on your end, too.
Otherwise, it would be like buying a pair of eyeglasses, expecting to see better… and then continuously bumping into table corners because you keep your glasses inside your drawer.
What would be the point of that?
What are the best social media monitoring tools?
There are a few social monitoring tools worth checking. You will find them here: The Best Social Media Monitoring Tools.
Most of them offer a free trial period which gives you a couple of days to play with the tool.
The best way to find the right tool is to try to them and choose the one that meets your expectations. The choice depends on your needs. Every tool is a bit different regarding the interface, usability, features, or tracked social platforms.
Price is another important factor. I’m sure you want to pick an affordable tool. Costs of social media monitoring range from just a couple of dollars to thousands monthly.
Set up the Brand24 tool and detect positive and negative sentiment around your brand.
Social media monitoring vs social media management
Hopefully after reading this article you have a deep understanding of what social media monitoring is. Still, many people confuse it with social media management. These are two totally different branches of marketing. While some social media management tools do have a social monitoring feature, these are completely different actions.
I’ve already covered social media monitoring, so let’s quickly talk about managing social media accounts.
A social media management tool is an online app that will help you to organize your social accounts. It usually doesn’t provide much historical data, but sometimes the apps also include an analytics tool that will help you gather audience insights.
First and foremost, social media management tools are used to schedule posts, monitor conversations, provide customer relationship management, and perform simple analytics (engagement, reach, etc.). If you are managing more than one profile across all major social media channels, you’d like to have everything under control in one platform. Unlike social media monitoring tools, the management platform is used to create new social media content and manage existing posts.
Stay tuned for a list of our favorite social media management software soon!
We’ve gone through each of the 16 social media monitoring tips that I’ve compiled for you. I tried to cover different parts of the process.
In my opinion, social listening is something that every social media marketer should try. It’s very helpful to track online conversations about your company, conduct brand sentiment analysis, write engaging social media posts, develop better content marketing, and enrich social media analytics.
Of course, there are much more advantages!
To sum up, let’s take a look at a quick recap:
- Create a general social media monitoring plan before you create a project
- Choose a tool that suits your needs and your budget
- Sign up for a free trial
- Choose your keywords thoughtfully
- Clean up your results
- Take advantage of the features that your tool has to offer
- Check the results consistently
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and that you’ll use these tips to obtain high-quality results from online media monitoring.