Social brand monitoring – Six considerations for DIY

Dec 3, 2012 | Communications & media, Corporate culture, Digital marketing, Social Media

Consumers calling into the social wilderness increasingly expect the brands that they interact with to answer back. More and more, our brand tracking uncovers evidence of growing frustration and a new kind of social consumer expectation.

Increasingly, tweets ask if major furniture retailers are listening, blog posts question the relevance of finance companies that don’t respond to negative blog posts and Facebook groups whose 7000+ members have one thing in common – a poor customer experience at the hands of a leading Australian telco.

Its no surprise then that brands are beginning to look at various methods of social media monitoring to pick up on brand references as they appear across the social landscape.

With this in mind it is worth remembering the following points:

Not all social media monitoring tools are equal – All social media monitoring tools have their specialities and their particular idiosyncrasies. Across the range of mix of free and paid tools, some offer better blog coverage, others have broader news coverage whilst others are attached to vast data farms and allow for greater historic searching than networks like Twitter offer via their own search facilities. Some offer convenience by creating an aggregation platform of the native search tools of the various networks. Some crawl the web broadly like search engines and store what they find.

Others are dependent upon primary directories such as Technorati. Many tools are very Euro or US-centric which can be an issue for Australian brands. It is important to understand the strengths and shortcomings of the social media solutions that you select. Tools with blind spots can create a false sense of security.

Nothing is truly “free” – Even if the tools are free, the spongy organic matter that interprets it generally isn’t. You will need staff to monitor and respond to the brand references that you find. Bear in mind that tracking takes time – especially if its not a core activity and if you are using manual tools. Be sure to factor in enough resourcing to support your monitoring and subsequent outreach efforts.

Machines don’t get emotion (yet) – Be cautious of relying too heavily upon automated sentiment tracking. Australians – particularly angry or dissatisfied ones – love sarcasm. Machines generally don’t. Machines classify dominant emotion on the basis of keyword combinations. Most times this works – but consider posts like this…”I just love being screwed by my (utility) company”, “I enjoy nothing better than spending my Saturday night on hold to my ISP helpdesk”, or “Another example of the high esteem with which my telco views me”. Positive words – not so positive sentiments. Often it’s contextual and needs a human eye to tell the difference.

The things you find can’t always wait – This is not a long game – be responsive. If you think that social media monitoring is historical (like getting the day’s press clippings) just ask Dominos Pizza. Disgruntled customers can generate enormous momentum and issues can escalate quickly – especially when their calls for attention/action go unheeded. Be prepared to check your tracking frequently and act if you need to. Predetermine contact points at each of the relevant internal areas – legal, PR/Comms, Marketing, even Executive if warranted – who understand the need for swift response. Issues left hanging might return the favour.

Give your monitoring the resources it deserves – Staff your monitoring like a good customer support desk. It is not the domain of the office junior. If you are going to seriously listen and respond to to the views of your customers, make sure you assign the task to someone with sufficient experience and maturity to take the task seriously and to understand that their actions and responses speak on behalf of your brand. Note that this is about maturity – not age. As Nestle recently discovered, moderating a brand’s Facebook brand page in the same way as some might manage their personal account reflects badly on the brand. While its important for brands to have a personal voice, that voice will reflect the real level of respect and importance with which your brand holds its customer relationships.

Consider your responses in advance – If you have come to this point then you understand the need to listen to your customers and to hear what they think about your brand. You’re probably wondering what happens if the news isn’t good? It’s worth beginning to consider now how you would respond to negative comments or, more importantly the process required to intervene to solve a customer’s problem. It will give you comfort to map the process in advance rather than have to create the process and solve the problem on the fly.

Remember that social media doesn’t rely upon your participation to exist – conversations about your brand are happening around you whether you are listening or not. Listening can be confronting – it takes courage. Good luck.