This week I completed my first podcast. It was quite exciting actually. I learned to use Audacity, which is a great tool for recording and audio- and it’s free! I thought it was a lot easier to use than Garage Band. Anyways, my podcast covered the topic of measuring social media. In this post I will share some of things that I learned while researching this topic for my podcast.
“Why should I care about measuring social media?”
Simply, if you participate in social media of any kind whether it be on a personal level, or professional level you are a brand. Whether your brand is your company, agency, product or you yourself- whether you like it or not, or accept it or not, that brand has a reputation in the eyes of others in your social media networks. Of course reputation is important; it can make or break a business. Measuring social media is an effective way to monitor your reputation by listening to what is being said about your brand by Web users.
“So what’s the bottom line here…?”
Social media has changed the way that organizations communicate because networks of on-line users are now free to engage in two-way communication and interact with the content that they are presented with. For those of us in PR, it’s easy to get carried away with excitement about these new opportunities- but first we must be aware of the bottom line: It has to be measureable. It has to be measurable. It has to be measurable.
I just read Katie Paine’s report titled “Measuring the ROI of social media.” Katie is the CEO KDPaine & Partners, which is a Web-based measurement firm. In her report she wrote the following about what you need to effectively measure social media:
You need real humans, members of your audience, listening. You need people who can integrate the various monitoring and research tools, do the correlations, draw conclusions and make recommendations.
I like this quote because it’s accurate in describing the complex nature of measuring social media. It is a multi-tiered process of monitoring, analyzing, tracking, and engaging. Traditional marketing or PR folks who try to measure the effectiveness of a social media strategy by simply tracking “hits” on a website, are missing the MAIN point of social media: SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABOUT LISTENING.
“How can you measure social media by ACTIVELY listening?”
Well, some fantastic people have developed some great Web-based tools that can help you take the first step, by monitoring on-line buzz about your brand. These Web-based social media monitoring tools, sometimes known as on-line reputation monitoring tools, allow you to plug in keywords and these sites will monitor on-line buzz about these keywords and relay that information back to you.
“What tools are you talking about and where can I find them?”
There are many social media monitoring tools on the Web. Here are three that I think are pretty neat and easy to use:
1. Google Alerts: When I think of monitoring on-line buzz this is the site I think of. It’s free. It’s easy. You type in keywords and Google Alerts will email you either daily, weekly, or as it happens with recent web and news alerts that feature the keywords that you input. The alert also provides you with the link to the article, or Web page. The Web address is http://www.google.com/alerts.
2. Scoutlab: I have read several blogs and reviews about this tool recently and everything that I have read has been positive. The tool provides users with qualitative data about your keywords, rather than simply quantitative data. The site filters the on-line buzz about your keywords into categories negative, positive, neutral, which I think is pretty cool.You can try the service free for 30 days by visiting www.scoutlabs.com/tour but after that you’re going to pay about $250/month for it.
3. Radian6: This is a Web dashboard feature that tracks and monitors social media. This site track blogs, social networking Web sites, photo and video sharing sites, forums, mainstream media, and microblogging sites. I also like the fact that this site allows users to draft and export reports, spreadsheets about tracked findings, which is a helpful way to share information with co-workers and management. Radian6 can be found on the Web at www.radian6.com.
“Sweet so these tools measure social media for me?”
No! These Web-based monitoring sites are simply tools that help you measure social media. Remember, measuring social media is a multi-tiered process of monitoring, analyzing, tracking, and engaging. These sites don’t do the work for you because it takes work on behalf of real humans to engage with and measure social media. Just remember the magic word when it comes to social media: LISTEN.
Do you have a favorite Web-based social media monitoring site that I did not mention in this blog? Leave a comment! This topic of measuring social media is complex and I would very much appreciate your thoughts!