According to Top Ten Reviews, the social media monitoring trends, as of 2014, are as follows:
1. Monitor & listen – Which tools are best able to monitor and listen to a range of social media networks?
2. Features – Which tools have the best and most comprehensive features so that you can get the most out of the product?
3. Sentiment accuracy – Which tools are the most accurate at measuring user sentiment?
4. Ease of use & setup – Which tools are the easiest to use and set up?
5. Help & support – Which tools provide the best and most support in helping you to use their product to your advantage?
There are so many tools out there that the selection process can be a bit overwhelming. The best way to narrow these choices down is to ask yourself what your brand aims to monitor and measure and what’s it worth to you? In the case of a small-town, start-up nonprofit organization, unfortunately cost becomes the first factor in the decision making process. Based on what Top Ten Reviews has used as its criteria for the best monitoring tools, you won’t necessarily find what the best no- or low-cost options are there. Instead, check out what Brandwatch, a top paid social media analytics tool, has to say about the best free tools out there now. For the purposes of a rural community group with no money (or demonstrated need) to devote to a sophisticated social media analytics tool, I would recommend using Hootsuite. With this tool, you are able to monitor multiple social media platforms in one place, in addition to directly engaging with your online community. Some other free tools to consider are Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. If you already know how to use Facebook and Google, then using their tools dedicated to measuring your specific page data on their own platforms should be a relatively easy task.
Now that we have determined some free and easy-to-use preliminary tools to get started with social media monitoring, now we have to identify that which we are trying to monitor and measure. Again, for the purposes of a small nonprofit organization that’s just beginning, the strategy is not too complex: find (and retain) members. Therefore, the M&M process will be fairly simple to start based on this key objective. We can use the above-mentioned tools to see how many people are signing up via social media and what their initial thoughts are. Then, it is up to the Community Manager to make direct contact with each-and-every-one of these individuals to get them engaged and start building a real online community presence in order to ultimately establish a strong real-world community that will make a difference.
Answers to questions on p. 312 of Social Media Marketing – A Strategic Approach:
1. Challenges: “Establishing consistent collection methodologies…to deliver relevant findings…[and] organize mass amounts of data”.
2. Goal: “[To] make better decisions regarding the direction of external communication activities.”
3. Overcome: By narrowing fields and standardizing definitions (all to better organize data)
4. Results (SAS is now able to):
- Monitor mentions and generate reports
- Demonstrate a link between web analytics and media presence
- Improve strategies and recognize success
- Set benchmarks against which future programs could be judged