Using Social Media to Monitor, Measure and Learn

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A little while ago, I ran a free webinar for the folks at BrightTALK on using the social web to monitor, measure and learn. This post is an excerpt from that talk, however if you want to catch it in full, I’ve popped it below for your viewing pleasure. If not, read on …

Clients come to me every day looking to develop effective digital strategies. Most, want to bypass the most important part of this process. The listening. 

[Tweet “Being social is a two-way conversation – you can’t have it without listening.”]

There is so much data available to us online, and once we pull it together and filter it, that data can inform so many of our business decisions. We’ve never had so much access to information; we’re in a position to really understand what our audiences are doing, what our competitors are doing, and how WE are performing. But for some reason, so many are still ignoring this goldmine.

I know what you’re thinking; to make the most of social media you need lots of time, lots of expertise, lots of money…

But you’re wrong. There are so many ways that YOU can use online listening, no matter your circumstances.

  • You can use it to find your audience, to see where they are and what platforms they’re using.
  • You can use it to understand your audience’s needs, wants and desires.
  • You can see what they like, what they share, what they engage with.
  • You can use it to develop relevant social media strategies.
  • You can use it to craft your content, knowing that it will resonate with your audience.
  • You can measure your own online efforts to see how you’re doing and if you’re meeting your goals.

I have developed my digital approach from six key listening drivers.These are my core reasons to absorb online data and funnel it back into your business:

Strategy Development

Research should guide everything you develop. Use social media to understand what you’re doing well, what you’re failing at, what your  pain points are and what needs fixing.

You can also listen to your competitors and ask the same questions.

More importantly, you can also listen to your customers and really understand how they want to be engaged with, what they love and react well to, and where they want to spend their time (digitally speaking).

All of this shows us what people are saying, and where they are saying it. It shows us what content resonates with different audiences. This knowledge is fantastic for driving creative development. It helps us work out a content strategy that really hits the mark.

All of this helps us make sure we’re serving our audience in the best possible way.

Creative Inspiration

Back in the day, when developing a shiny new product, we would gather a group of ideal customers in a room and talk to them about their views, their ideas for improvement and their “perfect” future products. Now, you can do that on social media.

Digital platforms give us a chance to listen to those conversations, and plug that information into your own product (or service) development cycles.

We can also monitor campaigns from some of our favourite companies, to see what does well. We can learn what breeds engagement, and use that to improve our approach.

Market Research

Monitoring your competitors, and really understanding what works well, is key to any business. We can observe our competitors in their communities, and really dig deep.
For example, rather than simply looking at a competitor’s Facebook page, we can search for the interests of people who “like” a brand’s page on Facebook using their search graph.

A free tool that is GREAT for market research is Riffle. Basically, it gives you an overview of your and other people’s Twitter profiles, providing you with interesting engagement stats, that can really help with competitor analysis.

Influencer Identification

Influence and engagement is a key activity for online PR and social media. Using monitoring tools allows us to find out who the biggest influencers are in your areas of interest.

So, for example, say you’ve come across a big influencer in your field – you can start following them on Twitter, Instagram, wherever they are, engage with them and grow a relationship.

Customer Service

Social media gives us real-time opportunity to sort out our customers’ issues in full view of potential customers. This can seem like a scary prospect, but think of it this way – these people will complain regardless, so you might as well turn it into a marketing opportunity.

People tend to respond positively if you resolve issues swiftly and politely, and you’ll have a happy customer at the end of it.

Twitter is the queen of customer service, with lots of brands having Twitter streams dedicated entirely to dealing with problems.


With social media and digital we have the opportunity to measure our output like never before. I know it can seem overwhelming – there’s so much data out there – but actually, it’s pretty easy.

It’s really helpful for us to understand exactly how our campaigns and pieces of digital content are performing. By taking on board this information and using it to refine our business practices, we can be sure that we’re providing services that really fill a need for our audience

The Tools

Of course, we can’t do anything without the right tools. I wrote a post that gave a few of the tools we use for monitoring and measurement here.

I hope I’ve inspired you to start looking at online data in new ways, and to stop looking at social platforms as simply a way to broadcast your own message.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to start listening?

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