Guide to the Best Social Media Monitoring Tools for Brands
Kimberly Surico |
 10/20/22 |
15 min read

The Best Social Media Monitoring Guide for Brands

Customers are online right now sharing needs, wants, challenges and all sorts of insight which your competitors are capturing with a social media monitoring tool. And they’re building new strategies to connect with your potential audience too. Your brand needs to be doing this as well – and we’re going to show you why, and how!

Many businesses shy away from using social media monitoring tools because some providers overcomplicate things, These providers want to make their services seem more essential. This makes it all feel mysterious and confusing, so businesses back away. But this is a mistake, as you can be sure your target consumers are sharing intel that’s relevant to you – right now. Let’s demystify the whole process and offer guidance to get you moving in the right direction!

Next Generation AI Analytics is the gold standard for powering any analytics, but there are numerous “old AI’ offerings out there, muddying the waters.

This can be dangerous when brands are vetting providers pretending to be something they’re not! Our Social Media Analytics Guide was created to break down and define these distinctions so you understand how to use each tool for maximum brand impact and without feeling overwhelmed.

Table of Contents

In this post, we’ll break down the following questions – and feel free to skip ahead to sections that most interest you:

What is Social Media Monitoring?

Social Media Monitoring is often confused with other terms like social media listening or social media intelligence. But it’s different. And each of these monikers has its own place in your social analytics toolbox.

Social Media Intelligence is an overarching term covering a few key areas of social analytics, including social media monitoring and social media listening, with a focus on Competitor Analysis. It represents the sum of the parts (i.e., data) these other tools unlock.

Social Media Listening uncovers consumer insights you can apply to brand strategy. It’s an ongoing task that focuses on getting to know your audience and their emotions, so you have a baseline understanding of the consumers you want your brand to reach. The goal is to learn what consumers care most about, and bring that into your customer experience at every level.

Social media monitoring is also an ongoing endeavor, but with a slightly different focus. If you think of social listening as creating a baseline for what your audience feels, social media monitoring is about maintenance of that baseline.

Next Generation AI-powered Social Analytics 

Because technology has made the world “smaller” and more competitive, Next Gen AI Analytics is now the gold standard for achieving next level speed, accuracy, and control of analytics data. And this is key to capturing big ideas.

Don’t get overly caught up in the terminology though. Think of it this way: If social media monitoring is the instrument panel of your car, telling you how fast you’re going, and whether you need gas or an oil change, Next Gen AI Analytics is the engine – powering everything and ensuring you can rely on what your instrumentation shows.

That’s because it captures everything related to your search parameters including slang, common misspellings, emojis, and even brand logos captured in photos. This level of detail is vital to conduct your research from a comprehensive dataset. After all, if you’re missing a portion of the conversation, it will likely skew your results making them less than ideal to use in your decision making process.

Next generation artificial intelligence uses natural language processing (NLP) to capture and categorize social media posts by grammatical structure. This makes it easy for brands to isolate areas of interest within a conversation for things such as behaviors, people, brands, objects, hashtags, etc. It can also profile the users themselves for demographics, psychographics (beliefs, interests), geodata, and much more.

Sample Tweet with analysis

You need this level of precision because you’re looking for anomalies – anything that stands out from the norm. These anomalies span the emotional spectrum from positive to negative – and both extremes require awareness and attention. This is why social media monitoring is done in real-time.

Negative Sentiment Gets Lots of Attention

Let’s look at the negative side of the equation first, since social negativity is so damaging when it goes viral. There are three crucial things you’re looking for in your social media monitoring:

When consumers chat about your brand in a negative way on social media, they’re likely not the only customers who feel that way. Here are some eye-opening statistics to keep in mind:

  1. 50% of customers will do an about-face and shop with a competitor after a bad customer experience. While you can’t please all the people all the time, an effective social media monitoring regimen will show you the common pain points consumers have with your brand. You can use this insight to revitalize your messaging and customer experience strategy to address these issues head on.
  2. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 75% of US customers say they’ve tried new shopping behaviors for both economic reasons and shifts in personal priorities. Consumers are quick to adapt to changing circumstances so if your brand isn’t meeting a need, they’ll find one of your competitors that can. In addition to ever-changing trends, pandemic disruptions continue to transform consumer behavior. As such, social media monitoring is indispensable in staying ahead of the curve.
  3. Social media monitoring tools are your first line of defense in a PR crisis. PwC’s Global Crisis Survey discovered that 95% of business leaders feel underprepared for an emergency. A crisis can emerge in the wee hours of the night when you least expect it. Without a swift and agreeable resolution, negative sentiment towards your brand can snowball out of control in just a few hours. Setting alerts in your social media monitoring software around your brand health metrics is your best defense against an unforeseen catastrophe. That way you can get messaging out quickly and quell the flames before it’s too late.

Social Media Monitoring Alerts You to Crises Before They Spiral

The beauty of social media monitoring tools – the best ones, at least – is you can set up these alerts so you know when there’s a spike in sentiment indicating a topic or post you shouldn’t ignore. That way you can address issues quickly and stop angry posts from going viral. Or at least not get blindsided by them when they do!

These alerts use keywords you choose, as well as a metric called passion intensity – that lets you know the strength of emotions in social posts. When passion intensity spikes, it’s time to investigate why. You can also add subscribers to your alerts so your entire team is informed at a moment’s notice.

configuring-alerts

In his NetBase Quid® Live 2021 presentation, Becoming a Strategic Influencer in your Organization, Evan Escobedo, Global Lead for Listening, Analytics, and Insight at Western Union spoke about their robust social media monitoring strategy. In addition to ad hoc market research and competitive intelligence, Western Union uses social monitoring tools for monthly reporting, real-time monitoring, community management/resolution, and sentiment analysis.

This type of in-depth social media monitoring is sure to foster familiarity with your brand health metrics and the ability to spot anomalies. Defining alerts around your metrics such as net sentiment and passion intensity adds that extra layer of security and compensates for human error. Crises come in the blink of an eye and the earlier you catch it, the better.

Getting the Full Picture with Images

Aside from social media sites like Reddit and Tumblr, social media is otherwise devoted to photos and video. When your brand logo makes appearances in these posts it’s part of your brand conversation. That’s because they contribute to potential impressions and play a role in how people see your brand.

As such, it’s critical that you are able to pull these “mentions” into your brand conversation to determine how these posts contribute to perception. And this includes photos of your logo without a brand mention in the text field or backwards and altered logos. Your tools should capture all of it.

Given that, imagine the damage your brand could suffer if someone misappropriates your logo. Or how much visibility complaints with images could garner. So, your social monitoring software must include Image Analytics or you’re letting a huge chunk of content slip beneath your radar. Sadly, not all social media analytics tools offer this feature.

How Does Social Media Monitoring Work?

Social media monitoring allows you to establish benchmarks around the things that matter to your brand that you want to track over time. These are commonly centered around brand health, customer service initiatives, campaign tracking, product reception, etc. However, brands are free to monitor any measurable attribute found within their social listening tools to see whether their initiatives are successful or not.

Of course, the nightmare scenario for any brand is reputational damage from a viral post, and safeguarding against it is one of the many ways social media monitoring works for brands. This is why it’s so important to be alerted to and take care of anything brewing in the moment. Because anything left unresolved – or just unrecognized – can pick up social steam and create a PR crisis. And that’s to say nothing of blatant attempts to do brands harm by any number of attackers.

Are there cases when you shouldn’t take action? Absolutely. Sometimes responding only fans the flames and does more harm than good. It can draw more attention to something that would’ve just gone away on its own. The most important thing is awareness – and knowing your text analytics tools are accurate.

When your data is reliable, knowing about negative or potentially damaging posts means you can make smart decisions, and act – quickly – when it’s appropriate. Erring on the side of caution, by handling problems when they’re small, is always best.

In addition to crisis management, your social media monitoring tools can function in a predictive capacity as well to help spot disruptions from competitors. That’s because everything you’re tracking on your own brand can be done in a competitive intelligence capacity as well.

Cam Mackey, CEO at SCIP, touched on this subject during his presentation, Looking into the Crystal Ball: Takeaways from an Innovative Prediction Market Study, and pointed out disruptions that are already occurring. He calls it the ‘burning platform’ where incumbents in industries with large capital investment barriers are being threatened and unseated by unorthodox players.

Examples he gave include:

  • Tesla’s market cap is now larger than Toyota, VW, Daimler, GM, Ford, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, and Hyundai combined.
  • Amazon Logistics now ships more packages in the US than FedEx
  • Over 50% of mattresses and 30% of eyeglasses are sold online to consumers eschewing traditional retailers.

Mackey goes on to say that there’s a 77% likelihood that this type of non-traditional disruption will be the greatest risk posed to businesses going forward. That’s a factor that could spell the potential downfall for brands that aren’t taking the ‘little guys’ into account going forward. Savvy brands can set their social media monitoring sights at category innovations and up-and-coming start-ups with disruptive power to safeguard their competitive advantage.

NetBase-Quid-LIVE-SCIP-presentationo

What About Positive Sentiment?

Social media monitoring isn’t all about gloom and doom. You also want to be alerted to positive swells in sentiment – because anything surrounding your brand garnering positive sentiment can be looked at as a rung on the ladder leading upwards.

As we just touched on, you can monitor sentiment in competitor’s social conversations to uncover what their consumers love about their products and services. This is strategic intel that can be put to work in your marketing and R&D departments. It’s how you leverage what’s already working and make it better.

Additionally, you’ll want to monitor the positive side of emerging trends to understand who the audience is who views it favorably. This is extremely helpful in finding how much of your audience is talking in these conversations to justify whether or not to align your brand with a particular trend or not.

Brand Health Management

Brand health is a big reason social media monitoring should be part of your daily operations – but it’s hardly the only one. Social analytics uncovered through social monitoring are also not limited to the marketing department. Your monitoring tools will allow you to keep tabs on trending conversations within your brand narrative. These can all be explored to monitor movement over time so you’ll know whether interests is waxing or waning.

This ability allows you to grow your brand in the areas of positive sentiment while addressing the concerns found in others. For example, here’s a one-month snapshot in Quid Social of L’Oréal’s social conversation showing the top ten topic clusters colored by sentiment. Tracking this analysis over time will show you where to apply messaging and product innovation, helping to galvanize your brand health.

L’Oréal-one-month-social-snapshot-of-top-brand-conversations-with-sentiment

L’Oréal one-month social snapshot of top brand conversations with sentiment. 12/16/21-1/16/22

Additionally, when you uncover data about customer service issues while tracking conversational movement, it’s not just about putting out that fire. It lets you identify if there’s a specific area where you’re not making par in your category, or where you’re not living up to the expectations consumers have of your brand or products. It’s also how you know you’re doing better than expected, or better than competitors, and why.

Imagine the money you can save by following the product launch of a competitor, and discovering consumers hate it? If you had a similar idea, you can avoid that loss – or offer a better version and claim that audience for yourself.

Identifying new influencers and monitoring the activity of current ones is another area where Social Monitoring comes in handy. Those positive sentiment spikes may lead you to a social celebrity worth putting to work for your brand. It also helps you see how influencers you already use are succeeding – by alerting you to content that is particularly engaging, for example.

Social monitoring benefits all areas of brand operations from customer service, to marketing, to sales, to research and development. So when you spend on social monitoring tools, you’re making an investment that brings far-reaching returns.

How Do I Choose a Social Media Monitoring Tool?

A question often asked – especially by smaller brands – is whether you really need to pay for social media monitoring tools. After all, there are a lot of free tools out there. That’s true – and when you’re just getting started, they’re better than nothing. But you have to remember, you get what you pay for.

First, let’s share some top social media monitoring tools to inform your efforts – and then we’ll share criteria for selecting one! Here are our picks

1.     NetBase Quid® offers social media monitoring tools for every use case, from tracking and measuring followers, to shifting consumer demographics and trends. It tracks shifting sentiments over time and has everything your team needs to set your company up for success.

Powered by next generation AI, its natural language processing (NLP) capabilities capture the chatter online and dissects it to reveal what your customers really care about. Assumptions are dangerous, after all. And it also captures the context behind words, offering an accurate, in-depth understanding of both consumer needs and market shifts – and all in real-time

2.     Rival IQ tracks every conceivable competitive measurement here, including followers and engagements. And one of the biggest highlights here is its best-in-class competitor analysis.

The adage guiding readers to “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” is certainly applicable to business. With Rival IQ’s social media monitoring tools, you can set alerts to notify you of any move your competitors make. This tool has a valuable set of audience growth metrics, locating which social channels are seeing the most follower growth, so you can plan accordingly and aren’t caught off guard by a competitor snagging your market share.

And it gets even more detailed, offering you a look at the average activity of your competitors. You’ll get intel on post frequency, emojis used in their bios and even hashtags being utilized to drive significant traffic.

But it’s not merely about watching your competitions’ steps, as Rival IQ offers competitive benchmarking to see how your brand measures up in the industry – how it stands alone. And you can identify phrases, hashtags and topics that drive conversation within your category to see where your brand can start interacting with those conversations.

rival-iq

3.     Reputation helps companies track what consumers are saying about them, not just on social media but on review sites as well. With their tool, you can track, manage, and respond to reviews from all over the web in one place. Or take advantage of their review booster and get access to custom response templates to use for automatic responses to reviews. This saves you valuable time that can be better directed in other areas – like social media monitoring.

4.     Monday helps brands map out social media posts and collaborate with their entire team, ensuring that you’re all in the same pond and swimming in the same direction. Their social media planner template offers ideas for posts, so a brand could alternate between quotes, questions, resharing funny memes in your industry, or current world events, for example. The template keeps you on track and prevents your social media page from becoming too repetitive. Once you have everything planned out, you can schedule your posts to be published right away or on a future date.

5.     Storyclash offers an AI-powered search engine that allows brands to track keywords, hashtags, account names and swipe up links in every part of influencer content. And because of their text recognition, the text in your brand logo can be tracked. This way, you can capture and measure all mentions of your brand. This is particularly helpful when running an influencer campaign. And with Storyclash’s social media monitoring tool, you can keep track of KPIs, making better data-driven decisions. And it monitors TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

6.     Loomly’s social media monitoring tools help brands create and maintain a consistent brand voice across multiple social channels. With their platform, you have multiple tools and collaborative views at your disposal, keeping all team members on the same page, at all times. It also offers ad mockups and commenting, version logs and approval flow so everyone is speaking the same language. And there’s a database of ideas to pull from as well.

7.     Upfluence locates possible influencers for your company and then allows you to track them, measure their performance, and see if they are the right fit for you. Not every influencer is going to reach the demographic you need, nor want. And in fact, you may have followers already that are influencers in their own right. Upfluence locates these micro influencers for you

At a certain level, making do with free or subpar tools is like trying to hit a homerun for the Red Sox using a child’s toy bat. It simply won’t get the job done. But we understand that it’s overwhelming to sift through the numerous solutions out there. So, here’s what matters:

Accuracy and Speed:

Social data is useless if it’s inaccurate. The ability to parse multiple languages – including slang and emojis – is critical to this point. So is the ability to analyze the sentiment behind posts and images. And it all has to happen in real-time. Today, that means AI analytics driving your social data engine – because you don’t have time to waste on inaccurate results, or data that takes too long to come through.

How do you know if your tools are accurate? Transparency. What that means is you have the ability to climb into the posts behind the pretty charts and graphs. This is critical anyway for getting to the bottom of the questions your brand needs answered. If your tool says your net sentiment is 95% and you can’t click into the posts that compose this number then you need to look elsewhere.

Social media monitoring is built on natural language processing (NLP) which is the AI’s way of parsing text the way a human would. If you climb into these posts and things look fishy, then that’s a huge red flag. You are the ultimate judge on the trustworthiness of your tools, but they have to let you under the hood to watch the engine run.

Take a walk around your tools and kick the tires. Run a social media image search on your brand logo. Will it give you this? Because

 

AI-image-recognition

Integration:

Social media monitoring, as we stated at the beginning of this post, is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s the ongoing effort to track your established baseline. It only works well when combined with other modalities, like social listening.

Additionally, you may want the ease of engaging back through social scheduling software or combining CRM and other data. You want a social monitoring tool that can interface with the tools you already use.

No 3rd Party Add-ons: They might seem cool, but they won’t be under the control of your vendor. It’s better to go with a vendor dedicated to innovating on their own. Otherwise, you may fall in love with a feature that suddenly goes away.

Commitment to Innovation:

This might not seem like a big deal – aren’t all tools ultimately comparable at a certain level? Not quite. Tool providers that don’t update their offerings regularly may fall behind when big changes happen suddenly – and it’s not like social platforms are going out of their way to let you know they just changed their algorithms. When your tools fall behind, they take you with them. Meanwhile, those who invested in best-in-class tools fly further past you.

Industry/Peer-Recognized:

The one thing the internet offers is transparency. If you’re unsure of a tool’s merit, the reviews will surely reveal all you need to know. Just as consumers rely on Consumer Reports when purchasing things like cars and appliances, there are places to look when you want reliable information about social media analytics tools. TrustRadius, Forrester and G2 Crowd are just a few where you can compare top solutions. We’ve been listed at all three and more.

How Can I Learn More?

When AI-driven social media monitoring is used with other social analytics components your brand thrives. The rest of our Social Analytics Guide discusses each of these components in-depth, but we also have several other posts illustrating how to use varying facets of our tools smartly, along with success stories from global brands that use NetBase Quid® to stay on top every day.

And be sure to check out our other Social Media Analytics Guide sections, which includes:

  1. What is Social Media Analytics and Why Is it Important?  
  2. What Is Social Media Monitoring?
  3. What Is Social Campaign Analysis?
  4. What Is Social Sentiment Analysis?
  5. What Is Social Listening & Why Is It Important?
  6. What Is Image Analytics?
  7. What Is Audience Analysis?

Each section explains and explores the many types of Social Media Analytics Tools available, and how to use them to achieve specific brand goals and maintain optimum brand health!

 And if you want even more tailored information, reach out for a one-on-one, customized demo of our suite of products!

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