What is Social Media Monitoring

Your brand may or may not be mentioned in the endless conversations happening online right now, but that doesn’t make these conversations any less relevant. They’re sharing needs, challenges and all sorts of intel your competitors are capturing and strategizing around. Let’s see what you can learn from this insight – and why it can’t be missed!

Many businesses shy away from using social media analytics because some tools overcomplicate things in an attempt to make their services seem more essential. This makes it all feel mysterious and confusing, so businesses back away. 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.

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

Download The Importance of Social Analytics for Consumer Insights to understand the importance of social media analytics and social media monitoring to brands’ development of complete and actionable consumer insights. 

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 Media 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 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. And automated theme discovery is the latest, greatest AI advancement that your brand needs to explore! But we’ll share more about that another time. Be sure to watch this video when you have a moment in the meantime:

AI Studio's automated theme discovery

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. Only 1 in 26 unhappy customers will complain to you; of the non-complainers, 91% just leave. This makes it all the more important to take care of those who do complain – to provide visibility for the ones who are silently watching. If they see you taking care of the others, they may give you another chance. But you can’t take care of customer complaints unless you know about them.
  1. Overall, Americans tell more people about bad experiences (15 people on average) than about good ones (11 people on average). The problem is, misery loves company. Those 15 people might be happy to share a social post about a bad experience if they’ve endured similar. Any uptick in negative sentiment is definitely cause for concern.
  1. On the other hand, when customer services problems are resolved well, 70% of formerly dissatisfied customers will give brands another chance. This is why the speed and accuracy AI Analytics brings to the table is so crucial.

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 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.

This careful attention is what allows brands like Buffalo Wild Wings to track sentiment around a potentially risky campaign – pumpkin spice flavored wing sauce.

Pumpkin Spice

Using social media monitoring, they tracked the conversation. Resulting sentiment showed them they were on to something – even when some of the initial posts were skeptical.

Getting the Full Picture with Images

Because social media is becoming an increasingly visual medium, your tools also must monitor negative imagery. 100 million+ photos and videos are uploaded daily to Instagram alone! And now consider this statistic: “Posts that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts.”

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?

Of course the nightmare scenario for any brand is reputational damage from a viral post, and 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 become viral in the blink of an eye. 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 the data received is accurate. Some tools tell you there’s been a “breach,” as Lloyd’s Banking Group puts it, and send you into panic mode over nothing.

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.

This was the approach taken by FleishmanHillard when a real-life crisis incited a social crisis. By monitoring the conversation around a shooting in a national restaurant chain, they were able to understand how consumers were talking about the restaurant, if they were blaming the chain for the problem, and more.

Fleishman Hillard handling a crisis thanks to social media monitoring.


Social Media Monitoring isn’t all about gloom and doom. You also want to be alerted to positive swells in sentiment – because these are the users you can put to work as brand advocates and influencers. But don’t stop at mentions of your own brand.

Monitoring the posts of your competition, their audience, and your industry overall, is the best way to spot opportunities your brand can take advantage of – like new trends, consumer problems in need of solving, and more.

Here’s a look at a recent spike on the search “airlines”:

Airlines monitoring

If you’re an airline brand – or even a brand in the travel industry overall – understanding what’s behind this sudden spike in positivity is important.

As we saw with Buffalo Wild Wings, you can use Social Monitoring to stay aware of sentiment around active campaigns, or to turn around operations overall by creating positive emotions out of negative through interaction.

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.

When you uncover data about customer service issues, 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.

Be sure to download The Importance of Social Analytics for Consumer Insights to understand the importance of social media analytics and social media monitoring to brands’ development of complete and actionable consumer insights. 

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. 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 speak multiple languages – including slang and emoji – is critical to this point. So is 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. Brands need social analytics after all, not hot dogs:

hot dog vs not a hot dog as AI comparison


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 Media 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 – like Instagram’s recent API changes. When your tools fall behind, they take you with them. Meanwhile, those who invested in best-in-class tools fly further past you.


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 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!

NetBase Product Line

Premier social media analytics platform

Tailored platform for growing businesses

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

The power of social analytics for your entire team

Customer experience analytics platform

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources

Actionable data to drive your business decisions

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Product configurations to meet all needs

Quid Product Line

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Media coverage for historical & real-time monitoring

AI algorithms, NLP, data sources, and visualization

Tailored, configurable solutions