Shift From Self-Driven To Issue-Driven Social Media Listening

Are you focusing on the wrong things in your monitoring program?

Yesterday, I was impressed to discuss the following assertion from a company we’re hoping to work with, regarding their monitoring program (paraphrased below):

“We don’t just want more reading material; we want something that adds value to what we do.”

This one statement evolved into a valuable conversation on the difference between self-focused monitoring and a more holistic program focused not just on the organization but also on the issues that matter more broadly to the company.

The nature of self-focused monitoring

It seems obvious, but there’s an important distinction here. Many organizations focus on what other people are saying about them without broadening their focus to the things that really matter to them:

  • How many people are talking about us?
  • Are they saying nice things?
  • Where are they talking?
  • What kinds of things are they associating with us?
  • Are our organization’s key messages mentioned?

Benefits of self-focused monitoring

These programs are often used as yardsticks for determining the success of online programs and there’s certainly value in that. Self-driven monitoring can help both from a communications and a broader business perspective, for example:

  • Catch emerging issues related to your company or brands
  • Identify opportunities for product/service improvement (valuable research for product teams)
  • Spotting pent-up demand or frustration early
  • Provide an additional channel for proactive customer customer service
  • Assist with the evaluation of communications programs

Despite these benefits, though, self-driven monitoring only scratches the surface of the potential for monitoring.

Opportunities beyond “self”

Still, there’s so much more to online monitoring than this.┬áMonitoring and listening programs focused purely on a company can miss much of the potential insight for the company.

  • What about emerging industry topics?
  • What about discussion of your competitors?
  • What about monitoring for hot-button media issues?
  • What about looking for what key voices (policy makers, for example) are saying about your industry?
  • What about broader consumer insights related to your market?

There’s a wealth of valuable information being discussed online nowadays; the limits of the potential usefulness are to a great extent only defined by your internal resources (time and people or, if outsourced, budget). With the right program, you can move from reactive, passive evaluation to proactive, real-time insights and actionable take-aways.

The most comprehensive monitoring programs define their sphere of conversation broadly, then dig into specific aspects for actionable insights – research, leads, media opportunities and so on. It is programs such as these, which can constantly evolve to incorporate emerging topics and trends, that realize the full value of the powerful tools out there (Radian6, Sysomos, Alterian SM2, Scout Labs etc) for mining these online conversations.

So, ask yourself: is there room to evolve the way you approach your social media monitoring?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.