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Social Media Analytics is a business tool in the midst of evolution – growing and deepening as technology offers greater capabilities for unearthing more complex data. From its humble beginnings to the present, terms that were once interchangeable now have their own unique definitions and purposes. Explaining these distinctions is what our series on Social Media Analytics is all about.

This is Part 2 of our Complete Analytics Guide series. This series will form a comprehensive Social Media Analytics Guide, with in-depth discussions about the following facets in the coming weeks:

  1. What is Social Media Analytics  
  2. What is Social Media Monitoring? <Currently Viewing
  3. How to Analyze Social Media Analytics
  4. Competitor Analysis & Executive Reporting
  5. Customer Retention & Community Management
  6. Crisis Management & Response

Each section will explore how to use Social Media Analytics tools to achieve specific brand goals and maintain optimum brand health.

A rose by any other name

Social Media Monitoring is often confused with other terms like Social Media Listening or Social Media Intelligence, but actually 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.

Social Media Listening is an area we’ll explore more fully in an upcoming post, but is more focused on uncovering consumer insights to apply to brand strategy.

Social Media Monitoring is all about keeping an eye on the social landscape to be sure everything is copacetic in regard to your brand. Think of a lifeguard scanning the beach for swimmers in distress, or – even worse – sharks. The occasional dolphin might be spotted too, but that should never distract from being attuned to potential danger.

What you’re looking for

If we continue with the lifeguard analogy, it’s important to know the difference between a metaphorical dolphin and a shark – otherwise you’ll either cause unnecessary panic, or not have enough time to react when there’s really a threat.


Image credit: Yukiko123

This is where the advancement of social media monitoring tools really shows its worth – especially when those tools tie in other collected data to give you a fully dimensional picture of your brand online.

What you want to identify – in their earliest possible stages – are:

Negative conversations

If consumers are chatting about your brand in a negative way on social media, you need to know what they’re saying – and why.

According to BLASTmedia, only 5% of unhappy shoppers will make a complaint of which the brand is aware. This makes it that much more crucial to respond to those complaints – because you’re showing the other 95% you care about your customers, which might make them willing to give you a second chance.

Furthermore, “47% of the people who complain on social media expect a reply from the business, and 40% of those people expect it to be within an hour.”

This drives home the importance of monitoring happening in real-time. If your customer service manager is looking at a weekly or monthly report of social complaints, you’re days or weeks too late to meet consumers’ expectations for caring service.

Brands need real-time alerts of negative conversations on social, and a team whose job includes handling social customer satisfaction issues just as quickly.

You also need social analytics software that analyzes sentiment, and speaks sarcasm, slang and emoji – or you won’t be able to properly categorize conversations:


This person doesn’t really hate Apple.

Negative imagery

Some social users take a more creative approach to voicing their displeasure with a brand. Logo misappropriation is a real concern since “colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%,” according to HubSpot.

This means complaints in the form of images are that much more visible – and can do that much more damage – than posts consisting of text.

Your social monitoring software must be able to monitor visual content – for misuse of brand logos, as one example – or you’re letting a huge chunk of content slip beneath your radar. If Inc’s prediction is correct, “84 percent of communications will be visual by 2018.”

Reputational threats

Alerts are most paramount to protect your brand from reputational threats, and both examples noted above count – because anything left unresolved 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 brand harm by any number of attackers.

One global brand awoke to find themselves the center of a news cycle thanks to a viral video asking viewers to boycott the brand’s products. Using NetBase they were able to quickly understand where the video was being engaged with most, what segment of users was most invested, and which key products were at risk.

Because they acted quickly, and had the means to analyze what was driving social users’ behavior, they were able to formulate a plan to limit the news cycle, reduce ad spend, and protect two valued products from a potential boycott.

Cases like this make clear that the benefits of real-time insights can’t be overstated – especially if you need to take action. Though you won’t always need to act on every negative conversation. Sometimes doing so simply fans the flames and does more harm than good – drawing more attention to something that would’ve just gone away on its own. But you need to know about these posts so you can make smart decisions, and act – quickly – when it’s appropriate.

The positive side of the coin

Social Media Monitoring isn’t all about gloom and doom. You also want to be closely following your analytics for highly positive interactions – 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.

This kind of intel is especially useful when applied during active campaigns – something Universal Music Group Nashville experienced first-hand.

When the country label’s artist Luke Bryan was nominated for the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainment of the Year award, they wanted to secure a win – because award wins equal an immediate uptick in record sales.


Image credit: Lunchbox LP

Because the award was fan-driven, UMG needed to ensure they got fans engaged on social media to rally them to vote. Their campaign prep included a lot of research into what had worked in past campaigns, since previous efforts had been built on gut instinct more than data. With the stakes high, the label put NetBase to work following the campaigns of the other nominees in real-time – and made a game-changing discovery.

The timing of their competitors was different than UMG’s strategy – front-loaded to the first few days of voting, while UMG had planned a more long-tail approach.

With clear evidence to support the change, UMG moved their campaign posts forward a few days. On day 4, Bryan spiked above the other nominees, and maintained that lead throughout voting, winning the award. This data-driven approach saved the label time and money, replacing gut instinct with accurate insights, and record sales increased by 20% in the days following the awards.

It’s bigger than marketing

UMG’s results notwithstanding, Social Media Monitoring isn’t just about the marketing department.

Monitoring is a practice that protects overall brand health by providing crucial intelligence to drive your brand’s overall direction.

Even if there’s never a viral crisis, being aware of customer service issues 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.


Image credit: ING Group

This is critical information the executive team must be aware of as they consider your brand’s future. Ignore what your audience is asking for long enough and you won’t have a future – the stakes are that high.

It’s also why so many other components must be working well for your monitoring to be accurate. That means having sophisticated tools that cover a wide range of social analytics needs. Google Alerts are great when you’re just starting out, but by the time something makes the news or a blog post, the accompanying social damage has already been done.

Sentiment analysis, for example, is one tool that’s a huge piece of the puzzle – particularly immediate awareness of any negative emotions. After all, “Emotions are nothing if not volatile – you can’t rely on today’s sentiment to apply tomorrow.” Without an accurate understanding of consumer emotions, your monitoring won’t be accurate either.

Monitoring is a 24-7-365 necessity for all brands –  but it’s just one part of a complex picture that requires many other components to keep your brand thriving.

In the coming weeks we’ll talk about each of them in depth, including:

  • How to Analyze Social Media Analytics
  • Competitor Analysis & Executive Reporting
  • Customer Retention & Community Management
  • Crisis Management & Response

Each of these facets is a valuable tool in your Social Media Analytics toolbox. When you understand how each works best, and how to combine the data they unearth to benefit your brand, you become an unstoppable force – even the sharks will have to watch out.

Ready to take your brand to the next level? Reach out for a demo of our suite of products!











Image from Alan Levine


How to Analyze Social Media Analytics – Social Media Analytics Guide (Part 3)