I don’t think I’ve ever used a social media monitoring tool that has done exactly what I wanted it to do; and I’ve used a fair few of them. In fact, I’ve found that as the functionality gets ever more sophisticated, so does the need for human intervention.
Basically, the more you search for an automated approach to monitoring (make my life easier), the more time you end up spending in analysing the data and working out what you want to say (my life has got, actually, just a bit harder).
Probably not what you want to hear, particularly if you’re in the midst of procuring a monitoring tool; working through the multitude of sales decks, weighing up the pros and cons of each, understanding the different pricing structures. Nope, it doesn’t get easier once you’ve committed to one and signed on the dotted line.
This is the reality to social media monitoring. It’s hard work. There’s no one-size-fits all approach, and whilst there continues to be new tools emerging and new measurement frameworks developed, it’s only in the ‘doing’ that things will become clear. Those ‘things’ are metrics, analysis and value.
Our approach at GDS
For example, at GDS we’re currently monitoring over 2,000 online mentions a month. These are reviewed individually, not just to ensure that sentiment is accurate, but also to categorise each mention in a way that allows us to measure performance against our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
We do this alongside general monitoring of users’ experiences with the exemplars and wider government services allowing us to pre-empt potential user issues which we can then flag to the relevant team/departments.
We’re creating bespoke analytics dashboards to help make sense of the data and as our understanding evolves, we will try and find clever ways to automate categorisation so that everything we do is scalable.
The value we are already starting to see goes beyond what messages we as a communications team are pushing out. It’s seeing how our users adopt these messages; how they are interpreted/misinterpreted, plus also repurposed elsewhere. We see immediately if things aren’t working; if information is unclear, and we can then work quickly to put this right.
It’s the team at GDS that’s shaping this approach. Not the tool. Yes, its functionality allows us to look at data in different ways, plus it will eventually ‘learn’ (to an extent) specific rules in how we want to analyse that data, but you still need the manpower to properly get a handle on what it all means. At the beginning, they’ll typically not work in the way you want to work either, so you’ll have to refine and tweak the functionality to meet your needs. So my advice is don’t get bulked down in the tool or the ‘framework’ – most of the good ones out there pretty much all do/say the same thing.
There is no Holy Grail to social media monitoring and measurement. Just get doing ‘the doing’, with dedicated time and resource and you’ll be able to come up with an approach that works for you.