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Social media monitoring: it’s not about the tool

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Guidance, Social Media, Thoughts, Tools

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.

The reality

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.

In summary

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.

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  1. Comment by Alessandro Fusco posted on

    Hi Georgina,

    A very interesting post. We are currently undertaking some social media analytics for a trial, mostly using an excel spreadsheet and analytics data downloaded from the various platforms. Do you have any suggestions for good sources we can look at for inspiration regarding templates and data visualisation in particular?

    • Replies to Alessandro Fusco>

      Comment by Georgina Goode posted on

      Hi Alessandro

      My recommendation would be to come up with your own template. Start with your objectives - work out what metrics you need to pull to measure activity against those objectives - and then start logging the data. If you're using Excel this should be fairly straightforward to do. I'd also recommend some benchmarks to ascertain what constitutes success. This could be past successful campaigns or other organisations that are doing things well.

      In terms of visualisation - you'll be able to create a variety of charts using Excel, so my advice is to start experimenting. Always remember your objectives though to ensure that diagrams and visualisations actually add value/tell the story.


      • Replies to Georgina Goode>

        Comment by Alessandro Fusco posted on

        Thank you very much George, this is very useful.