04 Aug

Social Media Monitoring

By: Lee Odden

Social media monitoring and social media measurement are two very different things, but I think many of the searchers and social media taggers using those phrases don’t always make the distinction. For some quick insight from a qualified audience, I turned to Twitter and within an hour had about 40 replies.

It started off with this Tweet: Twitpoll: What’s a better term: “social media monitoring” or “social media measurement”?

Many of the responses were a specific selection of “measurement” or “monitoring” but most pointed out that social media measurement and monitoring are different things. Monitoring is what you do to find information which you can then measure.

It was a pretty neat application of using Twitter for a quick poll with near immediate responses from professionals that might not respond to traditional polling methods. Below are the actual replies:

Dante Monteverde dantemonteverde @leeodden social media monitoring
Jon Kelly jonkelly @leeodden not sure 1 is better, they are just different, no?
zenaweist zenaweist @leeodden two separate things (social media monitoring and social media measurement) related to each other.
Nathan Gilliatt gilliatt @leeodden Also important to understand what assumptions people bring to the question. PR measurement is only one possible paradigm.
Brian Chappell brianchappell @leeodden yea they are completely different.
mitchellhislop mitchellhislop @leeodden monitoring-something this organic cant really be “measured””
Lyn Mettler webprgirl @leeodden I like social media monitoring
Carrie Hill CarrieHill @leeodden - i call them 2 different things also :) measure = how much is said - monitor = what is said
Emma Durakis ladyemma Icon_red_lock @leeodden measurement
Matt McGowan matt_mcgowan @leeodden measurement (gets point across better)
Alexandra Clark alexaclark @leeodden Is ego-surfing an option? (But seriously I like “social media monitoring” better because “measurement” is still so imprecise)
Adam Isserlis AdamIss @leeodden - online brand management. @sexyseo, I disagree that you can’t measure SM, it’s just that there aren’t decided upon standards.
Edward Lewis pageoneresults @leeodden Social Media Metrics?
Eduard Blacquière EdWords @leeodden I would go for ’social media monitoring’. In my opinion measuring is a way to monitor social media.
Gina Kay Landis ginakay @leeodden Measurement. Monitoring sounds so… big-brother-ish…
Stephan Miller eristoddle @leeodden measurement is less human and is being attached to social
feydakin feydakin @leeodden monitoring sounds like you are doing more “work” than just looking at a chart..
Stephan Miller eristoddle @leeodden monitoring
Peter Himler PeterHimler Icon_red_lock @leeodden social media monitoring is capturing the conversation; social media measurement is what you do with it after it’s in hand >
Dan Perry danperry @leeodden I prefer measurement
Brent Nau brentnau @leeodden What is the context?
Nathan Gilliatt gilliatt @leeodden Two different things.
Melanie Phung melaniephung @leeodden I think they mean completely different things, so it’s not a question of one being better than the other. What are you describing?
i am revenue robot revenuerobot @leeodden social media monitoring
Dave Taylor DaveTaylor @leeodden I’ll vote for “monitoring” for $20, Monty!
jenn lowther jennmae @leeodden I prefer social media measurement
Aaron Bramley AaronMSB @leeodden, I think “social media monitoring” and “social media measurment” are separate. Mon = content. Mea = hits/conversions.
Lora Lufark SexySEO @leeodden you can’t “measure “social media” you can only “monitor” ;)
hjomats hjomats @leeodden Depends on what you are trying to get out of it. Those two terms could be interpreted very differently
Shannon Anderson Babiesonline @leeodden depends on if you want to monitor or measure, I suppose ;)
jtobin jtobin @leeodden They are two different tools. Monitoring = listening to me. Measurement = counting results.
OrganicMania organicmania @leeodden Measurement. Many monitor, few know how to measure.
adamsherk adamsherk @leeodden sounds like 2 different things. monitoring for tracking activity/convos and measurement for trying to assign value to the activity
Lora Lufark SexySEO @leeodden monitoring
Yael Miller MillerMosaicLLC @leeodden “Measurement.” “Monitoring” sounds too big brother-ish — unless you were going for that.
Kurt Krejny KurtKrejny @leeodden social media monitoring
Benj Arriola BenjArriola @leeodden : social media analytics?
JasonFalls JasonFalls @leeodden They’re two different things. Watching and counting.

One of the interesting things about social media monitoring tools like the one we use from our client, Radian6, is that you can actually see the effect of a thread like the one above. I didn’t throw out the query to Twitter for the purposes of promoting a client, although in hindsight that’s a pretty good idea as long as the client is relevant.

social media monitoring

(Mashable and Twitter graphics added)

This image shows a 3 day period tracking “social media measurement”, “social media monitoring”, “social media analytics” and “social media metrics”. For this report, only blogs and micro content (Twitter) are being monitored, although we could watch mainstream media, video, forums and images as well as extend the time frame to multiple ranges or a specific start/stop date.

You can see a spike early in the morning July 31st for “social media measurement” when an article posted to the Mashable blog, “How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business” which was also syndicated by several other sites, repeating the use of the phrase. The Radian6 tool allows you to drill down at any point in the graph and see another “river of news” report showing where the phrase was mentioned. You can further drill down and read/view the content with a built in viewer.

To the right you can see a smaller spike for “social media monitoring” which came from the today’s Twitterstream as documented in the above post. If you want to be notified on an ongoing basis, there’s an alert function built in to the reporting as well. Kind of like “Google Alerts for the social web”.

Advanced social media monitoring tools like this one will also analyze the data being monitored and measured. The monitoring begins by defining a keyword based universe to track. Then specific reports can be setup to filter the data collected by the web crawler for measurement.

For example, analyzing comments, links and engagement with an algorithm allows the system to assign scores of influence to bloggers. That helps you decide which bloggers make the most sense to reach out to.

There is no “best phrase” when it comes to social media monitoring and measurement. There are plenty of tools for monitoring social media whether it’s free tools like Google Alerts or BlogPulse. Tools that begin to measure and analyze what’s being monitored, as you can imagine, cost money.

Here are several lists of companies that offer various types of online social monitoring, measurement and analysis tools.


About the Author: Lee Odden is President and Founder of TopRank Online Marketing, specializing in organic SEO, blog marketing and online public relations. He's been cited as a search marketing expert by publications including U.S. News & World Report and The Economist and has implemented successful search marketing programs with top BtoB companies of all sizes. Odden shares his marketing expertise at Online Marketing Blog offering daily news, interviews and best practices.